Day Two to NZ – Careful What You Wish For


No wind, engine running. Keeping it slow to save fuel.

There was wind, from the perfect direction, but it was less than eight knots. Usually more like four or five knots. Forget making it to New Zealand by Thanksgiving, sailing in that sort of wind would put making Christmas in doubt.

So we puttered along, putting up really short days for us and going slow. Hoping for more wind.

It was certainly comfortable, though we’ve been burning up dinosaurs faster than we wanted to. The wind continued flaky and variable, but this morning we awoke to cloud cover instead of clear blue skies.

But still no wind. You’d think with the clouds a little wind would come. Nope.

As the day progressed we spotted some rain on the horizon, coming at us. Great, but rain like that usually is associated with less wind, not more. The light rain came, but most of it misses us. The wind stayed light but crept forward.

Around 2:00 pm we suddenly registered wind! On the nose, to be sure, but we saw thirteen knot! We can sail in this. Engine off, sails up. By the time we got things stowed we decided to leave a reef in the head sail as the wind was up to sixteen with more gusts.

Ten minutes later we’d reefed the main in, and reefed more jib. The wind was know breaking twenty knots (on the nose, of course). We reefed in a little more main as the wind worked up to a steady twenty five knots, with gusts close to thirty.

The autopilot can not sail in this direction. Dead upwind is a manual steering situation only, there is too much variability and the poor autopilot can’t handle “sailing on the edge”.

“Sailing on the Edge” is fun. For a little while. As a rule we cruisers avoid sailing dead upwind. The reasons for this are several, including that it is a nuisance since the auto steering systems don’t do well with it, it is uncomfortable since the boat is really, really tipped and you tend to pound through waves, and all the tipping booby traps out closets and breaks things.

We decided to take a short break and let this blow over. So we’re “hove to” as I type this. “Heaving To” is a way to set the boat up so that you are basically parked, or at least dramatically slowed. The boat’s motion is much kinder, tilting is a lot less, and you are more comfortable. It’s not fast and it sometimes takes you away from where you want to go. But it puts a stop to all the pounding and tilting while you want for the bad upwind sailing to blow over you.

We won’t likely stay this way for long, the sun is shining again and the winds are dropping down to the low twenties. I’m looking for the shift back East that will let me sail the way I want to go again, but we may not get it. But at least with winds will calm down for us and we won’t have to do so much pounding.

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