Passage to Fiji – part 1

Tuesday 28 May

We got cleared out by Customs at 9am and had coffee before settling bills and saying our final farewells. This was quite emotional with lots of hugs – this had been our second home for a while now – and we have both fallen in love with New Zealand. The scenery breathtaking, mesmerising and spectacular; the culture was fascinating; the people were warm and welcoming; and the weather can be lovely and horrible in equal measure. The only negative was the red tape and bureaucracy, but as they probably learnt it from us who am I to criticise LOL.

As we were having a quick lunch (only soup and bread) a huge gust of wind blew through with torrential horizontal rain from the north. OMG what have we done??? Too late, knuckle down, and any anxiety about the future passage was alleviated by a team hug. At 1pm we slipped away and the seas were lumpy with short intervals, so pretty uncomfortable. The wind increased to 25 knots and we headed out, at 60 degrees to the wind, under heavily reefed main and genoa.

As we finally got into deeper water the conditions worsened and the wind was now 30+ knots sustained with higher gusts. Then the emergency radio calls started with incidents of taking on water; crew illness; shredded sails; and steering problems. It was sobering to see so many of them turn back towards Opua on the AIS.

We carried on into the weather with waves breaking onto and over us on the port side combined with pretty nasty sea conditions. We both felt rough so took seasickness pills and decided to be careful so only had drinks and the occasional munch on a biscuit to take us into the blackness of a moonless night. As we got to our normal night watch times Richard decided to sleep in the cockpit rather than leave me alone on the helm. But it was way too cold and he eventually retired below. Later on we got hit by a 50kt squall and a wave that broke over us so I got clobbered being sat on the helm. My scream woke Richard up but I was securely tethered so perfectly safe in the cockpit just soaked, cold, and a little shocked. Thankfully two companionway boards were in situ so no water got into the saloon. I was also glad that my life jacket didn’t auto-inflate LOL.

Richard relieved me from duty and refused to let me back up into the cockpit until the conditions had moderated somewhat. I was uncomfortable down below but he was adamant. My hero!

Wednesday 29 May

At 3am the seas moderated as the time periods between breaking waves and swells lengthened. The winds then backed so we were not so pressed and were able to turn towards our rhumb line. By 10am the wind had died completely and we were motor sailing and the sea was flattening constantly. What a difference a day makes! Morphie, as always looked after us amazingly well taking it all in her stride. Thank you Morpheus, love you.
Having had no dinner the night before we ate a delicious breakfast of baked beans and sausages…always tastes so good when at sea. Just like camping LOL. Richard did a walk around of the deck to check for anything awry and I re-fixed the dodgers which had lost their fastenings during the night. At this point the engine high temperature alarm went off. What now?!? Richard did usual checks and all fine – very mysterious. So he checked everything again, particularly the water flow, the belt and the impeller and nothing awry. But, of course, we were now sailing in very light airs and losing ground. Engine back on and within 20 mins the alarm had gone off again. Engine off, Richard down the hole, while I try to keep our speed up. A while later and we restarted the engine – and gingerly left it running at only 1400 rpm. This helped our speed slightly but way below what we need to be doing to get far enough north to avoid the next low pressure system coming through.

Thankfully this time all was well and we gradually increased our revs. Phew! We caught up with Serenity of Swanwick over a very poor radio transmission so were relieved that they had come through unscathed also. Although not buddy boating we are going to check in with each other once a day on this passage. We had a lovely beef stew dinner watching the sun set before moving into our traditional night shift patterns.

Thursday 30 May

The night was perfect….flat seas and no rain although it was pretty dark as the moon didn’t come up until 3am. But the Milky Way show kept us entertained. The sun rise was spectacular and both of us slept really well. Difficult to imagine the very challenging conditions of such a short time ago. So we are just enjoying this peacefulness while it lasts utilising the plentiful hot water and making ourselves feel better by showering and changing into clean clothes.

Bye for now Jan