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Old 20-10-2022, 17:24   #1
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Exclamation Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

Hi Friends!

I'm planning to set off from Bora Bora to Fiji next week, which is the start of the south pacific cyclone season (November 1st).

I expect to be in Fiji by the 24th of November, and it could be sooner if i dont stop for a break in Cook and Samoa.

I plan to use MetBob as a weather router via satellite messages daily in case of conditions that may require me to alter course.

7 years sailing experince/boat ownership and 1.5 years on my Beneteau 50, sailing from St Martin (caribbean) to now French Polynesia.

Am I crazy for planning to attempt this?

Best,
Capt Matt
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Old 20-10-2022, 17:59   #2
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

IMHO, yes. Not only are you going on a 3 passage during cyclone season, but your destination is in a major cyclone area. Do you have arrangements or a plan when/if you get there?

The truth is, you _probably_ won't have any trouble. But you might, and are you and the boat prepared for it? And my guess is that you might be too late to find safe space in Fiji. So, you would still be at high risk.

A weather router is great, but you better be able to get gribs, and have more comms than text messages if you might be in a hurricane.

Have you considered heading straight to NZ? A Beneteau 50 should make over 100 miles per day, I think your estimate to get to Fiji is slow, and you should be able to reach NZ in that time.
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Old 20-10-2022, 18:52   #3
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

Thanks Wholybee

I've got a spot lined up at Vuda Marina in Fiji, they have a nice hurricane hole with barricades to the outside ocean against storm surge.

They say they dont take reservations online but thru email they seemed to be willing to accommodate me.

I have considered heading straight to NZ but I should look more into the entry requirements for the vessel, and I think that by heading further south there's more risk of weather than if I stick closer to the equator heading due west.

I'll look into it more though.

Edit: I average 130 nm per day, and on better days I get 150 nm/day.

Thank you
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Old 20-10-2022, 19:06   #4
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

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Am I crazy for planning to attempt this?
1. On average and from memory, the risks of a tropical cyclone in Fiji is high from late December to May. Tropical cyclones are not unknown as late as June. And I think there are a small number as early as November.

You can do a quick and rough analysis of monthly occurrence of tropical cyclones in any particular calendar month for yourself - resources are on the Web, starting from sites as easy to access and use as Wikipedia.

Historical statistics cannot rule out a tropical cyclone in Fiji in November 2022, of course. Some meteorological experts have opined that the cyclone season in the S Pac might start early in 2022.

2. Bob McDavitt is one of the best. No weather forecast, numeric or aided by judgment, is without fault. All weather routers learn from their experience.
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Old 20-10-2022, 19:10   #5
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

Thanks Alan,

I have gone through the historical occurrances of cyclones in the south pacific for the past 70 years of data and there was maybe one or two that occurred in November during that whole 70 years.

That being said, a storm doesnt have to be a cyclone to cause major trouble.
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Old 20-10-2022, 19:13   #6
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

Vuda is a great spot, and where I would stay in Fiji during a cyclone. I was there in 2019 (not during the cyclone season) and I have a few friends there now. If you have that plan in place, then probably no need for NZ. But still, be prepared for something to happen.

FWIW, I left Fiji mid-November for NZ, and arrived there Dec 3rd. You will be sailing in cyclone season, but it isn't in full swing.
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Old 20-10-2022, 19:19   #7
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

Having sailed from Bora Bora to Fiji myself (but with a stop in the armpit of the Pacific, Paga Pago) I think you are making a good choice.

Keep an eye out for the weather (with gribs and WEFAX if you can get it).

It's a smart plan not to skip Fiji by going direct to NZ. Fiji is a fantastic place to explore when the season is over.

And, not even counting cyclones, the trip to NZ in November can be hell. The "Bombs" like "Queen's Birthday" and "Nightmare off New Zealand" are plenty bad enough.

Enjoy the Pacific, don't hurry through it. New Zealand will still be there.
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Old 20-10-2022, 23:35   #8
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

Are you crossing solo or are you going to put someone else's life at risk?
Insurance will unlikely cover named storm related damage or write-off.
A couple of years back a guy in a catamaran in the Caribbean thought he could outrun a hurricane, he couldn't and has not been seen since. You don't have to be run over by the eye wall to be smashed by spin off tornadoes and monster waves.
This season is another La Nina with warmer waters, so potentially earlier cyclones. But hey its your life, unfortunately if you run into trouble it also puts the lives of of other crew and first responders at risk. So you could conceivably be viewed as not only crazy but also inconsiderate.
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Old 20-10-2022, 23:56   #9
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

What does Bob say? His synopsis posted at Opua marina predicts a high likelihood of early season storms.
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Old 21-10-2022, 01:22   #10
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

Why chance it and why miss all the islands in between. Heading north from Bora Bora to Line Islands will put you out of the south pacific cyclone season. Then venture south again next season. The Cook Islands alone are worth spending time not just as a stop. Vuda Point protected as it is, is still no place to be during a cyclone. A major hit in Fiji or any pacific island will do more than just wreck boats.
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Old 21-10-2022, 02:27   #11
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

Our best trips from Fiji to New Zealand were in mid-December. You do need to keep an eye out for cyclones, but they don't generally pop up out of nowhere. There are plenty of warning signs that a good weather router would notice. If you study the weather ahead of all of the major storms recently (since computer weather modelling anyway) you can see them developing for a long time.

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Old 21-10-2022, 06:33   #12
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiveCat6 View Post
Hi Friends!

I'm planning to set off from Bora Bora to Fiji next week, which is the start of the south pacific cyclone season (November 1st).

I expect to be in Fiji by the 24th of November, and it could be sooner if i dont stop for a break in Cook and Samoa.

I plan to use MetBob as a weather router via satellite messages daily in case of conditions that may require me to alter course.

7 years sailing experince/boat ownership and 1.5 years on my Beneteau 50, sailing from St Martin (caribbean) to now French Polynesia.

Am I crazy for planning to attempt this?

Best,
Capt Matt
Stardate

Capt Matt, OK, from the information I am researching and speaking with other very experienced Sailers it appears that some of our major weather forecast organizations here in Oz are indicating they are expecting cyclones earlier this season. Our cyclone season is already here in Oz, It kicks off at the beginning of October and goes through to March. Just my to bobs worth but to me your starting at the wrong time of the season and heading into well known cyclone alleys. Why take a risk when you dont have to. Purely my opinion.

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Old 21-10-2022, 08:13   #13
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

ENSO Outlook – an alert system for the El Niño–Southern Oscillation
...easy enough to find out, what La Nina will mean for the western South Pacific...
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Old 21-10-2022, 13:41   #14
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

LiveCat6:

IMHO, this year is not a good one to try your plan. I'm mostly basing this because of having been caught in early cyclones twice: once in New Caledonia and once in Vanuatu.

These were both in October, and (of course) in different years. In New Caledonia, we had guests, and wanted to go into a marina, and were required to buy not only local term liability insurance, but also 17 mm dock lines. In Vanuatu, we were able to beat south from Luganville into increasing headwinds to Port Sandwich, which is a hurricane hole, there. The long beat did a little damage below decks.

I'd consider applying to get permission to stay in French Polynesia, perhaps working your way back to the Marquesas, and come April, start back through the islands or atolls you missed, and work your way slowly through the South Pacific Island groups, and enjoy all of them after cyclone season is over. It is some of the most interesting cruising we had. The year we came across, a few folks stopped at Mopelia, then Cook Is, Nui, Beverage Reef, Tonga. (Last night, I was remembering the sound of Tonga, the tapping of the tapa cloth beaters; and the sound of Fiji, the pounding of yanggona).

It is well worth a leisurely trip through. If you cannot do that, then heading straight to NZ will get you down safe, possibly going via the Australs, which are not often visited. Sometimes the storms that start as cyclones in the Solomons, wind up being extra-tropical storms in NZ. Keeping aware of what's coming is really import along the route to NZ. Then Tonga and Fiji will be within easy reach, the following season, possibly by way of the volcanic Raoul Island wildlife sanctuary, and with more effort, Samoa as well... Incidentally, we experienced a late cyclone at Raoul island, on May 15,in 1992, iirc. People will tell you the season is over in April, but fail to take into account the odd late one.

We subscribed to Mc Davitt's wx predictions and found them quite useful.

Ann
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Old 21-10-2022, 15:28   #15
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Re: Am I crazy? - Crossing to Fiji during start of Cyclone season

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Thanks Wholybee

I've got a spot lined up at Vuda Marina in Fiji, they have a nice hurricane hole with barricades to the outside ocean against storm surge.

They say they dont take reservations online but thru email they seemed to be willing to accommodate me.

I have considered heading straight to NZ but I should look more into the entry requirements for the vessel, and I think that by heading further south there's more risk of weather than if I stick closer to the equator heading due west.

I'll look into it more though.

Edit: I average 130 nm per day, and on better days I get 150 nm/day.

Thank you
Vuda Point is a great spot to hole up in. But I don't get what you mean by "...if I stick closer to the equator heading due west." - the rhum line to Fiji is right along S17, nowhere near the EQ, like 1000 miles nowhere near it.
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