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Trans-Tasman crossing March 2019: Southport, Australia to Opua & Auckland, New Zealand

Crossing the Tasman Sea is one of the most revered ocean crossings on the planet. With nothing but open ocean from the bottom of Australia/New Zealand to Antartica; 1,000nm to the south, the ocean swell can build in height with no land to stop it for more than 2,500nm until it hits the shores of the Pacific Islands. There are many reasons why more people have climbed Mount Everest than have sailed across the Tasman Sea and the rapidly changing nature of the Tasman Sea’s weather system is one of them.

The meals

David’s amazing wife prepares all of the offshore meals and they are all home made. His philosophy is that the food has to be a highlight of the voyage, so that even if the sailing or weather is tough, there is always something to look forward to everyday. We use the foil catering trays as they are simple to heat in the oven and eat on the rail with a fork only. No dishes to wash is always a bonus in heavy weather. The idea came from Steven Humphris who has done a lot of racing with us.

Oceam Gem meals Tasman Passage
Meals Tasman Passage

Day 1

Ocean Gem is making good progress flying along at 7 kts with the code zero. Good wind angle which should only improve further into the trip. Very hot conditions and a few sea sick crew

Day 2

Day 2 ⛵️
Ocean Gem is making great progress but there have been challenges. 🤔
“Day 2 and wind went NW and they were able to start reaching in 12 -15 knots. Tough night last night. 17-22 knots with spinnaker up in challenging seas, David had to helm all night as conditions and sea state proved difficult for the crew to steer. David finally went off watch at 9am and woke up at 2pm. Raining at the moment and reaching again with main and jib. On track to get to Opua NZ some time Friday.”

Day 4

Day 3 – day 4. 
Latest news from David and the Ocean Gem crew by satphone messenger service.
“ Day 4 saw grey skies turn to steady drizzle and rain at times with lightning on the horizon. Reaching with full main and number 3 jib and we did overnight -1 hour on 3 hours off, watches from inside the cabin with autopilot on, because of the steady rain. Every 20 mins we checked for traffic and checked sails etc. Today is more of the same we have 13-15 knots, drizzle and an ETA of Friday afternoon into Opua. 1 crew member is still struggling a bit with sea sickness but everyone else is okay and seas are 1 metre most of the time. We did 191nm for the last 24 hours which is a great run.

Day 5

📫Trans Tasman crossing – Day 5 report via Satphone message. 📞
“Day 5 saw grey skies and occasional rain with reaching conditions in 8 -18 knots. Overnight helming was difficult with no stars, moon or horizon. It was completely blacked out by the low cloud base. Going into day 6 the sun is out, with blue skies and we are trucking along doing 8 knots and starting to go up wind now as the wind goes from NW to N and eventually NE by Friday. We should round Cape Reinga by day break on Friday and get into Opua after the final 100nm run down the coast early Friday evening. Crew are all well and doing a great job on the helm. “

Day 6

⛵️CLOSING IN ON NZ… latest report from David and the crew…”
Day 6 blue skies and back to upwind sailing in 12-15 knots. The northerly current is really strong again and hitting us beam on at 3-4 knots pushing us 20-30 degrees below our heading. It’s been 2-2.5 kts most of the time since departing Southport and 3-4 kts close to both coasts. On track to sail past Cape Reing at dawn Friday morning and get into Bay of Islands late afternoon.”

Day 7

Ocean Gem made it! Just passing North Cape with Cape Reinga in the background after a 7 day Tasman crossing.

We completed our 1,300nm sail from Southport, Australia to Opua, New Zealand in 7.5 days. We had the cool experience of 7 days on a port tack, reach or run as the wind fluctuated from E to N to NW most of the passage às we sailed ESE across the Tasman Sea and never experienced more than 22 knots with 8-15 the norm. Even a fair weather passage has its challenges and we experienced failure of a bow fitting that holds down the bow sprit (while Code 0 was up) and breaking our rudder cable 2 days out of Opua. 

We then arrived at the Quarantine Dock at 7pm and were instructed to remain overnight until Officers were due at 9am to complete clearance. By 9pm we had a crew member in extreme pain and had to call Customs to get clearance to call an ambulance and move Ocean Gem off the isolated Quarantine Dock to the fuel sick to offload 2 crew (1 as support) to head immediately via ambulance to the nearest hospital. 

Customs were extremely helpful and even cleared in our 2 crew members by SMS from the hospital room today. By 1pm today we had our steering cable replaced courtesy of Paul Smith from NZ Yacht Services who helped us out on a Saturday when others said no. Our crew member was also discharged from hospital and we departed by 4pm for a night sail to the City of Sails – Auckland.

David’s review

“Our Trans Tasman crossing from Southport to Auckland was one of my most enjoyable passages so far. It’s always the people that make a race, regatta or ocean passage special and this group of 4 that joined me on the 9 day passage were an exceptional bunch. Support for each other and lots of humour are the magic ingredients for any great adventure.”

Website Ocean Gem

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