Friday, November 29, 2013

New Caledonia to NZ - Day 1

We eased into this 850 mile passage with a relaxed late morning departure from the Isle of Pines. A few hours earlier, three other boats had departed, bound also for New Zealand, but with a possible stop at Norfolk Island en route. We hummed and hawed, weighing the pros and cons of leaving or of staying until Sunday when fair winds were more likely and we should have less chance of running into the two lows that were forecast in the area a few days out. Rani baked a carrot cake and I snorkeled to clean the bottom. We pulled the life raft out of storage and began to make up our ditch bag (which we keep handy in case we need to abandon ship).

By 9 am the breeze was picking up (although this later proved to be only a sea breeze induced by the warming land), so we decided to make a start. We left at 10:20 under sail and once clear of the bay, found a large but well spaced southerly swell setting in and between 3 and 5 knots of wind from the SE. We set up the full main and jib on a close haul and sailed along at a very pleasant 3-4 knots until mid afternoon. Around 3pm the wind began to increase and swing into th east and we threw a reef in the main and switched to the wind vane steering. We were soon bowling along reaching more than 7 knots at times as the wind increased and moved into the northeast. This wind, caused by a high moving away to the southeast of us continued all night at 10 to 15 knots. We have been broad reaching, steering a bit south of a direct line to Opua to position us for when the lows arrive in a couple of days.

Our position at 1800 GMT (0500 New Caledonia time) was 24 10 S 167 36 E. In a little under 19 hours, we ran 97 miles and made good 93 miles toward our destination of Opua.

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