Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Calm and sunny in NZ, anything but that in Fiji

We have just emerged from several days of gales and really heavy rain - the result of cyclonic activity north of NZ (more of this later). We actually decided to take advantage of the conditions and went sailing on Wednesday, as the gale approached, to do some heavy-weather training:

Sailing with triple-reefed mainsail and reefed yankee

Three reefs makes the mainsail very small so we have only had to use it in this configuration a couple of times since we bought the boat
Practicing heaving-to with just the staysail and the main

The 'backed' staysail balances the mainsail so the boat all-but stops in the water and sits comfortably balanced

The staysail is 'self-tacking' so a strap was needed to keep the sheet car to windward
 In spite of the gale warning we didn't see winds of more that 28 knots so the conditions were ideal for us to play. Strangely enough, we were the only boat out there!

On Friday evening the wind calmed down and the sun returned so we now have blue skies and hot sunshine. We're currently anchored in a bay about a mile from Opua and went ashore last night for a lovely supper with Peter and Angela in their beautiful house overlooking the bay. Peter is 'Mr Northland Radio' so gave us a tour of his hugely-impressive radio room; it was great to be able to see his work space as no doubt we'll be chatting to him from the Tropics this year.

The view from Peter and Angela's house - Maunie is to the far right
Our calm and sunny conditions are very different from those of Fiji just now. Cyclone Winston, a Category 5 storm, is said to be the strongest cyclone to be recorded in the South Pacific (with winds up to 160mph) and it has wrought havoc across the country. Photos and videos are beginning to emerge, showing destroyed houses and boats and ships driven ashore. We don't yet know how our friends on Fulaga and Kadavu have coped; we have tried calling Fulaga on the SSB radio but so far without reply. Our thoughts are with them.

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