Friday, 22 October 2010

Nasty Conditions, A Positive Note.

Jimmy Cornell describes the passage from Vanuatu to Brisbane as either slow or rough. We must be lucky, we got both.
Closely following weather forecasts for weeks, it looks like this week will be a good week to sail to Australia. The past week of heavy seas and strong winds is behind us. The forecasts look good, so we'll head off with a group of boats participating in the Port 2 Port Rally to Bundaberg. The Rally has no official start date but expects participants to arrive in Bundaberg during the last week of October. We'll continue on to check-in in Brisbane.
Bristol Rose set sail from Port Vila Saturday morning and for that first day we made good time, sailing at six knots. Conditions were ideal, we felt good about our decision to leave when we did. We're in regular radio contact with the others, Onda, Zenitude and The Road.
By midnight the forecast light air forced us to use the motor. And the motor continued to push us slowly onward for the next three days through a heat haze and mill pond waters, sails empty of air. Elliot caught a big Wahoo, almost five feet long.
The wind was predicted to pick up to 15 knots after we cleared the Grand Passage north of New Caledonia. By 1600 hrs of day 4 we were sailing nicely and by 2200 hrs we had 27 knt winds and needed to reef sails. During the next 36 hrs the winds picked up to 30 knots, 40 knots at times, with very rough 4 meter seas. Waves crashed into the cockpit as the wind roared and the waves belted us on the beam, a potentially dangerous situation. For three days waves have rolled over the decks of a heavily reefed Bristol Rose. She is literally covered in salt crystals but despite a level of discomfort for the crew, she has performed exceptionally well.
While facing this awful weather we are all somewhat dismayed that the forcasts we're getting don't jibe with our reality. That's ocean sailing, you can never be sure of what you'll get.
Today, Thursday, as we near latitude 22 south and longitude 156 east, with about 350 miles to go to Brisbane, the winds have dropped to 15 kts and the seas are starting to abate. Now the Coral Sea weather forecasts are predicting rough conditions in the areas we are now leaving behind us. At last we can think about preparing a real meal and look forward to the prospect of some restful sleep. We'd love to finish this, the final passage on our path home, on a positive note. The GRIB files and forecasters are predicting the path in front of us to be much better, fingers crossed.
On a really exciting, positive note, we've just received an email advising us that Miss Daisie has arrived in Sydney today. She will spend the next 30 days in quarantine. While we have been cruising the Pacific, Miss Daisie has run the gantlet of airline and cargo, Australian Customs and Immigration, USDA and Veterinary rules and regulations required to leave the US and enter Australia. The process exceeded our wildest expectations of effort involved but she has made it, many thanks to our friends in California and Maryland.
We expect to arrive in Brisbane on Sunday night. Fingers firmly crossed.

1 comment:

  1. So close to home. Enjoy the last few days on the water and we would love to see you when you are in Sydney. Glad to hear Miss Daisy arrived safely. Eastern Creek Quarantine Station is quite good. Our cat spent 30 days there when we move back from Minneapolis. If she needs a visitor let us know.
    Belinda and Simon