The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sun 2 Nov 2014 18:43



24:40S  178:44W


We’ve decided to head straight for Opua in New Zealand because the weather looks good.  So far, we've done 305 miles with 745 miles to go and we’ve done 160 miles in the last 24 hours.  We’re on a close reach with 15-20 knots of wind and 6 foot seas  It’s a little bit dull with overcast skies and we’re wearing long trousers... Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.



2 November 2014   Tongatapu to New Zealand (Day 2)

Dawn brought us overcast skies and the wind backed to the west, but it was still blowing at 20 knots, so we were screaming along on a broad reach.  By eight o'clock, we'd done 140 miles in 22 hours, which was a really good start to the passage.


I downloaded the weather forecasts and then agonised over our routing for an hour.  We were only 100 miles from Minerva Reef and it was decision time - should we stop or should we carry on direct to New Zealand?  The GRIB files show that there's a high pressure system building over New Zealand which is spreading out and will give low winds just north of the country for the next ten days with no sign of any south-west gales.


We've decided to sail straight to New Zealand and changed course to 210 degrees, which is the direct rhumb line to Opua.  The conventional route is to head more west and to cross 30 degrees south at a point directly north of Opua, which would put us in a position to better handle south west gales.  As the forecast is currently for south to south-east winds en-route, it makes more sense to keep further to the east and we can then head more west if we encounter strong south-east winds.


After lunch, the clouds dissipated and, for the rest of the day, we had a superb beam reach doing seven knots in boisterous 6-8 foot seas.   Just after midnight, the wind dropped to 12- 16 knots, so we unfurled the genoa and staysail and glided along in four foot seas under a half moon.  It was a beautiful night, but the cloudless skies made the temperature drop, so long trousers and fleeces were essential when on watch.