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Firefly - New Zealand to the Minerva Reef

Firefly started the passage to Tonga at 1030 on Saturday 2nd May. Leaving the Bay of Islands in beautiful weather with very light winds we motored away as part of the ICA's Pacific Circuit Rally. A start line had been set off the Opua Boat Club and as the signal sounded the fleet crossed the line with their engines roaring away - all except for Firefly who gently sailed across at the far end of the line - and then started the diesel.

During the preparations we had reviewed the weather forecast on many occasions to ensure we were leaving at a good time for this potentially difficult trip. We therefore anticipated 24 hours motoring and during that spell that it would pay to head out to the East as much as possible. The expected point of sailing once the wind arrived was a close or beam reach and it did look like the conditions would be really good.

However, its not turned out that well so far! Its now Monday late afternoon and all day we have been hard on the wind and are currently not able to head directly for Minerva Reef, our planned stop before Tonga. The sea has been very rough and the apparent wind has reached 30 knots at times so its been quite uncomfortable as well as being slow going. As the day went on we gradually reefed down more and more as the wind built up - and now just as its getting dark its eased off and headed further - and there is a strong counter current out here. Oh well, such is life!

So the engine is on to give Firefly some assistance through the choppy sea and in order to top up the batteries. South Minerva Reef is now 500 miles away slightly east if north - we had originally hoped to drop anchor in the lagoon late on Thursday afternoon but at the current rate we might not make it in before dark on Friday and its definately only a daylight entry kind of place.

Anyway its good that the wind has moderated somewhat and it is getting noticeably warmer as we get closer once again to the tropics so its not all bad!

Paul and Susie

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