New Caledonia to New Zealand
16 November 2009 | Opua New Zealand Northland
New Caledonia to New Zealand.
As most of you know by now we are arrived safely in Opua which is on the east coast towards the northern end of New Zealand's north island on Thursday 5th November at 22:30. Our passage from Noumea, New Caledonia took 6 ½ days. We encountered stronger than predicted SE winds of 20-25kts for the first 3 days (prediction was for 10-15kts). This meant that we were headed almost straight into the wind and which made life on board uncomfortable as Migaloo was crashing into the waves with a lot of sea coming over the bow and decks. Wind squalls and showers added to the discomfort for those on watch and as such we were a somber crew. None aboard (including me) suffered from sea sickness however which made the conditions bearable however we were unable to sail and had to motor sail and averaged only about 5.5kts of boat speed. On day 4 things started to improve as the wind and sea decreased and although it was still coming from the direction we were travelling we still were unable to sail however so we continued to motor sail for most all of days 4 & 5, our average speed increased to 6-7.5 knots . Day 6 saw the wind change and it was now almost behind us (and very cold) which meant that we could shut off the engine and sail with the headsail poled out and a full mainsail & staysail. We were now travelling at a constant 7.5-9.5 knots. We were visited by an awesome albatross on 2 occasions during day 6, what a captivating creature; it was a big one with a wing span that appeared to be around 2 meters. We sighted New Zealand in the early afternoon, what a moment!
Overall we had a great passage and whilst we did motor sail almost all the way (900nm) we did not at anytime encounter any weather or sea conditions that made us feel vulnerable or frightened. Migaloo did a great job for us and kept us safe and dry (most of the time). We did have an expensive incident however on day 3. At about midday whilst Leanne was on watch she heard a loud cracking sound and turned to see the dinghy floating away behind Migaloo. The davits (a frame attached to the rear of Migaloo) that winches & holds the dinghy out of the water had broken away at the welded joins resulting in the loss of the dinghy, outboard engine, the davits, my surfboard, our BBQ and other assorted stuff that was either in the dingy or attached to the davits all in all about $15,000 worth. I was faced with a difficult decision as to whether to attempt to salvage the items. Given that the sea was still quite rough and the fact that the davits had broken off and were still attached to the dinghy leaving jaggered sharp steel protruding from them I decided that rather than risk damage to Migaloo and or injury to the crew we should not attempt to salvage any items, we continued on watching until the dinghy disappeared from our sight,,,,,, not a happy day! , however given that this passage is one that is taken seriously by even the saltiest of sailors as it has quite a reputation for heavy weather and challenging conditions and has claimed many a vessel and a more than a few lives over the years I am happy that this was our only incident and one from which we escaped unharmed.
Frank & Jane were excellent crew members and company who made this journey a much less difficult and far less demanding passage than it would have been for just Leanne and I . We took shifts to keep watch and tend to the sails and course keeping , these shifts were 3 hours on and 6 hours off for each 24 hour period as opposed to 3 hours on and 3 hours off if it were just the two of us. Frank is a very capable sailor and enjoyed constantly tinkering with all the sails and sailing systems in an effort to get the best performance possible in the conditions out of Migaloo. We are very grateful to both Frank & Jane for their contribution on the passage and helping to get us and Migaloo safely to NZ. Leanne was as usual right at home on Migaloo in the ocean and ensured we were all well fed, and did all her watches without complaint (even the cold & wet ones). As for me well I can say that I was very apprehensive about tackling this passage and am glad that it is over and that we arrived safely. Whilst I still do not enjoy these passages (I am in it for the destinations) I am grateful to have been able to overcome my seasickness and at least now I can do them without being sick, who knows maybe I will come to like the passages, regardless they are essential if you want to visit the places we want to visit and be able to stay for extended periods affordably, I am now sure that we will be doing many more of these journeys across the seas to distant lands this is an awesome lifestyle.