Our Current Position

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Storm Bound in Tutukaka

Well we are still in Tutakaka. We arrived on Saturday and spent Sunday cleaning up the boat and cleaning the teak decks, a job that seems to come around all too frequently. On Monday we decided to take a shuttle bus to Whangarei for Debi to get her hair done, do a spot of provisioning and investigate a better way of getting an affordable data allowance. When we got to the town centre at about 9:15 everything seemed very deserted with only a few shops open. It took us about 45 minutes to confirm our fears. It was a bank holiday! Thankfully a few shops were open so we managed the provisioning and we managed to get a really good data deal through Vodafone. We are now testing how much data we can chew through when we are both stuck on the boat waiting on weather! 

Yesterday we had one of the highlights of the trip so far, we went diving at the Poor Knights Islands. This a marine reserve about an hour off the coast and the impact of having reserve status is immediately apparent as soon as you arrive. The water was crystal clear and there were huge schools of Trevally just feeding on the surface. You didn’t even have to get into the water to appreciate that this place is absolutely teaming with life. However, when you do get in there, the experience is just breath taking. We saw Trevally, Snapper, Stingrays, Bluefish, Kingfish, Lord Howe Coral fish and lots of nudibranchs and urchins. We also watched cormorants diving from the surface and fishing which was fascinating. A beautiful location.
Preparing to dive the Poor Knight Islands
Our second dive site - Middle Arch

This was the first diving either of us had done for nine years and so we decided to do a bit of a refresher, practicing skills etc. for the first part of the first dive. We were both a bit nervous and had a few issues with equalisation etc. but generally good. The crew from Dive Tutukaka! were fantastic and we are both keen to do some more diving on this trip, now that we have got ourselves back up to speed. We may even take X-Pat back to the Poor Knights and do some snorkelling.

We were all set to leave today (Wednesday) but it looks like we are going to catch the edge of tropical storm Fehi which is about to batter the west coast of the south island. We could have probably got a bit further south today but we would have been at anchor somewhere and decided it was safer to stay here in the marina. So instead, we went for a walk up to Tutukaka Lighthouse. It has to be said that this could easily win the prize as the most pathetic lighthouse you’ll ever see. But it does the job as a navigational aid. 

It was so windy that this mermaid got blown up onto the headland!



Tutukaka Lighthouse - they don't build them like they used to.

It might get a bit windy tomorrow

Stormy weather over Tutukaka Harbour


Tomorrow we are going to sit out the stormy weather and after that we’ll see …

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Southbound

We departed our berth at Bay of Island Marina on 20th January and had a very lazy one hour motor to the town of Russell where we dropped anchor. We visited Russell before Christmas by ferry, but we didn’t really have chance to look around and it also has a good pub! So we got the trusty dinghy inflated using our new electric pump and went for a nice walk around Russell and then up the hill to a famous flagpole. This was the scene of repeated disputes between the Maori and British in the early days, when the pole was repeatedly cut down by the Maori Chief or his men.  They eventually cleared up the dispute after many years and the flag pole has been standing ever since 

It was then down the hill for a well earned pint at the Duke of Marlborough hotel. We managed to say hello to Oliver Holmes who works at the hotel and is the son of one of our friends who climbed to Everest Base camp with us last year. Pat tried his hand at fishing off the back of the boat in the evening and was surprised to catch a few snapper. They were a bit small to keep and so were returned safely to grow a bit bigger.

On the 21st we departed Russell and motored through a fairly gloomy misty rainy day up to Patanui Bay in the western part of the Bay of Islands. It’s a nice spot but the weather was horrible so we stayed on board and read for the rest of the day. The next day was still a bit grey but at least dry initially. We inflated our new two person kayak (christmas present - thank you!) and set off on an adventure up Pukoura Inlet. This is a beautifully quiet inlet, lined with trees and the occasional house, usually with their own slipway or beach. All went well with the kayak and we managed about three miles without either of us throwing the other into the water! It then rained all afternoon, thankfully after we had returned to X-Pat.

The inaugural trip in the Kayak


On the 23rd we left the Bay of Islands and started heading south. We motored initially but then a bit of breeze developed and we had a nice sail towards and around Cape Brett. It was nice to get a view from the seaward side having walked there with Gwyn before Christmas. We then carried on to a beautiful natural harbour called Whangamumu, where we stayed for two nights. This was once used by the whaling industry and the remains of the slipway and the whale processing factory can still be seen here. We had a much needed walk up to a lookout, snorkelled, swam and Pat even managed to catch two snapper for supper. We also did a beach clean up and picked up 1.3kg of assorted plastic rubbish. This was mainly plastic packaging, clothes pegs (blown off visiting boats), bottle tops, straws and balloons. Many of these beaches we visit appear to be pristine, but they all have some plastic from somewhere.  

On the 25th we left Whangamumu and had an easy motor down the coast to the a marine park known as Mimiwhangata. What fantastic names they have here. This is quite a big open bay with a 1.3km beach. The next day Debi decided to do a 5k run on the beach whilst Pat did another beach clean up. For such a long beach there was a surprisingly little plastic, only 0.4 kg. The snorkelling was also good here with lots of starfish, perch, snapper, a big eel and some nice kelp. We went across for supper on an adjacent boat called Bad Kitty, with Nina and Willy and ate Debi’s Aloo Gobi combined with Nina and Willy’s crayfish and snapper! They do a lot of diving and catch a lot of crayfish!

On the 26th we departed Mimiwhangata heading south again. Unfortunately the wind decided to turn to a southerly which made life difficult. We put in a good effort trying to tack down the coast, but progress was slow and we were at risk of missing the high tide to get into Tutakaka (another great name) marina. So in the end the motor went on. We are now in Tutukaka for a few days to re-provision but mainly to go diving on the Poor Knights islands on Tuesday. One disappointment is he lack of internet here, or at least the cost of it, so only one picture - sorry!


Friday, 19 January 2018

Back Onboard

After our Christmas break back in Sydney, we are back onboard X-Pat. 

We have had a few days touring the Northland with a hire car. Although the weather was rubbish with heavy rain and windy, we did manage to see the Kauri trees across on the west coast. One is believed to be the largest in the Southern hemisphere and another one of the oldest trees in the world at around 3000 years old. Pretty astounding. 

A 3000 year old Kauri tree!

In amongst the boats at the Bay of Islands Marina


We visited the Omata vineyard for lunch yesterday and used a voucher from Secret Santa thank you!  

Today we have done a few checks on the boat and are all ready to set off on a casual cruise south tomorrow. Watch this space ...

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...