The last section of Bob’s passage forecast looked relatively straightforward. As we headed south to New Zealand we’d encounter a weak front from the low passing to the east, and then we’d take advantage of the winds from the high coming through. As the southerly winds came in we’d go west, then as the westerly winds came in we’d go south and so make our way into Opua in light winds. Simple.
Except nobody told Mother Nature about the plan and it seems she had other ideas. True, the low did pass to the east and we got the tail-end of the strong south-westerlies, which were supposed to not last long. But they lasted, and lasted, meaning we were beating to windward to get west. Then the southerlies came in and they lasted and lasted too. At this rate we’d go right past the top of New Zealand heading for Australia. Nothing for it but to beat south-east against the southerlies to get ourselves below the top of North Island. The promised westerlies were late too. At this rate we’d be heading for Antartica. Nothing for it but to beat south-west into the westerlies. By this stage they should have been dying and turning more north-west giving us a more comfortable beam reach into Opua. We’ve been downloading the grib files daily, and the constant chant has been “the north-westerly should be here in a couple of hours”. But the hours drag on and no sign of any north-westerly component. To cap it all the westerly has now increased to a steady 22 -24 kts and again we’re beating into it, reefed down and bucking like a bronco, with waves cascading over the foredeck. Did I also mention that its fffffffreezing in this part of the world? We’re rugged up in long pants and sweaters and wet weather jackets. The only sense we can make of the weather is that the high has stalled and moved north, so we’re getting the squash zones on the eastern and southern sides of the high.
They say there’s no such thing as an easy passage to New Zealand, and they’re right. Three days of beating to windward is more than enough for Toucan and her crew. Hopefully we’ll reach Opua late tonight (Friday) or in the early hours of Saturday, and boy will we be glad to tie up at the quarantine dock. Bring it on!