Namani at Sea

The travels of Nana, Markus and Nick aboard Namani

30 June 2014 | Peaks Island, ME
10 June 2014 | Tarrytown, NY
19 May 2014 | Pangandaran, West Java, Indonesia
09 May 2014 | Sydney
06 May 2014 | Cairns, QLD
04 May 2014 | Cairns, QLD
01 May 2014 | Yorkey's Knob Boat Club
29 April 2014 | Anchored in Pioneer Bay, Palm Islands, QLD
26 April 2014 | Macona Inlet, Hook Island/Whitsundays
17 April 2014 | Rosslyn Bay
14 April 2014 | Pacific Creek, Curtis Island
04 April 2014 | Great Keppel Island, Queensland
02 March 2014 | Scarborough, Queensland
26 February 2014 | Scarborough, Queensland
13 February 2014 | Scarborough, Moreton Bay/Queensland
03 February 2014 | Scarborough, Moreton Bay/Queensland
12 January 2014 | Redcliffe Marina, Scarborough/Moreton Bay
07 January 2014 | Shoal Bay, Port Stephens
03 January 2014 | Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour

This time we mean it!

28 May 2013 | Opua, Bay of Islands
Spending the South Pacific Cyclone Season in New Zealand
So everything is ready to go now, including the weather forecast! We are aiming for a departure tomorrow - Wednesday, May 29. That means all of us: Namani and what seems like dozens of other boats who have also been waiting for a sane weather window. We expect light winds and some motoring in the first part of the passage, then decent 15-20 knot E/SE winds. We might make a short layover in Minerva Reef after about a week if northerly winds kick in from a front coming off New South Wales at that point; when it swings around again, we would set off for the final stretch to Fiji. We'll see how it works out!

One lesson learned: although cruising guides and rallies tout late April / early May as the time to depart NZ for Fiji, what that really means is that it's the earliest departure time after the "official" end of cyclone season. We've learned by now that this a bit of a theoretical concept as tropical depressions have kept coming out of the South Pacific Convergence Zone throughout May. There is in fact another late season tropical storm forecast to form by end of this week but this one sits well to the east of our route. In general though, the end of May and the beginning of June look like a much better time to make the trip as the strong high pressure systems that everyone was waiting for are finally materializing. With more dominant systems developing it seems the weather overall is acting in more predictable ways. Or so we hope!

Time to head back to the tropics!

Living It Up in the Hotel California (aka New Zealand)

19 May 2013 | Opua, Bay of Islands
Spending the South Pacific Cyclone Season in New Zealand
You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave...
That's kind of the feeling we have right now. Lovely as New Zealand is, we thought we'd be in Fiji by now. Admittedly, this is our own fault, since we keep waiting for a better weather window - and waiting, and waiting. On the other hand, we are pretty content here for the time being and see no reason to take an unnecessary thrashing at sea.

What we need is a low pressure system followed by a good strong high to give us good winds up and out of these latitudes. From a distance, they all look good while they build over Australia in the long-term forecast. But as the time and the systems inch closer, they inevitably morph just enough to keep us here in the Hotel California (er, New Zealand, aka Middle Earth), at least for the time being. Last Saturday we were all set to leave. The boat was ready, the crew was ready, even the vegetables were ready! But what was a dodgy weather window to begin with took a turn for the worse in the last pre-departure weather forecats. If we left as planned, we would most likely run into strong head winds, then - earlier as expected - a broad zone of light and variable (= non-sailable) wind, followed by more head winds again (as opposed to earlier forecasts, which had head winds, a smaller zone of no wind, and then more favorable winds). Not exactly a great recipe for a decent passage. Yes, we could do it, but why? We'd rather wait for a better outlook and do all three of us a favor.

So, another week at least of the Bay of Islands. Not exactly a punishment! We found some small rig issues that we need to address at some point in the next six month, so we'll take care of them right away. Each of us also has his or her own personal project to pursue, which also makes us patient. The one catch is having to extend our visas, which we will tackle on Monday.

Until the next "last" report from New Zealand, ciao!

Forecast continuity - or the lack thereof...

09 May 2013 | Anchored off Motuarohia, Bay of Islands
Spending the South Pacific Cyclone Season in New Zealand

As an illustration why that weather window mentioned in the previous post has so far been elusive... The image on the left above shows a computer model forecast (NOAA GFS) from this morning, valid for next Monday. That forecast made a Saturday/Sunday departure look favorable with good conditions along the way. The image shows isobars, wind arrows (each full barb representing 10kn), and blue shading indicates rain intensity.

The image on the right is also valid for next Monday but shows the model forecast from this evening, 12 hours more recent. This one shows a related but very different picture. What has been a shallow undefined area of low pressure west of Fiji in this morning's forecast (and projected to move off to the east and dissipate) has turned into a well formed depression on it's way south in this evening's forecast (and projected to further intensify over the following 24 hours). No longer a favorable departure window...but of course things may all be changed by tomorrow morning again ;-)

What this probably shows is the difficulty of forecasting even a rough outline of weather developments beyond 72 hours in this part of the world as long as the South Pacific Convergence Zone is active. The only things that can probably be gleaned from the longer term model output is the lack of confidence/instability indicated by the significant differences in results from successive model runs.

So we may be in for a few more days in the Bay of Islands until things settle down a bit. Not a bad spot to be in in any case...
Vessel Name: Namani
Vessel Make/Model: Dufour 35
Crew: Nana, Markus and Nick
About: A family of three on a cruise from the US East Coast to Australia