Apsara's Log: One down one to go
We are safe and sound in Opua, NZ! Thanks for all your good thoughts
while we were out in stormy seas. More later on the GALE we went through
last night. For now, we just wanted to let you know we have arrived and all
is well. We are extremely happy!
Apsara and her faithful crew.
If you are still following our sea story, here is the final chapter about the gale we met last night.
The barometer fell a total 15 mb over an 18 hour period as a low pressure system in the Tasman Sea (between
Australia and NZ) intensified and moved northeast toward our position. This was not as the forecast had advertised.
Just 12 hours before, the system had been forecast to move southeast, and away from us. But when it was too late
for a deviation in course to make a difference, every weather fax carried news that the low was getting stronger
and going the wrong way. We were going to meet a larger front, head-on, at night. Earlier in the day, a much
weaker front had passed through, bringing steady 30 knot winds gusting to 40. This spawned concern about the kind of
punch the next front might be packing, and we prepared the boat for a storm.
Around 8:00 PM local time were sailing in 25-30 knots of constant winds with 2 meter seas. No problem for Apsara.
She was sailing smoothly at 10 knots with just her staysail flying. In the distance, we could see lightning
strikes and steady light rain began to fall. As we reached the front, the wind jumped to a steady 35
knots gusting to 45 (Beaufort force 8 - full gale). The seas grew accordingly and heavy rain covered us.
The boat was moving downwind like a run away freight train, sometimes slewing sideways as stray waves
slammed the boat broadside. This continued for a couple of hours. While we could have reefed the staysail down, the
motion was actually much better than expected and the speed helped to keep the helm responsive. We elected to continue
to move under a full staysail alone. Apsara was in her element and we were...ahh, focused.
As the cold front passed over us, the winds dropped back to 25 to 33 and the wind shifted from North to West. The
sky quickly cleared revealing a night of diamond-bright stars and a thin crescent moon. With the wind
now forward of the beam, actually a very tight reach and some what uncomfortable due to the sea-state,
the apparent wind increased. The winds remained at this strength, and we turned on the engine and
motored-sailed close-hauled the remaining 50 miles to the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. We entered the
Bay at sunrise, dog-tired but awestruck by the beauty. And proud to have accomplished what we set out to do. Finland
seems a long, long time ago.
Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement,
Apsara and her faithful crew
So with a heavy weather tale
and more than 18,000 miles of sail
crossing the world's two largest oceans
our dreams are no longer notions