This time we mean it!
Opua, Bay of Islands
Spending the South Pacific Cyclone Season in New Zealand
So everything is ready to go now, including the weather forecast! We are aiming for a departure tomorrow - Wednesday, May 29. That means all of us: Namani and what seems like dozens of other boats who have also been waiting for a sane weather window. We expect light winds and some motoring in the first part of the passage, then decent 15-20 knot E/SE winds. We might make a short layover in Minerva Reef after about a week if northerly winds kick in from a front coming off New South Wales at that point; when it swings around again, we would set off for the final stretch to Fiji. We'll see how it works out!
One lesson learned: although cruising guides and rallies tout late April / early May as the time to depart NZ for Fiji, what that really means is that it's the earliest departure time after the "official" end of cyclone season. We've learned by now that this a bit of a theoretical concept as tropical depressions have kept coming out of the South Pacific Convergence Zone throughout May. There is in fact another late season tropical storm forecast to form by end of this week but this one sits well to the east of our route. In general though, the end of May and the beginning of June look like a much better time to make the trip as the strong high pressure systems that everyone was waiting for are finally materializing. With more dominant systems developing it seems the weather overall is acting in more predictable ways. Or so we hope!
Time to head back to the tropics!