They say the passage between New Zealand and Tonga can be one of the more difficult passages to make around here. Why? In between these two countries is where three large bodies of water meet. The Tasman Sea, the Coral Sea and the Pacific Ocean all slam up against each other here. So what’s so bad about that you ask? Well, each one of these bodies of water has its own weather system and pattern and whenever two systems collide it can get a bit spirited but throw in a third and it can get downright dicey. This means passage planning needs to be almost perfect and since we’re dealing with Mother Nature and her unpredictablility, it’s almost impossible to find the perfect window. In fact, you are almost guaranteed that sometime during the eight to ten day crossing you are going to come up against some rough weather.
In October 2018 when we departed Nuku’alofa, Tonga headed to New Zealand our bad weather came at the start of our journey. The first day out we were battling 20-25 knot winds off the starboard beam and 3-4 meter seas, if you read about that trip you know we ended up having water come rushing through our hatch into our bunk creating a huge mess and leaving us with just one blanket and a sheet as we headed into a much colder climate. Needless to say, that was not my favorite passage of all time.
So here we are now in the middle of the same passage only in reverse. We knew when we left New Zealand that we were going to be dealing with a low pressure system several days into our passage. Here it is, the end of day three and we’re starting to see its effects. Just before sunset the winds started kicking up from 10-12 knots to 15-20. We reefed down the main in preparation for potentially higher winds.
A couple of hours after dark we had to turn on the engine because the winds had died off and started switching around on us. Around the same time, just as I was about to go down for my pre-watch nap, our auto pilot alarm started going off saying we were off course. The thing is…we were not off course so it was obviously computer error. This happened a couple of times but never again so we had to assume it was just some glitch.
Here Comes The Weather
Throughout the evening the seas became progressively worse and we were getting bounced around quite a bit. For the next 16 hours or so we had a bit of spirited weather. Winds were running 18-24 knots with some chunky seas at about 2-3 meters. It really wasn’t too bad aside from trying to sleep. There’s nothing like being bounced six inches off your bunk every few minutes. It’s sort of like sleeping on a trampoline with kids jumping all around you. One second you’re sound asleep and the next your soaring above the mattress like one of the Flying Walendas.
Thank goodness for all the pillows and cushions in the bunk. Yep…I’ve finally been given that padded room I’ve been promised all these years. But alas that’s the life of a sailor. We can sleep when we get into port. Of course that will be AFTER a couple of anchor down brewskies!
And There It Goes
There is some good news and that’s that the low pressure system we expected pretty much passed us by in that we didn’t get the projected 35 knot winds and 3-4 meter seas. I think Dan was actually bummed because he spent an entire morning preparing our Shark™ drogue for deployment. He was pretty jazzed about using it. I, on the other hand, was just fine with the fact that we didn’t need it.
Once the storm passed the weather turned out to be quite nice. We’ve got good winds and are back to sailing at 5-6 knots. That is, after all, what we really are out here to do. And, the swell has changed around and is going with us hitting at our starboard quarter. What’s that mean? Good sailing and a comfortable ride!
It’s so nice that I finally had real sleep tonight. It was so amazing… at least it was until the gallows man showed up at 2330 to roust me from my slumber for my watch. Arghhhh…Honestly, sometimes I don’t like that guy very much but I guess he deserves some good sleep too. After all he does do most of the work around here.
My dear captain informed me earlier that I miscalculated our arrival in Tonga. He said that due to the fact that we are going slower this trip than we did on the way down last October, this will take ten days. Another big arghhh! I was planning on Thursday then Friday and now Saturday. I think I may need to file a BBB complaint about this cruise line. Their brochure clearly promised an 8 day journey. And, I have yet to receive my welcome cocktail on the lido deck or see the famous Polynesian dancers.
This morning I lodged a complaint with the owner stating that I signed up for the Cocktails and Dreams cruise not the Bruises and Sleep Deprivation one. The jerk had the nerve to tell me if I didn’t like it I could get off and then he asked me to make HIM coffee. Something tells me this guy has no idea that I am a princess and expect to be treated accordingly. But, I guess you get what you pay for huh?
Well…back to my watch. The sky is crystal clear tonight so there’s tons of stars upon which to cast a gaze. And, only 4 more hours until I can crawl back into my bed. I wonder if room service will bring me my breakfast in bed later. Nahhhh, I doubt it…I don’t even get those cool towel animals left on my bed. Oh well…
Until next time,