Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Perfect Passage

Since Mexico, we have spent about 80 days sailing.  We are constantly watching the weather to find the next time period that would give us a safe and comfortable sail to our next destination.  Sometimes we’ve had to wait a week, other times, three weeks for this window of opportunity.

There is no such thing, at least so far, as the perfect weather window.  The models do not forecast very well past 3 days and you sometimes have to deal with what Mother Nature throws at you.  When evaluating the weather windows, I am willing to accept mostly good, some bad, but no ugly in the forecast.  You do not launch out knowing that you will hit bad weather.  That happens enough on it’s own.  The weather in the S. Pacific has been rough and people we have met have said this year is worse than any other.  It is not even an El Nino year.

Spinnaker and Main together
The latitudes between New Caledonia and Australia are not in the trade wind region like most of our trip.  Weather in the Coral Sea and south is determined by High and Low pressure areas and mostly Cold fronts pushing up from the high latitudes.  The Southern Ocean is where most of the weather is generated and the storms there have been causing a southerly component in the waves our entire time in the S. Pacific.

We had beam seas from Fiji and it was not comfortable but safe.  We wanted east wind and east swell since the heading to Brisbane was to the southwest.  Getting hit by waves from behind is better than getting hit from the side or front.

A beautiful day under spinnaker
Plenty of ships approaching Brisbane
Well, somehow the stars all aligned and we had the best weather ever in 8 years for a passage.  The only bad part was the first 18 hours when the seas were 10 feet with a primary swell on the beam and secondary wind waves from behind.  For the next 5 days we had east wind and east swell.  The winds were a perfect 15-20 knots except for an 18 hour period of light winds when we had to motor. There were no fronts or troughs to cross, no squalls, and not even any rain.   We even had to slow down a little to not arrive at the Moreton Bay Channel before sunrise but that also coincided with low tide and the changing tide gave us a nice push down toward and in to the Brisbane River.  We pulled up to the gated Quarantine Dock at the Rivergate Marina.  Customs/Immigration and Quarantine showed up within 30 minutes and we were cleared in by lunch.

We could not have asked for a better passage to finish up the South Pacific.

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