6 February 2023

The end of January.  From the logbook it appears that we have only had three days without rain this year – most unusual.  Also, it appears that we have only had three days good sailing this year.  Summer is a dud.

Now I am alone again I have been looking at my options for the summer cruise.  One of the reasons not to venture further north has been the constant E’ly winds, up the coast good sheltered anchorages for E’ly winds are rare.  The long range forecast is looking disgusting at the moment.

Beginning of February.  Woke up this morning and there are patches of clear sky and no rain.  After a good breakfast and a second coffee I opened all the hatches to get some fresh air through the boat.  The sun came out and everything on deck started to dry out, power streamed out from the solar panels and topped off the batteries.  Life is looking better.

I sat out on deck in the warm sun and undertook some personal grooming, removed excess facial hair, had a shave and a shower.  Now I feel clean, warm and comfortable.  In the evening I went socialising on another boat and returned to Truce in a happy state of mind.  I slept well, all was quiet this evening, just a gentle N’Ely breeze.

The next morning I awoke and decided to return to Auckland.  The weather forecast for the next couple of weeks looks horrid. More North Easterly winds and a heap of rain looks to be on the way. I have made the executive decision to abandon the summer cruise and head home, I can come back when the weather improves. At least the North easterly breeze should give me a good ride home.

After an early cup of tea and three gingernuts for breakfast I weighed anchor and headed out of Whangaroa Harbour. The sea was a bit lumpy from almost dead ahead, it was slow going with the motor, but after a couple of hours we rounded Flat Island and bore away down Cavalli Passage. Needing a rest from motoring I ducked into into Papatara (Horseshoe) Bay and anchored for brunch just after ten. We were the only boat around and the sun came out for an hour, brunch in the cockpit was a pleasure although we rolled around a bit in the swell curling around the island.

After midday we were on our way again, this time heading towards the Bay of islands. The wind helped us on our way but quickly died, we motored onwards rolling along in the swell and intermittent showers. By three in the afternoon we had rounded Tikitiki Rock and headed into Whale Bay. I had anchored there previously in good weather and enjoyed a few peaceful nights. This time was different, once the anchor was down Truce turned broadside to the swell and started rolling.  We rolled and she showed no sign of desisting, I was not surprised.  The anchor came up and we motored around to Te Puna Inlet where we finally escaped the swell and found a good anchorage in Patuni Bay, 6 meters and a muddy bottom with calm waters.  The wind gusted around in the evening but we were well anchored and had a peaceful night.

The next morning was nasty, overcast, windy and rain squalls.  I watched my neighbour on a motor launch take his large dog ashore in his dinghy for the morning ritual.  Both dog and master looked miserable and unenthusiastic, but both knew they had to do it.

By mid morning I decide to have a look outside and see if the wind and sea had abated and allow a course to be set for Cape Brett.  The the sea was still barreling up the channel and the wind was almost dead ahead.  I returned to anchor and started on lunch.

Just before two in the afternoon I looked outside and things had changed, I had been tinkering with some electrical stuff and missed it.  I quickly picked up the anchor and headed out to take a look.  The sea was down and the wind about twenty knots, just free enough for me to lay Cape Brett.  With two reefs in the main and yankee and staysail we sailed on making good speed, in the right direction, with no Yanmar noise.  The swell was still three meters plus but good sailing.  Of course this sort of thing doesn’t last long and by four in the afternoon the wind was down to about five knots, we motored for an hour in washing machine seas before rounding Cape Brett.  If only we had departed an hour earlier!

In the evening we anchored in Whangamumu Harbour, just off the whaling station.  A swell came into the harbour, not enough to be uncomfortable, just a nice gentle rocking. Once again we were the only boat in town, everyone seems to have gone home for summer.

The next morning offered light rain and overcast skys plus the attention of sandflies.  The anchor was soon up and we headed out to ten knots from the North East.  Full sail was set and we were soon cruising south with the wind on the quarter and the windvane steering, happiness at last.  We sailed on past Rimariki Island, Elizabeth Reef and Tutakaka before the wind started to go light from the North.  For the last two hours we motored around Bream Head and into Whangarei Harbour to find an anchorage in Urquharts Bay at six in the evening.  A good days sail with sunshine most of the way.

The next days sail from Urquharts Bay to Kawau Island was glorious. We had about fifteen knots from astern, gusting to twenty plus at times, ideal conditions. We scampered along down the coast in sparkling seas and bright sunshine. What a change, the dark gloomy days of rain and wind almost forgotten. In early afternoon we anchored in Dispute Cove on Kawau Island. The anchorage was busy with many boats enjoying the last of the good weekend weather, although of course the rain appeared later.

After a peaceful night at Dispute Cove it was a late start in the morning. Not far to go back to the marina at Hobsonville and the flood tide to take me home starts late afternoon. Today was another good sail down to Auckland then engine up the final stretch into the marina. By six in the evening Truce was all secure back in the berth. So an early end to the summer cruise. But I am happy to end early as there seems to be a cyclone brewing far up north, promising to bring some nasty wind and rain. Happily I have maintenance jobs to keep me happy for a while.


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