All night the wind remained fickle as we slowly headed south towards Portland. By 05:00 the wind started to pick up and an hour later was gusting 25 knots, the top end of the forecast range. As we approached Portland the wind seemed to have increased more and the note in my log estimates it at 30 knots.
As we came out of the lee of Portland I had reduced to triple reefed main and handkerchief size yankee, the sea became rough with short breaking seas. I tried to lay a course for Napier where I could get some shelter. By 09:00 it became clear I could not make Napier and was getting pushed too far to the south. I could easily get around Cape Kidnappers and further south but unfortunately that road led to Castlepoint where there were 60 knot winds forecast and no possibility of any shelter or anchorages.
I had run out of options and reluctantly turned around and headed back towards Gisborne, the only place of shelter available. I didn’t want to go back but it was the only safe option available.
On the way back past Mahia Peninsular the Rocket Lab range control called me up on VHF radio. They had a launch scheduled for later that day and wanted to confirm I would be off the range by then. Yes, I confirmed I would be clear. I asked their wind speed reading, they confirmed gusting just above 30 knots. I scuttled back in the direction of Gisborne making great speed and arrived at the fairway buoy at 17:48.
I started the engine to enter Gisborne and after a few minutes it stopped! Most unusual as Mr. Yanmar is usually the most reliable of engines. After a check around I restarted and motored gently to a berth and was all tied up by 19:00. As I stepped ashore to tie the dock lines I felt a bit unsteady on my feet, it has been five days since I have been ashore!
Once Truce was secure, I jumped ashore and headed up to the Gisborne and Tatapouri Fishing Club on the dock. A club member signed me in and I was able to get a very nice fish supper before the kitchen closed and a couple of pints of draft beer.
It’s been quite an eventful day. Didn’t turn out the way I expected or planned. We sailed just over 100 miles since last midnight and most of it in the wrong direction unfortunately. But never mind, we can’t change the weather and safe and sound in Gisborne is not a bad place to be.
I will check out the Yanmar engine in the morning to see why it stopped. In the meantime, I intend to get some serious sleep.