October 13 – Hello and welcome to our daily passage update email!
After a successful day of fueling and provisioning in Nuku’Alofa, Tonga on Thursday we were ready to depart on Friday with the weather forecasts looking favorable. After breakfast, we finished the final stowing of items and lashing the dinghy on the foredeck and departed shortly after 11 am. We motor-sailed NW through the reefs of Tongatapu before settling on our SW track towards North Minerva Reef, some 260 nm away.
The crew for our voyage is Captain Dave, Dinghy Captain Kevin Kahl (both from Redmond, WA), Nick Meyer (from Portland, OR), John Howe, and Mike Frampton (both from Christchurch, NZ). Satin, Camille, and Kyra Brennan are not joining for this passage and flew ahead to Auckland on Wednesday.
Our winds were around 10 kts from the NE (directly behind). With the headsail flapping a bit from the swells we decided to deploy the whisker pole to help keep the sail full and help with our forward progress. We continued to motor in order to maintain an average forward speed of 6-6.5 kts since we need to arrive in New Zealand during our weather window. (We want to arrive ahead of the next low system in order to avoid the much stronger winds and sea state that would accompany it.)
Next, we reefed the main sail to take advantage of the headsail, but later when the wind shifted back toward the east we encountered our first serious challenge: we found part of the luff (trailing edge of the sail) had folded over on itself and trapped part of the sail in the vertical track slot of our in-mast furling system. Given the swells and rolling sea conditions, we did not want to send anyone up the mast. While regrouping and pondering a fix, we stowed the pole and reset the headsail. Returning to the main, we decided to remove the vertical fiberglass batten to reduce the width of the sail at the jam point. As hoped, this worked! We were subsequently able to deploy the main and return the batten to its pocket.
We also set out our fishing line, hoping for a free meal from the sea. We didn’t catch anything, then at dusk, while reeling the empty fishing line in, Capt. Dave accidentally let it slip out of his hand and get away, dashing our hopes of fish for this voyage. Oh well, we’ve got plenty of tasty food aboard.
Nick whipped up a delicious “left-overs” stir-fry for lunch, and we ate one of our 2 pre-made lasagnas for dinner. Thanks to contributions from John and Mike, we also have a nice cache of New Zealand chocolates, snacks, and the ever-popular Marmite. Kevin and Dave have been busy briefing everyone on the many boat systems and safety protocols.
Seas calmed in the evening and the wind stayed mostly East, making for easy watches overnight and good rest for all.
This morning we passed through a brief squall, giving us a good rinse off. Fortunately the skies are now clear and we are 105 nautical miles away from North Minerva Reef. We’d like to pop in to take a look, but may not stay long since we’re expecting building East winds and the prospect of turning off the engine for some pure sailing finally.
North Minerva Reef is about 1/4 of the way to Opua, NZ. We’ll have another 750 – 870 nm left depending on the route we take. At current speeds we should arrive by next Saturday, Oct 20th. If we get good winds starting on Sunday we might be able to make it by Friday. As always, the forecasts in this part of the sea aren’t very reliable more than 3 days out so we’ll be keeping a watchful eye on conditions.
You can find our track and current location here: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Anila
You can look at the weather on: https://www.predictwind.com/ or https://www.ghradio.co.nz/weather.html
Feel free to write back with any questions or messages for the crew.
Dave, Kevin, Nick, John & Mike