Position at 22.00 UTC Saturday 3rd May: 28 deg 17 min south, 179 deg 58 min east
Distance travelled in last 24 hours: 137nm
The promised SE winds have finally arrived, after teasing us yesterday – we had enough wind during the day but had to motor-sail during most of the night. We now have a good steady Force 4 (about 13 knots) on a beam reach (the wind coming at us from 90 degrees to our starboard) – perfect conditions as we have relatively fast boat-speed without the heeling over that would accompany a headwind or the relentless rolling that's the penalty of a tailwind. The re-built Winnie the Windpilot is coping well, though a reach is never her favourite point of sailing so every now and then we have to give her a hand if a change in wind speed makes the boat want to round up into wind. The Kermadec Islands are 120 miles to our starboard – they belong to New Zealand and we think there's some kind of scientific station there (originally a radio station in the days before trans-ocean cables and satellites) but if anyone can Google them and let us know, we'd be grateful. We do know that yachts aren't supposed to stop at the islands but people have in the past and been welcomed as a novelty by the handful of people stationed there.
Whilst our boat speed is reasonably good – we're averaging about 6 knots - we've just had it put into perspective on the morning radio net. Lionel and Irene, who normally sail from Perth, Australia, have a pretty awesome 'Gunboat' 50ft cruising catamaran that's specifically built for long ocean passages. We met them a few times en route from Panama and admired the boat but this morning we decided we didn't like it so much. They left Whangarei (further down the coast from Opua) the day after we set sail and they reported sailing at an average of 11 knots this morning so expect to overtake us today and arrive in Tonga in 2-3 days' time, whereas it'll take us 4-5 days! Just not fair!
We also chatted to a few boats, including Stormvogel, still in Opua this morning and they were not enjoying a chilly, foggy start to the day. The weather window that they all hope for (next Tuesday) now doesn't sound brilliant so some are already talking about waiting an extra week which would be a bit demoralising (harbours rot ships and men, as you know). We're keeping our fingers crossed that they do get away next week.