|New Zealand Passage, October, 2005
|I have been a poor log writer (logger?) this past month. I’ll write about our Fiji experience when we arrive
in New Zealand. But for now, snuggle down with your favorite Halloween candy (mine is Snickers or a
The passage to New Zealand is notorious for strong winds and big seas. Defined as “Just plain nasty
weather”. Lou had done a thorough check of weather information. There are several weather routers
that you can pay them to give you a weather forecast for your passage. We used two weather routers.
One based in the US was more accurate than the guru in New Zealand.
Many of the cruising women (from the US) opted out of this passage and are flying to New Zealand.
Later, we found that many of the Kiwi boats have extra crew fly in and some of the women fly home also. I
have found the Kiwis to be very hearty folks and not to be whiners—so I had one word for this new bit of
information-- Yikes! It made me ponder if I was just being stubborn about this trip and if Lou would do
better with other crew that was willing to go up to the foredeck (where the waves are crashing and the
boat is thrashing – oh my!) if stuff started hitting the fan. But, it all boiled down to we started this
together, we have a well found boat and we could do it! This may be our last passage in Ace— we just
don’t know what the future holds.
Lou had worked very hard getting Ace ready for her most challenging passage. In one of his inspections
he found a small, but critically situated crack in our stainless steel bow plate. The bow plate is where the
forestay is fastened and the forestay is one of the necessary bits of hardware in keeping the mast up.
We were able to get a spot in a marina and get a welder to weld the bow plate. Fortunately in the marina
were some cruising friends who were immensely helpful in their knowledge of welding and rigging. One of
these friends we hadn’t seen since Golfito, Costa Rica. Once again, I’m so thankful for Lou’s
thoroughness and diligence. I was hoping that one of our children would inherit these attributes, but it
appears that both have leanings toward my spontaneity and belief that “angels are watching over us”.
Needless to say, at times this causes Lou great frustration with the lot of us! (Hey mates—am I sounding
like a Kiwi?)
So, with everything ship shape and stowed, we left Musket Cove, Malololailai Island, Fiji on Sunday,
October 23 at noon local time. The forecast was for no winds the first two days of our trip, then the wind
would build from the Southeast trending more easterly. Motoring can be a very frustrating experience for
sailors. The Good Ship Ace only carries enough fuel to go a little over 700 miles (this includes jerry
jugs). This trip is 1050 miles. You hate to spend the first part of the trip using up that precious diesel. In
addition, we don’t motor as fast as we sail. So, we go VVVVVEEEEERRRRRRYYYY
SSSSSLLLLLOOOOOWWWWWLLLLLYYYYY! I know, I know what you are thinking—we go very slowly
all the time. But the difference between 5 knots and 7 knots is immense!
But, then the winds picked up as predicted on Tuesday and we’ve been on a wild, fast ride since. I have
been taking Stugeron on this trip and it has helped me stay an active part of the crew. I have had no side
effects except maybe I sleep a little bit more. Emily and Martin have taken some Dramamine, but very
little. Then there is Mr. Iron Stomach who is drug free.
Some of our friends have freezers and make meals in advance. Do you wanna hear all my excuses for
not doing this? I don’t have a freezer. It’s too hot to be cooking a lot of food. I made some meals in
advance but they are so quickly consumed that it is depressing. I’m helping with boat projects. And when
we get a weather window, we go. Sometimes there is not enough time to do the prep. I’ve joked with
friends that are deliberating over what to fix for passages—“Let them eat Ramen”. This is an okay
solution, but not the best solution. Sandwiches are the best answer until the seas get calm. You don’t
want flames and hot water around you when the boat is crashing through waves. It’s enough of challenge
to use the head. And I thought using the bathroom on trains in India was a challenge.
Not that you should feel terribly sorry for my dear family. On this passage, they have had pizza, lamb
curry, homemade rotis with chili, nachos, bacon and blueberry muffins. Okay, that was three days ago,
before the strong winds arrived, and before we started the Ace Passage Diet. Although I feel fine,
sometimes I just don’t have the mental energy to dig in the fridge and figure out what my sometimes picky
eaters can eat.
Our days blend into each other. We are all in the cabin, hunkered down on the starboard side, since the
wind is coming over our port side and causing us to heel. Lou and I take turns doing watches which
consist of popping our heads out of the companionway (visualize a prairie dog) looking around for traffic,
checking that everything looks copasetic on Ace and checking radar. We do this check every ten minutes.
We are able to put our radar on an alarm so that if any target (traffic or squall) enters the zone we have
set, an alarm will go off. We saw a container ship three days ago. We have had some squalls. We
also saw a scary-looking water spout about three miles away. Thankfully, nothing other than that.
It hasn’t gotten very chilly, okay—70 degrees in the cabin. We had brought out some of our San
Francisco sailing clothes for this passage. They have become our all day and all night wear! Emily and I
take turns with my fuzzy slippers. It makes one think—Why are we doing this? I guess we’ll see how thin
our blood has gotten being in the Tropics for the last 2 years.
The kids are playing too much Gameboy, but school is on recess until we can sit out in the cockpit. Emily
and Martin have been doing phenomenally well in this abnormal situation for kids. They got a little
rambunctious when we first got into the winds and waves. They decided to anticipate the waves and
throw themselves on to the starboard side settee. Martin tried to anticipate our concern by wearing his
skateboard helmet. They had also lined their landing pad with pillows. The “rents” said NO. (I will tell
you the story of Martin and the treehouse when I write the Fiji update.)
I’ve just been awakened from my deep sleep to be on watch. My night watch is from 12-4 am. In calm
conditions, Lou fixes tea for me. No tea for the last few nights! I have been reading quite a lot on this
passage. I finished Paula by Isabel Allende (I loved it. I was reluctant to read it because of the subject.
But, how fortunate Isabel and Paula were to have the relationship they had (have?)) and then I read
Namesake by Jhala Lumpri. This was also a good book. I love the Indian stories and this story dealt with
being an immigrant and assimilating (or not). The immigrant story is especially intriguing to me as we
consider becoming immigrants.
My one complaint about Namesake is that it had over the top references to scrumptious meals, not only
Indian but other mouthwatering meals that are renowned in the US because of our eclectic heritage. But,
I didn’t just leave that alone—oh no. I had to go look up in our New Zealand travel guide the dining
opportunities we would have in New Zealand. I was just checking, you know, to see if we had more to
look forward to than that not so inspired fare of the English Isles. And it seems that New Zealand has
been fused! But, reading all of those descriptions has left me fantasizing about food to the point of…well,
somebody save me!
Our ETA to Opua is about 48 hours from now. I’m certain we’ll have mixed emotions about sighting New
Zealand. There will be excitement over seeing the land where we will pursue dreams and opportunities.
But on the flip side, the potential that this is our last passage of this cruising dream that we worked toward
for many years, may cause a few tears to be shed. And Lou has gotta worry about a country that uses
the term piss for beer.
|Every day was colder as we headed South,
so Martin got creative with clothing, as he
had nothing but shorts and T-shirts left in
|Normally Ace is a dry ride, but with 25-30
kts on the beam, nowhere in the cockpit
was safe from the occasional splash.
|Emily must be pretty bored to be
reading Fortune magazine!
|Obviously, Mary is engaging in some