The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Wed 5 Nov 2014 19:55



30:20S  176:52E


So far, we've done 725 miles with 410 miles to go - we did 135 miles in the last 24 hours.  The SW winds have finally arrived and we’re now heeled over at 25 degrees bashing into a 20 knot wind heading on a course of 260 degrees when we ought to be heading 210 degrees.  Mustn’t moan though, it’s not raining and the sun is peeking through the 90% cloud layer.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


5 November 2014   Tongatapu to New Zealand (Day 5)

At eight o'clock this morning, we'd done 590 miles with 455 miles to go, so we're well over halfway.  It was a pleasant start to the day with a light cloud layer and the sun breaking through every so often.  The wind stayed constant from the NNW, but gradually dropped near lunchtime as a line of darker cloud approached us over the horizon - the low pressure trough that we've been expecting.


The weather forecast hadn't changed much from yesterday - we're going to get south to south-west winds on the nose from tonight until the 7th, when it should start to back around to the east and give us a good reach into Opua for the last couple of days.


Just as we were about to have lunch, the wind picked up to over 20 knots as we passed by a squall system, causing me to spring into action reefing the main and genoa.  I just got back into the cockpit and put the bimini side flaps up before the rain hit us - phew...  Once into the low pressure trough, the wind died down and we had to start motoring again.


By four o'clock, the wind had backed 180 degrees around to the south, so it was almost directly on the nose.  At first it was only 5 knots, so we kept on motoring until we'd had dinner and our evening showers.  By this time, the wind had picked up to 12-15 knots, so I put one reef in the main; pulled out both headsails and we started beating upwind at 6 knots on a course of 245 degrees - only 35 degrees off our ideal course of 210 degrees.


It's now noticeably colder during the night because of the south wind and I'm now wearing warm long trousers, a thin goose down gilet,  a fleece and thick socks.  Halfway through my 7-10 watch, I had to go forward to reef the main because the wind was gusting up to 22 knots.  This was a bit more complicated than normal because I had to change my clothes first, taking off my fleece and long trousers and putting on a waterproof jacket against the cold light rain.


We had a miserable six hours bashing into a 20-25 knot wind, heeling over at alarming angles and slamming into waves, but by three o'clock, it had calmed down to 15-18 knots and it was nice sailing along at 5-6 knots with a full moon peeking through the thin cloud layer.