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Old 11-07-2018, 12:21   #1
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The South Pacific Rat Hole

Some may recall me mentioning the 'Rathole' in a voyage report early in 2016.
On two passages - in Jan/Feb - from NZ to Chile some 12 years apart I had encountered lows forming south-eastish of Tahiti, then deepening and dropping through the 'rathole' to join the general run of lows south of 40 south....

Well, I keep something of a casual watching brief on weather in the South Pacific and yesterday noticed this little bit of activity.... from nothing on Wednesday to a deep low and northerly gale by Monday... so maybe they are not just seasonable.

I think Robinson on Varua may have encountered one of these when on passage from Tahiti to Valdivia ... its some years since I read his book... https://archive.org/stream/tothegrea...48mbp_djvu.txt


Worthy of consideration if you are planning a passage in these waters...

A further note... this is a classic case where I think it would be less than prudent to run before a gale.... drogues or no drogues... as you are just getting fed into the belly of the beast which in the fullness of time is going to offer up a heavy SWly swell on your beam just to add to the fun.....
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Old 12-07-2018, 04:18   #2
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Re: The South Pacific Rat Hole

Very interesting Ping, We also may have encountered something similar on our trip to Pueto Mont in October 2007. From memory we had building NE gradually backing through to NW. Fortunately it was pretty short and sweet, for a few hours the wind sat around 50 knots and the baro plummeted like a stone, but the seas never built up into anything nasty, which makes sense for a small rapidly developing low.
https://youtu.be/CJMIBbt2svo

https://youtu.be/jpwXlwGi2ho

I really enjoyed reading the account of Varuna's Storm. Appendix two and three are also worth a read, they show that not really that much has changed, still debates about heaving to vs sea anchors vs running off. A great find, and I'll have to make time to download and read the whole book on my kindle. Looks like heaving too didn't work too well for him as the wind increased, and he ended up lying ahull then running off under bare poles, finally towing a series of warps.

At one point he talks about the 'booming' noise from distant breakers. I heard that once. A scary sound much like thunder. Never heard anyone alse mention this.

I spent a few years as mate on a 100 foot Brigantine. I take my hat off to him sailing her so short handed. Though in many ways the square rig is pretty easy to handle. Click image for larger version

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Old 12-07-2018, 04:35   #3
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Re: The South Pacific Rat Hole

My uncle was a fisherman on the west coast of the south island of NZ. I occasionally used to work with him as a kid. I remember two of his remarks. "Beware of a mid tasman low" and "Never trust a southerly" this one is very much like the typical mid Tasman low. A little unpredictable sneaker that comes down on you from the wrong direction and often catches the forcasters out.

One of these gave us a pasting on the Brigantine Soren Laren just north of Lord Howe. The weather fax showed nothing until we were already in 40-45 knots with a very low Baro.

'Never trust a southerly' I guess is about how unpredicatble a cold front can be. Arriving early or late, or being much stronger than forcast.
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Old 12-07-2018, 13:58   #4
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Re: The South Pacific Rat Hole

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
Very interesting Ping, We also may have encountered something similar on our trip to Pueto Mont in October 2007. From memory we had building NE gradually backing through to NW. Fortunately it was pretty short and sweet, for a few hours the wind sat around 50 knots and the baro plummeted like a stone, but the seas never built up into anything nasty, which makes sense for a small rapidly developing low. .....
I think those lows dropping down from the north in that area are more common than people would think... popular mythology being that the wind blow endlessly from the W/SW in those waters...

I wouldn't have thought too much about it if I hadn't encountered the second one...

First time we only had gribs and wefax.... good but not great.... presented with an ENE'ly gale and the option of either heading SE and making ground to destination.... or north..... didn't consider either heaving to or turning tail.....
Went north.... made about 10 miles towards destination in 24 hours.

Next time had the benefit of the NOAA sats and could plot the centre of the low every few hours... which helped considerably with making the decision to drop everything at sunset and lie ahull in about a 2 metre sea and wind out of the north... she sat like a duck...and go to bed for the night. Woke up at midnight as the centre of the low passed over us... strange to suddenly have no wind at all and not a cloud in the sky. Got up for breakfast and then carried on.... very civilized.

On that crossing had watched several other lows forming in the same area and behaving in the same way... pretty hard to spot them forming on the gribs... easy on the sats.
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