UPDATE: It's Monday morning and, after checking the weather/routing, we've decided NOT to depart. So - New Zealand - you're stuck with me for another few days. I've modified the post below to reflect the fact that we aren't leaving yet after all.
We had spent the last several days in a bit of a holding pattern, waiting for the weather to improve, but also continuing with boat jobs, of course. As of Sunday night (May 21), we believed a weather window had opened for the coming week, so we planned to depart for Fiji on Monday morning.
BUT, on Monday morning, we checked the weather forecast and routing scenarios and decided to postpone our departure. Crossing an ocean is serious stuff, not to be taken lightly. We're making a safe, conservative decision. We can't enjoy Fiji if we don't make it there safely.
The rest of this post documents what's been going on these last few days of what we thought was final preparation.
This past weekend we here hit with 45 mph winds gusting through the marina, as well as heavy rain at times. It was pretty nuts. We could only imagine what the conditions would have been like out in the open sea.
Two of the boats that had departed on Friday or Saturday (in heavy wind/seas), actually ended up returning to the marina on Sunday - one with engine trouble, one with autopilot issues.
Apart from boat jobs, gale force winds, and rain, we also enjoyed relaxing in the quiet marina community of Marsden Cove. The neighborhood houses are very modern; the landscaping is impeccable; and the streets and sidewalks are clean and safe. We found a great Airbnb with super nice hosts (and a cute dog). Getting off the boat allowed us to get a few nights of good sleep, and good breakfasts.
I’ve also been spending some time in the only restaurant/cafe in town, Land & Sea. I’ve tried just about everything on the menu by now, preferring Eggs On Toast for breakfast, Fish Tacos for dinner, and a coffee each morning, noon, and night.
We've mingled a bit with the other "cruisers" that are here in the marina... maybe 10-15 other boats. Each group (mostly couples) has great stories of their adventures at sea (and on land) from various places they've sailed. I enjoy walking the docks and admiring all the boats, too.
Sunday, there was a small farmer’s market at the marina. Skipper Tom and I roamed around and picked up some freshly-baked bread and a few more fruits/veggies for the passage.
Oh, our other major activity this weekend was to choose our departure music - a couple of fun (and sailing-relevant) songs to blast as we depart from our slip and bid the marina (and New Zealand) farewell. Not everyone does this, but we like to. I'll try to capture it on the GoPro.
After looking at the weather all weekend, we had decided that there was in fact a decent weather window opening for a departure Monday. So we spent the better part of Sunday (and will continue early Monday morning) making final preparations, including meeting with the customs officer to officially check out of New Zealand.
But, as I said, then Monday morning came and we decided to postpone our departure. The models and consulting services we use to analyze the weather are not consistent, and do not agree. I'll provide another update later this week as we get better information on a new window for departure.
In the meantime, New Zealand has been great to us. The people here are super friendly and welcoming. One of these days I'll have to make it to the South Island. Likewise, though, we are looking forward to the warm smiles and the first "Bula!" from the Fiji people!