F4. Pazzo’s Pacific Adventures, On to New Zealand

On Thanksgiving day, 2021, Team Pazzo, including Brother John, Cindy, myself, and Pazzo, set the full mainsail, motored out Maupiti’s Passe Onoiau and bore off on a broad reach port tack, a few points south of our rhumb-line to Opua, New Zealand.  Only 2126 miles to go!

For the first time, we engaged the services of a professional weather router.  Roger “Clouds” Badham, based in Australia, is one of the world pre-eminent marine weather routers, normally serving super yachts, America’s Cup campaigns and Volvo Round the World race teams.  We feel fortunate that he agreed to guide us through hurricane season to New Zealand.  His first email advisory included this line, “The current long term weather picture is most favorable for a nearly direct line to Opua.  If things play out this way, your passage will be astonishing!”

On day two, we practiced a man-overboard rescue, this time with video capturing the drill for later evaluation.  5 minutes from full sail back to “victim.”  3 more minutes to get “victim” aboard and a few more minutes to recover man overboard gear.  Well done John and Cindy!   On the third day, we sailed south of Mauke Island in the Cook Islands, and passed north of Rarotonga a day later.  The wind continued to blow with a southerly component, keeping us on port tack – sometimes under spinnaker and other times with our genoa on the pole.  No need for the motor yet as our solar and wind generator were keeping our batteries full.

On the evening of December1, we discovered a 12 inch tear near the mainsail luff.  Stupidly, we tucked a reef and thereby loaded up the tear, extending it during the night to over 2 feet.  The wee hours of December 2 proved to be “a dark and stormy night!”  A passing “sticky” squall occluded the moon and stars while delivering a strong easterly wind to keep us at 8 knots.  John and I gave Cindy the night off under the inclement circumstance.

The following morning, we added a second reef while Cindy and I glued and sewed a 2-sided patch over the tear to restore the sail to full service.  

We crossed the International Date Line (180 degrees west/east longitude, exact opposite side of the world from Greenwich, England) on December 8 with about 200 miles to go to Opua, NZ.   At 0600 (and on Cindy’s watch), the jib which had been on the pole for the past 2 days started to flap wildly – as if the sheet had broken or come loose.  Cindy observed and opined, “It looks like the wrong sheet leads thru the pole.”   “Impossible!” replied John and I.   After we managed to roll the sail up, an inspection revealed that, indeed, the wrong sheet now passed through the pole???  How can this happen? Gremlins?  To this day, the mystery remains (largely) unsolved.   Regardless, we threaded the proper sheet back thru the pole, unfurled the jib and tore off again to the southwest.  To celebrate date line day, we BBQ’ed NZ Entrecote steaks for dinner.   Cindy is feverishly emptying the freezer before the NZ agriculture folks take all our meat away.  We’re eating even better than usual!

After 12 days of great sailing, we finally lost our wind a day out of the Bay of Islands. Other than a couple of hours of battery charging and water-making, this was the first time “ol Perky” was called into service.   The morning of December 9 found us off Cape Brett and by noon, we were back under spinnaker making our first Gybe of the trip on the final approach to Opua.   At 16:30 Pazzo was secure on Opua’s Quarantine Dock and the boat was under 24-hour surveillance by NZ Customs while we were tested for COVID and waited 3 days for the (negative) test results.  Roger’s prediction was spot-on: 13 ½ days from Maupiti, 7.1 knot average, 170 miles per day.  All on one tack. Almost all with the wind behind the beam.  Astonishing indeed!

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