I add my hopes that the affected yachts will survive, and that the rescued folks recover quickly.
However, this vile weather was well forecast
. Below is an exerpt from Bob McDavitt's Weathergram from 4 November.
Late Tuesday a tropical low is likely to form near Fiji
and then deepen rapidly and move southeast across southern Tonga/Minerva possibly with gales and then go off the SSE. Avoid. It might earn itself a name as cyclone number 1 for the South Pacific season 2012/13.
SUBTROPICAL RIDGE STR
The new high crossing the Tasman One today should be held in place aloft and take all week to cross New Zealand
. This offers a good opportunity to anyone wanting to sail to NZ – but those sailing from Tonga should already have left in order to escape the Wednesday Low.
Low is expected to form off Sydney on Friday 9 November and its trough should cross NZ on Monday/Tuesday 12/13 Nov.
SAILING TO NORTHERN NZ.
This week is probably the busiest of the year foe NZ arrivals, and we are having a high, so that’s good.
The hard weather is at your departure zone. If you are in Tonga you’ll now need to wait for that Wednesday low to blow through and the swells to settle again, maybe 10 November, so not this week. If you are in Brisbane
the easterly winds are against you. If you are in New Caledonia
then time your departure to make best use of the SW winds following the low crossing NZ on 12/13 November. If you are in Fiji there are many options.
With this forecast
, one questions leaving Tonga at the relevant time.
And yes, this passage can be taxing, and indeed there are boats lost or damaged while attempting it. On the other hand, some 400 or so boats clear into nZed every year, so it certainly can be done. We've only done it twice from the islands and once from Oz, but never experienced anything beyond mild gale force winds... but we are pretty patient about waiting for decent wx.