Monday 30 September 2019

New Caledonia to New Zealand - Voyage information

During our 6 day passage we actually sighted only 1 other vessel - a cargo ship 2 days out of New Caledonia. We identified 4 or 5 other vessels via AIS within a range of ~ 15 nm of us (but could not see them), including on our last night a racing trimaran 'TeamVodafoneSailing' which was heading from NZ to Mackay; their boat speed of 19 knots roaring downwind put our (very respectable) 7 knots  upwind to shame…..

Tintin's log indicated that we had sailed 885nm between Baie de Prony, New Caledonia and Opua, New Zealand , which was remarkably not much more than the straight-line route of 870nm…. We averaged 148 nautical miles/ day (i.e. an average boat speed of just over 6 knots).  

We received this weatherfax image to Tintin's SSB on 25th September (2 days out from our arrival in Opua), showing the Western Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea.  The very deep low to the SE of NZ's South Island generated the very heavy swell and strong S/SW winds south of Norfolk Island.   This was very much what we expected when selecting our departure date from New Caledonia - fortunately we arrived ahead of the next system which is equally vigorous with many embedded fronts and is currently bringing gales to Northland. (shown in the 2nd image) - if we had not left when we did we likely would have been well advised to wait at least another week.

Tintin is a very strong and capable boat and handled the Tasman Sea very well indeed.  I am pleased to say that the only breakage during Tintin's trip was a thermos flask which fell out of the cupboard under the sink while washing up in big seas!  

Landfall in NZ

New Zealand put on a stunningly beautiful morning for our arrival, the wind finally easing to < 20 knots so we finally had full plain sail for the last 10 miles through the Bay of Islands in lovely flat water.

NZ Customs, Immigration and Biosecurity officials cleared Tintin at Opua without any issues - complimenting us that our preparations for arrival were 'very efficient' (i.e. advance cleaning of the hull, eating up most fresh and declarable stored food items during the passage, spraying for any hitch-hiking pests / insects and preparation of ships and crew documentation).   

Tintin is now able to continue her adventures in New Zealand through until September 2021.  And Richard and I are delighted to be back 'home' again!

Sunday 29 September 2019

Landfall in New Zealand - Cape Brett at dawn

Cris refused to go to bed after his watch as we raised lights from first Tikitiki Island then Cape Brett as he was enjoying himself so much…. he hoisted a courtesy flag for NZ and the yellow Quarantine flag in anticipation of arrival into Opua.

Exhilarating sailing for last ~400 n m

We had ~ 3 days of 20/25 knots from the S/SW (Close to the wind with just cracked sheets, 2 reefs in main and Genoa most of the time) with mostly bright blue skies with squally showers with gusts up to 30 knots... living at an angle of 20 degrees had its own challenges.

Saturday 28 September 2019

Tintin - logged 21,000 nm

On Wednesday morning 25th September Tintin logged over 21,000 nautical miles since she was launched in 2016. (Note that flying in a straight-ish line Auckland to London is 14,000 nm)…..

In the Tasman Sea

In the Tasman Sea

On Wednesday morning Tintin logged over 21,000 nautical miles since she was launched.

More typical Tasman Sea conditions

We updated our trip report with Taupo Maritime Radio (ZLM) on the SSB radio twice daily, with the transmission frequency and signal strength/ readability varying with the weather and propagation conditions. 
The SSB weather forecast was for 30 knots from the S/ SW and 'heavy swell' behind the front which we anticipated should be easing as we approached NZ (although notably the GFS GRIB files which we received via the satellite phone indicated much less wind than this - we had noted this repeatedly in New Caledonia so the actual wind speeds were not a surprise. ) 

Indeed, the sea state increased dramatically and very quickly, over the space of less than an hour during the night (of course) Wednesday.   We had lots of squally showers with winds of up to 30 knots, but most of the time we were powered up in 22-25 knots with 2 reefs in the main and 2 in the genoa, living at an angle of ~ 20 degrees. Suddenly it became very difficult to sleep even in the stern quarter-berths.  Everyone clipped on their harness from the doghouse, before climbing out into the cockpit. 

New Zealand's North Cape 550 miles to S

New Zealand's North Cape 550 miles to SE

Enjoying some fair weather sailing...

Eating up New Caledonia's fresh fruit / vegetables (including Richards delicious bak-choi recipe), Nicki baked bread rolls in the oven - everyone having a great time on board, brilliant sunshine, moderate seas aft of the beam and smiles all around.

Enjoying so fair weather sailing...

Eating up New Caledonia's fresh fruit / vegetables, Nicki baked bread rolls in the oven - everyone having a great time on board, brilliant sunshine, moderate seas aft of the beam and smiles all around.

Before the front

We expected that the passage to NZ was likely to be mostly upwind with strong breezes and large waves, and indeed it was…. nontheless on Monday overnight we motor-sailed into light winds and on Tuesday morning the wind moved aft for a while and we were able to pole out the headsail for 4 hours of very-welcome downwind sailing.  Cris clearly enjoyed bouncing up and down on the foredeck for any sail change!  
Making the most of a level boat we cooked up lots of our fresh vegetables and with fish curry, enjoyed our only meal served in the cockpit and that evening watched for the 'green flash' as the sun set…..  bracing ourselves for the heavy swell which was forecast to arrive the following day.

Safe Landfall in NZ

> Tintin has arrived safely in Opua in New Zealand's beautiful Bay of Islands. We cleared Customs, Immigration and Biosecurity this morning with no issues and have since been enjoying hot showers (without moving walls), washing clothes and cleaning the boat.
> Here are a few images from the first days of our passage south, including the northern tail end of the front passing over us - very dramatic cloud formation and gusts of 35 knots as the wind changed direction.

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Heading towards Norfolk Island

We are all settling into the watch system and
enjoying light downwind conditions today after a boistrous
on-the-wind departure from New Caledonia. We have logged 280nm in the
first 48 hours which is pretty good given the (expected) initial strong
headwinds and rough seas as we left the protection of the Southern
Lagoon. Tintin handled the waves no problem with 2 reefs in the main
and the staysail.
As wind and sea conditions eased yesterday we had a glorious fast
sailing day reaching with blue skies (and lots of sunblock).

Our passage plan avoids a vigorous cold front which should pass to the
south of us today. We intend to leave Norfolk Island to starboard
and catch easing westerly winds towards NZ later in the week, ahead of
another front forecast to cross the Tasman Sea.

All is well on board! N

Saturday 21 September 2019

Critters - more images

Critters (continued)

Followed by discovery of a stowaway in the floor of the dinghy as I was about to take the outboard off - a blue sea-snake - removed it using the boat hook from the safety of Tintin!


A few surprises these past couple of days as we get ready to depart New Caledonia.... first was a deer swimming in the ocean- we got rather close

Thursday 19 September 2019

Cris and Tracey arrived - ready for departure to New Zealand

Richard and Cris purchased lots of delicious bread and pastries this morning! Tintin has completed clearance from Noumea and we plan to spend a day or so in the Baie de Prony before catching fair weather south.  ETA Opua Bay of Islands by the end of September!