It may be the influence of the cold front that is giving us stable weather, but it is turning decidedly chilly on Ladybug. We put on trousers this morning for the first time and I am wearing a cardigan as I type this message in the pre-dawn glow. Rani is asleep on the settee berth, wrapped snugly in a blanket - another first as we have only recently needed sheets. New Zealand will be a shock to us after 6 months+ in tropical countries.
Yesterday we received good news - the weather looks very stable for the next week except for a low that will pass well south of us. We have also learned that there should be mainly easterly winds on our approach to New Zealand in place of the predominant southwest winds. This allows us to point straight for the island now, rather than running off to the west and should save a day or two on passage. However this could change with no notice...
Determining where to point Ladybug has been a challenge and we have tried to combine the computer generated forecast models with input from forecasters and the observations of boats that are out in front of us. To this, you need to figure in your boat speed, feasible direction, a comfort factor so you will not be bashing into big seas, etc. We have started using the route planning feature of OpenCPN along with its ability to overlay weather forecast data. This still requires manual manipulation but allows one to plot the boat's progress along an imaginary line and see what the winds should be like at each position. I would like to write a software program to help me figure this out, but do not have access to everything I need to do this on board.
We are still sailing through pumice - floating volcanic rock - and discovered some in our raw water strainer for the engine. 'Lisa Kay' who has been sailing in the fleet from Tonga lost their water pump impeller, perhaps due to ingesting pumice, but may also have been due to an old impeller. The water stopped running and the hot exhaust gases melted their muffler. They only noticed this when water was coming into the boat from holes melted in the exhaust system. Fortunately they were able to jury rig a repair and received help from several cruisers to repair the muffler when they made 'landfall' at Minerva Reef. The pumice comes from an eruption that occurred south of Raoul island in the nearby Kermedec islands. Apparently there is a floating island of the stuff 30 by 300 miles wide floating somewhere south of us.
The sailing yesterday was lovely - close reaching in light SE winds. Around dark, the wind died down to zephyrs and we ghosted along all night at 1-2 knots. Rani even hand steered around 3 am for an hour or so to keep us moving.
Our position at 7:45 am on Nov 16 was 25 28 S 179 10 E. We ran exactly 100 nautical miles in the last 24 hours, not bad considering we had almost no wind all night. The wind is back up to a few knots from the SSE, seas are calm, and we are making good progress directly toward the North Cape of New Zealand.