Across the back of the sleeping giant

Position: 39 19.00 S, 173 4.00 E
SOG (kts): 5.5
Last night the Easterly haboob settled down to a nice 10-15 knot breeze, and I shot out of bed just as daylight broke to scan the horizon. The anchorage was alive with amazing bird calls echoing among the hills. The bird calls on NZ mornings are remarkable–Kelsey and I think they sound like UFOs or strange avatar birds from a sci-fi. Out toward Farewell Spit, the water was ruffled and stirred, blowing nicely on a beam course. Privateer was ready. Unfortunately, the electric autopilot was not ready! I tried to do a quick wiring fix before we left the anchorage but to no avail. It’s been acting up for some time now and I probably should’ve gotten a new one immediately upon arrival in NZ… alas, these things always crap out at the worst possible moment! The winds were light enough later on (7-8 kts) that with all sails set and the engine running, we can use the big Monitor blade to steer the boat with the servo-pendulum. But as soon as the winds drop to light, which they are forecast to do tonight and tomorrow…we will have to hand-steer. We are looking forward to 24 hrs from now, when the west-south-westerlies are supposed to fill in behind the high. At the moment, we are on it’s leading edge and the winds grow more fickle by the hour… What a contrast to the Tasman Sea that my Dad and I sailed last October! Where there were raging walls of white-water before, are now calm plans of riffled seas and sparkling sunshine. Our electric autopilot failure is small change compared to the atrocities of the inbound voyage before. Our goal is to get the “Stephens” weather forecast zone astern of us before she piles up the seas again, which she is forecast to do. With no intentions of a repeat, we are piling on all sail & steam to make northbound progress away from it once and for all. (Pause–Taz just pooped and I must retire to the poop deck momentarily…) Ok…that was a big one! Taz is all smiles now that he’s worked out his first poop at sea. Anyway, we will hopefully only have 24 hours or so of hand-steering before the Monitor can be set again, engine switched off, and a downwind course shaped for the northern tip of NZ. The winds that will hopefully carry us there are rushing northward to fill the low as cyclone Tuni makes her way southward toward NZ as she weakens. For now, our “motor-monitor” is working well enough, keeping us a few miles on either side of the line with occasional tweaking. We’re passing through a field of offshore oil rigs tonight. At first, I was alarmed when I saw what I thought was a flare, and then realized it was a giant tower sticking up out of the ocean, with a massive flame-head. It was a very strange sight! As the sun sets we can see various flames and platforms lit up like miniature cities.

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