The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sun 9 Nov 2014 03:30



35:02S  174:14E


We’re only 10 miles offshore, with New Zealand plainly in sight and looking forward to getting into some sheltered waters. The sun is shining, but it’s damn cold. Glenys is just cooking omelette and beans for breakfast with a nice cup of tea. Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


8 November 2014   Tongatapu to New Zealand (Day 8)

Just after sunrise, the wind picked up to 15-20 knots, so Glenys started pull out the sails.  Feeling gallant, I nipped out of bed and went to give her a hand dressed just in a pair of underpants - I wish that I hadn't bothered because the wind was bloody freezing.  I was so glad to dive back under my duvet five minutes later.


The sea quickly built up to some very nasty, steep, 4-6 foot waves that were stopping us dead in the water, so we turned the engine back on and motor-sailed for a few hours - we only had 120 miles to go and we were both getting weary of bashing to windward.


Motoring 30 degrees off the rhumb line last might meant that it added 15  miles to our passage, but I'm glad that we did it because we were able to sail closer to the rhumb line all day - there's nothing more depressing than beating up wind seemingly heading away from your destination.


The waves were relentlessly bouncing us around, so we hove to at midday, giving Glenys some respite while she made us Rosti for lunch.  Thirty minutes later, we were back to pounding upwind.  The wind around here is very odd - veering around and changing strength all the time, which is strange because we're so far from land.  We must have turned the engine on and off four or five times during the day.


Glenys spent some time this afternoon throwing away fresh food and cooking some things  prior to our arrival because she knows that the quarantine people will be taking a hard look at everything and it's better to be prepared.  She made oven roasted vegetables with the last of the peppers; coleslaw with the last of the cabbage and carrot; and salsa with the last of the tomatoes.  Then she made enough lasagna to give us a meal today and tomorrow in anticipation that quarantine will take every other bit of meat away and we won't be able to get off the boat until the next day.


The wind deserted us again at three o'clock in the afternoon and we motored until midnight when the wind picked up to 12- 15 knots.  For the first time in four days, we had winds from the east and reasonably calm seas allowing us to sail with the sheets slightly eased, directly towards our destination.  It didn't last long, an hour later, the wind had veered and increased to  20-25 knots, putting us hard on the wind and forcing us to sail 20 degrees off the rhumb line.


At two o'clock in the morning, we were 40 miles away from Opua, so I called up Maritime Radio and asked them to contact customs to tell them that we would be arriving around midday tomorrow (with fingers and toes crossed). Before we left Tonga, we had to email a form to customs giving them advanced notification of our arrival and this was another little formality required before entering New Zealand's 12 mile limit.


At our change of watch at 0430, we were still 35 miles away and being forced remorselessly off course by the wind, so we gave up, rolled away the genoa and motored straight for port crashing into the rising waves.