"Arctracer" Letters

Leaving New Caledonia, Nov 2002

We have finally prepared ourselves and the boat for a voyage to New Zealand. We waited for a front to pass over Noumea on Monday with rain and strong winds. We traveled around town in the rain to check out with all the officials and get our papers in order. Monday night we took friends from two New Zealand boats out to dinner. Today, Tuesday, we got duty-free liquor and diesel and filled our water tanks. Then we motorsailed to Amadee Island and tied to a mooring. This island has the tallest lighthouse in New Caledonia (172 feet) and is just inside a pass through the reef which surrounds Grand Terre. After a good night's`sleep we will go through the pass early tomorrow morning and aim towards New Zealand. The wind is still a bit strong today (20-25 knots) and the seas are still lumpy. Our friends are waiting for a couple more days in hopes the weather will improve. We know it will be a bit bumpy tomorrow, but not really bad, and there is a big high pressure system moving into our path which should give us some excellent sailing a few days from now. There are always reasons to wait, but this weather is pretty good, and we're ready, and it's time to get out of the cyclone area, so we're going.

This passage may take more than two weeks, especially if we have to slow down for bad weather. Our course will probably be towards Norfolk Island at first. That is west of the rhumb line from here to the top of New Zealand, but will probably be the best we can do with the prevailing southeasterly trade winds. After we get further south we should get winds from other directions and be able to sail more directly to NZ. Most boats on this passage clear into NZ at Opua, but we will decide where to go when we get closer and know what the weather will be along that coast.

We will check our phone for messages daily. If we have some calm weather we may send email to let you know how it's going. We will let you know when we arrive.