Day 4 – Fiji to New Zealand – We’re Halfway! …but we have Headwinds…

We’re more than halfway!!  We are 593 miles SSW of Lautoka, Fiji and 508 miles NNW of Opua, NZ. We have sailed 170 miles in the past 24 hours but only covered a rhumbline distance of 120 miles. The wind is back and it’s right on the nose. Yesterday afternoon was idyllic sailing with winds out of the west at 14 knots. We were sitting on the cabintop lounging and watching the flying fish. It was beautiful. Unfortunately it was also short lived…

While Alyssa was preparing dinner I saw a line of ominous clouds on the horizon. It was a line of clouds unlike any I’ve seen before. IT didn’t look like a squall line and checking the radar confirmed it didn’t have much rain density. It was hazy and reached high into the sky. It sure looked like it could pack a punch. I called Alyssa up to see and she said “White Squall” like from the movie. I would have laughed if I wasn’t seriously considering a white squall as a possibility. We quickly decided to reduce sail and reefed down to second reef on main and 1/4 of jib out. We turned on the engine and cautiously proceeded south. We had dinner and watched the squall line approaching on the radar. Alyssa put on her foulies as it was almost my sleep shift. I told her to neutralize the canvas and whatever happens don’t deviate from our wind angle of 60 degrees so the wind can’t put load on the rig. She did an awesome job and I watched from the dry salon as the squall line approached and overtook us. Winds rose from 18 to 22 to 25 topping out at 29 and then dumping heavy driving rain over the boat. She took over the autopilot and kept the boat 60 degrees off the wind and we didn’t stress the rig in the slightest. She yelled back to me while smiling “are you enjoying watching me??” I smiled as I sure was! Great job babe. Well done.

I took over at midnight and the rest of the night was a biotch. Rough seas slamming under the bridgedeck and tossing the boat around. Big short-period swells mxed with 20 knot winds. We were on the edge of the low pressure system and got a light smacking as it passed us by.

We are now motor-sailing over the leftover seas from the low and they are huge. We are climbing up and over 20 foot swells! The slop has abated a bit and no longer do the waves crash over the cabin when we fall off each set. The wind has lightened to 13 knots but frustratingly it’s still out of the due south – the exact direction we want to go. The more frustrating part is the faster I sail the more the wind comes on our nose! So if we increase speed from 6 to 7 knots we have to point 10 more degrees AWAY from our destination! So right now we are sailing 7 knots WSW towards Norfolk Island, just because I refuse to sail slow. The other reason is that the winds are out of the south on this longitude for the next 48 hours. But if I can get west of 172 E they start to clock more SE’ly, which would allow me to actually sail somewhat towards NZ. So west we go.

The other reality is that our rough night of tacking east then west has cost us at least a half a day on our arrival time. We are now dancing with the next low pressure system that we both don’t feel like meeting. Before last night it was looking possible to get in before any significant weather approached NZ this weekend. With last night and with this frustrating south wind it’s looking like a Friday arrival is not possible. It’s now looking like we will be riding the 20-25 knot winds out of the north for at least some portion of our sail down the coast of North Island on early Saturdaymorning.

Engines still cranking over and I have full sail up. We are doing 7.7 knots on a course of WSW and sometimes SW. Hoping to be making SW by this afternoon and SSW by tomorrow. The closer we get to the center of the high, the more the winds will die. Once they are down to less than 8-9 knots I can motor on a rhumb-line course for North Island. But with the seas and winds the way they are today I am forced to sail west. So be it. There is an east-setting current as we approach NZ anyway…

Anybody find me a solution to my port engine coolant overflow problem? It’s a bit difficult climbing into the engine compartment to dump the coolant back in while sliding and pounding down waves!

On a positive note its sunny. Stable weather the next few days should be nice. It’s also getting very cold! Last night while fighting the seas I had on pajamas, sweater and full foulies! It’s actually really refreshing to have the crisp cold air with the sun out. Looking forward to summer in New Zealand!

Well that’s it for today’s update. Wish us more favorable winds and no equipment failures so we can be secured dockside when the next low overtakes North Island.

***Evening update: What an incredible day of high latitude sailing! I raised a single reef main and sailed close-hauled up and over huge swells at 8-9 knots! It was like sailing over mountains and between valleys. The wind was high teens and the seas were leftover from the low. It was a very cool afternoon of sailing that demanded most of my attention as I was pushing the boat a bit. Just before sunset we reefed back down do our speed is down to 6.5-7 knots. The sunset was spectacular withe the sun peeking through the puffy tradewind clounds as it hit the water shooting rays out in every direction. The stars are out tonight. The seas are beginning to lay back down. Just in time too as we were growing tired of taking seas over the deck and pounding our way SW. We are now only 226 miles from Norfolk Island. Hoping the wind starts to clock more east soon so we can sail south.***

****Special thanks to Pirate Bruce for the coolant suggestions and weather info! Muchos Gracias Amigo!****

Manuia from Quixotic and team!


0105 UTC
26 46 S, 173 13 E
246 T

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