We left Auckland on May 30th, sailing east towards Rapa in the Iles Australis. It was surreal to watch the city lights disappear on the horizon – hard to believe that the time had finally come to begin our journey. The weather forecast showed two low pressure systems building, so we sailed southeast to avoid them. The first few days were slow going due to light winds, but it picked up by day four, so that we were able to average about 150 nautical miles per day. We headed northeast, hoping to catch the coat tails of the storm and ride them east (low pressure systems rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere). The winds and seas got progressively bigger and we found ourselves in the middle of a 420 mile wide gale. No skirting this one unfortunately.
With 40 to 50 knot winds and 5 to 6 meters seas, we did the only sensible thing – run (downwind, so that we sailed with the storm). It was a pretty wild ride. For two days we had to batten down the hatches as waves washed over the deck. Between a few leaky portholes and 4 respirating crew, the cabin humidity was 96%. John busted out his ballet moves, pirouetting across the galley and finishing in fine Scottish form by head-butting the spice rack. I can laugh as I was slam-dancing all over the place. When I wasn’t channeling my inner punk rocker, I was perfecting my imitation of Wile E. Coyote, suspended in air for that split second before reality (e.g. waking up) and gravity kicked in.
With all of the running around and running from storm fronts, it took us 23 days to cover 2841 nautical miles on our convoluted route to Rapa. The original plan was to take approximately 2 to 3 weeks and cover 2200 nautical miles. It was certainly challenging at times, but there were also moments of magic. Waking to the sound of dolphins surfing the bow wake a mere hull’s width away from my head. Sitting in the cockpit on a sunny day, cruising along in a light breeze and enjoying the solitude and serenity of being all alone in the infinity of blue. Sailing under a canopy of stars with a phosphorescent wake trailing behind us. Surfing down massive waves being buffeted by the wind and spray…
It’s been an exciting 3 weeks on the water and we are very happy to be in Rapa. Looking forward to exploring this beautiful, dramatic island and meeting the local people. Also looking forward to a level sleeping surface and the cessation of movement for a few days!