Category Archives: Passages & Crossings

Voyage: New Zealand to Minerva Reef

Island Cruising Pacific Rally provides very valuable resources to cruisers making the voyage across the pacific.  For those who join the annual rally you get access to dozens of discounts (from marinas, boat parts, food, and clothing).  In addition, you are provided all of the necessary documents and government contacts for arrival/departure from each country and you have access to a professional weather router, and the passage guardian.  So, someone has eyes on you at all times which is a huge relief when you are out at sea.

Viki Moore, the owner of Island Cruising, also arranged for dozens of activities at each country and a super handy guide on the Pacific.  It was really a no brainer for us to join – especially considering how apprehensive I get when crossing the pacific.

Weather Window

We were both anxious to leave New Zealand after being on the dock for over 8 months. But we had to wait for a safe weather window which took its sweet time to form.

We finally get a good opportunity to begin our voyage.  We untie off the Town Basin Marina docks and motor the 12nm down the river to the Marsden Cove Marina which is located 4.5nm from the mouth of the river.  This is where we load up with diesel and gasoline and clear out of the country with customs.

Everything went smoothly.  We were off the Marsden Cove Marina docks by 0930 and on our way to our next country.  Our voyage is approximately 814nm from New Zealand to Minerva Reef South.  Our friend, Rokas from Starlight took this photo as we departed.

Day 1: NZ to Minerva Reef

We left knowing the first day would be “sporty” with 18-20kts of wind but the seas were calm.  Keep in mind that we are flying our new sails and new lines on the boat (ropes).  So, we knew there would be a learning curve.  We opted for an extremely cautious sail plan by raising our main and the jib to only the second reef (which means less sail out).  We were so happy we did that as we made fast tracks in the high winds.

  • Distance to Go:                 631nm
  • Distance Travelled:          183nm
  • Wind:                                    18-20kts from SE
  • Seas:                                     1m, slow and following
  • Speed:                                  Average: 7.4 and Max 16.1 (surfing down a wave)
  • Broken:                                The first green reefing line chafed through while we were using it.

Lucky for us we had our 2nd reefing line set which held the sail.  We tied the damaged line down and waited till daybreak to replace the line with a new one. The main sheet also hit our IridiumGo antennae, broke off the case and the wind ditched the separator.  Lucky for us we caught the case.  It still limps along but will have to be replaced.

A nice send off by a small pod of dolphins.  They did not stay with us too long, but it was a lovely sight to see.

Day 2

The winds were pretty shifty, but we maintained a beautiful sail today.  Our new sails are much quieter than our heavier dacron sails and certainly hold a much better shape!

  • Distance to Go:                 468nm
  • Distance Travelled:          163nm
  • Wind:                                    8-12kts from SE
  • Seas:                                     1m, slow and following
  • Speed:                                  Average: 7.4 and Max 16.1 (surfing down a wave)
  • Broken:                                Nothing – yeah!

Day 3

The wind shifted and died down a lot which gave us an opportunity to fly our largest sail, Big Bertha.

  • Distance to Go:                 349nm
  • Distance Travelled:          119nm
  • Wind:                                    8-10ts
  • Seas:                                     2m, slow and following
  • Speed:                                  Average: 6.4 and Max 16.1 (surfing down a wave)
  • Broken:                                The lighter winds slowed us down, but the beautiful sail was worth it.

Day 4

Where did all the wind go?  Bummer, we lost the wind and when it did make an appearance it was right on our nose.  Had to take the sails down and motor because we could not keep our sails full.

  • Distance to Go:                 226nm
  • Distance Travelled:          123nm
  • Wind:                                    2-8kts from NW
  • Seas:                                     2m, building and hitting us side to making for a bumpy ride
  • Speed:                                  Average: 6.4 and Max 16.1 (surfing down a wave)
  • Broken:                                Nothing

Day 5

The wind shifted again giving us a different point of sail.  We put our reefed main and jib back up.

  • Distance to Go:                 118nm
  • Distance Travelled:          108nm
  • Wind:                                    30kts from NW with gusts hitting 35-38kts
  • Seas:                                     3-4m
  • Speed:                                  Average: 6.1 and Max 16.1 (surfing down a wave)
  • Broken:                                Wow what a $hitty night.  A huge storm was in our way and it brought high winds and big seas.  We dropped all canvas, changed course, and hunkered down all night.  We made 2-3kts headway in the wrong direction, but we are all ok.

I know it looks pretty, but this is one of the rare moments where it was not raining or blowing like crazy.  But as you can see, we are very cold.

We crossed the international date line again.  This time I caught the switch over on our instruments and grabbed some photos for you.  Look at the lat/long changes from 179 99.999 East to 180 00.000 West.

We are pretty tired as we each get sleep intervals of 3 hours.  You grab it when you can.  Since I don’t do well down below, we keep everything that we wear in the salon which makes it a bit of a mess.

Day 6

Our big storm ruined our daily average speed and our chances of arriving at Minerva Reef during the day.  There was nothing we could do except slow the boat down even further.  So, after the big storm, we rolled out a little jib, turned off the engines, and enjoyed a very slow sail.

  • Distance to Go:                 0 nm
  • Distance Travelled:          840nm
  • Wind:                                    8-12kts from SW
  • Seas:                                     3m, still big seas preventing us from putting out too much canvas.
  • Speed:                                  Average: 6.4 and Max 16.1 (surfing down a wave)
  • Broken:                                We grab sleep whenever we can.  The salon is full of blankets to keep us warm.

Our voyage ends with our arrival at South Minerva at dawn.  Using tracks from a fellow cruiser, we went through the pass, dropped the hook, and took a deep breath – we arrived safely.

Matt gave the boat a fresh water rinse as she was covered in salt.  I used ospho to clean all of our stainless around the boat which was also draped in layers of salt.  Then a wee bit of cleaning, a late breakfast, and a nap.  All in all it was not a terrible voyage, but it certainly gave us a run for our money with the shifty winds and huge storm.

This image shows you where Minerva reef is in relation to New Zealand and Fiji, and Tonga.  A 6-7 day voyage in total.

Minerva in the middle of the Pacific

Minerva in the middle of the Pacific

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occurred in early July.  Did you read our last blog post on “Sweet as: New Zealand?”

Farewell to the Kingdom

Fickle as we are, we have pressing matters to attend to. Just like that crazy rabbit from Alice in wonderland.

Well not really, we had a great time in Tonga but we really didn’t do it justice. Lots of whales, some great anchorages, mediocre weather and great weather but Fiji and a chance to pick up a replacement rudder won the coin toss.

Another unexpected fun in Tonga, was we got to cross paths with new and old friends from anchorages past. Some we hadn’t seen since the Caribbean, others from French Polynesia and beyond.

We cleared out on Friday with a Saturday plan. Can’t leave on a Friday, it’s bad luck, and that would have meant missing a Friday happy hour. Saturday morning came all too soon.

A cruise ship was arriving so no need to stick around. Under way and raised full sails. Soon enough, wind picked up and overpowered the one rudder. Oh my, this is going to be a long 400 miles. Reefed and tweaked, and tweaked, and finally came to an agreement with autopilot.

We agreed, not to give him too much sail to deal with and he would meander down the course, like he was the one that stayed too late at happy hour. One reef in the main and various furls on the headsail and we have some decent balance. With the exception of the quartering seas that induces lots of rudder use, we have successfully knocked out 150 of those 400 miles.

With the exception of the rough waves and winds at the start, why did we chose to leave in a squall?, it’s going well out here.


Lots of company leaving Tonga this morning

Let’s go club in’

The guess to go east worked out. The weather guys woke up from their night out and started following the program. A little late, but at least it’s in the ballpark.

They must have been still a bit hung over and just to start the night off right jumped right into a Jäegermeister shot! Just as it got dark the first squall came out of the darkness. No rain, so radar didn’t pick it up. I saw a darker spot in the sky and reduced a little more sail. Just then, Whoosh, winds were up and we were making course changes to reduce wind on the sails. Just as in any club, gotta watch out for those Jäegermeister shots, we will call this one the Warning shot.

The warning became appreciated a few hours later.

The moon rose and the stars remained hidden, I guess it was going to be one of those kinds of parties. The weather guys must have made a connection at the club. A long white cloud appeared in the sky and so did the winds. The 80’s music playing was “Duran Duran, hungry like a wolf” and you can just see the dance floor flailing about at warp speed. Now thankful for the warning shot, just a little course change can take the edge off. Of course, now no longer going the correct direction. After what seemed like forever out on the dance floor, the DJ played the breather song. Probably something by “Bryan Adams”. Back on course.

Like any good DJ, the process is repeated again and again all night long.

At day break, the Roxbury closes and it’s time to see what you couldn’t quite see in the club last night.

Morning looking good, some breaks in the sky. Still breezy, and bouncy. 250 miles to go, or put differently 1 or 2 more club nights.

Club gear! or staying warm and dry leaving New Zealand