Passage to New Zealand – part 3

Wednesday night we motor sailed in very light airs but, sadly, the wind decided to shift against us so we were slowly being pushed away from our rhumb line. To tack would be useless as we would end up head on into the waves – slowing us even further – and there are reefs south of our rhumb line to be avoided. So we continued pressing on.
By Thursday morning (26 October) we had a stormy sunrise but patches of blue sky around later gave us hope for brighter weather. The wind was still being difficult with too light airs and in the wrong direction so we continued motor sailing. Suddenly around 10.30 the wind kicked in at 16 knots but the cloud cover regrouped and it started raining again. And that set the scene for another cloudy rainy miserable day with the only bright spot being the 22 knot wind that the rain brought with it. The angle was pretty tight so we were close hauled and beating – but at least we were making good speed in an OK direction. When close hauled we like to utilise the staysail but this is out of action right now because the dinghy is on the bow and blocks the running rigging to the Hoyt boom. And leaving dink on the arch for long ocean passages isn’t recommended after our previous experience…. Never mind, it is what it is!
By 16.00 the wind shifted in our favour – hurrah! – and clocked around to SE so we were able to finally hold our rhumb line. We passed our last mid-ocean waypoint and it is now just one long straight shot from here to Opua so we were excited about reaching that milestone. Our speed had improved significantly and, at 18.00, was boosted further when the wind clocked to ESE. The sky was lighter ahead so hopefully we had finally got away from that trough…. Fingers crossed!
The sun set on a miserable day. During the evening and throughout the night, the wind remained steady at 15 knots from the ESE and the seas flattened. We sailed on a broad reach running parallel with our rhumb line and made good progress. Not sure we had completely left the poor weather behind us as the night was very dark and gloomy with the odd spot of rain. But definitely an improvement in sailing conditions although the temperature dropped by a few degrees so we might be forced to dig out the socks soon LOL.
At 6.00 Friday (27 October) the great conditions remained the same. We think the trough has finally left us as the skies are cloud free and we had a beautiful sunrise. To our starboard, on the horizon, is another yacht and we were delighted to see on the AIS that it was Sea Bear. The last time we saw Chris was off Big Momas when he left on Friday afternoon – in the Western Hemisphere – and we are both now in the Eastern Hemisphere. Another milestone ticked, not sure what it does to our Golden Shellback status but will check it out and let you know later. Oh yes it is even colder today so I’ve finally succumbed to socks!
By 13.30 the wind had dropped and was now behind us. Sea Bear remained off to starboard and we have been joined by another boat behind us. We have just received a weather update from Bob our weather guru…and he has advised us to head further east before then running directly towards Opua. We are expecting strong winds on Monday / Tuesday now so forewarned is good!
Bye for now Jan