Cook Strait Crossing Story- Ali

8 12 2008

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Yep we both made it, albeit about 8 nm apart. I’d borrowed Kevs board which was way better than mine would have been but still not quite a floaty as Louis big barge. I struggled a bit in the light winds and couldn’t point as far upwind as Louis so eventually ended up south of Tory Channel, Louis hit the mainland exactly as planned at Perano Head about 4 nm north of Tory
Channel.

Once out of the bay at Makara (total nightmare in light wind dead onshore and lots of kelp) we got good wind for about 40 mins then it dropped to zero and we hung out with kites in the water , the wind came back but it was only about 10 -12 kts , we both had to work the kites but Louis was a bit more efficient and managed to stay on the planned heading. I worked my way slowly south into the shipping lanes regularly hitting 5 knots.

We were about to pull the pin on my trip and the boat was on the way to get me when the wind came back and I got going again. After the ok from the coast guard and quick scurry across the mouth off Tory Channel. I ended up about 500 yrds of the coast up against some big cliffs. The wind started getting funky and I had the strongest gusts of the trip and a couple of lofts then it all died about 100 yards out and I swam to shore.

Meanwhile Louis was in good pressure further north and trying to tack up wind to give him a chance at a quick touch , turn and trip back to Makara. Eventually he touched land at Perano Head and keen for more headed back towards the North Island.

I was way too far south to contemplate the return trip and the cliff landing hadn’t been nice to my gear so the boat came down and picked me up.

Louis was ripping in steady 18 -20 on the way back and we struggled to make ground on him, its way harder work doing 15kts in a 20ft boat in rough seas than it is doing 20kts on a kite.

With the magic of VHF, Spot and Telecom we tracked Louis down 2 hours later – he was about 7nm northwest of Makara. We knew it was 10kts lighter on the Wellington side so he had taken a wide northern circle looking to approach Makara downwind as the wind dropped of. He was making very hard yards of it in about 8 kts of wind when we found him. He persevered for another 1 1/2 hours relaunching every 20 minutes but eventually the kite could not stay in the sky so we pulled the pin 3 nm northwest of Makara.

It was quite cool at times bobbing away by yourself in the middle of the strait waiting (praying) for enough wind to relaunch, but next time I think we will wait for a gruntier forecast.

Ali

Thanks to Dion and Willi for the photos.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/yakers/sets/72157610947914159/

Note: I came across this previous attempt which came close to our experience.