Life has been exciting the past week! We sailed out to spectacular and remote Great Barrier Island and did some incredible hiking and kayaking. While out there we saw a weather window to sail to Fiji so we left immediately and had an amazing downwind sail back to the mainland! We made 50 miles in under 5 hours, had dolphins dancing in the bow waves and were regularly hitting 10 to 11 knots surfing (controllably); we even hit 12.2 knots on one exhilarating surf! It was an amazing day of sailing – check out the video below (if it’s not uploaded yet, check back later).
After sailing into Whangarei, we started watching Cyclone Cook as it tore through New Caledonia and set its sights on New Zealand. They have shut down schools, ferries, even bridges and have been evacuating people. The eye is expected to pass right over Great Barrier Island with winds to 80 knots! We are glad we’re not there. We are tucked into a small bay 5 miles up the Whangarei river; we have 150 feet of chain out in 15 feet of water and have rigged a huge bridle and snubber system to take any shock loads. With any luck the eye will stay offshore and we should make it through unscathed.
We have submitted out departure notice to NZ Customs and Arrival notices to Fiji. We will give the seas a couple days to lay down after the cyclone and we plan to depart Saturday morning. As of now the forecast is calling for light air from aft the beam for most of the passage north to Fiji. We will take on some extra fuel as I expect to burn at least 100 gallons motor sailing for 3-4 days. It looks like 15-18 knots on the beam or just forward the beam leaving on Saturday and then light to no wind on Sunday. Monday, it will start to fill in from aft under 10 kts. Then Tuesday through Thursday morning it should be great sailing with high teens wind on the beam or just aft. At this point the two models are contradicting each other – one model calls for a convergence zone to form at our expected position on Thursday with winds to 40 knots in the squalls. But the GFS model calls for steady wind from the SE. We will hope the GFS is right and will watch it closely on the passage north. If we must divert to the NW around the convergence we will do so because the forecast calls for light air north of the convection and we can sail into it and make up some easting then.
So that’s the plan at this point. We have checked all our to-do boxes with just a few more things to prep for the passage. Yesterday we braved the weather, donned foul weather gear, loaded the dinghy with laundry and headed 2 miles across the bay in torrential rain. Our friends Dave and Wendy (sv ELYSIUM) were so awesome and came to pick us up and help us run some errands. We did all our laundry, hit the grocery store for provisions, had a great lunch with D&W, and then put all our fresh laundry and provisions into garbage bags. We bailed the dinghy, threw all the laundry and provisions in and then headed out across the bay in the dark and driving rain. We managed to find the boat, lifted the dinghy and were very happy to be back aboard our dry floating palace.
Stay tuned for passage updates and wish us fair weather for the passage. We can’t wait to get back to the warm tropics! Here are some pics of Great Barrier and the downwind sail back to the mainland.
“The Nook” Anchorage, Parua Bay, Whangarei, New Zealand