Nice Wind Shift…Not! Day 6 to Fiji

NZ-to-Fiji-Sunset-5-22-15One of the routine parts of passage making is watching the weather. We watch it carefully. We get weather reports emailed to us daily, we download weather model data (in a file called a GRIB) and watch the predictions, we get on the radio to one another and talk aboutthe weather.

There are several models that are produced by various weather authorities. In truth I am a little fuzzy on who produces them all and why, but sometimes they agree, some times they disagree. If you read all this information and download these models and study them eventually a picture of the weather situation emerges. It generally has the precision, clarity and beauty of Beethovens Ninth being played by a bunch of pre-schoolers with kazoos.

Last night we were discussing weather with another boat. The captain told me his model showed the wind dying off and expected to motor the last day or two to Fiji. Hmmthe GRIB file Id downloaded showed the wind picking up and staying on our beam, then turning slightly North towards the end of the trip but by then wed be sailing more West. That sounded a lot more pleasant. Motoring for two daysreaching along in a balmy 12-15 knots you decide.

So what do we REALLY have today? Well, the wind shifted North, and farther North than my GRIB predicted and earlier. And it built. His model was wrong, my model was wrong and we are sailing upwind into 18-20 knots beating towards Fiji. If you’ve been following this blog for a couple of passages (like the big bag of upwind stink that was Tahiti-NZ) you know how pleasant this can be.

Two models, two predictions, both completely wrong. On the plus side no unanticipated cyclones or tornados popped out of nowhere, so thats nice.

Keeping it Slow

The good news is, though it is slow especially if you want to be at all comfortable and be able to cook, eat, sleep and use the head without making a mess of yourself slow may be in order.

Our original plan was to leave NZ on a Monday or a Tuesday ensuring a mid week arrival in Fiji. Why? The overtime charges if you show up on a weekend are pretty high. Which is actually not a BAD thing, as some places just wont clear you in at all on the weekend. Our friends that are headed to New Caledonia should be getting there on Saturday, but Monday is a holiday there and they will be sitting on their boat until Tuesday morning. So the overtime is a good thing in that you can clear in, but a bad thing as it is quite expensive!

We left on a Sunday for a seven-ish day trip because of the weather window, not to time our arrival unfortunately. But with the slow sailing we’ve had on this trip our ETA is now sometime late Sunday afternoon to evening. One of our cardinal rules is that we NEVER, EVER come into a strange harbor in the dark. There is no sense in it sailing 1,000 miles safely to put the boat on the reef half a mile from your destination seems unwise. If our arrival shows it would be after 4:00 pm (sunset is around 5:30) wed stop and heave to anyway, just to be safe.

So we might as well slow it down and arrive when all the customs and immigration offices are open, and not have to drag anyone away from Sunday dinner to clear us in. So no rush.

P.S. – if the attached picture comes in, it was taken of last night’s spectacular sunset.

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