NEW PLYMOUTH STOPOVER

We departed Ketu Bay early on Tuesday, motoring out of Pelorus Sound as the dawn began to break.  All was very quiet after the thunderstorm of last night and everything on deck was wet from the rain.  We motored on for a couple of hours before a breeze set in and sail could be set.  By nine thirty Stephens Island was abeam and we shaped course up towards Cape Egmont.  A good strong S’Ely breeze set in as we got into the Cook Strait.  Under reefed main and yankee we made excellent progress, reeling off the miles.

The seas were very rough, a combination of a three-meter S’Wly swell, a N’ly sea left over from last night and a S’Ely sea being pushed by the wind, thrown into this mix was the tidal stream.  We were bounced around, but the sailing was good, progress was being made. And the albatross returned, so good to see them again.

Later in the evening Ngozi sent me a TXT message, commenting on what good progress we were making as she was following on marine Traffic.  The superstitious me thought ‘Just think it don’t say it’!  At eleven in the evening I was in the galley making a brew when I heard a clattering and flogging of sails above.  The wind had disappeared, just like switching off a tap.  From fifteen knots to zero in a minute.  Making matters worse the confused sea was creating chaos, Truce pitched and rolled horribly.  Then it rained.  No time to get the wet weather gear on, I managed to get everything under control, the engine on and I hand steered until midnight in wet clothes.

The wind didn’t return as I expected it to and we motored on with the tiller pilot working overtime to keep us on course, the sea was still rough and the swell seemed to have increased slightly.  Now that we were closer to the Taranaki coast there was a phone signal and I was able to download up to date weather information.  This new data showed the way ahead to Cape Reinga was now an area of light winds of five to ten knots.  The calm patch we were in stretched ahead for miles and was moving slowly north.

At five in the morning I decided to turn ninety degrees to starboard and head into Port Taranaki, New Plymouth, about three hours motoring away.  There was no point in sitting in a bubble of light wind, better to let it go.  I was also feeling a bit miserable as the night was cold and wet so not a difficult decision to make.  The ride now became more comfortable as the swell was from astern and the seas dropped away the closer we got to the land.

The skies cleared to reveal a bright full moon astern to the west.  The moon is in perigee and looks huge, the light illuminating the ice topped peak of Mount Taranaki in spectacular fashion.  As the moon set the sun rose, soon the warmth was felt and very welcome after a cold and wet night.

Just before nine in the morning we were entering through the breakwaters into Port Taranaki, I picked up a mooring and stopped the engine, nice to have peace on board again.  A German yacht that had been behind me from Pelorus Sound also came into the harbour.  They had seen what happened to me with the loss of wind and decided to follow me into harbour.

I was tired after the sail across Cook Strait but the day was so nice, warm and sunny, that I could not sleep.  I launched the dinghy over the side and took a trip ashore for a wander around.  It’s been a few years since I was last in new Plymouth.  The place looks mostly the same but there are a few new properties and flash houses sprinkled around.  It looks a bit more upmarket nowadays.

In the harbour, just off where Truce is moored there is a children’s fishing float.  What a great idea, the kids of all sizes seem to really enjoy having their own space to fish and hang out.

I returned on board in the afternoon and stowed the dinghy ready for sea again, then had a siesta for a couple of hours.  The evening weather predictions looked better for an early morning start although the winds are still light for a while up the coast.  At the moment it is quiet and I will have a good rest before we head out again.

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