Thursday 28th November Twixt Fiji and NZ

Jon & Carol Dutton
Thu 28 Nov 2013 07:58

26:36.45S 176:03.77E


Thursday 28th November Twixt Fiji and NZ


We departed Vuda marina more or less as planned at 1220 on Monday 25th and we are now around halfway to Opua with a little over 500NM to go.  As we suspected it has been a very light wind passage.  We motored for most of Monday and Tuesday with a brief interlude during which Percy the Parasailor was encouraged to help us along our way for a few hours on Tuesday.  But, the NE wind didn’t hang around for more than about 4 hours and Percy was sent back to bed in the early afternoon. 


The early hours of Wednesday morning brought useful wind from the NW and we knew that the evening would bring a warm front through which we would have to pass.  Bob McDavitt (the NZ weather guru) had suggested that we might consider heaving to well north of it for 18 hours or so as it made its way east.  However, having had so little wind so far, it seemed a little wimpish to avoid the first bit of it that came along.  So, we didn’t heave to and it was absolutely fine.  We put 3 reefs in the mainsail, poled out the yankee and did a very useful 8-10 knots broad-reaching for most of the daylight hours of Wednesday.  We had fairly constant rain and two dramatic downpours accompanied by 38 knot gusts but generally the NW wind was around the 25 knot mark.  Arnamentia’s weather.  Whilst dealing with the front we also crossed the Tropic of Capricorn at around 1700.  By this morning we were well clear of it all and the wind strength gradually dropped off during the course of the daylight hours of today from being useful to being not.  We have now been motor-sailing since 1500 and it looks as though that’s the way life is going to be until some time tomorrow afternoon/evening.  Ho, hum.  Meanwhile a couple of pretty bolshie looking systems are due to pass in front of and behind us at right angles to our track.  Timing on this passage is all.


We hope to get to Opua on Monday or so – provided that our diesel stocks can last the course.  Having departed Vuda with around 520 litres of diesel aboard (normal fuel tanks plus eight 20 litre jerry cans lashed to the guardrails) we very much hope so.  But we still need a little wind to be confident of making the whole distance in a reasonable time.


Again, we note how surprisingly quickly the temperatures drop once south of the Tropic of Capricorn.  The equivalent time of year in the northern hemisphere would be the end of May.  But, we are still closer to the Equator now than we would be in, say, the Canary Islands where it would be really pretty warm at the end of May.  Anyway, the fleeces have been dug out along with the lightweight waterproofs and they are seeing some action.


The back is more or less behaving itself.  Carol has to do most of the heavy lifting.  So, no change there.