To Get There

On the previous post we mentioned the next step in our Journey is going to be New Zealand. But we need to get there first. And this is what we are going to cover on this post.

New Zealand is located almost due South from Fiji. So, leaving here, all we will have to do is point Pesto’s bow a few degrees to the West of Antarctica. To be more precise, the entrance to the Bay of Islands, where we intend to make landfall, lies on a 189S bearing from where we are in Fiji.

Distance-wise, this is a passage just over 1,000 miles. Putting it in perspective:

– a regular, non-stop commercial flight from Auckland to Fiji takes 3 hours and 15 minutes

– this passage is roughly 1/3 of the Puddle Jump we did last year, between Mexico and the Marquesas

– in 2017 alone we have already covered 2,000 miles since departing French Polynesia in March

Nothing out of our ordinary“, I could say.

But it is. In fact this is going to be the most technically challenging passage we will have ever made.

And we are anxious.

The point is, Fiji is located at Latitude 18S. By the time we reach the Bay of Islands, we will be down to 35S, well away from the Tropics. Save for hurricanes and cyclones, weather is pretty benign within the Tropics. But things change rapidly as one moves away from the Equator and latitudes go up, especially above 30 degrees. That’s where Gales and Storms exist. And to make things more interesting, the area around New Zealand is (in)famous for particularly bad weather.

Does it mean that we will get bad weather on our way to New Zealand? No. But we can. And so we are being extremely cautious to pick a good “weather window” to make the crossing.

Luckily, as bad as the weather can be, it also tends to follow a very specific pattern. A Low-Pressure-System (Bad) is followed by a High-Pressure one (Good) in a constant movement from West to East. It’s like a conveyor belt. Another advantage is that this area is extremely well monitored. As a consequence, we have state-of-the art information to identify a suitable weather window with as much anticipation as it can be done. And that means between four days and a week, roughly.

Map of the SW South Pacific, with Fiji, New Zealand and Australia shown, weather (Wind) overlaid, and our conceptual route in Yellow. That large clockwise swirl to the right of NZ is a Low, creating a lot of winds, nasty seas, and rain. Note also a blue diagonal area just to the south of Fiji – that’s an area of instability, not as bad as the Low, but also full with rain and some uncomfortable waves. Not a good time to depart.

All we need now is a good High-Pressure-System to pass to the South of us, large enough for us to be able to ride it all the way to NZ. If we time it right, we should be able to get there in approximately 7 to 9 days, without a glitch.

That’s more like it ! Note the broad anti clockwise swirl pattern of the winds around NZ. That’s a High. It forms a conveyor belt of Trade-Wind-Like winds for a nice broad reach ride to NZ. This High is particular won’t last long enough to be “ridden” all the way there, though. So, we keep on waiting’ for the Big One.

Not surprisingly, we are monitoring the situation closely. That Fiji has excellent internet is an advantage beyond measure.

And while we watch the weather, we wait, and gradually get Pesto ready, and enjoy our time here in Musket Cove. A bunch of friends are here – some also on the wait to cross to NZ, others just cruising.

Having a good time on the here and now, with lots of possibilities for the near future. These are good times to be in. Now we just need to get there, to New Zealand. When the time is right.


6 Replies to “To Get There”

  1. Pois é bicho, estamos na expectativa. Se conseguirmos esperar até uma weather window “certa”, vai ser mesmo. 7 dias de travezão ! Espero só que tenhamos tempo suficiente para esperar tanto.

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