Mr. Perkins in the Wind

Motoring while sailing is a new practice for us. Generally, if we can sail, we sail, and if there isn’t wind, we motor. We’ve been fortunate to hardly motor on passages since leaving Mexico, but this journey to New Zealand is different. The weather systems in this part of the world can be fierce – we need to get out of cyclone territory to our north and arrive in the south before a sub-tropical low comes spinning across New Zealand and churning up our passage with high winds and seas. Fortunately, the big scary stuff is predicted many days in advance, giving us time to maneuver to a safe “parking” spot in the ocean if a snug harbor is too far away. Right now we have a really nice weather window (may it continue). We departed Tonga just as a nasty sub-tropical low passed to the SE and as a blocking high pressure system off of New Zealand keeps the next sub-tropical low at bay. There are no tropical depressions appearing on the weather maps as of today; if one does appear, it takes time to develop into something serious (and only about 10 percent of tropical depressions develop into cyclones). So right now, the passage looks safe. But forecasters can really only speak with certainty 72 hours out, so things might change. What that means for us is that the faster we can get to New Zealand, the safer we’ll be. We’re sailing towards strong winds (in fact, we may be entering them as I type – the angle of heel has increased dramatically and spray just came down the center hatch). Our protocol is to keep a minimum speed of 5 knots throughout the 8-10 day voyage. We’ve had light and variable winds last night and today, often only 6-8 knots of breeze, and with a short, steep swell, we need 8-10 knots of wind to sail at 5 knots while beating to windward. So when the boat speed dipped below 5, on went Mr. Perkins, with sails a flying. (He’s not so thirsty at low rpms, so thankfully we aren’t flying through our fuel supply. Those extra jerry cans we procured in Tonga are part of the safety plan for reaching New Zealand fast.) Four times in the past 24 hours the wind picked up and Mr. Perkins went off, only to be turned back on several hours later. Thankfully, Mr. Perkins has remained off since 3 p.m. today and we have sweet sailing once again. Soon we’ll be having more wind than we need, but hopefully not more than we can handle with our standard practices of reefing sails. If we do get blasted, we have tricks up our sleeve – heaving to for starters and then a drogue all ready to deploy. Time to go and reef – the wind has arrived and squall clouds are on the horizon! Kim
25 degrees 13 minutes south; 178 degrees 14.4 minutes west (7:30 p.m. Tonga time)

2 thoughts on “Mr. Perkins in the Wind

  1. Once again, so impressed by your many different types of smarts. Hoping hard that all your planning and prep and skills (& Mr. Perkins!) bring you smoothly to NZ. I’ll be eagerly awaiting your posts!
    Sail On!! Love, Deborat T


  2. You already have me on the edge of my seat tracking you on Google Maps. May the winds be kind and your journey swift. From your already white-knuckled, happily arm-chair bound friend,


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