Skirting cyclone Evan

Coordinates: 30deg47S, 166deg15E 7th day on passage.
Any mention of cyclones in a sailing blog and you’re expecting high drama, right? But in our case it’s more drama avoidance, and the machinations we’ve been through to achieve it. We delayed our departure awaiting the fate of cyclone Evan, and then departed into fine Tasman weather knowing that we’d need to keep our eyes out. The issue isn’t bumping into the cyclone – Evan has already been declassified as such, and is now just a nasty little storm. NZ Maritime Radio are referring to it as the former cyclone. A bit like the artist formerly known as Prince, it’s way past its best but can still rock the house. Ooww! And while it no longer packs the punch of it’s former nastiness, it’s still generating 30-40 knot winds and big seas in its forward quadrant. So, not dangerous, but still damned uncomfortable and worth avoiding.

Having left its calling card at Samoa and Fiji, the wretched thing seems determined to visit NZ and intent on arriving around the same time as us. Most inconsiderate. So we’re playing a game of dodge the depression but without knowing exactly where it’ll go. Ironically, the same becalmed state that we’ve been cursing earlier on this passage will have helped us, as our spectacularly slow progress means we’re further away from the NZ coast than planned, and therefore further away from the weather. It’s tempting to drop sails and just sit here for awhile and watch it pass, but we’ve had all we can take of Luca’s knock knock jokes, we’re running short of believable blog dramas to write about, and we need to get home, if only for the sake of our crewing cousins who’s spouses are gamely looking after their kids whilst they gallivant around the Tasman with us.

We shook off our becalmed state a couple of days ago, and have been pursuing a path devised by our good friend Dave to avoid the storm, initially a southerly route and now more northerly. The influence of the storm formerly known as cyclone Evan extends some 300 miles from its centre, and we’re already sailing through its farthest influence. Last night we dropped down to our 3rd mainsail reef with winds regularly over 25 knots, and today has continued in the same vein. We can do good speeds in this, but because we’re sailing into the wind, the faster we go the more slamming the boat does, and at this late stage in an otherwise happy sailing sabbatical we can live without the slamming. The swell is up to 3 metres which in itself would be fine, but the seas are rough so the movement of the boat is unpredictable and unpleasant. Cousins Charlotte and James, having both overcome early seasickness when we left Australia, have unfortunately succumbed again and are having a pretty miserable time. Both troopers though, manfully insisting on continuing with watch duties etc. Some debate as to whether we should clear into NZ at Auckland or perhaps Opua, and I suspect the feeling amongst the crew is to get off the boat asap! Can’t say I blame them.

Forecasts suggest the wind should abate in the next 24 hours and swing in our favour, so there’s light on the horizon and now only a few more passage days to go.

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