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Mix T Motions RNI Leg 2 Report

22 Mar 2011

Leg 2 - Manganui to Wellington

We left Manganui the next morning in light winds again. Just before darkness fell that night we received news of the Christchurch earthquake. Tom and I were able to check friends and relatives were safe; still it was a weight that we carried. That night after rounding North Cape we were entertained with traffic from other boats on channel 16. Someone was calling the big ship (?big ship? ?big ship?), someone else was calling Roxton (Truxton), and Clear Vision was trying to obtain the exact movements of a fishing vessel that was doing circles somewhere near Cape Rienga. The big ship passed us reasonably close by and we were able to confirm that we showed up on radar. In the early hours of the morning we rounded Cape Rienga, then Cape Maria Van Diemen, then we were in the Tasman. After all that flat boat sailing and becalmments it was a bit of a shock to suddenly be perched on the back of a bucking Rodeo Bull of a yacht! Tom asked if this was what I had expected? And I replied quite calmly  ?the Tasman?s always like this?. Moving around Mix T Motions became very difficult and uncomfortable, even going from one side of the cockpit to the other was a crawl. Tom quickly succumbed to seasickness. Are we having fun yet? We were hard on the wind and heading out to sea, the question was how far out do you go? We settled on about 100 Nautical Miles, before tacking back in about 40 then tacking back again. The angle gradually improved for us on this third tack and we were able to keep on it for 3 days and nights. It was on the nose sailing in 20-25 knots of wind, and the boat continued to shake us up, We both went into hunker down mode, which consisted of 3hrs on and 3 hrs off, one up one down. The best place to be was in our bunks, and compared with the cockpit this was a relatively calm place to be. I lived on muesli bars, and Tom tried to keep some water down. Waves were continually breaking across the deck, it was like someone throwing a bucket of water in your face every 10 minutes, and then every hour or so the cockpit would become awash with a larger wave. The auto helm (Wilson) was steering like a pro; the sails were well balanced (two reefs in the main and a few rolls in the headsail). Being passengers and not having to steer meant weren?t too fatigued, the wetness however gradually made its way through our wet weather gear and then the warm clothes beneath, lowering our morale. We left all our gear on all the time and retired to our bunks wet. The thermarests we had instead of squabs to sleep on really came into their own, as they didn?t absorb the water and were surprisingly comfortable. On one of these dark nights we hit something in the water, there was a loud thud at the bow and the boat was slowed from 5kts Boat speed to 2. We looked over the side to see a large glowing mass, pass down our starboard side. Thoughts of punctures in the hull raced through our minds as we raced forward to inspect for damage and leaks. We could find none internally, and it was impossible see much externally. We reported the event at our next sched and were informed Surreal had hit a whale that night also. Another night we were riveted to channel 16 as the drama unfolded around Fine lines dismasting, we felt for them. We hadn?t seen any other boats since the second night, and for some reason presumed that they were all ahead (your mind plays tricks on you out there). Our course took us straight to New Plymouth and as we closed the coast we had to make a decision, do we carry on or stop. We did have a concern, the bilges were filling with water, despite none coming through from above. We decided to go in and check it out. Once in, we discovered our freshwater tank (a bladder) had ruptured. This was a relief and after the discovery we were keen to get back out there, spirits were restored. The lads from Andar came over for a chat (they almost lost their keel and thei yacht was currently suspended from a crane not far from us). We had enough one litre bottles and a 10 litre container of emergency water on board to sort the problem. We also took our time here to get a handle on the weather forecast so we could plan our approach to Cook Straight. There was to be a bit of a blow that night, easing, then going light then a NW change late morning. We made our move heading out there into 35knots on the nose, not before being becalmed for another 4 hrs. On our way out we passed Windarra heading back in to NP. We tacked amongst the oil rigs throughout the night, ready for the run into Cook Straight the next day. Before getting the good wind, we had to endure being becalmed again for another 5 hrs. Then at about 1pm it finally came, and out came the spinnakers, high fives all round. As the wind steadily built we changed our sails, until we had aired most of our wardrobe. The run through Cook Straight was a white knuckle ride in the dark, it was a jet black night with no moon, and I saw nothing of Cook straight. We kept the fractional kite up for as long as we dared, getting to a top speed of 15knots. It was full concentration on the helm, to avoid a gybe, the confused seas, requiring some anticipation ( push, pull, PUSH). I was dosed up on ?v? drinks and chocolate coated coffee beans to keep alert. Tom was calling the shots from the GPS much as a rally car drivers navigator does. Eventually we had to drop the kite and I did this by gut feeling. The wind was building so we proceeded with two reefs only. We were about to experience the wind factory, I feared for the rig going through here, as the boat would surf down steep wave faces. As we turned, the wind just got stronger and stronger, as we planed down waves at 15kts. This is the first time I have really surfed in Mix T Motions, and we were getting 20-30 second runs, going faster and faster, exhilarating and frightening at the same time. It was a relief to turn into the wind again for the beat up Wellington Harbour in 30 knots, having good pressure meant we didn?t have any issues with tides or rips, and although we were exhausted, we were soon across the finish line. It was about 5.30 in the morning. We had made it to Wellington.  5 days and 19 hrs had elapsed. We had crossed ahead of Open Country, Windarra, and Halo. We were 2nd on PHRF for division 4 behind Halo and 10th overall on PHRF.