Passage to New Zealand – part 5

By 17.00 on Sunday (29 October) nothing much had changed – the wind continued to be between 17-25 knots and we were steaming along downwind under a single reefed genoa. The seas were large and we were sideswiped a few times by rogue waves breaking over us and sending us rolling wildly from gunnel to gunnel but most of the time we were surfing up and down the waves ahead. The sky remained gloomy although the sun did make the occasional albeit brief appearance. For the night we moved our shifts back – starting at 19.00 – as the sun sets now around 19.30. It is nice to see longer than the standard 12 hour days that we had become used to in the Caribbean….feels much more seasonal. We also double reefed the genoa in anticipation of the strong winds forecast.
The conditions remained largely unchanged throughout the night although we were getting pushed off course by a combination of the waves and current – so we had to tweak our heading to remain on our rhumb line. The winds strengthened during the night to 27 knots but only for a few hours – the rest of the time they were in the 17-25 range as before. Of course 27 knots downwind is actually about 35 knots if you were sailing directly into it and you could tell the difference by the white foam coming off the top of the waves….
Early Monday morning (30 October) and we’d broken through the 1,000 mile mark almost 36 miles ahead of our route schedule. Woo hoo! We saw 9.2 knots surfing on the waves earlier so are looking for a double digit one today if the winds pick up as forecast. We are expecting the wind to increase to at least 35 knots so will leave the sail as is. Interestingly the reefs are making little overall difference to our boat speed although they might if the seas continue to build and/or change direction. The temperature has dropped again to 19 degrees C so we’re feeling it! We have big fluffy clouds today instead of the gloom so there are patches of blue sky around although the sea remains grey and slightly menacing.
We keep resetting the AIS because we are sure there are other boats out here apart from us. So far nothing other than SV Sea Bear and SV Taranga who we left behind a few days ago after briefly being in company. Where are the fishing boats we have been warned to watch out for? Where are the commercial vessels or even cruise ships? What about other cruisers using the same weather window as us – or did they all stall at Minervous Reef LOL? Where are the sea creatures: the whales migrating south with their new born calves; the dolphins; the flying fish and the kamikaze squid? All very strange……
By 14.00 we had a container ship cross our bow 20 miles ahead and a large yacht crossed our stern. Another yacht signal turned up behind us doing about 5.5 knots but it went off before we could identify him. What a strange turn of events…. At 17.00 I’m cooking dinner and came up for a breather and we were met by a pod of dolphins! Fantastic….always puts a smile on our faces. Do you think they’ve been reading my blog LOL?!?
We had a couple of ships after that….and one actually changed course to go behind our stern. We approached New Zealand carefully in the pitch black night – and, of course, that was when it started to rain. We worked our way gingerly through the channel – assisted by two local fishing boats who gave us some useful hints and tips. During this night navigation exercise there was a gale warning issued by the NZ radio. Just in time – phew! Hope Chris and all the others are OK.
We finally found the quarantine dock to the Bay Islands Marina and got ourselves alongside and secured. So, at 03.08, we officially arrived in New Zealand!! We did it…..we crossed the South Pacific!!! Woo hoo….. Too cold for celebratory beers it’s time for bed.
Bye for now Jan