Our Current Position

Sunday, 4 March 2018

A Casual Cruise Northwards

The last week has been very relaxed. The wind has been SE to NE to E at 20 knots or more and so we have been cautious about how far we sail as the seas have been getting quite rough. From Tapuaetahi we had a fairly boisterous sail up to Cook’s Bay within Great Mercury Bay. We had a full main and most of the headsail out and were somewhat overpowered. Our track reflects our rather erratic course as we were bearing away during the strong gusts. Cook’s Bay turned out to be quite a rolly anchorage as the big swell came in from the east, but it was ok for one night and we managed to pour the wine without spilling it and watch a nice sunset. 

Sundowners in a rolly Cook's bay
Despite what appear to be calm conditions it was quite rolly
On Tuesday we headed across Great Mercury Bay to Matapaua Bay to shelter from a NE change and to get away from the rolly conditions. This was a short but unpleasant trip in heavy drizzle. Whilst we found shelter from the wind the rolling just continued. With rain for most of the day we did a few jobs inside.

On Wednesday we escaped Matapaua and motored north to Peach Grove Bay on the south end of Great Mercury island. The wind was on the nose and the seas were fairly messy, so it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable trip, but we wanted to get away from the rolling. We had visited this lovely little bay on the way south and were happy to return. Whilst the bay provided good shelter from the strong NE winds it was still rolly! That was three nights in a row! At least the rain stopped and Pat dug out the water maker and made about 100 litres of freshwater. 

So on Thursday off we went again in search of a calm anchorage a finally found it just around the corner in Huruchi Harbour on the west coast of Great Mercury Bay. We had a short but nice downwind sail, with just the headsail up. On the way Pat spotted a headland that definitely needs to be renamed. Islands and headlands are often named after what they look like, Slipper and Shoe Islands being two examples. However, often they don’t look anything like their names. Pat decided that we should call this headland Victoria Point, as this definitely looks like a Victorian woman, with her cat! We anchored at the south end of the bay, which has turned out to be nice and sheltered with very little rolling around. We like this anchorage so much that we are still here and it’s now Sunday. 

Victorian woman with her cat. The cat takes a bit of imagination!
Debi has been keeping fit by swimming to the beach, running up and down the beach and doing Tae Kwon Do patterns on the beach. Then she swims back. Pat has been exhausted just watching, though he has managed to do quite a bit of snorkelling. The rocks on the nearby headland are covered in large weed which provides fantastic cover for a lot of fish. The local population of Pied Shags seem to know this and spend most of their day roosting in a tree which overhangs the sea. It seems that about two hours after the tide changes the birds become active and all leave the roost to go fishing along the coast. They spend about 1-2 hours fishing then it’s back to their favourite tree. 

Pied Shags chilling out after a few hours fishing in Huruchi Harbour

Not to be outdone by the Pied Shags, Pat has been trying to emulate their lifestyle and so went off in the dinghy to catch supper. He wasn’t quite as efficient as the shags but did come back with two nice Snapper. Unfortunately one of the snapper decided to get revenge and managed to puncture the floor of the dinghy with the spines on it’s back. So what started off as a quick fishing trip turned into a day of cleaning and preparing fish and repairing the dinghy!

Snapper for supper
Yesterday Debi did her exercise routine again and continued to practice her french, having mastered spanish! Pat is not sure where she thinks we are sailing next, but she seems to have her eye on Europe! She also made delicious blueberry hot cakes for breakfast! Thank you Paul and Anna for the recipe. This was followed by a fish soup for lunch and fried snapper in a lemon and honey sauce for supper! We even had pod of dolphins come and visit the bay at sunset last night.

Stormy Skies
We had intended to leave today (Sunday) for Great Barrier Island, but a quick check on the weather observation stations revealed that it was blowing 30 knots and gusting 38 knots on our route. We are in no hurry, so instead we will have another day of chilling out. Pat has been watching what he thinks is a Swamp Harrier hunting along the coastline. It turns out that New Zealand has very few raptors and the swamp harrier is the most common. It’s quite impressive soaring above the hills. The other entertainment has been the Australasian Gannets. They really are superb to watch and when they spot a fish they hit the water like a missile, which is quite alarming when they decide to do it within 20m of the dinghy that you’re sitting in!

Maybe tomorrow we will make tracks towards Great barrier Island.

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