Noumea to Auckland, Day 1

We departed Noumea, New Caledonia at 1400 hours on Thursday under sunny skies with no wind and the Caledonian lagoon was like a mill pond. Cate, MaiTai and I are sailing with our Kiwi mate Graham Jones, who flew up from Auckland to join us for the passage.

We spent ten relaxing days in Noumea, catching up on correspondence, re-entering civilization, enjoying a few nice French meals, prepping for the passage, and waiting for a weather window for the passage.

The 1000 mile passage to Auckland is relatively short, but can be wrought with nasty weather systems that seem to lurk in waiting for unwary yachties. Landfall to the “Land of the Long White Cloud” is usually greeted by a cold, nasty southwesterly wind that reminds one they are no longer in the tropical South Pacific.

The weather charts from Nadi (Fiji), New Caledonia, Wellington, Melbourne, and the US were consistent only in thier inconsistency. Bob McDavitt from NZ MetService gave us a green light and told us we had a reasonable weather window so we tossed off the lines and headed southeast.

Shortly after we motorsailed out throught Passe du Nord, the gap in the coral reef protectiong the large lagoon, we got another green light. As the upper limb of the sun dropped below the horizon, we saw the elusive “green flash” amidst the pinkish-orange sunset. Some people never see it in a lifetime, but those of us regularly out on the sea are lucky to see once every year or two.

The winds continued to be light, so we motorsailed through the night. A nearly full moon provided a comfortable “night light” and a lovely reflection on the ocean that, for the moment is living up to it’s name-pacific.

Our position at 0800 NZ Standard time Friday morning was 24 deg., 19 min. South and 167 deg., 23 min. East. We are encouraged by the rising barometer and steadily increasing breeze. Just a few more knots and we’ll be sailing!

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