ARRIVAL AKAROA – DÉJÀ VU AGAIN

With the nasty weather behind us we made good time down to Akoroa.  The wind was either there or not there, meaning we either sailed at a good speed or motored slowly.  Once south of Kaikoura we had a steady 20 to 25 knots of wind on the port quarter giving us a fast ride in sparkling conditions.  We had Albatross as constant companions with frequent visits from Dolphins.  Whales were also sighted in the distance.

After a few hours of thinking and a bit of trial and error I came up with a temporary fix for Mickey by fashioning a wooden peg from an emergency bung.  Its not perfect but will steer us in the general direction plus or minus 30 degrees.  Certainly beats hand steering.

Just after midnight we experienced a strange phenomenon.  The temperature turned chilly although the wind still came from the same N’Wly direction.  A few minutes later I could see a dark patch of pressure on the water and prepared for a squall to hit.  Instead there was a blast of warm air and the sea levelled out.  Truce sprang alive and hit 9.5 knots as I quickly took over steering.  This continued for fifteen minutes during which time we even hit 10 knots and averaged around 8.5.  Gradually this warm wind reduced over the next two hours until it was motoring time again.

This is the first time I have experienced a warm dry strong wind in New Zealand and think it must be something the locals here call the Nor’wester.  I know Christchurch has been experiencing record high temperatures recently so maybe this is connected.

The lack of wind persisted all the way into Akaroa Harbour where we anchored in Pine Tree Bay just after sunrise on Wednesday morning.  By this time I was just about falling asleep on my feet and didn’t waste any time in getting horizontal.

The trip down from Napier has been a constant battle with all three of the New Zealand winds, not enough, too much and wrong direction.  But, we are happy with progress and look forward to a few days in Akaroa as a southerly blows through.  Hopefully I can also get Mickey to a machine shop to get welded up and repaired.

Akaroa was the furthest south I came last year before turning around due to Covid.  I spent a few days here, firstly waiting for a weather window to go south and later deciding to head north due to an imminent countrywide Covid lockdown.  Almost a year later and we again have community Covid transmission.  Amy Winehouse sang ‘I don’t want to go to rehab’.  If I could sing it would be ‘I don’t want to go to lockdown, no, no, no’.     

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