Heading South

Oddly enough I seem to mix up my directions in this hemisphere. In the US I always knew N from S, E, from W. Even in Panama and the top of S. America. But here, W/ often asks me to confirm if I mean S. Some times she’ll even want confirmation of Port and Starboard. More than I wish to admit; I point to Starboard and say Port. So far we’ve never been in a situation that the extra minute or so for her to check and confirm my direction has not created any issues. But I do feel weird about it. Maybe the magnetic field in my brain hasn’t adapted yet.

And so we head S. In this hemisphere South is where it is colder. For the most part this will be our Summer / Winter home as we expect to do some major projects on the boat. Thus we go S, where it is colder.

As I mentioned in our last entry the oil pressure alarm went off as we left the marina. For whatever reason I don’t know but am guessing it has to do with some diesel dripping on the wire running to the oil pressure sensor. The diesel dripping occurred while I re -bled the engines fuel. For now, all appears to be working. I didn’t do anything. The pressure switch started working again. We leave Russell and head out the Bay of Islands with plans to anchor at the abandoned whaling station or at the bay on the edge of this island group.

Nearing the first anchorage we noticed that it wasn’t as described. A ground swell ran through the anchorage. Since the winds were calm we thought it best to keep motoring and we headed out and

Cape Brett Lighthouse

Cape Brett Lighthouse

around Cape Brett. With light winds we were able to navigate through the narrow opening. For a powerboat it would not be a problem. However, on a sailboat with any sea I wouldn’t have taken a chance. With water smooth as glass we had no difficulties. The light house on the side of the mountain was spectacular! We had heard there was a hiking trail to it from the harbor we were heading for. Being on a bit o’ time schedule and the hike to the

The outside Rock for Cape Brett

The outside Rock for Cape Brett

lighthouse and back was about a 5 hour trek, it looked like a skip this time. We can make excuses with the best of them. First: our dinghy wasn’t in the water and would take time to put everything together, and second, we expected to move the following day – if the wx was cooperative. The only down side of the harbor was lack of internet. Ironically years ago we wouldn’t have cared. But in the Pacific 90% of our anchorages have had internet availability. We have gotten use to it and begun to expect it. The up side is that the anchorage was completely calm and the bottom excellent holding. Without internet we would use the Ham – Pactor setup for weather information.

The following day’s wx prediction had a tad bit of wind which was to increase as the day wore on. We left after breakfast and had a lovely sail to Whangaruru Harbor anchoring in Puriri Bay. Again we had great holding and the guide book indicated that this anchorage was good for gales. We hoped to avoid staying that long but it was nice to know. Too, we had internet here so getting weather, updating our family, all was good.

A local marina in Tutukaka, NZ

A local marina in Tutukaka, NZ

Two days later we motored out the entrance and turned south. It was another luxurious sail averaging about 2.5 kts with little to no seas. There we contacted the Marina at Tutukaka and were lucky enough to secure a berth for a couple of days. While this is summer here in NZ it seems we have one nice warm day with NE-NW winds and then 3 days or so with winds howling out of the south. South winds bring cold weather. There was a storm a brewing and the marina looked inviting. We were also running low on goodies as we had only expected a week for this trek and we were at the end of that time now. With the dinghy still stowed on deck and neither of us wanting to set it up, as well as having no gasoline for the dinghy engine the marina looked inviting. Eric (the marina manager) was a wonderful guy telling us what was where and we made ourselves right at home. This is not a transient marina so we were enjoying the NZ boating atmosphere. Two days ashore was enough. we motored out to the anchorage and anchored for one more night. In the near frigid water (for me) I dove in and checked the bottom of the boat before making our final trek to Whangarei. Again in two days wx was to be nasty. We planned on leaving in the later am as the winds predicted would be a lovely 15-20 kts from the stern by the afternoon. But, neither of us wait well.

We left after breakfast and the winds were light. Averaging 4 kts we made the entrance to Hatea River in about 3 hours and turned to head for our final anchorage, the Nook. I hauled in the jib and a minute later the winds clocked around to the NE nearing 30 kts on the nose. Howling! It was a wet ride up the river. Local knowledge is that the Nook is a nice quiet, beautiful anchorage. But with the winds out of the NE it would not be comfortable. We anchored on the other side, in the lee of the peninsula in calm water with the winds blowing over the top of the trees. The following am was a different story.

The winds had switched to the S and SW and blew like hell. We were having up to 1/2 meter chop coming into our anchorage. If that wasn’t enough we had some odd currents swirling around, pushing the boat side on to the chop. There were times we actually had spray on the boat at anchor! It was Sunday and the marina said they would have a slip for us Monday. While we were able to tolerate this for 24 more hours the anchorage was NOT fun. The gribs indicated that the winds were to ease off as the day lengthened. But Mother Nature does not like being told what to do. She blew all day long. By evening, as seems to be the case in NZ the winds eased off and we were able to get some sleep.

In the am life was again good, We filled our biological gas tank with a great breakfast and cleaned up. And as not predicted, the winds began to blow again. However now we would leave. The tide was flooding and we needed to pass a shallow spot of about a nautical mile before entering the channel to Whangarei. We wanted to cross that bar near high tide. We motored out across the bar into the channel and headed up river with a the wind singing in the rigging sometimes and others the wind was as quiet as a night in doldrums. I was fascinated by our speed in the river with the various currents and winds. With constant engine rpms we went from 3- 6 kts. We finally decided to slow down after calculating when high tide was for another shallow spot near the marina. We only spotted one other anchorage we would have been better off in had we continued up the river two days ago. The chart wasn’t clear and we didn’t want to head up the river and take a chance we would need to head back down. Now I know, we can hide from most all winds up near Whangarei.

The best kind of bridge to travel under with a sailboat.

The best kind of bridge to travel under with a sailboat.

By 3 pm we contacted the bascule bridge and crossed our last barrier. With the marina up ahead we were ready to give the boat a good wash and sleep like babies. The dock crew assisted us in tying up. In many marinas here in NZ they don’t use cleats. They have rings driven into the docks and you need to either tie a line to the ring or run it through the ring and back to the boat. With several people assisting the process went

Our seasonal home.

Our seasonal home.

without a hitch. Soon we felt like back home, at our old marina in Tarpon Springs, Sail Harbor. There people were always around to assist. They had dock parties every week, and advice is worth what you pay for it. 😉

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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