UNABLE TO MAKE WELLINGTON. SOUTH ISLAND INSTEAD

At 03:30 this morning we were only eight miles from Wellington Harbour entrance, the light S’ly wind died and a vigorous N’ly wind set in.  Without motor it was impossible to make Wellington.

The forecast was for 25 knot N’ly winds in Cook Strait gusting to 30 knots.  My options were to run down to Akoroa, head back around Cape Pallister or run across Cook Strait towards the top of the South Island.

I chose to head across to the top of the South Island roughly aiming for the Cloudy Bay area.  By 04:00 the wind was shrieking through the rigging.  I had managed to get all sail off the boat apart from a scrap of yankee that was driving us forward at a crazy speed.  We were shipping seas over the boat and quite a few ended up in the cockpit.

Amidst all this mayhem a cruise ship called me up on VHF radio and asked what my intentions were.  Now, that is Merchant Navy speak, meaning “are you going to alter course for me”?  I replied that I was unable to alter course (I have right of way anyway) and just hanging on to survive.  Very politely the officer of the watch informed me he would alter course to pass ahead.  I asked what wind speed he had on his anemometer, he replied gusting fifty knots.  Well, it was certainly more than the thirty knots forecast!

By daylight the wind had reduced to around thirty knots and at 10:00 it was reducing quite quickly and the sun was shining through.  At Midday the wind turned around to the south and give us a good 20 knot breeze to get us going towards Port Underwood, the outer Marlborough Sounds.

Luckily the S’ly wind held good and we were able to sail in glorious sunshine and sparkling seas to make Port Underwood and anchor in Oyster Bay at 18:00.

It has been a very eventful day.  Defeated in getting into Wellington, a nasty night of very strong winds and high seas followed by a beautiful sail into a nice protected anchorage.  We haven’t ended up where intended but are very happy to be here.

As I sit here secure in a calm anchorage, I feel very tired.  It’s taken a huge effort to get here.  I think just one beer tonight will see me off to a long sleep.

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