Sailing South - Day 1 Noon Position - 36 08.12S 175 52.72E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 6 Feb 2011 04:25
Left Opua yesterday afternoon at 14.00 and are on our way south, bound for the Marlborough Sound on the north coast of the South Island - weather permitting that is. After all the ex-cyclones and Wilma, a full cyclone, hit North Island the weather has been fine for the last few days and it's beginning to feel like summer at last. However, the weather is very changeable with all the disturbances in the tropics and Coral Sea (La Nina pushing warm water into the Coral Sea which fuels the production of more cyclones and much more rain - as has been the case in Australia). The forecasting is quite comprehensive in NZ, but it's very difficult to accurately forecast the weather here for more than a couple of days at most - everything changes so quickly (wind reversals within minutes not being uncommon!).

At noon today we had made 115 miles since leaving Opua and 126 miles in the last 24 hours. Not fast - we have light winds and have been sailing at 4 to 5kts a lot of the time, with full sail up and using the poles - long time since we've done that! We did reach 7.5kts for a short while overnight, but the wind dropped down this morning. Going west-about the North Island is the preferred route to reach the South Island, but the forecast was for winds on the nose and big swell, so we opted for going east-about, going down the east coast and through Cook's Straight (if we can find a day when it's not blowing a gale through there). It's hot and sunny today and we're currently ghosting along at 4.7kts.

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