Passage to New Zealand – part 1

We picked up anchor as planned just before 10.00 on Monday 22 October. The wind was very light as we started motoring through the chicane of reefs, islands and cardinal markers that surround Tongatapu.
Around noon we were heading out the main shipping channel into deep water in 12 knots of breeze so we pulled out the main sail in readiness for our turn. OMG it got caught at the top edge folded in a strange way into the mast. We are not sure how this happened as it went in easily enough the other day. We decided not to try pull out any more as we risked tearing the sail so instead we furled it back in. This worked so we decided to continue on knowing that we can’t have more than a double-reefed main out at any time until we investigate further. That’s fine – we can live with that! We deployed a full genoa and starting running downwind in about 12 knots of breeze. Was a rollickingly good sail and we were grateful for such a pleasant introduction to this passage as we shook off the cobwebs.
By 18.00 the wind had switched to 120 degrees on the port side and the seas flattened as the sun started to drop in the sky…we were ahead of schedule and had seen 8+ knots of boat speed at times when the wind had increased to 20 knots. We reefed the genoa for the night and moved into our shift patterns. Jadean were behind us and radioed for a chat – wanting to know whether we were stopping at Minerva Reef or not along the way. We have named this Minervous Reef as everyone goes there to debate the weather yet again…. They wanted our weather info and I gave them a brief synopsis but, obviously, this passage plan is devised for a monohull not a large catamaran. We exchanged contact details and continued on. I forgot to tell them about our battery problem so they are probably cursing me for not replying to them by now!
We continued to sail along nicely through to about 21.00 when the wind became more fickle in both speed and direction. It swung from NE to SE and speeds have varied between 7-22 knots. So we played the ‘keeping my sails full at all time’ passage game to maintain our speed throughout the night. The night sky was fabulous with an amazing array of stars and planets shining through the pitch black shroud…only to be matched by the spectacular phosphorescence display behind the stern as we pushed our way through the water. Was a cold night and we sailed in fleeces and long trousers…but I refuse to give up on the bare feet just yet LOL.
At 6.00 on Monday 23 October we watched a beautiful sunrise and shook out the reef in the genoa. The wind is steady at 12-15 knots and we were doing well. By 10.00 the wind had eased so our boat speed had dropped below 5 knots but we remained pretty much on schedule at this point. Hoping for a bit more wind but we’ll not look a gift horse in the mouth with this beautiful crisp bright chilly day with flattish seas sparkling deep blue in the sunshine. Bliss!
At noon we calculated that we had covered 122 miles in 24 hours so we were doing fine. Sadly the wind dropped even further into single figures so we deployed the pole to see if that will lift our speed. So far so good….
Bye for now Jan