November 8, 2012

captain's report: melbourne to auckland

We left the dock at Sandringham Yacht Club before light in a moment of calm.

Before departure, we waited an hour in the dark.  The kids were asleep down below.  Somira was watching the wind instruments with patience.  I was pacing around like a dog looking for a place to lie down.  Damn 5 knots on the beam and I was pinned to the dock.

Light boat Anasazi Girl is.

Finally, when I was ready to give up, the wind dropped and I pushed the bow off.   A puff of wind from the other side helped and we slipped away quietly.

What I thought was 35 miles to the exit of Port Phillip Bay was only 25.  Sometimes I am soooo stupid.  So I slowed the boat down and we sailed 3 to 4 knots to the heads.

We hit the tide perfect, the wind came in behind and we were really free.

Deep water.

Bass Strait.

As forecasted we had flat water and light wind.  The breeze was forward of the beam so we sailed comfortably.  Slow, but moved through the Strait gently without stress.

No boats, no seas, but plenty of sea creatures, birds and rock.  I forgot about all the islands in the Strait with climbable rock routes to do.

Out of the Strait the wind went away and we drifted through the starry night.

First light found us with a building system and it came in fast.

Soon enough we were in a big gale getting bigger.  It was forecasted to get gigantic.  Our plan was to head to Cook Strait to the port of Wellington, but with the system arriving, I started thinking instead of going around and up and over Cape Reinga and down to Auckland.   The size of the low filled the Tasman so this could be easy.

My biggest concern was that at this time of year a low pressure could develop and push us on shore at the Cape.  Not my idea of a good scene.  Somira felt if that happed we could just turn around and wait until it passed.

What a great partner she is becoming.  Sensible sea woman.

I went on deck to gybe and after a few minutes decided against it.  The sea state was something that I had never experienced.

Big stuff very close together and very steep.  I was too scared to gybe.  No time to tango now.

Nice feeling.  Even after this many miles of sailing, there is always something deeper & new to experience at sea.

After 24 hours the sea state shifted and I gybed and committed to the northern route.  The next grib file showed a low developing in my spot of fear. 

Wow, nice karma.

My first thought was to run harder to stay in front of the system.  My next thought was not to chase the weather.

I was now a responsible family man with 2 young kids and Somira 7 months pregnant on board my wild racing boat.

And this was the F… Tasman Sea.

We moved rapidly without pushing.  The boat stayed quiet.  Everyone was happy.

The next grib showed more intensity of the low we were circling and the developing low to the North becoming double headed and on a converging course.

More karma.
More humbling.
The result was the double headed low stalled.

We hit Cape Reinga with light air, smooth seas, and downwind.  We turned the corner and the wind backed to the south.

Nice relief for my brain.

Now we had offshore wind rounding the double headed Cape of New Zealand.  My thoughts moved to the next forecast and what was ahead turning south to Auckland and I stopped myself.

Be here now.

Be with the gift, be grateful and deal with upwind conditions later.

Later came soon enough.

We spent 17 hours chilling - short tacking not really going anywhere.  Big Respect for this place.

Somira and I discussed whether we wanted to end our passage in the Bay of Islands or continue on to Auckland as planned.  It was uncomfortable, but we decided to push on.

Before we started to moan and whine, the wind clocked and the sheets cracked.  We were then zooooming in flat water & on course.  This brought all of us up on deck. 

Celebration time, as we realized we had finally threaded the needle.  We had passed three difficult bodies of water in a relatively short time and broke nothing on the boat.

We slipped into the final channel past Rangitoto Island.  My mind was flooded with memories of sailing in these waters with our many many great friends here in New Zealand.

Landfall brought out our now family tradition of a 2 litre bottle of Coca-Cola and chocolate bars.

At the dock Kiwi Hospitality that is absolutely unreal. What a lucky family we are.

Now preparing for the main event:  The Birth of Number Three. 

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