Sabbatical III course change

Sorry we have not written for 36 hours but the weather changed
quite suddenly. Yesterday morning we had calm seas and light
winds. I downloaded GRIB weather files first thing after waking
to check on the wind forecast and look for any approaching
weather issues. I was surprised to see a low pressure system
forming to the north and west and a five day forecast that
predicted that it would move quickly southeast and intensify as
it went. I quickly charted our course relative to this tropical
low pressure system and realized we would come right into to it
by Monday just a couple of hundred miles north of the North
Island of New Zealand.

We immediately abandoned our course south to New Zealand and
headed due west so as to stay above 30 degrees south. The grib
files suggested that effects of this system would not be strong
above 30 degrees south and by moving west, we could only
intersect the system when it was not well developed and could
not yet interact with a high pressure ridge south of us in the
Tasman Sea. I emailed Bob McDavitt at the NZ Meteorological
Service and he quickly wrote back affirming that going west was
the most prudent course.

Two hours after changing course we ran into a mini-weather
system that knocked us around for about 14 hours with 30 knot
winds, rain, and big seas. Heading west we had the wind from
behind but that meant we had no protection from the cockpit
dodger/windscreen. It was freezing and wet out there. I had on
long underwear and four layers of clothes on top plus two wool
caps. Today Laura and I remembered that we had purchased a zip
in place “succoth” of clear plastic that fully enclosed the
front half of the cockpit from winds and rain coming from
behind. We put it up and it makes a huge difference — it’s our
own little three-season porch.

The grib weather files today show that the minimum pressure in
this system will not be as low as thought yesterday, so it will
be less strong, but it is tracking further north. The bottom
line is that it will be uncomfortable but not dangerous. We
will come under the influence of this low pressure system
starting after midnight Sunday/Monday and into the day Monday
(local time). It is fast moving and its effects, except for
sloppy seas, will be gone by Monday night. It is quite
difficult to send emails under these conditions so do not worry
if you do not hear from us for a spell. We need to save our
concentration for sailing the boat and downloading and
interpreting weather information.

This afternoon we spotted a sail a few mile astern and hailed
the vessel on the radio. It is the American sail boat Bahati.
We sat with Bahati at the Tongan Feast along with Ben. They are
are doing the same “go west” course as us and report that Roxi,
another boat we know well, is behind them and a few other sail
boats are within a couple of hundred miles all heading west as
well. As this rate we will be in Madagascar before New Zealand.
All of this will add three days to our trip but we have all
that we need on board.

We caught up on sleep during the day today as conditions
improved. It is now 4:10 pm local time on Saturday Nov 10,
which is 0310 UTV Nov 10. Our position is

S 27 degrees 18 minutes
E 177 degrees 22 minutes (yes, that is E for east)

course is 270 degrees magnetic, wind 20 knots from the ESE,
speed 6.7 knots.