The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Tue 4 Nov 2014 18:54



28:46S  178:37E


So far, we've done 590 miles with 455 miles to go and we did 135 miles in the last 24 hours.  We’re on a broad reach with 10-15 knots of wind from the NNW and 6 foot seas.  It’s a grey overcast day and feels like there’s rain in the air. Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


4 November 2014   Tongatapu to New Zealand (Day 4)

By mid-morning, the wind had backed from east to north-north-east, so we were sailing almost dead down-wind.  I rigged up our spinnaker pole and pulled the genoa out to port, so that we were running wing-on-wing.  The strength of the wind had dropped to around 12 knots, so our boat speed was down to 5 knots.


The GRIB files now show a small low moving across the southern end of North Island, which is likely to give us  south-west winds on the 6th and then a longer spell of south winds until the 8th.  In addition, there's now a huge low forecast to pass to the north of us, which is predicted to pass over Minerva Reef and will give gale force easterlies where we are now.  


We've had a great sail up to now, but it looks like things might get a little tougher in a couple of days' time.  Our plan is to continue sailing down the rhumb line and take whatever comes - the wind will be against us, but at least it's only forecast to be 15-20 knots and who knows what tomorrow's forecast will bring.


For the time being, we wombled along in nice calm seas for the afternoon, but the wind gradually dropped, so at five o'clock, I turned on the engine.  Three hours later, the wind picked up enough to sail again, but at our watch change at 2200, we gave up and motored. 


By one o'clock, the wind had backed even more to NNW and picked up enough to sail yet again, so we gybed the main and ran on a broad reach with the wind on our starboard quarter. During my 1-4 watch, the wind picked up to 10-15 knots, so I unrigged the spinnaker pole and put a reef in the main.