Passage to New Zealand – part 4

At 15.00 on Friday (27 October) we were heading south east as suggested by Bob the weather man. This was opposed to everything we have read and heard about this passage. Usually one sets a waypoint north of the tip of New Zealand’s North Island and then, as the wind and currents switch to the west as you get further south, you run downwind towards your destination also gaining some shelter from the island. So to go south east at this juncture – giving up our westing in effect – felt wrong. However Bob is warning of a large high giving strong ENE winds early next week and all four PredictWind models agree so the new course should allow us to ride these winds rather than having to beat into them. Although we do expect confused seas as the wind will be opposing the current. Only time will tell whether this strategy works.
The benefit of this course change was that we were running constantly on a broad reach, our fastest point of sail, and were eating up the miles. The weather was beautiful and crisp with blue skies and flat deep blue seas with a steady 15 knots of breeze. Wish all sailing days could be like this.
At 1.00 on Saturday (28 October) the conditions remained the same although a north element was creeping into the wind as expected but we held our broad reach despite being pushed further east. At 3.00 we turned south directly towards Opua and were running downwind under a full genoa only. In 15+ knots of breeze we don’t need to deploy the pole to keep the sail full and the main – which we could carry wing on wing – is safely furled back inside the mast. We don’t want to get caught out in stronger winds with the main tied down especially with its furling problem so we have decided to protect it from damage.
By 6.00 the sun had come up and it was really cold….bitingly so…under a cloudy grey sky. I’m now wearing two fleeces over a tee shirt and fleece-lined waterproof trousers plus socks and am still cold. May have to dig out the thermals soon. The temperature is actually 20 degrees Celsius – which would be a nice day back home in the UK – so it is not that bad but I reckon the wind chill factor takes it down to zero LOL.
We were making good speed so were hoping for a Tuesday morning arrival. At 10.00 the clouds had lifted slightly to give us a glimpse of sun but it had no warmth in it. The best thing about the cooler temperatures is that the fridge and freezer are more efficient as they are keel cooled and sleeping snuggled into blankets is so much easier than sweating in the tropics!
During the day the wind and sea started building along with the rolly movement from side to side. There were a few rogues out there bashing us up but Morphie did brilliantly and just pushed us along refusing to be intimidated by some of the huge towering waves behind her. Mares tail clouds dominated the blue sky and gave us an indicator of what was coming. By 18.00 the wind was pushing 23 knots so we reefed down the genoa and continued on. There was a spectacular sunset around 19.30 and the temperature dropped yet again. The wind remained steady in the low to mid 20s throughout the night.
At 6.00 on Sunday (29 October) the sun came up and the sky was red below the grey clouds. You know what they say….red sky is the morning….. Yep we’ve got all the warning signs thanks! The sun disappeared into the gloomy grey sky so it felt like sailing at home in the Solent. The conditions remained unchanged and we’ll have to see what comes next. Right now we are enjoying this sail and are comfortable in our shift patterns. I have noticed, however, that the ‘optional’ two hours set aside each per day in case we need to snooze, is now a regular feature of the day as we both rush to our warm blanketed beds instead of staying in the cockpit together LOL.
Bye for now Jan