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Old 20-11-2009, 22:26   #1
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Tonga to NZ in May/June - Advice, Please

Hello,

I am wondering if anyone has had experience sailing from either Tonga, Fiji, New Cal to NZ in May/June-ish? We've made the trip about 8 times from NZ UP to the islands at that time, but not the other way around....what was your experience? Would you recommend it?

The SW are blowing fresh during that time and just wondering about your experience.

We'll be (hopefully) sailing our new boat from the islands back to NZ during that time - but wanted to get some input.

Your advice and experiences are appreciated.

Many thanks,
PJ
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Old 21-11-2009, 09:22   #2
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There's a reason most people do the trip to NZ late Nov/beginning Dec. Actually, to be accurate, two reasons. The first is the onset of the Cyclone season in the tropics, the other you've already mentioned is fresh SW winds and the fact that you're coming up to winter. Why not put the trip back a few months? I'll be making the trip from Tonga to NZ next year, so whilst I haven't done it (yet) my research indicates I would not want to do it in May/June. Apparently it's tough enough when the weather is behaving itself so why load the dice against yourself?
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Old 21-11-2009, 14:09   #3
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Look up Queen's Birthday storm
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Old 21-11-2009, 14:11   #4
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Hi Troutbridge,

Thanks for your advice. For us, it is more of a delivery from Honolulu to NZ. Unfortunately, not cruising. Agree November is best time (also did that trip 8 times), but again, just trying to get the boat home.

All the best to you on your passage down. It's not as bad as some make it out to be. But...okay, rather bumpy. Just apply the 5 knot rule: if you drop below it, turn on the iron jenny and run like hell. :-)

Cheers,
PJ
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Old 21-11-2009, 14:22   #5
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Hi DT, thanks for your post. Yep remember the QD bomb well. We were in Tonga at the time. That was a cyclone that was completely out of season (June) and alot of the boats that were hit were leaving NZ going up to the islands. So anyone -going or coming - would have got caught in that nasty business.

Might just leave boat in islands until ready to bring her home in November...
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Old 26-11-2009, 18:06   #6
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QB was not the only bad storm there at this time of the year. It was only the most publicized. Boats and human lives were lost on this stretch before and after QB. And I do not think it was a cyclone, it was more like a TS, extra-tropical.

But if it can be done S-N it can be done the other way round too. It is a bit less risky now than back then as the weather forecasting has developed and our means of communication too.

Given the weather conditions it may be a good idea to try from NC rather than from Tonga.

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Old 26-11-2009, 18:50   #7
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You have more faith in the weather forecasts than I do. Those bombs can form up in 24hrs from nothing, been there done that, and it's around a 7 day trip.
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Old 26-11-2009, 22:25   #8
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Did a rush Tonga to NZ trip in a Sept. Quick boat and no mucking around programme as we knew we were pushing things. Sussed weather well and had a nice clear window. 1/2 back still looking sweet with maybe a blow on the last day. 12hrs later bare poles and did 61ml in 10hours, luckily direct towards the Bay of Islands. The forecast off the machine and by HF at the time said we would have 15kts maybe 20. And no sign of the weather we actually had. Wind gear stopped at 64kts and the needle was hard on it for 10 hours odd.

Unless you are a quick boat and are fully prepared for it to go bad in a matter of hours, I'd wait.

So 'What Dana-tenacity (the 8 legged monster from the deep ) said above' times 2.
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Old 27-11-2009, 15:15   #9
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Aren't Cephalopods better sailors than reptiles?
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Old 27-11-2009, 15:52   #10
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We have done Fiji to Nz at the end of May. We mostly had 15 knot west/norwesterlies. We were even becalmed in the middle for a day. As we neared NZ it went more souwesterly on us but never more than 20 about knots. It was a pleasant passage.

We have also returned to NZ from New Caledonia Mid July and had the s%#* kicked out of us with 3 days of 40-55 knots and mountainous seas as 3 fronts passed through in quick succession, which is common at that time of the year.

Both trips were on schedules and we had no opportunity to wait for a favourable weather window. (yeah I know what you're all thinking)

I guess you get lucky or you don't . Good Luck.

Cheers
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Old 27-11-2009, 15:57   #11
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Originally Posted by dana-tenacity View Post
You have more faith in the weather forecasts than I do. Those bombs can form up in 24hrs from nothing, been there done that, and it's around a 7 day trip.
I share your respect for weather.

But the "bombs" do not form to the stage where they are dangerous within 24 fours. First there is a change in the upper layer and it is closely monitored, then there is the TD (or subtropical D), TS and then the SHTF. But it takes a moment and with good communications and a weather man onboard (or ashore) the risk of stepping into anything major can be reduced (off course not to zero, but it can never be reduced to zero, not even at the best time of the year).

This was also the issue, to some extent, with QB - the weather had been there for a moment and (as far as I remember) the Fijian Metoffice did report it, but the information was not included in NZ radiofax nor advisory for that latitude. Furthermore, one of NZ nets based their weather info on NZ sources without looking at what Fiji has (I might be wrong here but I believe I am not).

But times have changed and we have better communications today and better forecasting and better boats. We are lucky. The point is not to push the luck too far.

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Old 27-11-2009, 16:21   #12
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Thanks all for your responses. I really appreciate the input.

I too figured if you can go one way, you can go the other. It's within season. Just never went that direction on that leg at that particular time. Having said that, all the trips I've made going both up and down that track when it was acceptable to do so has always been to weather! Jeez.

Kiwikat, I know how it is on a schedule...when we worked on a few private yachts we were always on a schedule. Ugh. But your run from Fiji sounded pretty good. I hope for that kinda weather for the leg.

Thanks again and welcome any other thoughts.

Cheers,
PJ
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Old 27-11-2009, 21:44   #13
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Aren't Cephalopods better sailors than reptiles?
Turtles do OK
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Old 28-11-2009, 14:30   #14
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But they are facing extinction. Aren't squid/octopus supposed to be the smartest thing in the ocean? I'm sure I read that somewhere.
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Old 29-11-2009, 07:57   #15
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But they are facing extinction. Aren't squid/octopus supposed to be the smartest thing in the ocean? I'm sure I read that somewhere.
That is a typical trip trap of the printed word. If something is printed does not mean it is true. Examples:
- advertisements,
- lonely planet guides,
- cruising forums.

IMHO, the smartest thing in the ocean are a bunch of ruskis in a nuclear submarine.

BTW You probably read about octopuses. Squids are not to be mixed up with them, except in a seafood dish.

b.
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