was to be the Great Race - Rae and Sharon style. One thousand and forty
one nautical miles - Nuka'lofa, Tonga to Opua, New Zealand. After
sailing from Vancouver to Tonga, Sharon decided to avoid the thrill
of the notoriously tough passage to New Zealand. She exercised the
Princess clause and took the plane. Rae sailed. Does the race seem a
bit one sided?
With fresh crew - Lee Wolff from
Vancouver and Graeme Templeton from New Zealand, Mustang Sally was out
of the gate and on her way racing south in rough powered up beam
reaching conditions. Sally was knocking off 185 mile days under a
double reefed main and partially rolled jenny.
was trapped by a 'Kingdom burning' party in Tonga. A alienated section
of Tongan society went on the rampage during an alcohol fueled protest
against the new king. A peaceful protest had run amuck.
Many of the King's properties were
burned and Tonga moved a step or two closer to democracy – or perhaps
anarchy – time will tell.
80 percent of
an airport closure;
a sweet Canadian
gal trapped without a way out.
huddled in the safety of a local transit lodge with her new Aussie
friend Angela. They were safe but the rioting and burning was going on
around them. The days passed slowly as they waited for the situation to
settle and the airport to re-open.
The Kiwi and Aussie air forces
arrived over the next four days to secure the airport and help Tonga
recover stability. Sharon and Angela were evacuated to Sidney on the
Royal Australian Air force jet.
arrival, Sharon was met by the Canadian consulate, Australian Federal
police, trauma teams and the press. The press questioned her about the
situation in Tonga. Several Aussie newspapers and BBC World News
published her comments. Over nighting in a hotel, Sharon was surprised
to see her self on the BBC World News. The next day she booked a flight
to Auckland, New Zealand.
Meanwhile, on Mustang Sally the wind
faded then turned variable. Mustang Sally had found the horse
latitudes. The boat slowed. Rae issued orders for all horses to be
twin diesels kept the boat moving south at 4-5 knots. The wind was on
again off again, but never on for more than 8 hours. The days rolled
on….. tuck a reef, shake a reef, roll a reef. Light up the diesels,
shutdown the diesels, repeat.
At long last, 100 miles north of New
Zealand, Mustang Sally found the predicted westerly winds. Soon they
were close reaching south at 7-8 knots over smooth seas.
Sharon over nighted in downtown
Auckland then grabbed a bus for Opua. She arrived at 5:30PM in Opua and
headed for the Cruising Club where she ran into friends Cliff and Anna
from a catamaran named Koncerto. Cliff and Anna graciously invited her
to stay aboard until Mustang Sally arrived.
hours later on Mustang Sally - 40 miles north of New Zealand - the wind
strengthened suddenly and the boat shot ahead reaching 9 - 10 knots on a
beat. "Time for a reef" – Rae shouted. BIG BANG! The clew pulled out
of the main sail and it thrashed useless in the wind. Ten minutes later
the mainsail was reefed down and pulling hard. Mustang Sally was
charging south at 7 knots.
Twenty miles out of Opua, dead calm
descends. With the twin diesels powering, Mustang Sally crept
carefully through the Bay of Islands in inky black, clear and cold
conditions. Temperate zone damp cold chilled to the bone. Foulies on
for the first time in 18 months.
The navigation system steered
flawlessly while skipper and crew nervously checked and re-checked
positions and course using radar, GPS, charts and navigational aids.
Mustang Sally docked at the Opua as the morning sun turned the sky pink.
Two hours later, Cliff delivered
Sharon to Mustang Sally. Sharon and Rae are re-united. They popped a
bottle of champagne to celebrate the race. All were pleasantly buzzed
well before noon.
Sharon won the great race. Sharon 6
days, Rae 7.5 days.