Island Cruising..... Almost! - Leaving New Zealand

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Tue 29 May 2018 00:34
33:11S 176:10E
Island Cruising..... Almost!
Almost 50 boats left the Bay of Islands on Monday 28th May 2018. 28 of them from the Island Cruising Association 2018 Rally Tonga bunch, including us.
4 macho intrepid boats left on the Sunday, but the forecast was for 30 knots and big seas, falling the next day, so the majority waited for the better weather window.
We had a lovely, peaceful, calm, still departure from the marina, making our way up the river past Pahia and Russel.
Passing Blue Penguins and jumping Dolphins in the bay.
The 12 knots of steady wind meant all the boats had all the canvas unfurled, and there were coloured sails in evidence as the flotilla left the huge sheltered bay.
The forecast was good. 15 knots for the day, then dropping overnight. A perfect start for the week of ocean passage to Minerva reef and then on to Tonga.
As we reached the open ocean, the swell increased to a couple of meters.
Then the weather gods decided to make all that computerized calculation, internet downloading and widget and electronic brains completely redundant.
The wind gradually increased and increased. By the 12 mile New Zealand territorial line, it was reaching 30 knots, with gusts more than that. The sea was now 3 meters, with cresting white horses breaking on the windward the side of the boat. Occasional squalls of rain complete the picture. Very exciting.
By nightfall, we were reefed right down, with less than half our tough little staysail out, and three big slabs wound in to our mainsail.
We hunkered down in our pilot house, with everything on and ready to go out on deck if we had to, but hoping everything would be ok out there without us!
John, our trusty autopilot was adjusted for direction. Our AIS and radar were on at the Pilot helm, checking the fleet around us, and we gave our position and situation via the SSB radio to Northland radio, who will plot our track and status as we cross to Pangaimotu.
Nina felt like a submarine at times, with the waves breaking over our coach roof, but on she plowed, shaking off the water and straining against the wind to push forwards, rolling over the swell.
I hope tomorrows GRIB is more accurate? its supposed to be another nice day!
Nina sailed 94 miles from 18.00 hrs to 06.00 hrs. She did well!