Tuesday 8th June 9.30pm (Sticking to NZT, despite having crossed the Meridian Sat night! Strictly speaking, I should have celebrated Saturday all over again... and today should be Monday 7th ... go figure!)
We're just in the middle of a front coming through - bumpy and 'vigorous'! But at least, with the wind backing, as it has, we're finally on our rhumb-line course, something we've not managed since soon after leaving the coast of North Island.
I was just downloading a fax when I realized that the wind had got up. From the NNW5 (16-20 kts) that we had been seeing since early today, it's now got up to NW 6-7 (26-30+ kts). The 0600 UTC fax I was looking at showed me that we were positioned just ahead of a cold front when it was produced a short while before. Being pitch dark now, I was pleased I'd not been tempted to unfurl more genoa after taking some in during an earlier gust in a rainsquall late this afternoon. If the wind pipes up much more, I'll have to furl in more. Definitely not a time for relaxation...! And I thought the strong stuff was finished with for a day or two...
Today had started so nicely .... after some heavy rain at first light, the clouds had cleared away by sunrise to give a clear blue sky and sunshine for most of the morning. The wind settled down to a pleasant NNW 4-5 (~16 knots) and the seas were a lot smoother - unlike now! I even cooked a proper meal - the first for several days - and spent some time trying to find the source of a small diesel leak I 'd noticed earlier. I'm still seeing the occasional albatross, petrel and prion - always lovely to spot them close by.
And the gale of Sunday/Monday? Could have been worse!! It peaked over the dark hours of Sun/Mon and I saw 34kt early on Monday, with the wind fairly constant at around 27kts all day, not easing until well after dark. That's true wind, of course, meaning the apparent wind was around 30 knots all day, with the seas building up quickly to 3m or so, and quite close together - so we got to crashing about quite early on & seas washed the decks regularly. Around 3pm, I spotted some sunshine and went up on deck to find us under an almost clear patch of sky, surrounded by cloud on the horizon. Pressure had dropped way down to 995 hPa and I'm convinced the centre of the low was passing over us just then. A few hours later, during the evening, things were beginning to calm down and so I had some good sleep - until the heavy downpour early today, and the resultant necessary sail-trimming, that is! I hear that the Wellington area had heavy hailstones and a temperature of 6 C - at least the temperature I'm seeing is 16-19 C during the day - and so far no hailstones!
After these strong winds have eased, it looks as though, before getting to the SE Trades, I'll have to get through an area of light winds in a high pressure area that I'm told by Bob McDavitt is way further north than it usually is... My luck...! In an effort to stay near the edge of, & so reduce the time spent in, this 'no-wind' zone, I'm heading almost due north - towards the little island of Niue - which I visited in 2007 after a 10-day 'no-wind' passage from Bora Bora - let's hope I find wind sooner than that!