I wrote this while we were in Opua but put off posting it until later because it wasn't exactly an optimum start to our journey and I have people who are close to me that are aware that the second leg is renowned to be the most challenging, whom I didn't want to worry unnecessarily. So now that we have successfully made it across the Pacific in the wrong direction and landed in Rurutu, here you go!
Well we made it to the first destination!! Voyage time 10 days 3 hours.
It was an eventful voyage with many ups and downs.... We left Brisbane with a beautiful day and 10-20 knots of westerly to take us nicely out of the bay and start us on our way. This soon turned into a blustery 30-35 knots! the roughest of the voyage. the next day settled down to a nice 20 knots broad reach and then the squalls started.... we would be cruising along nicely and a squall would hit! suddenly 20 knots turns into 30 knots but of course we were prepared for this and had reefed before it hit. The issue is after the squall the winds would drop and seem to come from all directions... it was one of these when the decision was made to start the engine then we should take down the whisker pole….. The wind was coming from all directions and going from 5 - 20 knots up and down causing general chaos so that we didn't notice that the engine had thrown an impeller and was over heating.....
This would have been ok as I had another three impellers, except it melted a plastic elbow in the exhaust system. So even if I did replace the impeller as soon as I ran the engine the exhaust would fill the boat with water. Three days in and we had no engine. But then there are people even in these days that sail around the world without an engine all together. Then at the same time while reefing I noticed that the outhaul slide on the main sail had broken and was a hair away from complete failure. We managed to create a jury rig for the out haul slide so that we could continue to use the primary main sail and not have to resort to the storm trysail. A few hours later it was noticed when running the generator to top up the batteries it was starting to shut down on low water pressure because a copper elbow in the water line had been rubbing on the casing and worn a hole through! All this and we were only one third the way there...… We were in serious trouble of not having electricity at this point and some serious thought was given to turning around and heading back to Brisbane.....
We managed to find another copper elbow being used by the main head shower feed and scrounged that to replace the worn one. We have power again!!! The boys started to call me MacGyver… We engaged in some serious electricity conservation and with this we decided to push onwards!
The rest of the voyage was fairly non-eventful mostly 20 knots from astern and beautiful sailing. Only annoying squalls coming through fairly consistently around 3-4 times a day. We learned how to handle these much more eloquently (reef early and stay reefed during the calm) and they were no longer such a problem.
The entire voyage we didn't see one dolphin or catch any fish. We did lose a couple of lures so maybe we had some at night and no one noticed. I think we will pull in the lines at night from now on. We did see an amazing amount of birds the entire way we were almost always surrounded by them. Mostly what I think are Petrels and some Albatross.
We had two periods where we were becalmed once about 300 miles east of Cape Reinga and another just off of the Three Kings. Both periods lasted for around 12 hours and were followed by another 6 to 7 hours of very slow sailing. Being so close this was a little frustrating as without a motor we had no choice but to wait it through. So we decided to make the most of it, relax and catch some rays. Nicolas said it was kind of like day off :-) Then once again we were off and enjoying 20 knots on a beam reach down the east coast of NZ. The swell calmed being blocked by New Zealand and it was like sailing on Moreton Bay! Thanks to Gordon who arranged for us to get a tow into Opua marina we simply sailed to within a mile and our tow Mike pushed us from astern in his centre console inflatable right into the peace of the quarantine dock. We had arrived after successfully completing one of the most notoriously difficult passages in the South Pacific. A real sense of achievement.