Short voyage before the off
Apr 2, 2014 | General
The last few days have been full of preparation, having been given the go-ahead by our weather man to set off on Monday. During the week we took GREY WOLF over to Great Barrier Island which is a five-hour trip. Matt and I took watches of 2½ hours each, which gave me a taste of what to expect during our long voyage.
This place seems to specialise in amazing sunsets and I got my first sightings of dolphins. You can look at all the pictures and TV you like, but when you see them under your own bows and hear them blowing, it’s like they’re your new best friends.
We anchored in one of the many secluded bays at Great Barrier and in between being awestruck by the magic of the place we had a safety briefing on flares, deployment of the life raft and such-like which I understand is pretty standard. What was fascinating was the drogue anchor for use in deep-sea storms. Most boats don’t carry anything like that and, while you hope you never have to get this stuff out at sea, it makes you think how formidable the open ocean is. I’m beginning to appreciate all the preparation that has gone into this epic journey.
Great Barrier wasn’t all work, and we did have some R and R. Catching snapper from the tender then eating it ten minutes later isn’t quite like buying a packet of fish fingers from Tesco. Taking in our surroundings and swimming in the South Pacific waters, I can’t quite believe all this is happening. I feel privileged.
On the trip back to the mainland Matt and I took watch again. This time it was overnight which is a completely different beast to sailing during the day. The surprise ‘man overboard’ exercise just before the sunset with me at the helm was pretty nerve-racking even if we were only using a buoy. I can only imagine the sense of urgency and distress during a real MOB situation.
We are now back in Whangarei, itching to get going. GREY WOLF gets lifted today for a hull clean-off and a prop polish, which I am told will give an extra ¼ knot. This might not sound much, but it will save valuable fuel and give us 6 miles extra every day we’re out there. On the 22-day trip from Tahiti to Panama that’s 132 miles GREY WOLF will win for nothing, which is well over half a day. ‘Every little helps!’