Our Current Position

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Exploring the Bay of Islands

We have spent the last five days exploring the islands. What a fantastic area to cruise around. It is all very sheltered and there are lots of anchorages in different bays and so there is shelter from just about any wind direction.

We started off in Oke Bay, a beautiful little bay with a nice beach and lined with trees. We then did a fairly big walk to Cape Brett which is at the southern end of the Bay of Islands. The walk was only 5km each way from Deep Water Bay, but there was a lot of up and down! There were great views from the Cape and it gave us an idea of what is to come as we head south.

Deep Water Bay
X-Pat at anchor in Oke Bay

The path to Cape Brett
Cape Brett

We visited Paradise Bay, which lived up to its name. Although we went ashore here we didn’t do any of the walks on the island and so may have to go back. We then did an overnight in Pi Pi Bay. Although the snorkelling here was quite poor I did see a ray, which seemed to be getting cleaned by little cleaner fish.

A ray getting cleaned

The food just keeps coming!

New Zealand Christmas Tree

Amazing root system on these Christmas Trees
We also visited Cook Bay on Motuarohia Island. The beach here turned out to be private, backed by some beautiful houses. So instead we took the dinghy around to the adjacent bay and a walk up the top of the hill, gave us some spectacular views of the islands.

Views of the Bay of Islands

We are back in the marina now at Opua and plan to get the boat tidied up over the next few days before we fly back to Sydney for Christmas.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

So who's idea was it to sail upwind?

Well we got here, we are now safely tied up in the beautiful Bay of Islands Marina in Opua. 

It was upwind all the way and although the winds weren't too harsh (15-20 knots usually) it did become very tiresome living at an angle of 30 degrees. We did a total of 1482 nautical miles in 10.6 days, an average speed of 5.8 knots. Our average speed was actually pulled down by slow progress in the last couple of days. Up until then we had an average of over 7 knots.

Giving Bob (our auto helm) a rest
When we rounded Cape Moreton on the evening of the first day we had over 20 knots of wind and so put two reefs in the main for a conservative first night at sea.  We ended up sailing almost the whole way with those two reefs in! In fact we sailed the whole of the first week on a port tack and it was quite a shock to the system to go onto a starboard tack and find everything falling in the opposite direction.

For the first few days the seas were quite lumpy and the winds strong.  Gwyn was jet lagged, having arrived from Wales the day before we left, Debi was seasick and even Pat felt a bit queasy, so it was a bit tough at first.  However, after a few days we had all settled into the watch system and our bodies got used to being constantly joggled about.

Gwyn demonstrating the pressures of being on watch
The weather on the trip was mostly pretty good, with strong winds to blow us along at a cracking pace, and the sea conditions became better and better.  We had a few squalls where the breeze got up a bit, but the joy of being out on the open ocean meant that one could just bear away which makes everything improve immediately.   

Highlights of the trip were:
·   Passing close by Lord Howe Island and the spectacular Balls Pyramid
.   Fantastic moonlit nights - we had both a waxing and waning moon during the trip, with a full moon in the middle.  Moonrise was particularly beautiful.
.   The stars!  Before the moon rose, or after it had set, we had the most spectacular starry skies.
.    Sunrise and Sunset - one never gets tired of these beautiful events at sea.
·   The fantastic menu each day. Debi pre-cooked the main meals, which worked well but prepared others on the move.
·    Lots of dolphins swimming along with us on many occasions
·    Lots of birds, especially near Lord Howe, petrels, shearwaters, gannets ….
·    Spotting Cape Reinga, New Zealand after 9 days at sea
·    Arriving into the beautiful Bay of Islands at sunrise
·    Clearing customs, getting tied up in our berth and cracking out the champagne, albeit at 9am!

Passing Lord Howe Island after 3 days at sea

The Spectacular Ball's Pyramid
Lowlights of the trip were:

·  The frustration of trying to get east across the top of New Zealand in a prolonged easterly. It was nice to see Cape Reinga initially, but we got fed up with the view when we couldn’t get past it!
·  Breaking the headsail furler, with only a few hundred miles to go. Everything had worked so well up until then.
.    We couldn't lock Bob (our auto helm crew member) so were unable to use Harry (our wind driven self steering system) so we didn't get to use it and had to listen to Bob grunting away the whole way. 

Brunch preparations on the move

Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs - well plated!
It was a tiring but rewarding trip. Gwyn won the award for being able to get to sleep no matter what the conditions. On the first night in the marina we all slept for 12 hours.

We finally got good enough conditions to be able to make water

Gwyn mopping up a small leak in the economy class accomodation
Our communications system using the Iridium Go! worked well most of the time. It was nice to be able to keep in touch with people at home with the occasional SMS. We also had daily exchanges with our weather man Roger Badham and with Jo and Rob on their boat, Double Trouble, who were also sailing to Opua and a day ahead of us.

Land Ahoy! North Cape - New Zealand

Arriving at sunrise in the Bay of Islands

Tied up at the Quarantine dock awaiting clearance

A well earned beer in Russell - the first capital of New Zealand
The plan now is to potter around the Bay of Islands for a week before returning to Sydney for Christmas. Thank you to everyone who followed us on the tracker. It seems that we provided a bit of entertainment for the last ten days!

Friendly Fiji

After a burst of activity early on, it has been a pretty chilled out week. We left Buca Bay on Sunday, motoring out through the reef into...