July 2009 Neiafu, Vava'u Tonga
After being held in port for two weeks by easterly gales in Cook Strait we set sail from Nelson on the 3rd of May bound for Pago Pago, American Samoa.
On board were 2 Yanks, Michelle and myself, 2 Germans, Kat and Lara, 2 Swedes, Emil and Rasmus and 2 Aussies, Pete and Tania. With only 8 on the crew Kat and I stood 4 on and 4 hours off, while the other 6 crew had 4 on and 8 hours off.
With calms we motored out of Tasman Bay through French Pass and the Marlboro Sounds, onward through Cook Strait and past Cape Paliser. Not wanting to be caught on a lee shore we motored another day to be well clear of the land. On the morning of the third day a light westerly set in, so we set sails and shut down the main engine.
Following the way of the old sailing ships the plan was to sail east until you reach the longitude of your destination, then shape a course to the north until you find the trade winds, from there sail direct to your destination.
However there was a twist to this season’s weather. Crossing the Tasman Sea from Australia was a series of steep highs and deep lows. There were calms in the middle and strong winds on the edges of these weather systems. As we worked our way to the north and east, it soon became the voyage of the never-ending cold fronts.
By the 11th day we crossed 40 degrees south, on the 25th day we crossed 30 degrees south and in the 33rd day we crossed the tropic of Capricorn. The cold fronts from the Antarctic mixed with tropical air that gave us squally weather and pouring rain.
The last 8 days of the passage saw us with square sails set running before reinforced trade winds of 25 knots and 3 to 4 metre seas.
In all we were hove to for 63 hours in gales, becalmed for 26 hours, best days run was 121 miles and slowest was 22 miles (backwards hove to in a gale). We caught 10 fish, which included 2 Kahawai, 2 Barracuda, 2 Tuna, 2 Mahi Mahi, 1 Mackerel and a shark, which we tossed back.