Hello from the South Pacific - It's always about the weather
19 November 2019 | On passage from Fiji to New Zealand
Hello from the South Pacific!
We�'re on our way from Fiji to New Zealand. We left Port Denarau noon local time on Monday, so we�'ve
been at sea for two days now. The weather is sunny and warm, very nice. If you�'d like to follow along,
look for SCOOTS at Yachts in Transit (www.yit.co.nz <http://www.yit.co.nz/>). I�'ll be sending daily
We took a weather window that I would describe as �"the best that we would get for awhile, considering
the circumstances.�" I like to wait for an optimum weather window, but this year, my hand has been forced
by the forecast of an early season tropical storm that may in fact become a cyclone and will either impact
Fiji or Vanuatu sometime next week.
Rather than hanging around in Fiji to see whether or not it was visited by a tropical storm next week, and
then wait another week or two (into December now), for another weather window to (hopefully) develop,
we took what we had and we�'re making it work. This fits nicely with our tried-and-true hurricane plan:
RUN, rather than hide.
So here�'s what we�'ve got: The players in our passage weather are a High pressure system between us and
NZ (this is good), and a big, nasty Low forming well to the east of us that�'s going to move a little bit
towards us on Friday or Saturday as we sail southwest toward NZ (this is bad), but is not going to come all
the way to where we are (this is good). What it is going to to do, as it moves in our direction, is press on
the isobars of our High to make them squish together, creating what is aptly called a �"squash zone,�" where
the wind is stronger than it would otherwise be. And also, in this case, it will cause these strong winds to
blow from the south, which is basically the direction that we want to be going.
But, we saw that if we left last Monday, the forecast for the first three days called for light to moderate
wind, and reasonable seas, which would give us time to get south, and then head more west away from the
big, nasty Low as it moved toward us.
So that�'s what we�'ve been doing for the past two days...heading as much south as we can. We�'re on a
tight reach, which means pointing SCOOTS close to the wind (in this case we�'ve been sailing between 35
and 45 degrees off the wind) while keeping her speed up. She�'s been doing great, and while we�'re heeled
over a bit, the ride�'s pretty comfortable at the moment. Almost no water over the bow at all.
We expect to enter the squash zone sometime tomorrow, which means 20-25 knot winds and probably
some higher seas for a day or so. This may slow our southern progress, but if it does that�'s okay. We�'ll put
in some more west and keep going. West is away from the Low.
The winds should start to ease late Saturday or early Sunday, as the Low moves off toward the east and
the squash zone relaxes. Then, we�'ll figure out our best course to Opua.
Yesterday, while we were out doing some odd jobs on deck, a small private jet flew towards us from the
SW (nothing in that direction for like a thousand miles), and began to circle us. At first we thought it was
cool, and we waved. But on the third time around, it began to get a little creepy. We were relieved when
they finally headed toward Fiji.
Here are the numbers for yesterday and today, in case anyone�'s keeping track.
11/19/2019 �- 24 hours
20 02�'S/176 48�'E
Course: 194* True
Speed: 6.4 knots motorsailing
Wind: 5 knots SE
Waves: <1m SE
Water temp: 78F
Air temp: 85F
Sunny with a few cumulus clouds.
Miles gone: 146
Miles to Opua: 912
No fish or squid on deck.
11/20/2019 �- 48 hours
22 09�'S/175 45�'E
Course 211* True
Speed: 7.4 knots mainsail and jib
Wind: 12 kn SE
Waves: <1m SE
Air temp: 83F
Sunny with almost no clouds.
Miles gone last 24 hrs: 143; Miles total: 289
Miles to Opua: 769
No fish or squid on deck.