After 53 days at sea, Alvei is on the final stretch to the Tasman Bay on New Zealand’s South Island albeit the northwestern tip. She, Cpt. Evan, and the fledgling crew have encountered everything from the calms to cyclones, blown sails and backwinding, to low fuel and a canned food diet. And, they’re not out of the woods just yet.
Figure 1. Wind and Approaching Storm Model for Sunday, February 14, 2016, 8:00 a.m.
Alvei was positioned at 35.53 South 166.09 East as of 8:00 a.m. today, Sunday, February 14, 2016. The windyty.com model also shows the wind direction and speeds as well as low pressure systems (storms).
As shown on the map Alvei is located at Point 1. Her destination, Port Nelson, is at Point 2, and a great deal is about to happen before getting there. First, Storm B was originally going to head straight south and hit the North Island of New Zealand, hard, but it’s now headed due east. That’s because Storm B is being pushed east by Storm A. All that sounds good, and it is. However, that now allows Storm D to push itself up the west coast by Tuesday, and it’s Sunday night right now. So, high winds from Storm B will collide with high winds from Storm D over Point 2. Originally, the southerly direction of Storm B was going to keep Storm D under New Zealand. (Had Evan not encountered necessary maintenance on Alvei, they would have left much sooner as it’s cyclone season in the South Pacific, and we just had our third earthquake in a week.)
Fortunately for the crew, this is what Evan lives for. Also, they’ll be motoring, by then, to make a run for it. But I’ve read about Alvei’s past storm encounters, and frankly, I’m not ready for that. Evan’s friends refer to him as Captain Ahab for a reason. I just hope the new crew realizes there is hardly anyone better to learn the sea from.
Also, I keep having visions of excitedly arriving at Alvei, and climbing the rope ladder, only to hit by backpacks, tossed over the side, followed by an angry crew trampling me under foot on their way to the dock. What I hope happens is that I arrive, with homemade chocolate chip cookies and the ingredients for nachos teaming with fresh vegetables, which they all need, followed by a trip to Alan Carter’s house for hot showers and a chance to do laundry. I’ll let you know how it goes.
In the meantime, I receive daily updates as to Alvei’s position, and frequently check weather updates on windyty.com, which is great. Finally, all that gets relayed to the harbourmaster and Customs. This is critical because many crew members are weeks late contacting family.
One more story, several years ago, a new crew member told her parents, in North America, the boat would take two weeks to go from Vanuatu to New Zealand. Alvei typically takes five weeks to make that trip. When the girl’s parents didn’t hear from her after four weeks, they called the New Zealand equivalent of the Coast Guard for an aerial search. After a week, Alvei was found lazily making her way toward New Zealand, and Evan was very surprised to discover that the plane above them was looking for them. It goes without saying, nobody wants a repeat of that.
While I feel guilty for coming to New Zealand ahead of the boat, it was a good decision because Alvei left Vanuatu on December 23rd, 53 days or seven and-a-half weeks ago. I’m sure there are frantic families, and this time local officials have me, an Alvei crew member, to relay daily intel. Why the locals don’t radio Alvei themselves, I don’t know. She is equipped. As for now, we hope for safe travels on the last leg of Alvei’s journey. Feel free to send up prayers or well wishes on her behalf. Evan’s good, but he’s not an ocean.