The weather in these parts can be quite the mess. So we were looking, as many other boats for nice weather windows to leave the ‘cyclone area’ for season and go somewhere “safe” ..
Well I guess there is no really cyclone/hurricane safe place. The systems will just be called by different names to lure you in. We will probably be dealing with typhoons next as we go further west. Ugh,
Anyway, waiting for weather is an extreme exercise in patience, boredom, itchy feet, mental stability all play a role, which might explain things.
In Fiji, we were waiting and watching, a Tuesday looked good – but further looking had winds on the nose. Then a Friday looked good, but had a constrained finish, had to arrive before the following Friday. So why not Thursday .. hmm maybe some on the nose, similar to the Tuesday that we passed on. Then Lola started to swirl around and make noise about coming to Fiji.
Cue “The Clash”, “Should I stay or should I go”.
Leave Thursday so there is a buffer on the Friday deadline. We did this trip last year in nice conditions and it was a 6 day trip, the models were showing 9-10 days for the Thursday or Friday departures. Doing math and redoing math and checking with weather people and routers etc.. It’ll make your head spin. Weather router said, “doable”, not a warm fuzzy by any stretch of the imagination. Doable did sound, well doable.
Thursday got the call, a few other boats were leaving, others were staying. Thursday did have the allure of a couple nice days at the beginning, to get your feet wet on the long passage, And running “away” from the future Lola that was brewing near by gave a bit of weight to Thursday departure. So we cleared customs and departed just after lunch.
Thursday evenings updated forecast after we left, had future Lola (had not be named yet) coming on our path. Ugh more math, double check dates. Want to turn back, more math, nearly 100 miles into 1100 mile trip we could turn back easier than the 90% left in front of us. Decision was, wait till next forecast, continue on. Whew.. next forecast kept future Lola north and not following us. Still had the Friday constrained by cold front from the Tasman sea.
Christine will have her own view of the passage, but for me, a couple nice days for decent sailing, a couple days of pure crap into the winds with demoralizing VMG (progress to destination) followed by a couple good sailing days, and still a looming Friday constraint. So we kept pressing hard and making forward progress with eyes on arriving Thursday, ahead of the Friday cold front. Amazingly enough that Friday constraint has been in the forecast and never wavered one way or another for over a week. We calculated we needed a 6knot VMG (to make 6nm every hour toward the destination) to make it by Thursday. Boat can be going 10knots and only making 3kn VMG which is what was happening on the ‘crappy’ days, where we sailed 80 miles off course because of the wind direction. We made it.
Lola did materialize and did start her way south, kind of regrouped into the forecast you see below. This forecast is for Monday, the boats in the picture should all be in on Friday or Saturday at the most. Just in time to hunker down. Hopefully we will be nicely tied up to a good strong floating dock by Thursday evening awaiting the Friday event that has now tuned into a possible bigger deal with the addition of Lola remnants.
We averaged 7.3kn for 1200 miles, used a bunch of diesel, broke the jib car, but we made it before the deadline, now time to sleep, clean, secure the boat for 50 knots of wind in the marina.
As the crow files the passage is 1100, we did this in 160 hours so we made 6.8nm per hour as the crow flies. Our VMG goal of 6nm is what we needed to make our Thursday arrival. The 7.3 average was over the entire distance the boat went, of 1200 and change.
Now back to your regularly curated blog posts.