The Passage Waiting Game
With the exception of passages to weather, we’ve never really had to wait for weather windows. For as long as we’ve been cruising, when we say “we’ll start looking for a weather window on X date” we have nearly always had an immediate, too close in time window that requires us to scramble to prep or to check out of the country. Instead of fighting boredom and working on our patience, we have historically had to make certain we aren’t rushing and leaving so quickly that we (and the boat) are underprepared.
And so it is with some amusement that I note that we are getting shut down on our upcoming passage to Australia.
I have been watching the weather in between New Caledonia and Australia on and off for months, and I have not seen such disturbed weather, for such a long period of time, between the two, until now. There was a decent, albeit strong wind window before we were ready to start looking and since then the weather windows have either involved long sections of motoring or big fronts (and associated strong wind and seas) anticipated at arrival. We are listening to the relevant SSB nets to monitor boats on passage, checking the windows we didn’t take and so far, we correctly predicted that they weren’t the right windows for us.
The nice thing about Australia is that although we have preferences on where we make landfall we have nearly 700 miles of coastline, interspersed with legal arrival ports, as a target. This is wildly different from most of the passage making we have done in which we have to arrive at a very specific point in the sea, where there is a pass into an atoll or a safe arrival path into a single clearance port. On the other hand, this is a longer passage, which makes it more difficult to time generally, to a country which is fussy about after hours and weekend clearances, which makes the timing important.
And so we wait and watch. We have another two weeks or so before our visas expire. Depending on who you listen to the S Pacific hurricane season has either already begun or begins at the end of the month. Little pressures that we snuff out before they grow in our minds.
Waiting and watching means keeping the boat in a constant state of near readiness. We have done all of our pre-passage chores. The boat is tidy. We have bought what groceries we could buy in advance for the passage, then eaten them, and now are readying to buy them again. We are still kiting, swimming, and playing, but every move has to be planned with the passage in mind. We can bring out gear if we have time to let it dry and pack it away before leaving…
At the same time that we become antsy, we also don’t want to leave. The tropics at this latitude are starting to truly feel like summer. The weather is glorious, the already excellent kiting conditions now include warmer water and constant sunshine. There is a reason that cyclone season is considered by some to be the best time to cruise. We are very, very jealous of our friends with EU passports who get more than 3 months in French territories.