Tonga to NZ – Update 3

October 14 –¬†Welcome to our next New Zealand passage update and thanks for reading!

Anila arrived at North Minerva Reef this morning at 0700 local time. This circular atoll lies 265 nm SW of Tongatapu. The middle of the ocean, yep. We’re anchored in a lagoon and surrounded by clear blue water and a protective ring of reef.

Our wind picked up yesterday afternoon just after we sent our previous update. The wind came from the SSE and slowly built throughout the day averaging 18kts and gusting to 25 kts. The crew was happy to turn off the engine and be rid of the noise and extra cabin heat after a full day of motoring. Our plan to reach the reef by Sunday morning was looking good.

We carefully watched the wind speed and reduced sail (reefing) as the wind built. Our rule of thumb is to start reefing at 15kts and keep reducing every 5kts as the wind grows. This ensures that we don’t overload the rigging and it keeps the heel of the boat to a comfortable level. Of course with growing winds comes increasing waves. The water became more choppy into the afternoon, but fortunately, the waves became more spaced out by sundown giving us a more conformable evening.

We’re eating through our fresh stores since we can’t bring fresh meat, cheese, fruits, or vegetables into New Zealand. “Cookie” Nick whipped up delicious meatball mozzarella sandwiches for lunch, with an encore of Mexican burritos for dinner. We’re finding that it’s indeed true that a well fed crew is a happy crew. Our overnight was uneventful, until the midnight watch noticed that the refrigerator/freezer breaker had tripped. We can eat a lot, but we can’t eat a freezer full of meat in one day… So they woke up a sleeping Captain Dave to take a look at the problem. The compressor was overheating from lack of cooling water, which we fixed by cleaning the seawater strainer and flushing the coolant line. Another problem solved!

For the remainder of the night we carefully trimmed our sails to time our arrival for daylight into the reef. Other boats in our little fleet did the same with Del Solene, Rogue, Bojka arriving together to parade through the passage following Dol Selene. Pelizeno arrived a few hours later. Counting Stars, Suan and another boat had arrived earlier, for a total of 9 boats waiting for good weather at the reef.

Bojka caught a large 30lb tuna enroute, and offered up a chunk to the anchorage. Our hearty crew, still stinging from the loss of our fishing gear, leapt to the radio to take them up on their generous offer. But how to actually collect this coveted fish? With our dinghy on deck, and 18kts of wind, it would be a tricky affair to get it into the water. Undeterred, Nick quickly donned snorkeling gear and set off across the lagoon to collect our prize. Stay tuned tomorrow for our sushi report. Now where did we put that wasabi?

We are now assessing the weather to determine our next move. Given projected winds of 20-25kts and waves of 3.7 meters, we are planning to enjoy the reef until Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning for calmer sailing conditions. The high pressure system over and around the north island of NZ is expected to stay put into next week, which will make for a safe and comfortable passage. This moves our new ETA to Tuesday, October 23rd for arrival at Opua.

Dave, Kevin, John, Mike & Nick

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