Cook Strait Crossing Geoff and Graciela – 3 Jan 2017

Crew: Geoff and Graciela

After the high winds of the last few days we were a bit cautious about the planned crossing for Tuesday 3 Jan. Gale warning for the day before and also the day after, but all the forecasts indicated the weather was going to be OK for Tuesday with southerlies dying out to variable 10 kts changing to northerly raising to 15 kts in the afternoon with southerly swell 2 mts.

According LBYC Website the instructions for travelling Eastbound are: “Leave Tory Channel 2 hours after the tidal stream commences setting E. You will have a favourable tidal stream across Cook Strait – Cape Terawhiti – Sinclair Head area.” LINZ information shows Tory Ch tide commences setting E at 1326 hrs so we should pass through at 1530 hrs. However in the interests in getting home before dark we decided to go an hour earlier.

Departed from Picton at 1117 hrs and quietly cruised up Tory Channel reaching the entrance at 1415 hrs. I noticed that in spite of the flat calm seas in the Tory Channel I could see white water breaking on the rocks at the East Head. With the tidal current we were doing 8.6 kts SOG by now. Graciela was down below and I called her to put on her life jacket and come up to the cockpit.Before she had a chance to get on deck we hit the big waves. One of them came right over the bow and due to the front hatch not being fully closed we got a drenching a water flooding into the V berth. Oops!

Within 10 minutes we were in calm seas again once we left the Tory Channel entrance. We then had a nice sail across the Cook Strait averaging 6 kts SOG. Once we reached the point due south of Cape Terawhiti at 1645 hrs the excitement started again. Massive southerly swells were coming towards us on our starboard side and we were racing along at 9-10 kts SOG with the #3 Genoa and 2 reefs in the Mainsail. Biggest seas I’ve been in so far with Halo. Sometimes it looked like a wall of water in front of us.

Halo managed very well cutting through the waves smoothly and we never felt in any danger. We kept the autopilot in action as it was coping well but decided to keep heading south to keep the swells on our bow until after we passed south of Thoms Rock and the sea settled down.

Transited Chaffers Passage at 1840 hrs and had to motor into the northerly into the harbour until we passed Kau Point and we were able to sail the rest of the way on a nice fast starboard beam reach arriving back at Chaffers Marina at 2000 hrs and Jenny came down to meet us. We made it!

Total trip: 50.47 Nmi, Avg speed 5.74 kts, Time enroute: 0847 hrs.

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