We left on May 31st for Tonga. We had a mix of conditions heading north east of New Zealand. We sailed for a while and then motor-sailed as winds became unfavourable.
One day out, we put the fishing line out and within an hour, I yelled to Monty, “FISH ON!” The fish was really taking the line out quickly, and I did not know how to slow it down. Monty came to my aid. Now I know where the break is on that reel!
We had light and strong winds, mostly on the beam, with gusts to 38 and lots of squalls.
Our reefing system for the mainsail had some breakage, leaving us unable to reef our mainsail. Monty went up and took the main down.
We looked at our options, studied the forecasts and consulted with our weather router. We were 350 miles from New Zealand and about 700 miles from Tonga. We decided to return rather than carry on in what was forecasted to become a beat into high winds on approaching Tonga. It would be easier to deal with boat repairs in New Zealand.
After turning around, we had strong winds, more squalls and big seas for the first 24 hours, but the conditions eventually eased.
Night watches can be a struggle. We try our best to keep to a schedule of 3 hour watches. Listening to music with earbuds helps me stay awake. I work on building playlists, going through old CDs I have copied onto iTunes. It is a project that will keep me busy for a long time! When I am really tired, I listen to disco or rock!
One night we had a clear sky and the new moon rose around 4am. I tried to capture it through an opening in the clears from the helm with my camera set on the highest ISO setting but it still jumped around in the frame.
During the day, we often see birds. A regular is the graceful albatross. I bought a bird book and am trying to identify the species. Any one want to offer assistance?
We finally had wind and current from behind as we approached Opua. We turned off the engines and later, furled our self-tacking jib, to try to slow the boat down. We were still going to arrive in the channel for the Bay of Islands in the dark. We did a circle for a couple hours so that we could have some daylight coming into the bay.
On the morning of June 6th, we tied up at the Q-Dock and customs cleared us in. The wind was blowing our boat so hard against dock that we could not get it off. Mark from Field Trip came in his dinghy to help pull us off, but then a para-sail power boat passed by. I waved him down and asked him to help pull our bow off the dock. Mark helped get the bow line over to him and we were freed! We came into our slip and friends were waiting to take our lines at the marina dock close to the ferry dock. It was a relief to arrive and be able to get some rest. It was what some might call a real “shake down”!
Over the last week here in Opua, we have had a mix of wind, rain, sun and fog. We have been attending to the rigging repairs, reprovisioning and waiting for another weather window to head north. Might be one tomorrow, June 13th. At least it is not a Friday!