26 Oct Tonga to New Zealand via Minerva Reef passage
We are on our way to New Zealand! We left the Vavu’u group on Tuesday. It is about a 10-14 day passage, but we expect to be stopping at “Minerva Reef”. As we understand it, weather fronts come through every week or so and we could experience some boisterous weather. We will stay at Minerva until it looks like another good weather window to Opua, NZ.
As passages go, this one so far wins for steady winds and seas. The wind and swell is on the beam (side of the boat). The winds have been blowing 15-20 knots and the swell is 2-3 meters. We have been getting bumped around, as such, I have not been feeling good for much of the journey. Dick even felt queasy the first night. I do a lot of sitting in the cockpit, sleeping and listening to podcasts. Just writing this is making me feel “off”.
We left Neiafu on Tuesday afternoon. We chose this “weather window” as it was important that we could sail at least as far as Minerva Reef. We only have enough diesel to motor approximately 500 nautical miles (approximately 4 days), which if necessary would be during calm days on the passage from Minerva Reef to Opua, New Zealand.
You might be asking, “Why would a sailboat be thinking about such things?” Well, as we have mentioned before safety is a concern of ours. Sailing in safe weather is always our goal. The passage from New Zealand is tricky, because they have weather fronts that come through about every 5 days. Sailing Maia, we have found that our average speed is between 5-6 knots, so when we are planning our passages we generally use a speed of 5.5 knot speed to plan our passage. At an average of 5.5 knots it will take us 5-7 days for the passage from Minerva Reef to Opua. Which means there is a chance that we will need to pass thru bad weather. That is unless we get some really good winds for part of the trip and then when the wind are light we can motor!
Rocking and rolling and rolling and rocking. Ugg, I do not feel good.
Our morning four and I am feeling better. The swell is down, we only have a big one (or two) that really pushes us around every couple minutes. This morning laying flat on my back in the middle of the quarter berth, I felt myself slide along the sheets to the low side of the boat with one of the big rolls.
We will be arriving in Minerva Reef in a couple hours! Am I feeling better knowing that relief is nearby? For me this was the worse time I have ever had. Is it because the seas are worse or my body is functioning differently these days? To help not feel so bad before we leave on a passage, I try to eat well, hydrate myself by drinking lots and lots of water, stay off caffeine and alcohol for a few days. Oohh, but the chocolate chip banana bread was to good not to snack on before the trip. Hmmmmmmm
-Afternoon Four, 1600 (4:00 pm)
We are anchor down in Minerva Reef! It is beautiful here. We anchored in the E-NE side of the bay, currently it is most protected from the seas.
Here at Minerva, at low tide you can see the reef all around. In high tide you see the waves breaking on the other side of the reef! It feels kind of like a desert island but with no land or beach to walk on.
Passage info: 417 NM (nautical miles), 3 days 3 hours