After leaving Bora Bora we had a nice day at sea, the sun was shining and winds were fair. Unfortunately this was not going to last though, as ahead of us lay an area of low pressure, bringing with it wind and rain and the Wednesday saw a marked increase in wind and with it, swell and seas. We spent the day in 2 steep swells, both from different directions and the Amsterdam, with both her stabilisers out, was ‘lurching’ occasionally as she negotiated the confused sea and swells. Consulting our weather programme and the Fiji Meteorological Office web site, (they have oversight in the area we were sailing), matters looked ominous for our call at the island of Raratonga. I learned long ago that it makes no sense to worry about weather too far ahead, one only worries needlessly, the weather is not going to change, so deal with it when one has to.
The morning of the 31st, an early call again and countless cups of coffee, (you will have surmised by now that I am a coffee addict). Raratonga looms out of the rain squalls, its peak is invisible, lost in the low, grey cloud. The morning has also not brought respite from the wind, nor the swell and seas, it is blowing 25-35 knots, the swell coming from 2 opposing directions and seas are rough. Unlike Moorea and Bora Bora, the island does not have a protective reef surrounding it, nor does it have a sheltered anchorage. One has to ‘drop the pick’ ½ a mile off the harbour of Avatui and then tender in; in these conditions nigh on impossible. Basic seamanship had to be taken into account too, no self-respecting seaman would anchor his ship on a lee shore, i.e. In a position where, should the anchor drag, the wind would blow the vessel towards the shore, not away from it.
As you may have already guessed, I reluctantly cancelled the call and we departed, heading towards Auckland, New Zealand. After discussions with our Corporate office, it was decided to try and get there earlier than originally scheduled, without additional fuel usage and berth availability permitting. I am fortunate that our intended berth was going to be free as from 6 p.m. on the Wednesday and so, as I write we are sailing at 15.4knots for a 5 p.m. pilot.
The weather has improved, the strong winds are still present, however they have swung and are now coming from slightly astern of us, giving us a slight ‘push. The swell is still there, as are the wind waves, however it’s a far more comfortable ride today. Tomorrow we cross the International Date Line and our clocks go forward tonight. Saturday 2nd February will not exist for us, we will go to bed on a Friday night and wake up on a Sunday morning.
Julie, our lovely ‘editor’ of our blog, asked for some up-to-date photos of my grandson, Oliver; here are some taken a few weeks ago.
Jonathan Mercer is Amsterdam’s captain.