Day 273, Year 1: Squalls Slamming Windbird
Date: Monday, July 17, 2006
Weather: NNW 20-25 with Gusts to 35; Seas 6-8 feet; Overcast
Air Temperature: 79 degrees F
Water Temperature: 77 degrees F
Latitude: 20 degrees 43 minutes South
Longitude: 157 degrees 56 minutes West
Location: Transit from Raiatea to Rarotonga, Day 4
Miles to Go: 106

Okay. I now believe there is no such thing as a “weather window”. Every time we hear that and take off, we have absolutely nasty weather. Last night on my 2230 to 0130 watch, we had pouring rain, lightening, and high winds. Things settled down with sunrise, but at about 1500 this afternoon, Mark went down for a nap. I read for a few minutes and then opened my computer to start this log. And then all of a sudden, all hell broke lose. Another squall . . . and this one was building steam. I did my best to handle things, but the commotion woke Mark and he came up to help. We had to bring in the headsail and let out the main sheet. We were being slammed with rain and strong winds and no sail change is easy in that kind of weather. Things have settled down again and hopefully he can get a little sleep before his watch starts at 1900.

Everyday the weather reports from New Zealand change. Of course, that is because the weather changes daily. Yesterday it looked like we would go through the front and come out on the other side with very little wind, and a good chance to get into the harbor in Rarotonga. This morning things got much more complicated. The low headed south but is dragging a cold front with it. That cold front is going to cause north winds to persist in the Rarotonga area until maybe Wednesday. So the advice this morning was to get as close to Rarotonga as we can and then hove to (just stop in the water) and wait for the front to pass. You just can’t enter the Rarotonga harbor with strong north winds, so you have to wait. If, and that is a very big IF, the cold front does pass sometime between now and Wednesday, we will then be able to head in.

So, it is all about the weather. The boats back in Bora Bora (Endangered Species being one of those) that were planning to leave to head this way have stayed put and will wait for the next ‘window”. My thought on that is that this year “windows” just don’t exist. I’m really not sure what is happening, and maybe this kind of weather is normal here, but that is not what we have read. Something seems amiss, just not sure what. The bottom line is that all is well onboard. We are getting rest and Mark is working hard to make sure we are eating well. Thank goodness we had some things in the freezer ready to pull out and heat up. In this kind of weather, cooking is truly arduous, and just not possible on one leg.

We’ll probably reach Rarotonga tomorrow afternoon and if the weather is still unsettled, we will heave to about 20 miles off. Hopefully, we will be able to make landfall on Wednesday.