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Passage to New Zealand – Day 1

We’ve had an encouraging start to this passage. The winds, as predicted, did shift around enough for us to not only gain the rhumb line but to also let out the sails for a more comfortable ride. Overnight the swell, which always lags the wind, shifted too so we stopped crashing into the waves so much. All good. The wind forecasts are also coming in as good as we could hope for. We have pretty much a beam to close reach for the next few days in around and about 20 knots of wind which we will sail well in. The 7 day forecast even shows the stationary high in our way dissipating providing the hint that we may be able to sail all the way in.

All the boats that left yesterday are sailing for either Whangarei or Opua (mostly the latter) so we’re all close by. We always had sails on the horizon around us and Kilkea in particular took station 2 miles off our port and stayed there overnight. this morning within spitting distance of us are Attitude, Blue Penguin, Boree, Illusion, Imagine, Kilkea, Tin Tin and Larabeck. Quite a crowd.

Unfortunately, Sea Mist had to turn back. Outside of the reef at Tongatapu they noticed the stitching coming apart around the clew of their jib. They decided to turn back and effect repairs. We heard from them this morning. They have found a possible place to get it repaired. Our fingers are crossed that they can make it out in this weather window but it is tight. A low pressure system is chasing us down which will make things bumpier and wetter for them.

We had a little problem with our job too but nothing serious. I noticed some more of the stitching for the sun strip had come undone. Fortunate this was close to the furler so I went forward and stitched it up leaving the sail out. It was a bit awkward as I caught a few waves as well as catching my finger with the needle a few times.

More excitement came in the afternoon when we were briefly accompanied by some pilot whales. I rushed for my camera but they didn’t stay long enough to pose.

Sailing to New Zealand is a bit like playing dodgems with the weather systems. Given that it’s getting colder we’ve elected to use a little diesel on the way to provide some comfort in terms of warmth and to avoid loss of speed due to regeneration. If we need to slow down we’ll regenerate but not unless we need to. Our sailing angle to the wind is screwing up the wind gen as the wind spilling of the main spins it around and we get no useful energy from it. That’s a pity as we’d do pretty well in these wind speeds.

We’re currently managing to average just over 6 knots which puts us on an ETA for arrival next Thursday on the 8th. We’d always hoped to arrive before the weekend so this is a nice comfortable margin.