From Tutukaka to Parua Bay in Whangarei Harbour was another short hop down the coast, again under motor as the lingering high pressure over New Zealand continued. Before eight on Wednesday morning we were clear of Tutukaka Harbour and motoring on glassy calm waters down the coast towards Bream Head.
Bream Head is a high point of land visible many Miles distant and an easy point to aim for when moving along this coast. Once around Bream Head it’s a short distance to the shipping channel into Whangarei Harbour, an extensive harbour with a dep water port near its mouth and then extensive drying flats and channels leading up to Whangarei Town.
Today we were not going up to Whangarei but instead into Parua Bay where I had arranged to meet Russell and Anne Hohmann. Russell had designed Truce for Anne’s father, it’s always good to catch up with them for a chat.
We made excellent time down the coast and into Parua Bay with the flood tide and anchored in a clear spot among the moorings in the shallow bay just after midday. Last year I was in Parua Bay and it was most uncomfortable with a strong wind and short sea over the shallow bottom. But today it was calm, sunny and perfect.
A big attraction of Parua Bay is the pub which has a jetty and easy access by dinghy. In the afternoon I went ashore and met up with Russell and Anne. After a couple of beers and a meal it was time to return to Truce. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to switch on the deck lights or anchor light before I left. Now it was pitch dark. With just the light of my phone I was able to pick out the retro reflective tape I had applied to the forward edge of the mast spreaders, dodge the other moored boats and get back safely on board.
The next day it was same again, calm and warm sunshine, hard to believe its autumn. But the weather is changing, the high pressure is moving away. I had visitors again in the morning and received some excellent fresh lamb chops from the Farm. By mid-afternoon I was eager to move on again, this will be the last leg down to Auckland which I have planned to do in one hop overnight. I waited for high water and weighed anchor, departed Parua Bay and dropped down Whangarei Harbour on the ebb tide.
By sunset we were well clear of the harbour and heading down the coast towards Cape Rodney, the sea was still calm, Mr Yanmar ran like clockwork under the cockpit sole and we made good speed south. By ten in the evening Cape Rodney was abeam to starboard and we changed course slightly to pass outside Kawau Island.
As we approached Kawau Island a headwind sprang up from the south. I altered course to pass through Whangaroa Passsage and down past Rangitoto light before heading across to Tamaki River entrance, keeping to more sheltered waters.
I now realised that we were going too fast to and would reach the mooring before daylight and before the tide had turned to ebb. Its much easier to tie up to the pole mooring single handed when going against an ebb tide. I slowed the engine but still we charged on, once in the Tamaki River I stopped for a while but still Truce seemed to want to keep going, a slight breeze pushing her on. Truce was unstoppable, like a horse sniffing the stables she was eager to get home for a rest.
In the early dawn light I picked up the slime covered mooring line and made fast to the forward pole mooring, then I picked up the stern lines and as the sun rose we were safely moored fore and aft between the poles, four months and seven days since we had left. The big 2021 cruise was over. For once I was at a loss what to do next. I had breakfast, tidied up a bit and prepared myself for going ashore for a while.
To end the trip I had a wonderful experience on the way down from Whangarei. In the flat calm there was a large amount of Bioluminescence in the water, the bow wave and wake behind Truce illuminated with bright blue light. I wondered if dolphins would turn up, sure enough shortly after a dolphin surfaced by the cockpit and blew out through its blowhole, the sudden sound startling me, they do that often. Then they played all around Truce in the bioluminescence. The show was spectacular. I had only seen this once before in New Zealand, but this was the best. The dolphins were jumping out the water, doing belly flops and tail slaps sending showers of Bioluminescence everywhere, even onto the forward deck of Truce. I spent thirty minutes watching the display from the bow, absolutely captivating. I tried to capture the action on video but failed. But YouTube has a clip to give an idea, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg69Hbg1s88 .
What a wonderful, memorable way to complete the cruise.