Passage to New Zealand – part 2

On Monday afternoon (23 October) the wind went up and down like a yoyo. One minute we were doing 5+ knots in 13 knots of breeze then we slowed to only 3 knots boat speed in 7 knots of wind. The pole helped the sail remain full but in these fickle conditions our speed was variable at best. We persevered all afternoon and at 18.00 we downloaded the latest weather. The good news was that our window continued to exist but the winds were much lighter at the earlier part of the passage than had previously been forecast.
We were expecting a trough to come through bringing squally conditions so put away the pole as we headed into our evening shifts after an amazing sunset. The sun went down and the clouds built giving us a pitch black gloomy night with no light whatsoever. All very spooky! The wind remained light and variable and we have slipped about 8 miles behind our passage plan – not much chance of making that up right now. During Richard’s evening shift he went wing on wing to boost our speed…..but I wasn’t happy to do that solo as I was worried about getting caught out in a squall so changed it back when I came on shift. Funnily enough we both clocked exactly the same average speed throughout the night so it seems to work both ways LOL.
By Tuesday morning (24 October) the sun had peeked through a very grey heavily laden sky. It remained gloomy and we were still waiting for the illusive squalls to bring us some wind. The wind died down to 5-6 knots so we motor sailed and made water at the same time trying to maintain our progress. I can hear you all wondering what does it matter if we are a bit slower, we’ll still get there, right? Well, yes, that’s true but the weather systems here come off the Tasmin Sea regularly like cars on a race track and the longer we are out here the more chance we have of getting walloped by one. So our focus is to try and keep moving as quickly as possible to make it to land in the current benign weather window.
By 11.00 we had resorted to wing on wing including a poled out genoa working really hard to keep our speed above 5 knots in the light conditions. We were still awaiting the trough so were keeping vigilant watching the skies for any signs. Thankfully the day brightened up considerably and we just had a hazy day with the odd glimpse of sunlight. It was even warm enough to take our jackets off LOL.
By 6pm we had gybed to a starboard tack with reefed genoa and mainsail. Still waiting for the trough to arrive wondering whether it had dissipated. But the latest weather forecast still included it so we continued being cautious and the barometer reading / wind direction was an indicator of rain within 24 hours. By midnight the rain had arrived….and then came the wind…with a steady 25 knots on a beam reach. We were screaming along at speeds clocking more than 8 knots. The seas built and the wind continued to blow…and it was the most exhilarating sailing ever! I could have done without the rain part though as I was pretty soggy by the end of my shift.
I handed over to Richard at 3.00 on Wednesday (25 October) and he enjoyed the same conditions. Sadly our fun came to an end by 6.00 when the wind shifted as the trough spun away and dragged behind it a very large, lumpy, and angry sea. The wind dropped to 6 knots and we made little headway despite tacking to a more favourable position. By 11.00 we were motor sailing in light airs under a gloomy grey sky into lumpy seas and was being treated to the occasional rain shower. We were waiting for the wind to swing more southerly – SE would be perfect! – so we can make up time yet again. Despite the huge gains made overnight we lost them to the grumpy sea later. Never mind…..
At 12 the wind filled in again and we were screaming along. The rain started again so looks like we may have found the other side of the trough?!? By 13.00 the wind swung around and we had to run away from our rhumb line…then by 15.00 we were heading back to our rhumb line until the next time the wind changed. Really good winds at 15-25 knots but fickle in direction so we are constantly changing course to accommodate them whilst keeping our forward momento. At 16.00 the winds died back to 7 knots – although in the right direction – so we are again motor sailing in the rain.
Just having dinner and we were contacted by SV Taranga – a Danish boat that left a similar time to us on Sunday so reassuring to know that 400 miles later we are making similar progress.
Been a strange sort of day but all is well on the good ship Morpheus.
Bye for now Jan