Oct 29 - Team Infini is safely berthed in Opua, NZ!!

We had what may kindly be referred to as a "long night..." Contrary winds, strong contrary currents, and enough worry to light up a small city. Fortunately, about 20 nm outside of Opua the current changed and the wind backed about 10 degrees; both allowed us to make our rhumb line instead of continuously being pushed westwards. In fact, we continuously had to slow the boat down to allow arrival at dawn. It worked out perfectly, and although a bit tired, we entered Opua in high spirits. The currents coming from the river here are a force to be reckoned with; docking went pretty well though. There were about 10 boats at the Q (Quarantine) dock. Customs and Immigration couldn't have been nicer or more proficient; same with the personnel at Opua Marina. So far, so good. We're seeing a lot of our friends we've met along the way and are just so happy we were able to get here safely with no major systems breakdowns. We ended up sailing 1105 nm on a route whose direct rhumb line is more like 780 nm! Well, that's what's sailing is all about; you take the weather you get and make the most of it, in spite of predictions and expert input. Sue was like glue this trip; holding together and encouraging when I was starting to feel pretty glum about the whole thing...I figured we'd have to detour to Australia or maybe around to the south island before we'd ever get into Opua! Well, she was right, and here we are! Team Infini has now completed a crossing of the Pacific Ocean! We've said many thanks and offered many prayers...can't forget the important things. More later when we're coherent!
Pic: The Q (Quarantine) dock, which is not connected to any other pier. The officials take a dinghy out to clear boats in. You can dock on either side of it.

Oct 28 - Day 9 We're just about there...

Time: 1200
Position: S34deg02min/E174deg02min
Day 9 run: 105 nm
Avg speed: 4.4 kn
Course: 170 T
Wind: ESE 14 kn; gusts to 20
Seas: E 4-6'
Barometer: 1024
Sails: 2nd reef main; scrap of Yankee
Ship's log: Well, we didn't have to worry about flat seas, little wind and running out of fuel! We've had nice wind, but cross seas and a corkscrew motion (ugh), and still have about 50G of diesel in the tank! In fact, we've been slowing the boat down since last night for our expected arrival in Opua in the early morning tomorrow. Who'da thunk? We've got about 65 nm to go, and will still have to slow down to be near our outside waypoint at dawn. There are a slew of boats making faster passages to NZ; our 9+ days isn't a fast time by any means, but a safe arrival with no major system or gear breakdowns counts for a lot!

Oct 27 - Day 8

Time: 1200 (2300Z)
Position: S32deg24min/E172deg37min
Day 8 run: 92 nm
Avg speed: 3.8 kn
Course: 161 T
Wind: SE 8 kn
Seas: SE 3'
Barometer: 1023
Sails: None. Motoring.
Ship's log: We've been motoring at 1200 rpm's to conserve fuel, so subsequently our speed is quite low. But, the strategy is working, as we have enough fuel to go the 166 nm to our Opuya waypoint, and the wind may even pick up a few knots to allow us to keep our sails full, thereby increasing our speed even more. This morning we came near an atmospheric high pressure ridge (note the barometer reading), with associated lower wind. We expect to make landfall in two days, which represents about one extra day at sea instead of arriving earlier had we had enough diesel. It's been beautiful out here; the sunrise and sunsets have been awesome -(Sue saw another green flash!) Not too much bird life, and so far, no shipping, although I expect that to change soon. All's well aboard.

Oct 26 - Day 7

Time: 1530 local (0230Z)
Position: S31deg18min/E173deg01min
Day 7 run: 91 nm
Avg speed: 3.8 kn
Course: 261T
Wind: E 8.5 kn
Seas: E 2'
Sails: Motor sailing
Ship's log: The iron genny is on again in very light, and a bit inconsistent, wind. We're about 238 nm from our outside waypoint into Opua. Not much more to add!

Oct 25 - Day 6

Time: 1200 (2300Z)
Position: S29deg53min/E172deg26min
Day 6 run: 122 nm
Avg speed: 5.1 kn
Course: 100 T
Wind: SE 10-12 kn
Seas: 2'
Sails: full main, Yankee, staysail
Ship's log: We tacked to starboard tack to gain some easting before tomorrow's expected very light air. The winds have been fluky; one minute we're doing 90T, the next 110T. Bottom line is that we still haven't been able to lay the rhumb line to Opua, so this is taking a while and we expect many more tacks before we're in port. S: All's well...food's great; sun is out; sea's comfortable; getting cooler--so, long johns and boots!

Oct 24 - Day 5 - Way to go, All Blacks!

Time: 1200 local (2300Z)
Position: S28deg29min/E173deg04min
Day 5 run: 131 nm
Avg speed: 5.5 kn
Course: 188 T
Wind: ESE 16 kn
Seas: ESE 4'
Barometer: 1019
Sails: single reef main; full Yankee; staysail
Ship's log: The wind's easterly component finally showed up at 0930 this morning. We've had a good 24 hour run, but expect lighter conditions to follow. About 400 nm to our outside waypoint at Opua. We listened to the World Cup Rugby match (New Zealand vs France) last night on the SSB radio (1332 AM); NZ won 8-7 in a nail-biter; we're confident celebrations will still be going on when we arrive! All's well aboard. Update: Wind is now SSE, so we're still heading a bit more west than we'd like, on a course of 210T.

Oct 23 - Day 4

Time: 1200 local (2300Z)
Position: S26deg42min/E174deg13min
Day 4 run: 114 nm
Avg speed: 4.75 kn
Course: 215 T
Wind: SSE 18-20 kn
Seas: SSE 6-8'
Barometer: 1020
Sails: single reef main; full Yankee
Ship's log: We had shook out one reef yesterday when the wind lightened, but the SSE freshened this morning so we may have to shorten sail again later if the pounding keeps up. We're still sailing close hauled. All's well aboard.

Oct 22 - Day 3

Time: 1200 local (2300Z)
Position: S25deg10min/E175deg25min
Day 3 run: 117 nm
Avg speed: 4.9 kn
Course: 220T
Wind: SSE 13-15 kn
Seas: SE 6'
Sails: double reefed main; full Yankee
Ship's log: The seas have laid down and the winds have steadied a bit. The sun's out and the temperature down below is 75F. So far, there's been no ship sightings, but NZ radio just broadcast an alarm (looking for a particular catamaran near the Bay of Plenty) on VHF 16 - we're about 600 nm away; that's a powerful transmitter! Our progress can be tracked by clicking on the "Where We Are" button; the PacSea Net personnel enter our daily particulars into the ShipTrack registry until we reach landfall. All's well aboard.

Oct 21 - enroute

Time: 2300Z; 1200 noon local
Position: S23deg46min/E176deg50min
Day 2 run: 127 nm
Avg speed: 5.29 kn
Course: 240 T
Wind: SSW 18-25 kn
Seas: SW 10-12
Sails: double reefed main; partial Yankee
Ship's log: It's been heavy going waiting for the SE to fill in; it's not here yet! At least the distance to go log has finally started to go down in the number of miles to go, not up! Sharp eyed readers of this blog will have noticed that Infini has passed into the eastern hemisphere, crossing the Date Line in the early morning hours yesterday. Of possible import is that we discovered that one of the diesel tank sending units had misread on the guage; it had probably been stuck when it read full...the tank is actually about empty, so we're down about 75G that we usually would have topped off. Hmmm...All's well aboard.
Update: the SE winds have filled in, and we're barreling along in 20-25 knots of wind on a heading of about 235T. Now all we have to do is wait for the wind and seas to calm down a bit....

Oct 20 - Enroute to Opua, NZ

Time: 2300 UTC
Position: S23deg57min/E178deg58min
Day 1's run: 126 nm
Avg speed: 5.25 kn
Course: 295 T
Wind: WSW 20
Seas: WSW 8'
Sails: double reefed main; staysail, scrap of Yankee jib
Ship's log: We departed North Minerva Reef at 1000 and had to motor sail in very light winds until 0230 in the morning when we finally got 20 knots of SW wind. We've been bearing SW, then W, now WNW in heavy wind and wave conditions, and are close hauled on a port tack at about 50-60 degrees of wind off the bow. In the next few days the wind is expected to back to S, then SE, then ESE, and we'll follow it around as we make a big semi-circle, finally aiming more for our destination of Opua. All's well aboard.

Oct 18 - Minerva Reef

We've had a wonderful time here. With 360 degree all-weather protection, North Minerva offers a welcome spot to anchor enroute to NZ. Yesterday we saw four whales playing inside the lagoon. We've also walked the reef, taken lots of pictures, cleaned the bottom (again), and Sue's been busy cooking meals and baking. We've met lots of folks from the other five boats here, had a cruisers happy hour aboard another yacht, and had many discussions about the weather. We know of boats that have solicited advice from Commanders Weather, Bob MacDavitt, The Weather Guy, and custom forecasts from Germany, Norway, and even San Francisco! One of the boats here gets real time internet, so up to date information is shared thru our fleet. There's no shortage of opinions! Some pundit has advised against "paralysis by analysis", and our plan is to depart tomorrow (Oct 19 here) for Opua. We'll be checking in daily with the PacSea Net, and attempt to do daily blog updates as well. We're excited to be (soon) underway!

Oct 14 - Team Infini is safely anchored at North Minerva Reef

Position: S23deg39.4min/W178deg54.1min
We anchored in 52' of sand at 1800 hours after a 287 nm passage. We had varied wx, but much of the time it was cloudy, rainy and winds were high. Minerva Reef is an old volcanic crater surrounded by a thin rim of reef all around with one entrance into the area. The area is claimed by both Tonga and Fiji, and in the past boats have been told to leave the area due to this dispute. Wx permitting, boats stop here on passage to NZ, as it cuts down the long leg of the trip to about 850 nm (approx) and you're able to wait for a decent wx forecast going onwards. Talking about the wx, once again I'd urge anyone following our blog not to rely 100% on grib forecasts. They are often inaccurate and it's very difficult for the models to predict with certainty what wx you'll get in the very small patch of ocean you're in! This two day passage was forecast to have nice 10-15 knot SE winds, not the NE gale that blew constant 35 knots for several hours with gusts we noted to 42 knots. One thing about this sailing game...you take what you get out here and it's better to be prepared for the worst.

Oct 13 - Enroute

Time: 2300Z
Position: S22deg28.5min/W177deg11.7min
Day 1 run: 129 nm
Avg speed: 5.4 kn
Course: 225 T
Wind: NE 20-22 kn
Seas: NE 8'
Sails: double reefed main
Ship's log: It's been a boisterous first twenty-four hours. We should be able to assess weather conditions to see whether we stop at Minerva Reef tomorrow afternoon as well as be able to reassess weather going forward to NZ. All's well aboard. Update: The predicted 10-15 knot NE wind has turned into a bit more: it's a rainy day, with squalls to 37 knots at this time (0100Z). We've taken down the main entirely and have up a scrap of Yankee jib until conditions settle down a bit.

Oct 11 - Departure preparation

We took the water taxi from Pangaimotu to town and went to Customs, Immigration and the Port Captain. It was all a bit confusing as the offices are spread out, and in order to obtain the necessary voucher for duty free fuel, yet another Customs office gets involved. We bought some fresh veggies at the market, which was quite larger and had a better selection than the market at Neiafu. In the afternoon I made a jerry jug run for 100 liters of diesel, and we had the dinghy secured on deck by sunset. Another couple of boats are also leaving for NZ, with a possible stop at North Minerva Reef, so everyone's been busy. The passage weather looks good at this time, so it's onward we go; a quicker departure from Tonga than we had originally planned, but things have a way of working out for the best.

Team Infini is in theTongatapu Group, Tonga

Position: S21deg07.5min/W175deg09.7min. We had a pleasant overnight sail to Tongatapu, our final destination in Tonga. Of interest, besides all the whale watching, is that we used our new staysail for the first time during this short 65 nm passage and are very happy with it. Actually, we're anchored off Pangaimotu Island, a few miles away from the harbor in Nuku'Alofa. Getting back and forth is what a friend of ours called "a wet dinghy ride." Hmmm. We'll be checking out with Officialdom, do a last minute laundry and provisioning, and final prep for passage to NZ. We're checking the weather daily, and figure we'll be prepared for departure in the next few days. Lots of other boats are showing up here; all staging for departure to points south or west; five other vessels have anchored nearby us in the last hour. There are parties right here at Pangaimotu Is. sponsored by the All Points Rally folks of Opua, NZ, here at the end of the month, as well as mid Nov. in Opua, but our planning usually precludes specific commitments for stuff like that; if we're here, we may join the party...unless departure is imminent! We've met Big Mama and her husband Earl, the owners of the island here, and had a delightful talk with Anna (Big Mama's real name) earlier. It's her birthday Oct 28th, and many yachts are expected to participate in her party also. Always something going on!

Oct 8 - Down the island chain

Position: S20deg16.56min/W174deg48.28min We're presently anchored on the south side of Nomuka Iki island (we did not go to Ofolanga), between reef systems around us. We've been motoring the last few mornings to get to our destinations as winds have been light. At least until this morning, when a southerly squall blew in with gusts to 28 knots. With a trough over the southern parts of Tonga, the mornings here in the mid to lower island groups have started off overcast, and we're going by eyeball navigation along with our charts; but the charts can be, and often are, based on old surveys, and some charts are wildly inaccurate. We've also found currents here to be strong, and consideration has to be given to time of day and direction of travel. To add to the navigational delights, there are also what's referred to as "blind rollers," which are just what they suggest - waves that can only be seen from one side, so going over any of them would provide a rude surprise. We've seen lots of whales, and they're certainly cavorting around having a good time. We should be in Nuku'Alofa in a few days.

Oct 6 - Ha'ano Island, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

Position: S19deg40.3min/W174deg17.4min We had a leisurely overnight sail down to this northern most island in the Ha'apai group, anchoring at 0900. We've snorkeled the "mushroom rock" here, and passed over some beautiful coral formations and nice fish. We didn't see any big critters, but the boat next to us saw a zebra shark yesterday sleeping in the sand nearby their boat. Tomorrow we'll be going to Ofolanga Is, about 10 nm away to the NW. If weather allows, we're planning on spending about a week in the Ha'apai group before departing for Nuku'Alofa, where we'll stage for passage to NZ. We expect most of our time here will be spent snorkeling and shelling. We enjoyed the Vava'u area; more so the outer island anchorages than being in town. Overall, those islands are higher elevations than those here in the Ha'apai group. These are quite low, and remind us of the low atolls of the Tuamotus in French Polynesia.