12/11/2014 – The final 24 hours.

We started the night with the wind behind, mainly in the 20-25 knot range but I had a sustained gust of 35 just before midnight. We were sailing fast, averaging about 7.5 knots, occasionally getting up to 8 knots without any help from the tide. Just after I did the 0000hrs logbook entry I went up on deck and within 15 minutes the wind suddenly backed 90 degrees, the jib gybed and the mainsail tried to but the gybe preventer did its job. Involuntary gybes can do a lot of damage, even pulling the rig down in some cases. I yelled for John while struggling to get the autopilot to turn us with the help of the engine. It took about 45 minutes to sort out the sails, the heading, the other gybe preventer etc. In daylight it would have been much quicker, we could have seen what we were doing. John would also have been more awake and maybe we wouldn't have sailed two circles! By the time John had found another screw to fix down the saddle which one of the bimini straps goes through, and which had got pulled out by the mainsheet when the boom went across, he was wide awake. If the gybe hadn't happened we would have gybed under control at the next watch change because we would have reached our next waypoint. (For those who don't know what a gybe is: a gybe occurs when the wind goes from one side of the sails to the other via the back so the boom can slam from well out one side to well out the other. Tacking takes the wind from one side to the other via the front so at the point where you go 'through the wind' there is no force on the sail, much gentler and safer.) When dawn came I spotted another casualty of this trip. The gas boom strut, which should pull the boom down when sailing by means of a block and tackle and push it up when the sail is away, had pulled apart. It was not capable of pushing the boom up because the 'gas' part of the system failed on the way to Fiji and we haven't managed to buy a replacement yet but its downward pull still worked. The cause of the failure this time was the fixing at the bottom of the block which attaches to the bottom of the mast to pull the end of the strut down. With nothing to pull the boom down the sail filled with wind behind, billowing forward and lifting the boom, pulling the strut apart. This wasn't dangerous, it just meant we wouldn't manage to trim the sail and achieve the most efficient shape. With morning came light rain, periods of stronger wind and a forecast which hadn't improved. We continued to sail or motorsail as fast as possible because we didn't know if the weather would deteriorate. In the event, we got winds in the 30-35 knot range and light showers every time it clouded over and then everything settled down until the next cloud loomed ahead! The only really wet bit was on the final stage in The Bay of Islands, less than 10 miles from Opua Wharf. We arrived on the Quarantine Dock at about 1920hrs New Zealand Summer Time, which is UT + 13. We had been running on ship's local time, an hour behind NZ but an hour ahead of New Caledonia to maximise the daylight hours when we were both awake. Customs had gone home so we managed to eat our last dinner, Beef Bourguignon with carrots and squash followed by tinned fruit salad, the last of the rehydrated golden apples and cream. The rest of the evening was spent getting 'shipshape', making the bed up in the foreward cabin, clearing up the piles of damp clothes, oilies, spare jumpers and the on passage bed in the saloon and restowing everything which had tacked itself onto the floor in the aft cabin! John did a mountain of washing up and hung up his very wet oilies ('Oilskins', generic term for wet weather clothes, also called 'Foulies') in the cockpit. Customs and Biosecurity could arrive any time after 0800hrs so we set an 0630hrs alarm. Breakfast was fried, sliced tomatoes, ham and grated cheese on toast, very tasty. I started to get all the ingredients ready to make up a chewy granola bar recipe, John got the eggbox from the fridge and discovered that the last egg was broken so no chewy granola bars. A final hiccup: we ran out of gas when John put the kettle on! We knew it might not last which is why I have used the Remoska as often as possible in the past few weeks. We have an emergency supply, the BBQ bottle, just a smaller propane tank than the main cooking ones so we did get the cooked breakfast. So far I have bagged 1 slightly shrivelled carrot, 1 little onion, most of a bulb of garlic, 1 lime and a couple of slices, 1 very shrivelled piece of ginger root and one broken egg. Later. Customs arrived first, it was quite painless. We have a 6 month visa automatically as British citizens and it will be easy to extend them by 2 months if necessary, the only problem is that they didn't stamp our passports. Biosecurity arrived a little later. Again, it wasn't a difficult visit and they only took what I expected and left other items that I suspected they might take. Of the 8 opened bags and 2 unopened bags of beans etc and a box of pearl barley, which I had sorted out in advance, they took the butter beans, cannelini beans, red kidney beans and black beans but left us two part bags of chickpeas, 1 unopened and 1 part bag of lentils and the box of pearl barley. They looked at the dried fruit and it passed inspection and they weren't worried about the dried or frozen vegetables. As expected, the tuna and mahi-mahi caught on passage and filleted were not a problem. We now need a big shopping expedition to restock with meat, ham, eggs and pulses, fruit and vegetables. We finally moved into the marina just before midday. I am glad we weren't still at sea as it has rained quite heavily on and off all day and the wind is very cold as forecast. John spent the afternoon sourcing spare parts for repairs and I did two machine loads of washing and drying. I apologise for the delay in posting this but wi-fi is surprisingly hard to come by here! Joyce

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