Tied up to the Q dock at Opua at 2115 local time tonight after a perfect sailing day. At 0200 last night we finally emerged from under that stationary front and within a few minutes the wind picked up to a steady 20kn+ on the beam. It settled down a bit in the early morning and we had great day on a beam reach, averaging close to 6kn. We made landfall around 2pm and sailed into the Bay of Islands just before sunset. Hard to imagine a more beautiful finish to this passage (and - in a way - to our journey here that started from the US East Coast a year ago).
09 - Pacific Crossing
Well, it seems that stationary occluded front that has accompanied us the last two days isn't so staionary after all. It keeps slowly dropping south, just enough to stay in synch with us. It appears that every time we get a bit of clear sky and sailable wind the front is eager to catch up and a few hours later we have 8/8 cloud cover and no more than 5kn of wind again. That not withstanding, we did have some nice sailing wing-on-wing this afternoon and are now (0030 local time on 23NOV) less than 100nm from the entrance to the Bay of Islands.
Well... those fresh nortehrlies didn't last 36 hrs but only about 18 before they died around 1000 local time this morning (20NOV). Feels like we've spent most of the day trying every possible sail configuration to eek out 2kn of the fickly breeze that remained. Ended up with te Parasailor again which - when flopping in light airs - is (a) least annoying and (b) creates the smallest shock loads compared to everything else we tried. All good exercise...
After logging a 24hr run of just above 50nm at 10am this morning and no wind in sight for the next 24hrs we decided it was time to fire up the engine (270nm to go to Opua at that point). We had been able to slowly sail at 2-3kn during the first part of last night but then spent the wee hours of the morning trying to stop the sails flom flopping while still making some progress in the right direction (best option: poled out and partly reefed genoa only: 1-2kn, no flopping). Before starting the engine we had to address a suspected problem with the engine's cooling circuit.
Just about to cross 30S lattitude, marking the start of our final 350nm to Opua/NZ. After still having flown the Parasailor in light airs during the day, we now have plenty of wind again. It's even from the right direction, as it has just shifted from NE to N as we're transiting a front. These fresh northerlies on the backside of a high should stay with us for the next 36hrs. All is well aboard, stay tuned...
After some nice sailing under Parasailor earlier today, the wind died on us this evening and we're currently (2300 localt time on 18NOV) drifitng under a band of high pressure on an almost motionless sea. There's even a bird sitting next to us in the water, further reinforcing the duck pond illusion. Luckily there is a half-knot current setting to the south, so we're making at least al little progress towards our destination. Wind is forecast to fill in again tomorrow and the remain sailable for the last 450nm to NZ. If things go well, we hope to make landfall on Friday (23NOV).
Just after sunset, when we were getting ready to take in the lure we had been trawling all afternoon, we caught a nice size yellow fin tuna. Sashimi tonight and tuna steak tomorrow - no complaints in the food department on Namani ;-) Otherwise a relaxed day, part sailing, part motoring to get through the center of a high that strecthes down to almost 30deg south. A clear starry night outside with a sliver of a waxing moon that's about to set. Still going through fields of plumice every few hours. Apparently these coee from an underwater volcano eruption in the Kermadec Islands.
It's been very relaxed sailing the last 24 hrs, gliding along on "best course to windward" (currently averages at around 225deg true) at 3-4 knots. We made good speed the first 12 hrs after we had departed North Minerva yesterday (15NOV) morning. Since last night the wind has been dropping as we approach a band of high pressure that has its axis run along 27.5 deg south.
We weighed anchor at North Minerva shortly after 0900 local time this morning (Thursday) and are now under way again for the final 800nm to Opua in New Zealand. Conditions are very pleasant and we had a nice sailing day, close reaching at 5-6kn over very moderate seas. Now the wind is dropping a bit as we are slowly sailing into a high pressure ridge which we can hopefully cross without too much motoring. Based on the current weather forecast we plan to reach 30S sometime during Monday night.
Well, the wind didn't die on us and we ended up having a relatively fast sail, getting us into North Minerva at 1600 local time this afternoon. We did have to motor the last 5nm but still averaged close to 6kn on the remaining 260nm, mostly on a beam reach. Now we are anchored here: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=-23.618083,-178.91675 (Google Earth has an image of the actual reef, see picture above - the pink line is Namani's track into the reef).