15 September 2012

So here is the plan

Since a few people have asked me what the plan is, and it appears to be a good idea to have one.

Part One, to New Zealand

I plan to leave Sydney in early December of 2013.  The first stop will be Lord Howe Island where I've been before of course (with Caroline, Neil and Tig on Chiara Stella, and previously on Rainbow). I will stay there for perhaps a week or so, looking for a good weather window to head east.

Next stop will be somewhere in New Zealand.  I plan to spend most of late January and February in Lyttleton & Christchurch on the South Island, where I'll kit up for the next part of the trip.  Lyttleton, at least according to the noonsite entry, doesn't appear to be the best place for a long stay, although at that time of the year I'm hoping the influence of the southerlies aren't too bad.  Neither is it the best port of entry, and so the route will take one of two alternatives:
  • If the passage looks unusually good, through the Cook Strait.  It's a notoriously bad piece of water, though, and most of my NZ sailing friends offer the simple advice "don't go there".
  • More likely as per the map above, around the top of the North Island, to Opua as port of entry, and then down the (relatively sheltered) east coast until we reach Lyttleton.
There may be a stop in Auckland, and less likely a stop in Wellington.  The latter involves braving at least part of the Cook Strait, and so I'm inclined to avoid it.

Southern Ocean Leg, to Raivavae

The next part of the trip will be a reach across the Southern Ocean and roaring forties, and then up to a port called Raivavae in French Polynesia.  This is definitely the most adventurous part of the journey, in that it involves sailing in latitudes most traversed by foolhardy round-the-worlders, and so a few people have asked me the usual "WTF?" type questions about doing that leg.  The simple answers are:
  • It's all downwind, the forties running west to east whereas the prevailing winds in more northern latitudes are east to west.
  • Given that, it's the best and fastest way of getting there that doesn't involve going around the world or beating upwind.
  • I have a big heavy safe ocean going boat and I want to try it out.
  • It sounds like fun.
I'm neither foolish enough nor misanthropic enough to tackle this leg on my own, and so I'll be taking two crew, potentially all the way from Sydney but at least from Lyttleton.  Anyone hitting this from the usual yachting sites know what's involved, so the crew will be people who know what they are doing on a yacht.

Extended Pacific Ocean Holiday

Where to from there?  I haven't really decided.

I plan to spend most of the French Polynesian leg in the Society Islands -- so places to stop will include Bora Bora, Raiatea, Moorea and of course Tahiti.

I don't plan to spend too long in French Polynesia, it has the reputation of being expensive.  On the other hand I don't plan to go anywhere fast and if I find an anchorage, a good book to read, or some code to write, then I'll stay as long as I feel like.

From French Polynesia it's downwind sailing most of the way back to the Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and then Australia.  Along the way I plan to visit some of the off-the-beaten-track places such as Suwarrow atoll and some other islands and coral cays -- inhabited or uninhabited.

I don't have a fixed date to return to Australia, and if I do then it will most likely be Brisbane or Cairns.  However I'm thinking that arrival in French Polynesia will probably be April or May 2014, and I may stay for an extended period in Vanuatu and so it will probably be mid 2015 or 2016 before I reach Australia again.

For all of the above (after the Southern Ocean leg) I will be sending out regular updates, and inviting friends (new and old) to join me for a week or two's sailing, or longer, whatever takes your fancy.

The stay in Australia will be to hide for a cyclone season or two, and then continue over the top, to Darwin, Indonesia, perhaps the southern Philippines, perhaps parts of Malaysia, and then to the coast of Vietnam.  In Vietnam I plan to visit Nha Trang and Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City) and renew my acquaintance with people there, and perhaps stay a while.  The next major port of call will be Singapore, via the Gulf of Thailand and the islands there.

None of that has dates planned yet, I'll do that after I reach Vanuatu.  Perhaps.