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Leg 1, 2019, Update 1
Auckland, New Zealand; Rurutu, Papeete, Tahiti
A BRILLIANT START TO OUR 30TH SEASON OF SAIL-TRAINING ADVENTURES!
May 18, 2019, 0730 hrs, 28.37 S, 159.01, W, Log: 222,688 miles
Baro: 1015.9+, Cabin Temp: 72 F, Cockpit: 70 F, Sea Water: 74 F
Broad reaching at 7.5 kts in 33kt W winds: double-reefed main and three reefs in genoa
256 miles to Orne Bank, a mid-ocean seamount with a depth of 29 meters
Leg 1 expedition crew ready for safety briefing, Auckland, New Zealand.
Mahina Tiare spent the cyclone season ashore in Auckland and these are the items we addressed during that time and once we returned:
- Regalvanized second bow anchor and chain
- Replaced Lifeline AGM batteries with the same
- Added an additional Raymarine multi-display over main hatch which we’ll use solely for depth
- Replaced engine coolant, had valves adjusted and engine aligned
- +Had windlass stripped down and serviced for the first time since installation 12+ years ago
- Had the rudder stripped down to barrier coat and coated with Copper Coat
- Had one of the Flexofold prop blades coated with PropGlide and the other two with PropSpeed as a test for Practical Sailor magazine
- Had one bow thruster prop coated with PropSpeed, and the other with Micron 77
- Had bottom painted with Micron 77
And the big daddy of all; installed an IridiumGO satellite system, and got it synched up with PredictWind whose base is in Auckland.
We asked our Leg 1 crew to meet aboard MT the day before they joined us for the expedition for a safety and weather briefing. Auckland had been experiencing the finest fall weather we’d ever seen and orientation day was one of the finest! A real bonus was having Keryn McMaster from PredictWind come aboard and show us how to commission and receive weather routing through the IridiumGO we’d just completed installing. Crew members Andrew and Dean had already been using PredictWind and were big fans.
Shortly after crew came aboard on Thursday, May 9th, we set sail for Rangitoto Island, just six miles away. Rangi, as it is affectionately called, is a fairly new volcanic island that guards the entrance to Auckland Harbour, and where Amanda and I anchored on our first sailing date in 1994. We all enjoyed a hike ashore before completing safety orientation, unpacking and preparing navigation for a pre-dawn departure.
NZ Customs asks for a 48-hour pre-departure form filing, and we asked for an 0730 outbound clearance inspection appointment at the Customs dock in downtown Westhaven Marina, 11 miles east of Rangi. For the first morning since our return to Auckland we were greeted with rain and then drizzle as we set a course in the darkness, keeping an eye out for the many 30 kt commuter catamaran ferries zipping by.
Customs was early and had received all of our emailed forms and by 0740 we dropped dock lines and raised the main. Our reason for an early start was to get clear of the Hauraki Gulf and islands before sunset, and clearing conditions plus a big ebb tide saw us well past Cuvier Island and into open water in time for a brilliant sunset.
Click HERE to view the passage weather forecasts from Commanders Weather and MetBob.com.
It seems like each of the 15 or so times we’ve made this passage from Auckland to Tahiti there is a substantial weather front bearing down on NZ and this time was no exception but delaying our departure would have only meant dealing with stronger winds closer to land. With light following westerly winds, we periodically motorsailed, keeping our speed up to 6.5 – 7 kts with the goal of getting well clear of the coast before the forecasted frontal passage.
First shipping, then fishing traffic was frequent and Saturday the wind filled in to 14 kts. It was sunny all day, and we had a lovely visit by a pod of friendly dolphins. For the first time, we encountered Oriental long-line fishing boats using AIS beacons on the end of their lines and we had three fishing boats and six sets of long lines showing up on the MFD screen at the same time. None of the fishing boats returned our calls and twice we had to alter course to avoid them.
Saturday we crossed the Date Line and had more perfect broad reaching conditions in 15-20 kt WNW winds. We continued with our teaching, covering helming skills, survival pack inventory, Marine Weather I and reefing practice. Two of our three seasick crew who were seasick were over it and we were surprised when Dean’s suggested, during a brief calm spell, that perhaps we should swim that everyone dove into the 71 F water without encouragement, after heaving-to. The water felt slightly brisk to start with, then glorious!
Sunday the winds gradually freshened, giving Linda and Joanna repeated practice as they tucked in one, two and finally three reefs in the main while the barometer dropped and winds increased to a solid 29 kts, gusting 41. With the wind around to the NW, every few minutes a big roller would smack MT on the beam, sending a wall of water straight up in the air, to be blown back over the cockpit. Gradually Dean started to understand why I’d been recommending boats with permanent dodgers to him, and Linda and Bob said they were very pleased their HR 46 has the same rigid dodger as MT.
This was the frontal passage we’d been anticipating for a week, and according to Keryn at PredictWind, it brought 45 kts to Auckland, followed by a cool, fresh southerly of 20 kts. By Monday afternoon the front had passed, leaving clearing skies and a rising barometer and spirits.
Tuesday brought very light winds and a 3.1-meter LARGE SW swell, so we reverted to motorsailing, trying several sail combinations to lessen rolling.
Friday brought another frontal passage with shifting winds peaking at 35 kts. As forecasted, the wind shifted from SW to SE and our crew got some excellent practice gybing with a triple-reefed main in a squall. Throughout the changing conditions the skill level of each of our helmspeople has steadily improved and we’ve had daily runs of 153, 160, 175, 152, 150, 158, 153, 173 while keeping on track with an ambitious teaching schedule.
We’ve been discovering more very useful features of PredictWind almost daily, and the accuracy of the PWE forecast model which is the ECMWF European forecast, enhanced with PredictWind’s weather routing model has been stunning, and considerably more accurate and far more visual than using the US GFS GRIB forecasts displayed in AirMail format as we’ve done in the past.
Life at sea has followed a rhythm according to shipboard life of watches, duties, class and meals. Crew are learning about living with continual large lumpy swell conditions while the numerous squalls and wind changes keep everyone on their toes adjusting sails and tweaking helming technique as sea state and wind alter the boats movement. Everyone is in great spirits, slowly shedding layers as it gets warmer, and we’ve witnessed some awesome sights like a whales breaching and cruising alongside at night, a full moon to steer by, and even a glowing rainbows a couple of nights as squalls pass by….this is certainly a first! Stories and questions abound at meal times and the only thing thats missing is a FISH! We've had the fishing line out from sunrise to sunset daily, have switched lures, but no fish yet...
Here's our switched-on and very focused Leg 1 crew:
I retired six months ago after a 30 yr career at a healthcare company in Chicago. My husband’s and my next chapter is going to be living aboard and cruising half of each year on our Hallberg-Rassy 46 that we’ve owned for two years. I’ve not spent much time at the helm and do not know much about our boat, but I want to! I joined Mahina Tiare to get a crash course on basically everything and to gain confidence. So far, so good!
The day after I retired, Linda and I left for this expedition. I’ve sailed all my life and have always dreamed of seeing the world on a sailboat. Upon our return we plan on starting the next chapter/adventure of our lives. We will start in the Great Lakes for a couple of seasons and then we’ll sail to the East coast to see where our boat will take us. Having an ocean passage under our belts will go a long way toward making the dream a reality!
My partner, David, and I own a classic 65’ Rhodes steel ketch that we have enjoyed cruising the Pacific NW part time over the past nine years. The next phase of our life (retirement) will bring the opportunity for blue water sailing. Leg 1 is helping me understand all that is involved and lots that present when ocean sailing. This is crucial for building my confidence level, something much needed since I am a relatively inexperienced sailor. I’m originally from Vancouver, BC, but we now live in Florida.
My wife, Joanna and I are founders of a large internet-based advertising production company. We’re from Toronto and Vancouver and I’ve sailed both competitively and for pleasure all my life aboard small and large boats. We hope to take our 65’ Rhodes ketch down the West Coast to the Caribbean and Med, so the main reason we joined this expedition was to experience the full range of ocean passage conditions as a couple.
Besides sailing in the Pacific NW, skiing and enjoying my family (three kids and a wife), I run my biotech business in Montreal. I’m always looking to make my life more complicated so I’m considering buying a blue water boat and going sailing on a global adventure. Joining this expedition was strategic – it would either put me off or have me sold for life on the concept of worldwide sailing. Oh yeah, I’m a Brit who emigrated from London to Montreal.
My wife and I live in Seattle where I’m an anesthesiologist. We’ve enjoyed cruising in the PNW on a trimaran that my Dad built and launched in 1967. When I was six we cruised Mexico for a year and it’s been great to borrow that boat and share the cruising experience with my family. I recently completed building a Farrier 22’ folding trimaran coastal cruiser. After years of reading about long distance cruising, I’m excited to be part of this expedition!
Additionally, Dean says:
The crew have really bonded well and were very supportive of each other during the first few days that were fairly rough, as everyone was finding their sea legs. Weather routing training has been amazing and the combination of PredictWind (awesome) and weatherfax has allowed a clear understanding of our weather situation.
I have been counting the days between opening the letters from my kids, Alba (12), Milann (10), and Hugo (6) and can’t wait to see you all as well as my darling Antonia.
Leg 1 Itinerary
leg 1 | leg 2 |
leg 3 | leg 4| leg 5 | leg 6