Well, a veritable fleet of boats left Opua yesterday and there was a queue of about 9 crews waiting at the customs office when we got there to clear out. Gary, the Customs Officer, is used to this annual migration and processed our paperwork in only a couple of minutes. We manage a very nice Sunday brunch at the Marina Cafe (we will really miss that place!) and slipped our lines at 12.30pm.
The reason for the mass exodus is that this weather window looks good, though maybe the wind will go light in a couple of days, but another weather system heading across the Tasman Sea would make a departure a day later look tricky.
For us, so far, so good. We had a following wind chasing us out of the Bay of Islands and put the Parasailor up straight away. Looking at the forecast and the conditions around us we decided to fly it through the night but the wind and waves increased steadily until, around midnight, we had 22-24 knots from dead behind and Maunie was flying along. If we had extra crew aboard to hand steer we would have been fine to carry on but Winnie the Windpilot was struggling with the conditions as the boat began to surf and we took the decision to drop the sail. This is always a tough call in strong conditions, especially at night but we're pretty well practiced at it now and, with the deck floodlight switched on, we could see what we were doing well enough and, we're glad to report that it all went smoothly. We're now under white sails and making a good 6 – 6.5kts.
We'll update our position on http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/maunieofardwall every day at around 19.00UTC