Fiji southbound

JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Thu 25 Oct 2007 21:40
This is a brief blog because we have left Suva for Opua, New Zealand, one thousand, one hundred miles away to the south. We are travelling from the tropics to a temperate zone where spring is only just under way and it will be getting noticeably chillier as we go.


For the first time since we left the Canaries ten months ago all the talk has been of weather: isobars, systems, depressions, anti-cyclones, squashes, bombs and “windows”. The passage will probably take between seven and nine days and while we can look for good weather at the start no one can predict with accuracy what will be winging its way across the Tasman Sea by the time we reach the latitude of North Cape, New Zealand. In the meantime we must avoid deep depressions, squashes and bombs. We now know it was a squash that devastated the Fastnet race fleet in 1979, a disaster that has never been forgotten by sailors of any stripe.


Not wishing to rely on black magic or damp seaweed we have engaged the services of a professional weather guru. Bob McDavitt has a high reputation in these parts. He is a senior forecaster with the New Zealand Meteorological Service who is permitted to use spare office time and the office computer to prepare detailed voyage plans for sailors in the south-west Pacific. We were asked to provide details of our intended start time and route and the characteristics of the boat. Our forecast arrived very promptly by e-mail and gives a general resumé and detailed predictions every six hours for barometric pressure, wind strength and direction, boat speed and wave heights.


Bob said “go,” so we went. We shall see. We feel we have done all we can to eliminate avoidable risk. As I write at dusk on Thursday we are three hours out of Suva motoring into light headwinds. We are promised heavier airs from a better direction later and a bit of rougher stuff  ("brace for strong winds gusting to 35 knots", he says) at the tail end of a squash on Tuesday. Plenty of time to get prepared.