Day 8, dawn rose and we knew we were approaching the infamous South Pacific Convergence Zone – the so-called Beast! In technical terms easterly winds from the tropics collide with more southerly winds bought on from down south. At times all is calm but at times there is a right old argument between the two and you are guaranteed grey skies, squalls and rain. Just an average day in the English channel really.
When we left Bora Bora the Beast wasn’t in our forecast but since then he has rather rudely invited himself (or is it a she?) to our passage. We were trundling along upwind rather nicely when the winds just died. No problem, furl away the Genoa (not a biscuit, not a town – thank you for the amusing comments posted!), engine on, water maker on. Two minutes later it’s the Beast at the door with a very sudden and loud 16 knots of breeze. No problem, please come in but do sit and behave and give us consistent winds and no need for the rain. Chances are like me saying no to a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (for the record we keep a dry boat on passage).
The Beast sat and huffed and puffed and tried to blow our little house Adina down. And it rained and washed the boat very nicely. But we are wiser ocean sailors now. A little sail comes out, and if the Beast’s cheeks turn black, we furl some sail away. But you have to keep an eye on him as he does like to give the occasional surprise. So games and reading weren’t much on the menu today. But saying that Susie made truly excellent fish sandwiches out of the Wahoo. Anyone who has been on Adina knows how Susie makes wonderful food in tough conditions.
Sunset comes and the winds always seem to get a little excited. 7pm and Susie goes down to sleep with the words “I quite like that you do this first session as the winds are the worst and then you can tell me what the rest of the night will be like”.
It was certainly a night for keeping alert, sails going in and out trying to keep the Beast at bay. Dark menacing clouds meant for action. The moon could just not get through the clouds.
Come dawn the Beast has left. However we have some late party crashers in the form of strong winds and 3.5m waves forecast for Saturday and our ride into Niue on Sunday. But starting to get some good boat speed and crossing fingers we’ll be in before sunset on Sunday.