That passage into here from Fiji is renowned for just being outside the reliable forecasting threshold. Our last trip from Denarau to Opua was in 19, peddle to the metal and 5 of the 6.5 days 'cruisers on the wind', mostly 50 or 60 apparent, some 45.Yes, tall islands, large land masses, mountains and gaps and so on can add a good bit of fickle. Offshore there's fickle too but it marches to a different beat. By and large on popular sailing routes at popular times I think you're right about offshore passages. Of course, sometimes there are fast passages with CZs and slow ones without:
A quick one across the ITCZ:
We had a passage from Bora Bora to Hilo one year where IIRC all the full days at sea were over 200 miles. I'd need to look at the logs to get exact numbers and the logs are in storage, but it was a quick one. The weather picture was very messy. The tail end of a front with some lows on it was passing across the local CZs and up to the ITCZ. We departed in a brisk SW wind in the rain carried it N to one or two squalls which was all the ITCZ we saw and then into the NE trades.
A slow one without a CZ:
Going from Suva to Opua "The Plan" (IIRC) based on the "The Forecast" was to depart on the back of a weak front and arrive just before a stronger front / low. Neither the plan nor the forecast lasted very long. The low developed quicker and much stronger than forecast and we were not going to be able to get in ahead of it. We weren't in a big rush so we decided to hold back while it cleared. However, a H was flowing into the area and our sailing options were to sail most of the way to Oz and back to get around it in wind or let it sail to us and trundle on South when the sailing wind got to us. We chose the latter and lay ahull for a couple of days in fine, flat calm, weather while the atmosphere moved itself into a more useful configuration. It was quite nice, but quite slow port to port. WYSIWYG.
We got in Thurs midnight and cleared Friday am. Spent the weekend tidying up etc.
By Monday one of those lows arrived, turned into a monster and a similar sized boat doing the same trip as us but a few days later got swamped and sunk just 20 miles off the coast. The Essence. Totally tragic, one great sailors life lost and twenty effing miles....practically home.
Anyway, a couple of other boats we knew and a bit behind those guys timing wise had seen the system coming and did what you did. Park up around Norfolk latitude and let the thing go through.