Archive for April 19th, 2011

NZ to Fiji

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

We made landfall tonight at 0200 and now we motor into the Koro Sea with Great Astrolabe Reef 55 nm to port and Matuku Island just visible to starboard in the blue light of a full moon. The entry to these waters is also guarded by an uncharted reef south of Matuku which S carefully noted on the chart plotter with a liberal sprinkling of sinking ship symbols.

It’s a relief to be across the last 1000 nm with its notorious threatening tropical lows and the sloppy seas of its boisterous sub-tropical highs.  These high pressure systems are really the way in and out of New Zealand though, and so it was that we set out toward a monstrous system of  rain and squalls and one big swirling storm, flying down like a red eyed dragon from the northwest to intercept our course.

It’s not clear to us where “Tropical Disturbance” falls in the hierarchy of tropical trouble but we did find it disturbing when the forecast began to include this term after we had been sailing north for a day. Our cunning plan on departure was to aim for the tail of  this beast and “hit ‘em where they ain’t”  but we slowed down for a day or two just to make sure that this thing would not turn on us.

Two days out of NZ the beast had crossed our track several hundred miles to the north and was slithering off the southeast leaving us to deal with a rearguard of squalls and a running head-sea.

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Up went the staysail, out came the 3nd reef on the jib and we sailed at great speed through the sort of uncomfortable sea that only Albatrosses enjoy.

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We love these big birds with their six foot wingspans and their determined but seemingly purposeless soaring through the troughs. S wants to know where they keep their feet. K is pretty sure they don’t have any.

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There was very little else to see. Several hundred miles north of NZ, a small swallow stopped and took a breather under the dodger for about 5 minutes before setting off again heading upwind against 20 knots.  We put out a saucer of water for him in case he came back, but though we saw him again the next day, he didn’t stop in.  The flying fish reappeared  flying through the night at alarming altitudes to ricochet off the rig, leaving blue scales and the strong smell of impacted flying fish in hidden places.

One day S saw a stick.

Khamseen thrives in these conditions. We’ve seen more than a few waves roll under the keel but it’s still fun to see this boat sail up to a wave the size of a house, crawl up the steep side, slide down the backside on her belly and still keep all the tea in your mug. In this heavy-ish weather, life revolves around sleeping and eating. We left with two whole legs of lamb. K brothed the bones in the pressure cooker and then made lamb curry everyday for about a week. There was lamb butter curry, lamb korma, banana coconut lamb curry, lamb vindaloo and a Jordanian  lamb maklouba (just for variety). The sea state was at “No Baking” so we did without our naan.

Our final days in Opua were delightful. First there was the discounted legs of lamb. Then our friends Michele and Bernie, who live with their two girls Lola and Jana on Momo, let us borrow their car for an expedition to the big supermarket in the town of Kerikeri. It was a great day out with lots of shopping and a nice shawarma lunch in an Israeli cafe.  Then we kept the kids up too late at the boring old yacht club where adults talked on and on about boats after a hard day of school.

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The next day we met up again with the Momo crew and the local syndicate of the Bubblegum Mafia for crepes and coffee.

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Some of us were on high alert with the impending visit of a dental nurse and were carrying a toothbrush and toothpaste in our shirt pockets at all times.

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Others of us were just pleased to have a whole locker converted into a single occupancy aviary.

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We’ll miss our Opua friends.  We’ll also miss our anchor spot next to Hawke of Tuonela with front row seats on an endless parade of vessels in this bay.

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Like the chick magnet Glyn Bird with its lusty ancient diesel on the daily social outing of young locals…

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and the folks from Zephyrus launching their sweet nesting two-part dinghy.

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19°46.12’S 179°29.07’E 17-Apr-11 07:00 UTC