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Day 239 Wed-Thurs 29-30 May 2019 Heading to Timaru - just avoided near-disaster in the dark

Wednesday 1pm A dark, steel-grey cloud spreading from land to the NW gave warning of yet another big NW gust imminent. The wind had begun to rise from the calm conditions just before and since the SW light wind of this morning's 8am sunrise. There had been quite a big 'blow' just before then so I was busy on deck and able to enjoy it. Had very little sleep overnight, trying to keep us positioned in a mix of fickle winds and lenthy strong squalls, to be ready for the attempt to enter Oamaru from the NE mid-morning. But had to give up the idea of going in there - impossible to get that way in NW-SW wind under sail alone.

Plan B is to head to Timaru, a commercial port 40 miles up the coast - wide open entrance, deep water - no entry problem as with Oamaru. Kevin kindly phoned through to Timaru from Oamaru to let them know I needed to find a buoy there to pick up and I later spoke to the Timaru Pilot, Magnus, who will make sure I would know where to head.

Saw mountains in the distance for a short time, when the clouds lifted - clear fresh snow cover on the peaks - it's winter here!

2pm Need some sleep - getting to my bunk for a few hours as we make our way NE up the coast 8-10 miles off, while the present lighter NW wind after the 'blow' allows it.

3pm Phone call from Quarantine in Dunedin to say all good for Timaru.

5pm Sailing NNE on a nice SE wind of around 12-15kt.

Spoke to Magnus at Timaru Harbour who told me where to find some swinging moorings, near the entrance, and to take one whenever I arrive. Very friendly and helpful, as have been all that I've spoken to - in Wellington (Taupo Maritime Radio and MRCC NZ), Christchurch(Brent Kerr of Customs), Dunedin (Nick Hale of Quarantine), Oamaru Hbr (Kevin Murdoch) and Timaru Hbr (Magnus Karlsson) - many thanks to all of you!

6pm Chatted to Lydia of Radio NZ - interview going out very early probably.

7pm Nice to see us making good speed this evening - up to 6kt - as we head N towards Timaru. Wind seems possibly to be dying down now - forecast is for light winds overnight and into tomorrow, so expecting to be drifting around again. Hoping for no more big squalls overnight - I need my sleep!

8:30pm Our speed is down to 4kt now so over 4 hrs away - wind definitely dying, so likely to be longer. Just hope it stays up enough for us to reach Timaru to stay close enough overnight to enable us to get in tomorrow morning. I'm told there's normally a light NE breeze in the Outer Harbour where the swinging moorings are - !et's hope that happens!

Friday 1 am NZT (Thurs 1300GMT) Wind from NE around 15kt - Timaru only 5 n.ml. away - and two anchored vessel, one cargo and one tanker, anchored 2 ml off - exactly where I'd hoped to heave to - damn!! We've made good speed - I just slowed us down from 4 kt to 2 kt by dropping in 3rd reef and furling in genoa similarly... Must wait until dawn around 8am before sailing in to harbour - 7 hrs to wait. Will heave to beyond the two anchored vessels and will need to keep watch overnight to make sure we keep clear of them...

4am Got worried about position and wind needed to get in to harbour in the morning so started heading gently in the lessening breeze towards the green light I thought was one of the entrance lights. Wind was dying right down so difficult to keep a good course but was doing fine. Smelled a seaweed smell which surprised me, being a good distance off the shore... But a short time later, to my horror, I realised that we were dangerously close to a large, long, rocky, unlit breakwater. I jumped to the wheel and had to hold it full lock to get us away in very little breeze..

I could not believe that such a large structure, invisible in the darkness until close up to it, could be left totally unlit.... It was very difficult getting away since there was very little steerage in such a light wind but, slowly, slowly, the gap between us got bigger, despite the wind forcing us to run almost parallel. I hate to think what my blood pressure and heart rate went up to... And it was extremely lucky I was on deck just then since I thought we were safely a couple of miles or more off the beach.

I was not at all sure for quite some time that we wouldn't end up on the rocks and called on the VHF to let Taupo Radio know what was happening. A fisherman nearby, who knew I was coming in, called me and was very concerned when he realised where I was... "Head out to sea as fast as you can" he told me, sounding very worried.

2pm (Fri 0200 GMT) All's well that ends well - shortly afterwards, it was time for my daily reports but I was busy by then coming in to Timaru harbour - so this posting has been delayed until after my successful tying to a buoy - more in my next post.


While sailing around the world, I'm trying to raise funds to help support the superb life-saving work done by the RNLI (Lifeboats) in Britain each and every day of the year, regardless how bad the weather. In fact, the worse it is, the more likely they are out there, helping someone in distress - whether a swimmer, surfer, small boat or big ship, night or day, summer or winter. They are all volunteers with normal day-jobs who respond immediately to a call and it is a charity - no government funding - so they rely on our help to fund their intensive training and maintain their equipment.

It would be great if you would take a moment to click on the Lifeboats link here (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jeanne-Socrates2), if you'd like to show your support for my efforts at sailing solo, nonstop, unassisted around the globe, trying to set a World Record as the oldest person to do so, by donating something towards the great work the RNLI do every day. If a lot of people put in even a small amount, it all adds up... Thanks a lot! If you can help, it will be very much appreciated. Let's see if we can reach my target!


Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 239 (by daily DMGs): 19,963 n.ml. up to last distance calculation (on Day 233) + an unknown amount - but now have plotter available to do it! Just need the time.

Position & weather report, posted to www.Winlink.org and www.Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign KC2IOV):

TIME: 2019/05/30 06:54 GMT

LATITUDE: 44-21.10S

LONGITUDE: 171-21.91E


SPEED: 2kt




SWELL_HT: 1.0m






COMMENT:Close to Timaru Hbr, for swinging mooring, to get repairs done. Just avoided rocks of unlit breakwater

Written by : Jeanne Socrates