Day 384, Year 1: Commander’s Weather Comes to the Rescue
Date: Monday, November 6, 2006
Weather: Still Sunny and Windy
Location: Pangaimotu Island, Tongatapu Group, Tonga

The decision has been made. We will leave here by 0730 in the morning and head for Minerva Reef. That is about 280 miles from here and we should arrive on Thursday morning. If some miracle should happen with the weather, it is possible that we would by-pass Minerva, but it looks best to go there and wait about three or four days before proceeding. We could wait here, but getting almost 300 miles out of the way gives us a better shot at New Zealand. Weather is fairly predictable five days out, and it should be no more than five or six days from Minerva to Opua on the North Cape.

We had a wonderful dinner aboard Windcastle last night and George of Gdansk, Doug of Windcastle, and Mark had a chance to talk more about the weather. They decided that we would contact Commander’s Weather in, believe it or not, New Hampshire, to get one last weather opinion before making the final decision. We have actually met one of the guys from this service at a Concord Yacht Club meeting, but somehow we never thought of using them as a routing service from here to New Zealand. We had gone with Bob McDavitt of the New Zealand MetService. He has years of experience and all kinds of resources at hand, but many sailors out here are nervous about this passage and some like McDavitt and some don’t. Actually some of George’s European friends use Commander and it was his suggestion to go that way. We sent an early morning email and got a reply by mid-afternoon giving us the go-ahead. They routed us all the way to Opua in one jump, but called it only an “acceptable” weather window. Right now “acceptable” doesn’t sound so good, so that is why we are going to Minerva and wait. Anyway, I think it is quite interesting that both our off-shore medical care and now our weather routing are done out of New Hampshire.

It is evening, but I am baking bread and doing some last minute cooking to get ready for the passage. Mark is still working on weather analysis. He’s becoming quite good at reading the weather and making the same interpretations as our paid routers. I think he is loving the challenge of learning this new skill. Let’s just hope all of this study pays off and that we have a safe and comfortable passage.

061106 Day 384 Tonga, Pangaimotu Island–Ferry Ride