Friday, 1 May 2015
So, just to recap, our plans for this season (i.e. the southern hemisphere winter, May to November) is to return to Fiji to revisit some of the bits we loved last year and to explore the many islands that we didn't have time to visit. We'll return to NZ in November for our third and final summer here.
The Cyclone Season is officially over in this part of the Tropics and the New Zealand winter is approaching, bringing south-westerly gales (we just had the first of them a few days ago) so the cruising yachts are gathered like Swallows, ready for the off. The trouble is, the weather hasn't really settled down into its normal patterns for this time of year so everyone's wondering just when to go.
This time last year we were feeling the pressure of the decision as we counted down the final days of our New Zealand visas with no great signs of a friendly weather window in which to depart. We finally left on the last day of the visa and had a very good passage up to Tonga. This year, thanks to our flight home in February, our 6 month visitors' visas re-started when we flew back in March so there's absolutely no pressure from that quarter. In any case, we can't go yet as our folding propeller hasn't arrived back here after its return to Essex for some serious maintenance and a re-profiling of its blades designed to allow the engine to spin at its maximum power revolutions.
So we've had a very sociable time with yacht crews we know here as they all wait for the off but, thankfully, have been able to keep out of the great weather forecast debates just at the moment. The first bunch of boats leave this weekend (four brave boats left on Tuesday) so it'll be sad to wave them off; their weather window looks ok but not perfect, though, with a risk of strong winds and big waves towards the end of the 8-day passage to Fiji.
However, all being well, we'll be following their wakes in about 10 days or so, which is when the next favourable weather looks likely. In the meantime, there's still plenty to do on Maunie; last week we went out to practice some man-overboard drills and over the coming weekend we'll move out into the clear waters of the Bay of Islands to recommission the water-maker which has been 'pickled' for most of the summer. Lucky thing.