Back at Sea - Heading North - Day 1 - 39 02.28S 178 21.13E

Mike and Liz Downing
Fri 1 Apr 2011 04:16
Arrived back at Napier from our tour of the South Island on 19 March. Had hoped to head north a few days later, but no suitable weather window then. Looked like a good opening last Sunday, but then tropical cyclone Bune appeared on the scene and started to track south to NZ, rather than continue west. It's the first one to come down here since the 3 we had in January. It took 3 days to arrive and ended up passing just to the east of the North Island on Wednesday this week. With that out of the way, a small weather window has opened up and we left Napier yesterday (Thursday) evening. The the lat/long above is our noon position today (Friday), having covered about 80 miles overnight. We are hoping to get to Tauranga on the west shores of the Bay of Plenty, about 330 miles away.

It's an interesting passage to plan for as we need to sail 3 sides of a rectangle - 60 miles due east, 130 miles north and then 140 miles west. Trying to get a reasonable forecast for each part of the trip is not easy in NZ where the weather changes so rapidly and there are no ports of refuge. We hope our plan is a good one - so far so good. Had to motor-sail most of the first 60 miles as very little wind. This morning the winds changed and the forecast southerly set in, so it was down with the main and up with both poles to set our 2 genoas. It's now blowing 15-20kts from right behind,so both sails are rolled and we're making around 6 kts. The swell increased as we headed out. We're now about 20 miles off shore and it's rolly at times, but at least we have the main swell now going in the same direction as us. Could go faster, but if we did we would be at East Cape too early for the weather to change in our favour for that leg. A small group of dolphins came to visit when heading out of Napier and across Hawke Bay. Today a larger group came over to check us out and do a little bow riding. They had 2 young calves with them, both about half the size of an adult. It's lovely to see them come so close. 2 or 3 albatrosses have also come close, as have a number of petrels, so quite a lot of wildlife so far this passage.

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