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@Dominic %RbzGUXS4jiZHToZN9xPHBRAOs08VZjLgfyoz1KklmvQ=.sha256

Auckland to Wellington

I first learned to sail in wellington, back in 2004, ever since then I've been wanting to sail between auckland and wellington. To get between the two main cities of Te Ika a Maui / the north island, and also the two best cruising grounds, the Hauraki Gulf, and Able Tasman and the Marlbrough sounds.

Today, after months of preparation. Many big an small jobs, some cheap some expensive (such as buying a liferaft - now the most expensive single thing I own) I finally raised anchor and I am not intending to drop it again until I'm in wellington harbour. I'm expecting it to take a week. So maybe the 10th, or some time that week depending on how Tangaroa treats me.

Unlikely I'll have any connectivity on the trip!
I'll post but you wont see anything until I arrive.
Don't worry I'm just sailing!

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@Jacob %z+vzOq6qoG74OHvTg9KFOF4XNoRPI5MWw+5vhass8QQ=.sha256


Isn't Wellington windy af, can't be the easiest place to stay/sail around in?

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@Rabble %Skzlb7UTy+0KxTxpDM5HpCD/TX3aSLSTULzGGcgbFR0=.sha256

That's quite a crossing!

@dangerousbeans %2M5NNNxwE4Ku8lktwOyUPotN+uV2h9SOTZNTrDNK58g=.sha256

Yeah for sure down the east coast, the west has way less protected bays and the swells are normally big, while the east coast is some of the most chill sailing in the world

fair winds and following seas @dominicšŸŒŸ

@Dominic %wJ873FPJp6MAQ0uXNLv1z23bSEPAMj280dfJ6GBExSY=.sha256

Day 2

I am finally out of sight of land! today started slowly, just drifting north of curvier island (I went to the north of so that it would be included in my circumnavigation of Te Ika a Maui, when I return to Auckland up the west coast). I caught a fish. I don't have a freezer, so I took the line in, don't need more than I can eat. One job I left was replacing the self steering pivot. This had broken on the last trip, and I made a new one on the go. It had been bending disconcertingly and finally it broke. I made a new one from an old chopping board. I'm already 80 pages into my reading material, Cape Horn: the Logical Route (by Bernard Moitessier) I better not read too hard or I'll finish everything before I arrive.

There isn't much to do. Get the boat going in the right direction and keep it under control. Check that it's going in the right direction and that ships arn't coming. Then relax. I've switched off the depth sounder because it can't see the bottom. It's over 1km deep here! I should be passing east cape tomorrow night at this rate. I'm gonna give it a wide berth, stay in the deep water, away from hazards so I can relax. If the weather gets rough it will be less rough further out. Also, shipping here hugs the coast (I did some research before leaving - found some website with a live map of AIS data) so I can avoid that being further out. Shipping goes close in to save fuel, but for me, the scarce resource is how much rest I can have. So stay well away from hazards is the best plan.

@Christian Bundy %Y5urcoYvAsMs+l424xedLcwjXoAukRkldx/W0yCs60Y=.sha256


Good luck and have fun!

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@Dominic %53fCUdD7xyqCeHEB94B4a12rAY5ZQw0LYS5lGWQpSTU=.sha256

Day 3

I saw two ships yesterday, one in the evening, heading north, and one at night heading south. Around dawn the wind changed and I dropped the jib. I found on my last trip that if the wind is just aft of the beam, it balances best with just the main (as when the jib catches it pulls it up to much, and the self steering only corrects slowly. But it's okay, if it's windy you are still going 5 knots like this. In the afternoon the wind died down and came back from the South South East, not ideal. So have been bashing to windward all afternoon. Before leaving, I took the jib into hackland and did the little repairs that I felt needed doing. I didn't want to have to repair it at sea. Tangaroa had other ideas, because today I tore the jib. It was on deck all day, and when the wind was light one time I decided to raise it again, not realizing it was stuck under the spinnaker pole. I should have gone forward to investigate rather than just haul on the winch! now it's got a meter long tear in it. It's forecast to be light tomorrow after noon, so I'll fix it then... I set the small heavy jib instead, and the wind picked up anyway.

Today I past the point of being at sea for 48 hours. I wasn't feeling sick but I didn't have much appetite, eventually it came back. I think tomorrow I should really be getting into the swing (or rock) of things.

Unsure if I will make it to wellington in 7 days or not. I was definitely going fast yesterday, but the forecast the next couple of days has the wind changing from north to south and back several times. That's sure to slow me down.

@Dominic %8K+YBxtoNqqTF2TylHUJ7PMz5KOdNNOMSx+r90E5EGk=.sha256

Day 4

Today felt like a meditation retreat. Last night I was tacking to windward, and going slowly.
In the rush of preparations, I had installed a chart app on my phone, figuring it to be a good back up, as I probably couldn't print off charts for all the places I'm not planning on going but may need to bail out to (Gisbourne, Napier, etc) but then I ended up not getting any new paper charts. So here I was navigating using OpenCPN... So now I was sailing, using buggy, frustrating, software... exactly what I go sailing to escape. This brought many thoughts of all the land-and-internet based frustrations that I was sailing alone away from to gain perspective on. At least, I knew there was something like that, that made me want to sail away. At 0130 I tacked and was heading south west now, towards land a bit, but after a while the wind slowly veered so I was sailing straight south. In the morning the wind had died down further, I wasn't going fast, but at least I was in the right direction.

Frustrations had past, and I think I had adapted fully to life at sea (appetite was back). Started a few fix-it jobs that would be easy while I wasn't moving much. One was repainting the bottom of the dinghy. I had scraped the paint off the bottom by dragging it along a beach before the paint was fully hardened. The paint was needed to protect the epoxy from ultra violet light, when I'm at anchor, of course, the sun doesn't get to the bottom, so it's not that bad. But now it's gonna be upside down for a solid week - but also, this is the perfect time to paint it, since I know I'm not gonna need it for a week.

Then dolphins came! Normally dolphins come when you are traveling fast, but also I regularly see dolphins do things I've never seen them do before. The came and then came back again. Since we where going so slowly I figured this was my chance to swim with them. Tying on to the boat with a rope, and flippers and mask, even though we were going less than 2 knots, it was slightly faster than I could comfortably swim, even with the flippers. But I could easily pull my self along the rope. The dolphins didn't come very close but they did swim under me, swimming side on to look directly at me. Because the self steering was activated, the duckboard wasn't the best way up. I managed to pull my self up the side into the cockpit without much difficulty (good to know I can do that)

After a rest, I started to repair the sail from yesterday. First I sewed the tear together flat. First, sitching one side of the tear to the other - this wasn't to hold it together, just to hold it in place. I had to do most of this twice, because when I got near the end it wasn't flat. Then I glued on two strip of silver, heavy duty, tarp over the tear, on both sides of the sail. Finally, I sewed around the edge of that, though both strips. I was running out of sail repair thread, so I broke apart an old rope and used a polyester strand from inside it. I got down one end and the needle broke! The eye broke off. I suddenly realized I was rather short of suitable needles. I had a number of too small ones, and two that were maybe big enough. If I broke those I'd have a problem... I'm doubtful that a needle is something I can improvise!

I wasn't expecting that this meditation retreat featured a workshop on high-stakes sewing. Sewing very paitiently and carefully I managed to complete the repair without breaking anything.

Maybe tonight or tomorrow I will get to find out if the repair was good enough. The wind is currently still light enough for the genoa. But the forecast is to turn south and rise to 20 knots.

@Dominic %74pPJfVvdgfl3fBv2x+INEux1oc4/7CfpUSGrTH8IAE=.sha256

Day 5

The theme for today was physical frailty. The strong southerly that had been forecast was a long time in coming, and I was hoping that it wouldn't, but then it hit at 5 am, when it was still dark. The change came with rain too - I wished I had gotten the genoa in last night when it would have been easy. Getting out of bed I slipped and fell on an edge, which struck me in the chest, but a sail change was in order. After wrestling with that and getting the boat going again, at least not toward land, I returned to bed. I hadn't seen any ships during the night and was quite a bit farther out than before, so I could relax a lot more. It would be light soon, so I'll see to everything then. When I got up again, I first realized how much my chest hurt. It wasn't a stabbing pain, and didn't hurt to breath, so I figured it was just a bruised rib and not a cracked one. I wasn't going very on course, so I took out a reef to see if we pointed higher - we did, but my injury made it quite difficult to haul on ropes and grind winches. Not good.

I remember reading sailing stories where they crack ribs - David Lewis, in Ice Bird. I remember he takes antibiotics. There isn't much you can do for a cracked rib except rest and antibiotics. I don't think I had any antibiotics in the first aid kit. If it got worse, I could put into Napier, but that was still at least a days sail away. I did what research I could. I had a first aid manual, that mentioned fractured ribs, but obviously described much worse symptoms than I had, which was reassuring. And I found the section in Ice Bird, where he describes "stabbing pain". Feeling around my chest, it was just a single rib that hurt. Also, it only hurt when I pressed on the hurt bit. I figured that a crack would hurt at the crack, even when I pushed elsewhere on the rib... I was now pretty reassured that I hadn't cracked it. I just had to learn how to use my body so as not to put pressure on it... while inhabiting a small sail boat, bashing violently to windward.

But happily, we were on course, and safely far away from anything, so I spent most of the day in bed. I didn't have to do a sail change until the afternoon, and it was a lot less painful by then. The jib I repaired is back up, and am expecting a north easterly tonight, so I should have easier sailing tomorrow.

@mix %fT3n7Qrl/DaiKaeeMmPduHYcy/g2fBMNWvC8ySGRvPs=.sha256
Voted ## Auckland to Wellington I first learned to sail in wellington, back in
@mix %qj0vxw5N2/E8G7BglNm3yEiPlIZHDMvnOTw7C8/+Xxs=.sha256
Voted There is a wave setting on windy btw. No shit about the west coastā€¦ 5m and
@mix %0dfl6U5pyzrIj6Kbt3c5Ui8KsOCOPL+zMQq7CU45DjQ=.sha256

@dominic I'll cook your breakfast and offer you a shower when you arrive. If you park up outside my house (anywhere on the miramar peninsular I can come get your). I've got a bike you can borrow

@Dominic %DUZWKgtEIkPw1awPfjz0xH9r0TpcGsTY15P/axIy4rE=.sha256

Day 6

(started writing this on day 7, finishing on 8, because day 6 itself was too intense to open the computer)

Day 6 was the day of the gale.

Hmm, I see I didn't mention the coming gale on the earlier reports. But this is just a write up for others entertainment. The real record of the trip is the log book and I see notes of the weather forecast showing the gale from friday (day 5).

Can you describe what it is like to be in a storm at sea? It is clear to me that the answer is "no", because I did a lot of book learning about this already - reading both heavy weather sailing manuals and sailing trip narratives. It comes down to what does a giant wave feel like? I had been out sailing in the relatively sheltered hauraki gulf in strong winds, so I knew my boat could handle the wind, but I had not experienced what the waves would be like. I knew from reading that past a certain wind strength (depends on the boat's handling characteristics and setup) it wouldn't be safe to continue sailing (or you are just too exhausted) so you then employ one of many storm tactics to bring the boat under control, possibly to continue sailing, or to create a comfortable motion so that you can leave the boat to it's devices and get some rest. Which tactics works best with what conditions is something that depends on the boat. So you can't really know what to do - you just had to prepare a variety of moves and experiment.

The simplest is to reduce sails - change to very small, very strong sails, and keep on sailing. This has the advantage of not loosing ground, but is surely the most exhausting method. I already had a fairly small heavy jib and also a very small jib (that I had not used ever), and had recently had a 3rd reef point put in the mainsail. The next step is to "heave to" in this you setup the sails in some way as to hold the boat at a steady angle into the wind. I'd discovered recently that using just the main at the 3rd reef would point into the wind but not tack - so this qualified as heaving to. Finally I had a sea anchor. This you trail out from either the bow or the stern and it holds the boat steady and pulls it back if a breaking wave hits you. I had had the sea anchor for a long time, but never used it, and also just before the trip attached extra strong cleats either side of the stern for attaching it.

The morning before the gale was actually very pleasant sailing. Down wind then a beam reach, very smooth, good conditions for making the various preparations. I switched to the heavy jib, and set up the tiny jib (which didn't have hanks) as a flying stay sail, fixing it on the spinnaker up and down hauls (with the tack of the sail attached to the anchor bollard, and the head attached to both the up and downhaul, so that I could easily pull it back down without going on deck)

In the after noon, the wind strength grew steadily. I put in two, then three reefs. The waves grew very large, they were far taller than any I had encountered before, but because we were in the deep ocean (more than 1 kilometer deep) and because the waves had traveled over a great expanse of water, they were large but not steep. A wave came and we just rose with it. Even going forward on deck wasn't scary. In strong weather in the hauraki gulf it's worse, because the waves are short and steep and so holding on is much harder.

It continued like that a while, I was actually surprised how scary it wasn't. Then the wind increased a bit more, the boat shuddering, and the windows regularly in the water I decided it was probably time to heave to. I clipped on (oh yeah, I am using wearing a safety harness and a line attaching me to the boat at all times when I'm on deck, and even in the cockpit if the weather is strong). Then this _extra large wave approaches. As I gaze, mesmerized at it's majestic awesomeness, the top rises so high that it can't support itself and crumbles into a mess of foam, it's right in front of me so I can see it perfectly, but it doesn't hit me. Oh yeah, this is the next phase of gale strength, I read about this.

I drop the jib, just the 3-reefed main. Everything feels fine, surprisingly smooth and comfortable inside. More comfortable that it would be near land because the waves are so long.

After a little while, it feels like the wind has decreased a little. I decide to try raising the small jib. I pull it up, and it starts flogging like crazy! It whips the sheets through, and tangles them around each other (thankfully, I had set up a second set of sheets for this sail, the regular ones where still attached to the heavy jib) I could see that I should have had knots in the ends of the sheets, to stop them pulling through, but I didn't because it isn't an issue in moderate conditions. It was a disaster! so I went back to heaving to with just the 3-reef main. Log entry reads "nap time"

@Dominic %tWqSIySibXjzRTAR3oh4X1PGbvwZqJiWDl8d08311u8=.sha256

Day 6, part 2

Grateful that the gale was over, I began tacking towards Cape Pallisier. The wind was from the south west, and the coast also runs along that general direction... so the wind is coming from exactly the wrong direction. The unfavorable wind direction meant I couldn't simply sail along parallel with the coast, but I had to zig zag back and forth, head south some, then head west. Non sailors are often surprised to hear this is possible! Indeed it is and utilizes the same physics that enables birds and airplanes to fly! But I won't describe that here, just that I have to zig zag.

I had overall, a lot more west to cover than south, so I started heading west. It was still very windy when I started this, but it was a level of wind I could sail into.

At some point late that night, I happened to be looking at progress on my phone screen, and I noticed that our path had curved and we were now heading generally south-west! with this wind we could just sail straight there! how fortuitous! but I then I also noticed that it was getting a bit windier too. Quite a bit windier. Maybe it was even windy enough to drop the jib and heave to again... The windows where going underwater quite often.

But I was warm in bed and maybe it'll just watch it a little while and see if it eases... but Tangaroa had another point to make. A wave crashed into the boat, going right across the deck and smashing the dinghy out of it's lashings! I had spent 6 weeks building that dinghy so this got me out of bed very quickly. I saw through the dome that it was still on deck, but in the center instead of the side. (I had in tied on to the side, initially, so I could see forward better from the dome)

I got my rain gear and safety harness on, from the cockpit, lowered the jib. I had a downhaul set up, so I could just pull a line and the sail came down. Also, I could cleat that line and the sail would stay down, very useful. Once the dinghy was lashed again, I went back inside. I guess the gale wasn't quite over yet. Still, I had an abiding awareness that Tangaroa had gone easy on me and it can get a lot worse than this. At this point I realize that I'd made a mistake by coming closer to the coast. What if the wind changed around to the south east? and grew stronger so it was hard to sail into it? Clearly I should turn the boat around.

I needed to raise the jib again to get enough speed to tack, but I got it up, tacked, and then when I took it down, I forgot to cleat the sheets. In regular sailing you don't really need to do things like that, but because conditions where so extreme, things behaved differently. The sail flogged so hard it pulled the sheets through, and wrapped them around each other, all this within a few seconds. All I saw was a darks shape that appeared to be attached to the sail coming down. As I had a downhaul set up, it was easy to get the sail down, and then I spent ten minutes on deck untangling them.

(don't leave untangling a rope until 'later'! the next time you need it might be an emergency!)

The boat now safely hove to, I went back to bed. Also, I realized how important the heavy jib was. If I did get trapped with a strong wind blowing me towards the shore, that is the sail that would save me.

At some point I woke up, hearing a noise, went on deck to check. The others were there, they had a new one on board, and where questioning him. How did you get on board? I climbed aboard my self, like the others did? Oh yes that would explain some things. I noticed that the wind had eased, and my friend the heavy jib was banging into the rail like it was a dog that wanted to go for a walk. I should probably raise that. Will the others mind if I do that without asking them? Yes I think they'll agree it is the right thing to do.

This wasn't the only time that I "forgot" I was sailing alone. Normally it happens when being waken from sleep with some urgency. Usually the visitors are helpful in some way. This sort of experience is fairly common with solo sailors although not everyone writes about it.

I'm not sure exactly when this happened, but I recorded it in my log book at 0335, sunday. So maybe it was during technically day 7.

@Dominic %MLg2T5FqVVF6FbLbctLHFScaui38TFwmyrQwMcMJ3Vg=.sha256

Day 7 (sunday)

The gale was over, but it was still quite windy, and from the wrong direction, and I had a long way to go still. By early afternoon, 1319, I had crossed 41 degrees south - cape Palliser lay only 38 miles further south - quite a bit further west though. So I tacked west, and just before sunset, 2022, I sight land. I don't actually see the castlepoint light house, but I see a long line of mountains. This is the first time I've clearly seen land, since wednesday (day 3) and that was just a faint smudge. Of course, I kept on sailing, I was seeing ships, and so knew I'd need to keep a good lookout. At one point during a sail change a ship came very close, within a few hundred meters. It was a ship i'd already seen, otherwise it would have been a big shock to have something like that sneak up on me.

At one point, I was trying to write one of these posts, and the weather forecast came on the radio and I suddenly felt incredibly tired. I had made a mistake coming this close to land. Land means hazards, in this case, shipping.

Day 8 (monday)

By this point I'm becoming very interested in weather forecasts. I havn't had any cell phone signal for days, so this was on VHF radio. I'm hoping to hear that the south westerly is gonna change - pretty much anything else would be more convenient. A westerly or a southerly would at least allow me to sail directly there, but still going to windward, any other wind would let me sail down or across it.

Or maybe I'd be able to get some tactical advantage? The weather forcaste is divided into regions, but the regions are fairly poorly defined. Of course, there isn't a magic line in the sea you cross where the weather is suddenly different. So sailors listen to the forecast for the region they are in, and the adjacent regions, and then interpret it themselves, applying their own experience, local knowledge, intuition, and if they are an optimist, probably some wishful thinking too, creating their own forecast.

My personal weather forecasts certainly where quite optimistic. There was always some hope that a bit of the more favorable weather from the adjacent region was gonna bleed over here and I'd be able to sail directly.

The geography effects things, here I had a mountain range running from south west to north east, but to the south is the wider end of the cook straight, and the bottom of the north island runs along east to west. A westerly wind on the west coast of NZ would tend to become northerly through the narrow section of the cook straight (where the south end of the north island is to the east of the northern end of the south island) then that would turn westerly again around the other side. It was easier for the wind to go around a mountain than to go over it, so that westerly curls around into a south west when it gets around cape Pallisier.

Maybe by getting closer to the coast I would get wind that hadn't curled as much yet and then be able to tack south west more easily? I did a big long tack towards the west. After the windy, bumpy conditions of the preceding days it was very relaxing. I got in quite close so I could see buildings and the depth sounder could see the bottom at 70m (I'd had it turned off most of the trip, because the maximum depth it can measure is 700m)

But then I eventually tacked, sailing was suddenly much slower. Before I was sailing across the swell, but now I was sailing into it. If there is very little wind, but still waves, the motion of the boat shakes the shape out of the sails and you go basically no where, where as if it had been smooth water, with just a breath of wind you might have been able to go 2 knots at least. So this happened, and suddenly I could also hear the swell breaking on the beach. A low constant rumble.

If you look at a chart of the coast here, well, one word is uninviting, but that's an understatement. The first thing you notice is a complete lack of bays, then numerous rocks, and many wrecks littering the coast, marked on the chart. (Usually, this wreck was long ago and you likely can't see it any more, but there might be some sign of it if you visit the spot) and finally if you look closely at the coast line on a high scale chart, you see white sections marked "unsurveyed"! They couldn't even be bothered figuring out how deep the water is here!!! How many ways do you need to be told, just don't bring your boat here!

Hearing the breakers and being pushed by the waves was suddenly scary. What if you became totally becalmed and where slowly pushed into a surf coast by waves? I hadn't been afraid in the gale, on this trip, this scary parts where all when I realized I had done a foolish thing, usually get too close to the coast.

Day 9 (Tuesday)

I hand steered for some time, and made little progress, but discovered the self steering could cope very well. I made some more progress like that, then I ended up totally becalmed at 0236, I took all the sail down, but the boat rolled violently from side to side. I remembered a Moitessier book mentioning pulling the sails in hard in these conditions, and tried that - sheeted the main right in, and tied it with a second rope too. Pulling the sail out as flat and tight as I could. This worked! A lot less rolling, but fairly noisy. However, I was so tired it that didn't matter.

@Dominic %VuAi2EHBQkblPr7nh0pfjZIizcZaipweR2uVzklTg0M=.sha256

Day 9 (Tuesday, part 2)

I got enough wind to get underway again at 0645. From here, it was 63 miles to wellington. That's the same as from Auckland to Great Barrier Island - a days sail, given a fair wind. Even without one, the longest that trip has taken me has been 17 hours.

The morning started tacking back and forth - first out, until it got quite windy, then tacked back. It occured to me that as the W winds bent around the cape to SW, they'd be weaker closer to shore, like the current at the inside of a bend in a river. I attempted to test this theory, by tacking out until I felt I needed to reef, then tacking back in until I felt I could add more sail, then tacking back out - also experimenting with all the sail settings - how high can I point if I flatten the sails etc? I normally don't bother with that stuff because I'm cruising, not racing... but today I am racing just to get around cape Pallisier. The theory seemed to work out. The sail trimming was more tricky to know if it was working or not because of confounding factors, like the swell. I could feel the boat slipping sideways on the back of each wave - on the front, you just seemed to rise up, but then slide down the back. If the wind is very light, you can feel an extra gust of wind over the wave, like the wave is pushing you into the air, or there is also an air wave, or something.

A forecast came in, today cook had a southerly in the afternoon, dying out tomorrow morning, but then northerly growing to 30 in the evening. Another gale! (30 isn't technically a gale, but you need to be very wary of the cook straight, I've met people who set out with a forecast for 15 knots, and ended up with 40!)

I didn't really want another gale. But I started to make a plan for what I could do.

  • sail to wellington and anchor (obviously the ideal)
  • anchor in Pallisier bay (seemed viable, but the still large southerly swell was very concerning)
  • run for Port Underwood, on the Mainland (known as the South Island, on the North Island) (but this would be a beam reach in a northerly, so would be side on to the waves)
  • use the sea anchor, and wait until probably thursday to get in
  • run for Christchurch instead (Kaikora was out of the question, many pointy rocks and not really much harbour, and this would add another 2 days sailing.

Well, I had a plan at least, and sailing for wellington was a safe start anyway...

By 1550, the wind was southerly enough that I could do a single long tack and point past the cape. At 1805, I could see a small white building on the slope - the lighthouse, without the light on yet because it wasn't dark. I felt incredibly relieved to be past the cape. Now I could bear off, and sail on a beam reach to wellington, with this wind strength, I should be able to do 5 knots - and then turn and sail down wind into the harbour, and then, since it's a southerly, triumphantly anchor at Oriental Bay - the most expensive street in wellington, and the best beach, and right next to the city. Probably getting there about 4 am.

But the wind started to ease... now I was only making 3 knots... and then ease further... because of the rolling, not being able to catch the wind, and making less than 2 knots. Wind light enough to feel an alluring gust when we went down the back of each swell. It always felt like it was a tiny bit stronger than the last one, thus the wind was building... I started to worry a lot about the nearness of the coast again.

Just at dusk, Some dolphins came. And a seal! A good omen. I asked the dolphins if they could bring me wind. Then I noticed the sky to the south had changed - cloudy, and what looked like rain. If it came with wind I'd welcome rain right now.

quick note on dolphins vs seals: it's quite easy to tell the difference, even at a distance. Dolphins have a dorsal fin, and make generally come up to the surface in a curving motion, up then down gracefully. Seals on the other hand, have a proper neck, and can raise their head up and look around. (dolphins don't need a neck because they have sonar) seals can kinda surge forward, with their head up. Also, seals go ashore to sleep and make babies, but for dolphins, the shore is death. You'll often find dolphins frolicking, but seals don't frolic, they play.

It worked, some wind came! we were at least doing 4 knots. It didn't rain, but it did become cloudy, with reduced visibility. I was making best progress going more south, because the wind stayed in the sails better, this was an indirect route, but also further from the coast and thus safer.

Day 10 (Wednesday)

It was gonna be a long night, so I took two preemptive 20 minute naps, the second one, awaking within striking distance of wellington, but becalmed. At about 0130 Wednesday morning.

There was still a faint breeze, but the waves were taking the wind from the sails, maybe I could have very slowly sailed in, but the harbour entrance was full of hazards: rocks, ships (quite regular ferries, even in the middle of the night), currents (a rising tide would be more favorable, which started at low tide about 4 am).

At that time, I was safe from the ferries because I was too the east (and the ferries turn west, towards the South Island) and was 5 miles from Turakirae Head, and had already seen a cargo ship pass well inside of here. I was also close enough in to get cell signal, and I had gotten a forcast for the local wellington harbour recreational marine weather, it said only 25 knots. Strong but, not extreme. So I decided to heave to, until wind came, whenever that should be.

I sheeted the main in hard and flat. I took the jib down, because I had noticed that last night, taking the jib down and leaving the main up, in very light wind, caused us to sail to windward at half a knot. This was away from land, thus safer. On the other hand, if I left the jib up, it would probably have been more draggy and drifted towards land, not safe.

By this point in the trip, much of the interior was slightly damp, but I had a down sleeping bag, that I hadn't been using because it's really too hot to use it up north in the summer... and I got into that, setting a half hour alarm (just to check we were weren't drifting badly, then another 2 hours, then just rested. This was the most refreshing, most uninterrupted sleep I'd had on the trip.

I awoke to find myself still very becalmed, but time to have a relaxed breakfast, catch up on writing, message my friends and let them know I'm still alive and well. It's now 12:15 and still the water is glassy. Bobbing around out here with some albatross and other bird life, occasionally I see a ferry enter or leave. If I had an engine, I'd maybe be tempted to run it, but I'm not feeling impatient at all. I'm quite happy to just wait here. In an hour and a half it will be 9 days exactly since I raised anchor in Herne Bay in Auckland, so a few more hours don't really make a difference.

@Dominic %KVctALZCnoPvaC64/yy3iTEy+T9AMPmWbQkwB48K/Ro=.sha256

Yes, I took the east coast. The west coast does have some advantages. Once you get around the top, it's a straight haul to the top of the south island - Able Tasman, which is a very large entrance, with generally settled weather. True, it's a lee shore, but sailing in a straight line it's a gonna be a very long way off most of the time. If you go down the east coast, you'll end up at castlepoint then have to round the corner and come up into cook, two of the worst regions on the north island, and at the end of the trip, so much more uncertain. (If you didn't have a point to prove, you could put into Napier, but I wanted to do it all in one go), but on the west coast, you'll get through the worst part fairly early, then end up with lots of easy options. I had a slight preference for the west coast, but it would have added two extra days to get up there, and also looked like it would be headwinds all the way at the time I was thinking of leaving.

while the east coast is some of the most chill sailing in the world

Haha, not once you get past the East Cape!

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@Dominic %w/fctKv/L4dTGtW3shYtupmDFY5LOXmEWrJd4bOr2hg=.sha256

Day 10 (Wednesday, continued)

Enough wind to get moving... at 2 and a half knots. Well, here I come Wellington.

@Dominic %JM8a2KcmgH626DmNSlg5oy4i7Cb6ypi28XUCkoTDKtE=.sha256
Voted [@Dominic](@EMovhfIrFk4NihAKnRNhrfRaqIhBv1Wj8pTxJNgvCCY=.ed25519) what an a
@Dominic %pTQC/IL40/B5KgNOAiczdHOkwzRWvFEONpI4DrqTktM=.sha256

I had given up coming in. That wind came and then went, instead of coming on more. But now it seems like the forecast northerly is starting...

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@dangerousbeans %D2PZ5e7d9h4d4+Q5h5NNvsL+LJ5iTy7ItubfSLXlFb0=.sha256

wellington harbor

@dangerousbeans %PUI7+Z0royjZRtn6ySlUZZQeDgR+Wew0W2UYXOrv3Fc=.sha256

@skyebend that cam looks like it's on top of becon hill
beacon hill

@mix %+TzXSxfvQ5288G11w0KiiDnLFiq91qGl0kVg+v8mRDQ=.sha256
Voted # Day 2 I am finally out of sight of land! today started slowly, just dr
@mix %sWVPL/nC4CJs5znFIB/j8hxpAZKpYluyKTDZgdJ4A3E=.sha256
Voted # Day 2 I am finally out of sight of land! today started slowly, just dr
@mix %sxJ8iXm78qYF38fiAyk/lHaghD4GO9/Bnp4VsnnE2nA=.sha256
Voted [@Dominic](@EMovhfIrFk4NihAKnRNhrfRaqIhBv1Wj8pTxJNgvCCY=.ed25519) Found th
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@Sam Hart %Xkw9ySzNgtkyj3SbGPRpI/VEWxJ/k/HisAfrpKXWzak=.sha256

the story scuttlebutt was made to tell

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@mix %DkkdVtCm1F604sl0ssJesK08ecDqbOc6yTvhxinl00c=.sha256

Exchanged a couple of messages with Dominic yesterday. After dark last night he decided to sit out at cape palliser and wait for the wind to change rather than take risks. He was saying the forecast was looking more favourable for Friday.
Hopefully we'll get to see him then

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@mix %n8lOwPrn9bfY4jokyfK+o/0lBnElHdmFo2dfN5SRzNk=.sha256

He's safely in

@Dominic %WsDxl3GzNUVMhukU9I7s2QxFgzS3G6+uknLmHkvicm8=.sha256

Day 10 (Wednesday, part 3)

That wind taking me in on Wednesday was not enough. It was not more than 5 knots where I was, which, would you believe, is easier to sail to windward in than down wind. I was pretty close to raising the spinnaker, but it was on the starboard quarter and I expected to turn more to the right when I passed Baring Head.

I drifted slowly in, and then the wind got even lighter. Just my luck to arrive in Wellington during Earthquake Weather. Wellington is so notoriously windy, that when it's calm, no one can really believe it. How can it be this good? there must be something up? So the locals call this earthquake weather. Wellington is also directly on a fault line. Look at a map of the harbor - there is a straight bit on the north west side, where both the highway and the train track goes, that is the fault line.

I made maybe a couple of miles of progress, but then what little wind there was just got shaken out of the sails. I dropped the Genoa, and made lunch... half way through that, I noticed a northerly coming in. Finishing lunch, I packed away the Genoa. It felt like the wind was rising fast, so I set the heavy jib and a reef in the main. After a few minutes, the boat was heeling over dramatically, and there where whitecaps everywhere. The sea was positively churning. I put another reef in. Looking at the chart... I was actually still quite a ways from wellington. It was gonna take a few hours to sail in, especially since when the wind is strong I can't sail into it quite as well.

I started to experience a sense of foreboding. I hadn't really experienced much fear on this trip. A few moments, or times I realized that I had done something stupid and it was a close call. But this was proper fear that something bad was gonna happen. But I wasn't afraid of the wind or the waves, specifically. I was fearful of the narrative arc. A man sets out on a journey, it progresses, with a few challenges which he surmounts without too much difficulty - a bit of an ordeal to reach the final objective. But then he celebrates victory prematurely. I only have to do this one little bit, my goal is right there! No. It's like that bit in a video game when you think you've defeated the end level boss, but it turns out you only broke off a bit and made it more angry. It had been foreshadowed. I had written my plan for what to do in the potential gale in both my log book, and shared it on an immutable log. My fear, was that I was in an epic drama see: Rule of Drama

My plan A, was "just sail into wellington anyway" which was what I was already doing. Ideally, I'd make it in while the tide was rising, because it would make transiting the entrance channel easier. The entrance channel is quite serious. It's actually only half as wide as it looks on a land map, because there is a very nasty reef in the middle. In 1963 the Wahine was wrecked on this with 53 deaths, while attempting to enter the harbor during a storm. After high tide, the current would be against me, so I'd need to sail further to get through.

High tide was 2135, and sunset was 2037.

Sailing on, the wind picked up a bit more. I reefed again, now on the 3rd reef and the smallest jib. I couldn't reduce sail any more and still make progress. I didn't feel like I was over canvased yet, so I still had a bit of spare capacity, but if it got much windier than this I'd have to switch from making progress to just holding steady. I'd have to ride it out.

At 2000 I noted in my log "gonna have to change into some dry clothes soon" at 2124 I was very close, in behind island bay. I was close enough that the next step was to actually sail through the passage, but it would be to windward, with many tacks. Normally, Cleo tacks very well, and rarely do I miss one, but with the wind this strength it's a different story. With 3 reefs in the main, but without the jib, I can't tack at all. So I'd have to keep the jib up. If it suddenly got to strong for the jib, I'd have to turn down wind and come back out. I'm not sure if I'd actually ever done a gybe in these conditions, but I also need a bit of room to turn down. If I didn't have room to tack, or the wind got to strong, I'd have to sail back out, and would I have room to turn down?

I made some practice tacks - It was much harder in these conditions. If you didn't get the sail in quickly, it would flog like crazy and pull the lazy sheet through and wrap it around the working sheet. This might take several minutes to undo, okay if you have plenty of space, but definitely not good if you are about to hit rocks. I tried tying the ends of the sheets together, so the sheets couldn't get too out of hand - but it was still difficult in these conditions.

I hove to, with the jib dropped and the tiller lashed to lee, off the wellington south coast made some food and debated my options.

A complicating factor was the cook strait ferries. Auckland ferries are relatively small, fast catamarans and can easily sail around you. But in wellington, the ferries, which are the only way any road traffic can get from the north island to the south island, the ferries are great big ships. The rules of the road at sea are that power gives way to sail, except, over 500 tonnes - might is right. Small gives way to big. If they hit me, it was my fault. I was currently close enough to the shore to be inside the path they take, but drifting out. Doing a quick look around, there was suddenly about 5 ships looking like they wanted to enter or were leaving.

Right where I was would have been a good spot to just wait it out, being hove to here was currently quite comfortable, but I was drifting backwards into the ferry path. I'd seen one go outside of me already. The path the ferries take is marked on google maps, but I couldn't trust that they followed it exactly, especially not in a gale. I couldn't stay where I was, because I would drift back to where they were. The ferries run all hours of the day and night.

It would have been nice to just anchor on the south coast somewhere, but the chart just says things like "numerous sunken rocks" and names "the sirens rocks" and a marked wreck! Also there was still a southerly swell. Bumping into a rock is something you could easily survive in gentle conditions, but with swell, you'd get lifted and dropped on it again and again. The boat surely being a wreck.

I didn't like the idea of trying to tack through the entrance channel right now. I didn't sail all this way just to take a dumb risk now. It wasn't just a matter of getting into wellington, I had also brought everything I owned with me (except for a box of junk and some tools at hackland), including my home itself.

@Dominic %wNieBARfDnKvT1xEPgtASbc+MRH48b8cK8WfjVBS2kc=.sha256

Day 11

Plan B was Pallisier Bay. This was going backward, but was safely away from the ferries. It was a beam reach away, so I didn't need to raise the jib. I made the call at 22:11 on wednesday, but Pallisier was a ways away. And when I got there, at 0115, instead of some modicum of shelter, it way much windier. I don't have a wind instrument, so I can't sail for sure how much, but I don't feel ashamed to say 45 knots. Hove to, i didn't drift slowly backwards, but sideways, at two knots. I was being blown back across the bay, towards the land at the other side, at a rate that I would hitting it early in the morning. I needed to be drifting out to sea.

Plan C was already out, that was to sail all the way to the south island and then I'd need to work to windward into that in the dark.

Plan D was the sea anchor. I hadn't gotten it ready, because I wasn't expecting to use it. (now, it's obvious that it's something I should always have ready) I hadn't actually used it before, so I didn't know what it would behave like. I had prepared some extra strong tie points for it, though. The instructions said to use some 8 feet of 10mm chain, to weigh it down, and at least 3 boat lengths of 14mm low strength polyester line. I had a 5 meter chain handy, and considered getting out the hacksaw, but that would take ages and more chain would probably not hurt. The rope I planned to use was the two spinnaker sheets tied together, each of those was roughly 3 boat lengths, so if I needed more I could put it out. I didn't measure it, but it was pretty thick. And a drawer full of shackles and stuff. I used two shackles attaching the sea anchor to the chain, getting them really tight with the spanner, and also seizing them with wire so they could not work loose. At the other end I needed to attach the rope to the chain. Best would be to splice in a thimble, but I didn't have a large thimble on hand, or the tools to splice braided polyester, nor the time to do so. Tying directly to a shackle was a bit of a worry because the rope would go around a fairly tight radius, less than it's diameter, which makes it weaker.

I tried to remember some rock climber knots - I remember my brother talking about some sort of double bowline to two anchor points... After trying a few variations, I found one that seemed solid. Tie a bowline to the first shackle, then with the tail, go around the second, then another rabbit-out-the-hole-around-the-tree-back-in-the-hole.

If this didn't work, I would have to ask myself "what would Bernard Moitessier do"

Once the sea anchor was ready, I needed to get a bit further out to deploy it. It might be very difficult to pull it back in, during these conditions, so I'd better get it right the first time. This time, I did go forward and lash the jib down. I don't know that the wind won't get stronger, but I did know that I'd need it again.

I lowered the main, and lashed it to the boom. This put me in a condition known as "lying a-hull" it means just taking all sail down and letting the boat drift. The heavy weather sailing literature doesn't recommend this technique, as the boat is likely to turn side on to the waves, that makes it more vulnerable to capsize.
But as I realized, it was necessary to use this as a transition to the sea anchor. Then I tried to "run under bare poles" this is sailing down wind, without using any sails. The wind was so strong, that just the wind blowing against the bundled up sail meant I couldn't turn down wind. I had to let the boom out to get it to turn down.

I "sailed" out a bit further, and ran though everything about how I would deploy the sea anchor in my head. I didn't want to make a mistake. I wrapped the rope on the starboard winch, dropped the sea anchor and chain overboard, and eased out the rope. I was expecting the pull to be much stonger, but it did keep the stern up into the waves, and reduced my speed to one to two knots, faster than ideal, but okay. Importantly, now I wasn't drifting towards any hazards but safely out to sea. The time was 0238.

My plan was now to get inside a warm sleeping bag. But to my horror, everything was wet. For a sailor, the concept "wet" is a broad spectrum, and with many names for positions on it. Something could be literally under water. Or it could be slightly damp. One bag was fairly wet, and I was grateful the other was only slightly damp. The clothes I was wearing were also quite damp. Most of the mattresses were sopping wet, at the bottom, and if lay on them the wet would come up to the surface.

It turns out I had a few deck leaks, that weren't really a problem in normal sailing, like a tiny bit of water might come through here, I had intended to fix them, but it was one of those things that I didn't quite get around to. What I know now, however, is that in a gale, water will find ways into the boat, that you can't yet imagine. I huddled on the one dry section of mattress, in my damp sleeping bag. I was cold, but not shivering. The sea anchor mostly kept the motion of the boat tolerable. Everything inside the boat clinked into each other while it moved. Noises that would normally make it annoyingly impossible to sleep, but that don't really matter when you are really exhausted.

The cold didn't help, but I must have slept a bit, because I was woken by the 0530 weather forecast coming on the radio. The forecast was N30, easing to N15 in the afternoon, then that dying out and becoming S15 over night, then that dying away and becoming N again the next day. The wind had eased quite a bit, and seemed like I could certainly get sailing again.

@Dominic %O74hWKxJ3jySLEsaglIlmJyLcK+J1pZ1Ar7HTXzvRSQ=.sha256

Day 11 (part 2)

When it became light, I had drifted over past where I was when I first "got to wellington" at 0130 yesterday morning. I had to get underway again if I wanted to get into port today. First I needed some dry clothes to wear. Clearly the stuff I was using wasn't quite cutting it. I had an assortment of wet weather gear that came with the boat or I had picked up at op shops. Also, and very little dry clothing left. Water had gotten into several of the lockers, so things that should not have been wet, were. I was ecstatic to find I had a plastic bag with dry t-shirts in it. I also had this quite ridiculous looking PVC racing suit - you climbed in the top, and then it zipped up along the top of your arms. It was a little small but it looked like a race car driver. I had gotten it on waiheke island the time that @zach and @angelica came sailing.

I put on two dry t-shirts, a damp merino singlet, a swan dry, a thick woolen jumper - legs through the arms, as trousers, and then another, some-parts-wet jumper on top. Then squeeze into the racing suit, a PVC yellow rain coat with hood, and woolen hat, then finally safety harness. After getting the sea anchor in, and the sails back up, I switched to just pulling up the suit, and tying a belt of inner tube around it. It was slightly small and zipping up the arms restricted my movement too much, as well as taking ages to get into.

I was underway again by 0730 but the wind soon picked up, and I was back down to 3-reefs. By 11ish, I was back near where I been when the northerly wind started yesterday. Inside was chaos. Everything was everywhere and most things were wet. The water which had come in through the deck leaks had accumulated sufficiently in the bilge to be coming above the edge of the floor when heeled over, which was most of the time. What various random stuff had fallen of shelves etc was sitting there either partially or totally covered in bilge water. I had removed the inboard engine a few months back, but there was still a strong diesely greasy vibe going on in the former engine room, now bicycle shed, and this made the bilge water brown and oily.

I used to have a steady but small leak through the stern gland, but I managed to stop that after removing the engine. Something wasn't right about the bilge pump though, probably the pipe was clogged. A few times I bailed the water into a bucket, using a mug I didn't like, 6 buckets at 1158, another 3 buckets more at 1335.

At 1359 I was about to cross my path of where I was at 1900 yesterday. This was encouraging, looked like I had very good chance of making it in before dark.

At 1500 I needed a rest. I had had two days of hard sailing with very little sleep in between. I was wet and cold and hungry. In my log, I wrote:

I shall now put on a priceless -- DRY T-SHIRT -- ONE OF ONLY 3 IN EXISTENCE

I also used some string to add suspenders to my upside-down-jumper trousers.
At 1541 it seemed the wind had eased. One thing I had learned in this whole experience is not to succumb to wishful thinking that the storm is over, but this time it was real. I slowly added sail back, going to two reefs then one.

At 1757 I switched back to the working jib and full mainsail. The storm was over. I still had a ways to go. Trying to improve speed I lifted the floor and bailed 5 and a bit buckets, replacing the floor and wiping it down with soapy water.

At 2105 I declared my self officially inside wellington harbour. Past the Barrett reef. I had forbidden my self any triumphant thoughts until now. I had done it I was here. I had sailed from Auckland to Wellington, engineless, with two gales. I tacked on though the dying wind, heading for Oriental bay. My favorite anchorage from when I learnt to sail here - but only usable in a southerly. The water was nearly flat now, so the last little bit of N would be okay. Also, my first boat was more flat bottomed that Cleo, while it had the advantage that the keel could be raised and get into shallow water, it was uncomfortable to be anchored in anything but flat water. I didn't quite make it that far, I ended up with pretty much zero wind off Point Halswell, at the north end of Miramar peninsular. The water was 20 meters deep, which is deeper than I normally anchor, but I used my smaller secondary anchor.

I logged that as 2249. From anchorage in Auckland, to anchorage in Wellington, in 10 days, 8 hours, 51 minutes.

I found collected the few actually dry cushions and remembered a dry blanket that I had forgotton, and went to sleep up the front of the boat (a area I had used only for storing sails, so generally less chaos there) Later I was awaken from a ferry wake at 0341, and the southerly was here, so I raised anchor and sailed to Oriental Bay and dropped anchor again at 0432.

I had made it. All the way from Auckland to wellington. 650 nautical miles, That's 1000 kilometers. I had sailed further than that because of tacking, I'm not sure how much, but I don't really care that much. The more important thing is that now I have gain entry into the club of those who what it is to sail a small boat through a storm.

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@Dominic %tvflOT+Szwc3AUb459wH653kwKEN7XKbveuXCJ/LB/E=.sha256

@angelica thank you for the offer! I brought my home with me, so I do not require a place to stay.
A shower and laundry and food shall be gratefully accepted however!

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@Dominic %jWtbyXdNe2JalG4yIjMdSJjQTUi/N9jAMqahJaiTDrw=.sha256

@c3 indeed! (although zach did ask about that offline the other day)

@kira well, in Sailing to the Reefs he suggests just letting out the regular anchor and all the warp, off the bow, the drag should work like the sea anchor, to bring the bow up to the waves. But also sometimes he'd run down wind, steering the by hand to take the waves on the stern. But really what I mean, is have a moment of inspiration, and figure something out. In Logical Route, he's sailing with his wife, but they left the kids (her's from previous marriage) in a broading school in France. Their original plan was to continue around the world through Torres channel and the red sea, but it's a long way and they'd have to rush, also there are lots of reefs that way (he already lost two boats on reefs) so decides it makes more sense to go via cape horn. No reefs, just massive storms, easy. Then they are in one of those massive storms, dragging loads of lines with weights on the end, and the boat is really unresponsive and doesn't feel safe. Then suddenly he remembers that Vito Dumas said he always left some sail up - he finds the relevant section of the book, and rereads it (this is during the storm!), cuts off the lines and switches to a completely different technique. Riding down wind at speed, then just before the wave hits, turning it slightly so it heals and the boat surfs over the top of the wave.

@mix %h0nMPxZ2Xd/pgaT6XV0I+5a//FrsZ/20jX6PRUTjljs=.sha256
Voted # Day 11 (part 2) When it became light, I had drifted over past where I
@lancew %V98PN54igaGDqd+G5Wf9Lgt9KmL2IpMM7BkRLuvR7jc=.sha256


Congratulations on the journey! And thank you for sharing it!
Glad Tangaroa looked after you, though it sounds like you were toyed with a little just to test your spirit.

Rest up and sail safe.

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