Getting into the groove

The journey begins and we are getting into the groove…

2 Feb – Made it! Opua welcome was all we’d expected. Customs and MPI guys thoroughly but not overbearing, Opua Marina team helpful and organised and shore crew…. well, words fail. Expected departure 7 Feb.

1 Feb – Course 088, speed 7.5 kts / wind 8-10 kts 340
Nearing the Three Kings Islands at the top of North Island. Good sailing day, broad-reaching through life, mizzen up, jib and a genoa staysail. Only now, at the end of the day that the winds are fading have we reverted to motor-sailing to make sure we pass smoothly around the top of NZ. ETA late afternoon tomorrow 2/2.

31 Jan – Course 070, speed 7.5kts / wind  275 13 kts / 1 kt of current heading 075
The low we’ve been tracking seems to have been a bit of a fizzer, out here at least, no idea what it was like on land. Consequently we’ve cut the virtual corner we’d planned to give the low room to slide south of us and are headed towards North Cape as best we can in light winds from almost directly astern. Nothing has been straightforward with weather and sailing this trip, but at least it hasn’t rained. We motored a big chunk of the day, finally after tea we gybed onto Port and hoisted the little blue white and red cruising ‘chute as the breeze built to a heady 13 kts… gave us 10 degrees more depth and about 1.5 kts of boatspeed. very cheering. Still aiming for ETA 02/02.

30 Jan – Course 063, speed 8kts / wind 130 10-13kts
A harder day’s sailing, but better distance, and ultimately more satisfying from many angles. We did spend most of the day at 25 dg heel (such fun for the person in the galley trying to make tea and feed the team – thank Olin for the gymballed table), in 16-20kts from the SE, just cracked with the #3 and a reef punching into quite a large ESE swell – quite damp at times… Audrey (the autopilot) wasn’t coping as well (still capable, but working hard) so we’ve hand steered for most of the last 24hrs. At the end of the day we’re moving along nicely with the breeze abeam and scooting along at good speeds we’ve covered much closer to 200NM.

29 Jan – Course 050 M  speed 7.5kts / wind 085 M  15-18kts / current 1kt heading 014
Day started out motoring in very little breeze, what there was came from dead ahead…Ah well, eventually breeze built from 5-8 to 11-14 and swung round to 100-120 degrees and we were off. Last hour has backed to 085 and increased, pushing us marginally more north. Following advice from Clouds received this morning we’re aiming at a waypoint at 032s 168e (which currently bears 061 at 350miles). This is to get up and around a low that is heading down from the NE across the top of NZ. Our objective is for the low to slide between us and North Island and allow us to use the tailwinds above it to sweep us across and down. ETA still roughly 02/02.

28 Jan – A dull day from a sailing perspective (very little actual sailing – we motored almost all day), but a useful day from a voyaging perspective. Quite apart from the daily routine jobs like fuel transfers, checking the rigging and managing battery charge (amongst others), there are a myriad of little jobs that could be done to keep the old girl functioning and looking spruce. Those jobs need to be on a list and then made to be part of the daily routine. Like polishing the stainless steel (not actually stainless in real life). And like varnishing. For an aluminium boat there is an awful lot of varnish. The rub rails and trim gets nicked and damaged regularly, particularly during a hard long race and those nicks and wear marks need attending to. So today’s task was to dig out and make up the varnish repair kit, put it in an easy to get out basket and remind everyone what needs to be done. Then on the slower days (like today) someone can easily grab a piece of sandpaper, a jar of turps, a rag, a brush and a small pot of varnish and work along a length of rub-rail touching up the wear marks. Enough to do to stop the crew getting restless…

27 Jan – Decent day, warm, but not a lot of wind. Spent the day occasionally tacking to follow up quite big wind shifts and making sure we positioned ourselves as well as possible for a strong easterly current set. Done a bit of motoring, indeed motor sailing now as breeze has dropped below 10kts, but not an excessive amount. Getting into the routine of being at sea, listening to the sounds the boat makes and checking as many of the systems as practical. The job list for Opua is already starting to grow, but as yet nothing major. Chinese bolognese for dinner!

26 Jan –  1 reef and the #3 as we organise dinner. 2-3 kts of current pushing us south which we should be out of by 153 degrees east. Good work up and slightly different feel to the old girl in delivery trim! In the Rolex SHR we had 30m of chain and only our racing sails up forward. Now we have 100m of chain and all of our sails that aren’t up! We can feel the difference as she lifts over the swell. Tonights pasta meal worked a treat.

For daily position updates check the journey tracker:

Sydney AUS to Falmouth UK