The New Zealand Passage “from Hell”


I always knew the passage to New Zealand was going to be bad, as so many cruisers had been keen to share tales of horror on this particular passage, which is why I refused to do the passage without crew. And Hell Yeah, It certainly lived up to its reputation of being rough, providing my hamster like imagination with ample opportunity for marathon sessions on it’s crazy spinning wheel.

The first night out was something of a ‘baptism of fire’! As Bob and Ben did triple shifts throughout the night to steer us around and away from the lightening storms and heavy squalls that chased and surrounded us from dusk till dawn. This was only a gentle introduction as to what we had ahead of us.

The fourth night out had us skimming along at 8 knots, heeled over with the toerail in the water and Daisy leaping up and down over the huge waves, I was unable to move about the boat at all without falling or crashing into something, forget about preparing meals, so I spent the best part of 36 hours in bed – praying…

With 60+ knot gusts recorded three times in the night, and consistent 40+ knots all through the night on our eighth night at sea, Daisy skimmed sideways through the enormous angry seas, being swallowed up and puked out by the ocean over and over again. Watertight hatches and portholes were put to the test to within an inch of their lives. Bob and Ben were on deck, both drenched through to the skin from the freezing water, as they fought to control sails and lines while the waves swamped and flooded the cockpit.

Around 1pm, I heard Trish calling on the vhf, she kept calling and calling, I was waiting for Bob or Ben to answer when I suddenly realized they probably couldn’t hear with all the noise up on deck, from my hiding place under the covers I made a dash for the nav station and grabbed the vhf to answer her. Babe was sailing close by and needed to change course which would mean they would cross in front of Daisy. I relayed the message to Bob through the partially opened hatch, and then grabbed a shot of whisky from the liquor cabinet for a little Dutch courage, while I manned the vhf for an hour. As soon as Babe had adjusted her course in front of us and we were both back on the right course again, I went dashing back to the bedroom, diving under the covers. Sadly, this wasn’t an uneventful dash as a wave hit us as I entered the galley and I was suddenly lifted into the air and hurled across the boat, my flight through the air was only interrupted by a collision with the bedroom door. Oh yet more bruises…

As usual during rough weather I spent most of the storm in bed under the covers, lee cloth up, cowering like the nervous ninny I am. I wouldn’t have been of any use to anyone anyway, with both my bravado and my sense of adventure having packed their suitcases, jumped ship, and headed back to Tahiti for a well deserved vacation, leaving me a totally useless basket case.

Twelve hours of absolutely, terrifying, freezing living hell. Enormous rogue waves smashed into the side of Daisy, making the entire boat shudder violently, each time it felt and sounded as though we had collided with a tanker. This passage was much worse than anything I had been prepared for, I couldn’t help wondering whether we would ever survive it.

Bob listens in to the net every morning, as there are several boats navigating the same course as us, its a way we all stay in touch with each other. Since that horrible night two of the boats have been out of contact, no one has been able to get through to them, I only pray they are OK.
Two days later we heard one of the boats was just sixty miles behind us. I’m waiting on news of the other one.

This passage is the scariest thing I’ve ever lived through, I will absolutely NOT ever be doing it again!. Neptune what did I ever do to you to bring your wrath down upon us, although we survived “Thank you” so maybe you were taking care of us after all…

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