A SEA STORY, if you will! After a week or so with our amazing new mates on Chatham Island, Sir Chadwick and I sadly had to begin looking at the weather for our return 800-mile voyage back to Opua, North Island, NZ. There is no cell service on remote Chatham and the only wifi that we had found was at the pub where computerized weather routing tends to get a wee bit blurry at times. Despite the obvious challenges of pub routing, Chad looked up over his laptop to me working off my IPad and said "Do you see what I see skipper?" I said "Crap man! Yeah!" Typhoon Debbie had wrecked our mates in Australia and was bouncing back across the Tasman Sea right towards us! I've unintentionally sailed through three hurricanes in my past, one of which was "The Perfect Storm", and I didn't enjoy it! The only transvestite on the small island, Mr. Pink, walked by and said "Mates, staring at the storm won't change it! You better have another pint mates!" First Officer Chadwick said, "This anchorage won't protect us in a typhoon and if we can't beat Debbie to NZ, Avy can always outrun the typhoon!" That was true but running for our lives from the storm meant diving deep south even closer to Antarctica with intense cold and ice! We both felt that we had no option but to quickly provision, fuel, and water the intrepid yacht Avalanche and head back out to sea! Provisioning was pretty easy since all our new mates loaded us up with fresh pig and blue cod and we pushed our way through hundreds of doomed to slaughter sheep on the town wharf to load up with fuel and water. As soon as we could, we were hoisting Avy's working sails and I was preparing a bucket of codfish chowder for the long run to safety. We quickly sailed out of the lee in Petre Bay and into the very large ocean swells of the Southern Ocean. We both climbed into our expedition grade follies and our safety harnesses to be ready to tie ourselves to Avy's deck when the inevitable arrives. Avy, of course, loves an adventure with a wee bit of challenge so when we cracked off her sails for maximum speed, with a bone in her teeth, she blasted off the huge Pacific waves like the young athlete that she is! The lovely Avalanche lifted up her windward hull like a cute Irish girl would do with her skirt hem to some great fiddle music! This is what you would call a race and the Avy crew were swinging for the bleachers! With each weather update, Debbie appeared to be gaining speed and strength again offshore! With no tail gunner, Chad and I were praying that we wouldn't get run over by the nasty bitch Debbie! Just as we cranked up my favorite Irish punk band with bagpipes, Dropkick Murphys, for extra adrenaline, a mob of Southern Océan dolphins were drawn by the music and danced with Avy Girl at her 22.3-knot partially airborne pace. What an incredible party! Chad and I set up a watch plan so we could sustain this race pace, but this meant that there would mostly be only one man on deck in these conditions but we had no choice but to pace ourselves in this marathon race. The miles dropped off quickly and Avy was beating her computer projections! We figured out that at our speed, we were going to beat Debbie to the northern tip of the North Island by about a day but the problem still existed as to whether there would be room enough for Avy's size in the marina in Opua since every sailor in the region probably had the same plan as us. Our course was taking us pretty close to Great Barrier Island off the mainland coast so we decided to put in, make an online reservation at the marina, and get a couple of hours of sleep before the final sprint to relative safety. As we approached landfall on the mainland early the next morning we found dark storm clouds building, winds picking up, and our pulses quickening. A radio call into my friends at the Bay of Islands Marina told me that they would move other yachts around so they could squeeze Avy's tennis court size into their docks. With only hours to spare, our friends met us in dinghies and with throw lines to help Avy traverse through the tightly crowded marina and to safety. We crossed the finish line with Debbie biting at our transom! Then came the wind and the rain but Avy, the racing trimaran, was safe!
JB III, Avy's skipper, reporting in from dry, post-Debbie, and sunny skies in north NZed!