Passage to Nuie – part 1

At 17.00 on Monday, 4 September, we dropped the mooring ball and headed straight out on our rhumb line for Nuie. We radioed Bob and his family to thank them again for their incredible hospitality and for letting us spend time on their island.
The seas were flat and there was no wind at all…as expected. We had a number of reasons for leaving for Nuie in these conditions. First is that clearing in with customs and immigration at Nuie on a weekend is not possible. Secondly the ridge of high pressure has brought light and variable winds meaning the mooring at Palmerston – which sits about 50 feet off the reef – could get problematical. Thirdly there is a risk that the South Pacific Convergence Zone may move across Tonga towards Nuie in the next week which will bring squalls and thunderstorms so, although Nuie has no protection, the moorings are heavy duty and regularly inspected. The only potential change to this forecast is a travelling trough which could impact us.
All Monday night we motored…..and into Tuesday. Was lovely to be back on the water despite our slow speed as we conserved fuel on low rpms. During Tuesday afternoon the seas became really confused and we were being thrown around……side to side. Was very uncomfortable and difficult to move around. Was all a bit weird as it was such a beautiful stable day!
Suddenly the sun went down….the moon rose….and the wind filled in to around 15 knots and the sea flattened. Great – engine off. We pulled out a reefed main and a reefed genoa and enjoyed the feel of Morphie as she surged forward on a beam reach. Yay!
We sailed beautifully all night and, of course, it rained hard on my shift….Richard stayed dry…..and I came up on shift for the morning to find it dark, grey and squally. The wind filled in to 28 knots and I reefed the genoa down further and rode out the boisterous conditions. Was great fun despite getting wet again!
Well it looks like we have found the travelling trough as the seas remain confused at around 6 feet and the SE winds are blowing between 20 knots gusting higher. Apart from the odd rogue wave hitting us and the fact that it is cold enough to be wearing foulies we are going along very nicely.
Oh yes, and to put ourselves on Nuie’s time zone – and to match our shifts with the sun rising and setting – we’ll be putting our boat clocks back a hour later today. Right now we are just over half way having covered 210 miles so far.
Bye for now Jan