Saturday, November 21, 2015

Passage to NZ: Done

35° 18' S  174° 08' E - Opua

As I mentioned in my previous post - I have arrived in New Zealand.  Yay!

A little more sailor talk...

In my last post I had just tacked and was starting to head West, with the expectation that the winds were going to back around to the SE and then East - as the winds make this change Luckness and I would end up pointing from West to SW - toward our destination.  I'll show this progression with a few images, now that I have internet.

The first picture is typical of my conditions for two days after crossing the previous front.  I am keeping Luckness as close to the wind as possible, sailing roughly ESE.  The bottom of the red line is where I want to go, Luckness is located at the top of the line, heading ESE - notice I am sailing away from my destination!  Oops - but don't panic yet...

Nov 18, 7pm.  Wind flowing from SW to NE.
Here is the situation 12 hours later.  Luckness is again at the top right of the line, but now the wind has gone from SW, through S to SE and then to East (sailors say, its backed, i.e. gone the opposite direction a clock moves.)  Now that the wind has backed, we are sailing directly toward Opua, with the wind a little ahead of the beam, making excellent progress.  Luckness and I are in an area of wind which is around 10-12 knots, the skies are blue and its warm - perfect!  However, there is a wall of stronger wind arriving, look down and to the right of the top of the line...

Nov 19, 7am
When you are sailing along, in beautiful conditions - in this case, blue skies and moderate winds - the last thing you want to see on the horizon approaching you is a solid wall of cloud.  I had expected stronger winds to arrive but I hadn't expected a wall of clouds.  As the wall of cloud overtook me the area became very squally, much colder, with rain, changes of wind direction and changes of wind strength.  So much for my easy final leg into Opua - but there was good wind all the way in, it was behind me and I was making fantastic progress - hard to complain about that.

The final image is 12 hours after the previous one.  The forecast winds were low, I was actually experiencing low to high 20s, but with the wind so far behind me it was a sleigh ride in.  The timing worked out perfectly, with my not having to slow down at all to time the entry for daylight.

Nov 19, 7pm.
As I approach the entrance to the Bay of Islands the wind started to fall and by the time I was inside the Bay of Islands the wind was down to below 10 knots.  At this point, with the wind behind me, I was slowing down and as I hadn't motored at all for the previous 10 days I want to exercise my engine a little - so turned it on and motored the final two hours to the customs dock.

When I left Fiji I thought this was going to be a slow trip, possibly with a lot of motoring.  In the end, aside from 5 hours on the second day out of Fiji where I lost steerage and bobbed around for a while until the wind came back, I had good wind the whole way.  "good wind" should be clarified a little - a "good wind" is a wind which allows me to sail towards my destination.  It isn't necessarily a "comfortable" wind.  When leaving Fiji I had a few doubts about the weather window I had chosen - thinking it may end up being slow and tedious, but this turned out to be a fabulous weather window.

Point to point, Savusavu Fiji to Opua is 1140nm.  However sailboats never sail in a straight line.  On the second day out of Fiji my knot meter stopped working, so I wasn't able to track my distance by measuring my progress through the water.  My chart plotter has a GPS log built in and before leaving Fiji I had recorded its value.  According to my GPS, I traveled 1409nm.  This is the first time I had used the GPS log to measure the distance traveled - I traveled almost 25% further than the straight line distance.

I completed the passage in 10 days 19 hours.  This averages out to around 5.5 knots, on average.  Or around 130nm per day, on average.  This is only ok, not fantastic numbers.

I used the engine for an hour after leaving my mooring in Fiji and then for two more after arriving in the Bay of Islands to get to the customs dock - 3 hours is roughly 1.5 gallons.  I'm pretty happy with that.

I arrived at the Opua Customs dock at 7:40am and so I had a little over an hour before the Customs staff would arrive at work and start processing the 11 boats waiting for them.  With all the rain I had before arriving I managed to arrive with clean decks - normally everything is covered in salt water and salt crystals - arriving with a clean boat is something I could get used to.  I was cleared in after having to give up all my fresh vegetables, eggs, dried beans - all the things I expected to lose - and was off the dock by 10:30am.  I motored over to the anchorage area I had been using last year, dropped anchor and shut the boat down.  Yay!

I had plans to get to shore, and brought the dinghy up on desk, unrolled it and got ready to start inflating it when I yawned and I realized that I wasn't going to make it.  I lashed the dinghy down, cleaned the boat up a little, and made myself a large lupper (lunch/supper?).  As I was eating at 3pm I watched a video on my computer and couldn't stop yawning.  By 4pm I closed my eyes "for a brief moment" and woke up at 11pm.  I cleaned up a little, went back to bed and slept for 15 hours all together.  So nice.

Since arriving, the winds have picked up.  It started blowing 20-30 knots and I haven't left the boat yet.  Tomorrow is forecast to be light winds, which continues for a little while.

Its nice to be back in the Bay of Islands, and I'm looking forward to getting out to the local islands again to revisit some of the places I spent time last season.


  1. Hi Craig! I'm glad that you made it back to NZ and had a good sleep. I'm landing in Auckland in 2 weeks. See you around maybe. You have to go out and explore NEW places this time! :)

  2. Love the "sailor talks"! Good to know that you actually do sleep sometimes.
    Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving. 🍗

    1. Thought I 'd see if a special character - a drumstick - would publish in my comment. I guess not. So we'll just have to visualize turkey.

    2. I receive an email when people add a comments to this blog - the drumstick character appeared in the email - Happy Thanksgiving :-)

  3. Although I might not know much about your weather app, I read with real interest your account of the passage. So nice that your timing worked out perfectly. Soon, it will be turkey day in the Us but likely not in NZ. Enjoy. xo Mum