Leg 2 RNZ report from Surreal
10 Mar 2012
After a dream ride to Mangonui it was interesting to watch the faces of the various crews when Bob McDavitt presented the weather forecast at the briefing. The key point being a gale warning for Thursday!. SW rising to 35 gust 50kts, swell increasing to 4,5 occasionally 6m. Friday would see 30 gusting 40kts with 5-7m swell.
Oh well. Guess it won't be pleasant but happy to be on the big Beneteau. On the wind would be our best shot at Krakatoa II and Revs.
So what happened ? Start was scheduled for 1pm Monday 27th Feb but unfortunately the wind died resulting in a postponement. Steve managed to find a brief zephyr of wind to get the fleet away shortly after. Exiting the bay Surreal went left as I said this is the same conditions as the last RNI and left paid big then! Danaide initially came with us before stating they were going where we were going as Cameron always goes the right way !.... then they gybed back at us resulting a few negotiations (couple of rums at Stewart Island) in return for letting us cross their bow. We were amused to look back in 20 mins to them a few miles astern after stating that they were going the same way as us !
We arrived at
And so it went on right down the
length of the
(and Half Moon Bay School) as the "Body Snatcher" Typically these were larger waves of 6-7 meters that as you neared the top another breaking wave of a further 1-2 meters suddenly reared up from a different angle washing right over the cockpit trying to tear any bodies away!. Our tactic to deal with them involved diving towards the windward side of the cockpit holding the wheel to try and turn into the wave whilst getting down low. As soon as the wave passed you had to quickly turn the wheel the other way to prevent a crash tack. Typically it took 20-30 seconds for all the water to drain away.
As the weather started to moderate a little we got concerned as the forecast seemed to be changing from the predictions to something worse. However although another gale was now forecast just ahead it would be no worse for us than the one we had just been through BUT the key was to get south ASAP as anyone left much to the north was in for a hiding. So after a short discussion where we decided they we were both in good shape (not too tired) the boat was good and the weather would be best for whoever was furthest south we elected to push on. It was around this time we heard reports of other boats seeking shelter and Krakatoa II withdrawing. We also managed to escape from Revs a little? I guess due in part to their alternator issues.
Life was looking pretty good, watching
our lead extend, when the breeze started to die just out from
Unfortunately we had yet another parkup. At one point it was impossible to sail on the making board as a wave would stop the boat and the following one would push it backwards. It was quite a frustrating sail down the West Coast as it felt like we were always parking up first and for longest giving the others a chance to catch up? and when we got wind it came with nasty waves that forced us to slow the boat down making it hard to extend our lead.
Finally when we approached Fiordland the breeze clocked aft and started to build, weather intell was for a Storm Warning of Puysegur. We initially ran a gennaker but once the Beneteau roll became increasingly likely to spin us out we changed to a poled out genoa. Within a few hours even this combo was dodgy so we furled it away proceding under full main. Within 2 hours we had both reefs in and were charging hard. Particularly big waves just north of Dusky Sound saw a new speed record of 21.3 knots set by Tim. For some reason he wouldn't let me drive until after the big waves were gone.
We passed Puysegur Point late
afternoon and from here on the wind continued to moderate and we soon found
ourselves with the genoa fully deployed and the reefs shaken out. At this point
we were doing 8-9 knots straight at
Another park up off
The boat was then put on a mooring before we introduced to our hosts. Hang on? Hosts? Yep Tim and I were going to be split with separate hosts. Tim couldn?t understand why then thought "oh no! they thought I was serious on the radio!"
Our two hosts have been absolutely fantastic looking after us extremely well. The reason for different hosts has now become apparent... Carla, Tim's better half, arranged with the race organisers a surprise visit. It seems everyone on the island was in on it. The look on Tim's face when he went to have a drink with the SSANZ committee only to bump into Carla was priceless.
We have gone to the local school and given a talk about our adventure and had the kids onboard the yacht. They are really excited about the race and have so many questions. It's also apparent that they have a lot of knowledge about the sea.
Anyway, time to sign off. Another feast and party awaits!