Storyteller, Part 2

Sat 2 May 2009 06:12
Position: 35.18S   174.07E
Sue writes:
On a cold, wet, windy day in Opua we are waiting with 18 yachts for the start of our passage to Tonga, hopefully with a stop at Minerva Reef en route if the weather is kind. We knew as soon as we heard from Bruce that the planned 2 May start was not going to happen. There were to be 20 vessels in the Island Cruising Association rally, but unfortunately one yacht was sunk after hitting rocks only 3 miles away from Opua on the passage north from Auckland. I hope it's not going to be a case of "20 little yachts on the way up to Tonga, one hit some rocks, and then there were 19...". The crew were airlifted to safety with some nasty injuries. Of course the safest place to be is well off shore, in the open ocean, which is where we will be this time tomorrow.
It has been a very busy (and expensive) time since we took possession of the new Storyteller on 1 April. A Selene 53 Ocean Trawler, it was previously called Private Life with a tender charmingly named Private Parts! Getting the Selene ready for an ocean crossing in a period of 4 weeks (including Easter!) has been quite a task. The previous owners spent freely on items such as a luxurious mattress, dvd players in every cabin and a wonderful sound system, but we had to start from scratch with the essentials such as a life raft, a single sideband radio, an Iridium phone and so on. The boat had been wired for the US system so would only run American appliances. We've had a huge amount of electrical work done to simplify the system and of course to run our coffee machine and bread maker. We've also invested in some very serious fishing gear thanks to Ben who is the engineer making the trip up to Tonga with us. As well as being an ardent fisherman, Ben has a gorgeous Tongan wife, Tassie, so we will be very well connected when we arrive.
The trip to Opua on Monday was a big learning experience in a rather rough sea, with the wind right on the nose. Our new storm shutters sent from China were cleared off the ship just in time to be fitted before our departure from Auckland last Monday, and then we were off on a new adventure. We felt quite apprehensive, given that we had never taken the boat out of the pen, but Gary the Yachtfinders Global broker was probably feeling even more nervous as we are the first Selene to head up to the Pacific Islands. The rough shakedown cruise was just what we needed, and we were pleasantly surprised that the different motion was quite bearable and didn't cause any sea sickness. We had intended to anchor at Tutakaka on the way up but after poking our nose into the anchorage at 2 in the morning and seeing breakers either side of us, we decided to carry on to Opua.
We've found that the chart plotter and radar on the Selene, although the same make as the ones on the old Storyteller, have completely different commands, which was a bit of a shock as we navigated our way up the coast in pitch darkness. No doubt we'll have learnt all the new systems by the time we arrive in Tonga.
We're all looking forward to setting off tomorrow in ordinary clothes rather than our heavy weather gear. The forecast is looking better for us than for the yachts, with quite light winds expected after an initial windy start. The meals are all cooked and in the freezer and our three fishing rods all rigged for mahimahi, tuna and other creatures of the deep.  
Had better close now and swot up the manual on how to use the radar.