The wind overnight was not as strong as forecast so in was a little slower than anticipated, I really wanted to make some miles and reduce the time in the strong winds closer to the Bay of Islands. It turned out fine the wind picked up in the morning and I had a good thirty knots from the north west to blow me down to New Zealand. I sailed with the storm staysail and a small jib at an easy six knots with Micky the wind-vane in charge as usual. What a marvellous friend Mickey has been, keeping us on course in even the lightest winds and never complaining.
We rounded Cape Wiwiki and the outlaying Tikitiki Rock at four in the afternoon in gusty rain squalls. A rough welcome but one that I relished. It seemed fitting end to the voyage. Soon we were motoring up the veronica passage to Opua where we berthed alongside the customs dock just after six in the evening.
A couple of boats came in after me, both New Zealand boats coming back from Fiji. We all sat at the customs wharf overnight waiting for customs and biosecurity clearance in the morning. It’s not possible to go ashore until customs clearance has been obtained but I was happy to stay on board and relax. Now that truce was safely tied up and the voyage finished I had an extra tot of rum, reflected on the voyage and had a good chat to Ngozi now we are in phone range again. I will sleep in the forward cabin this evening and luxuriate in the extra bed space.
I haven’t posted a log for a couple of days. I didn’t have much to say, Truce and I have been beating to the west to get around a am nasty patch of weather above New Zealand. Same slog day after day. After three days, we have gained enough distance to start turning to the south and hopefully benefiting from favourable winds on the last part of the voyage.
Of course, now that we have gained our westing the wind has disappeared completely and we are in an area of high pressure. It looks like we will be motoring for twenty-four hours until we are clear and into a breeze. I have my fingers crossed that the autopilot, engine and everything holds together until we reach the wind.
The yachts that I met along the way at Tonga and Minerva Reef are still waiting for a weather window to depart to NZ. That is a good safe tactic if you have the time and provides an enjoyable quick trip in good weather.
I intend to clear through customs in Opua, Bay of Islands. It’s the closest customs port if arriving from the north and once cleared in I can take a sail down the coast to Auckland. It will be so good to be back on the spectacular NZ coats again with its snug safe anchorages.
At late afternoon we were six hundred miles from Opua. If the last part of the voyage goes to plan we will be arriving there on the 26th September.
It seems I budgeted my beer stock just right. I have sufficient to last until Auckland and an emergency reserve in case of delays or bad weather on the way. One advantage of the cooler weather is also cooler sea water, beer laid in the bilge is nice and cool to drink now.
The last of my fresh Tonga vegetables has been consumed – only some onions and limes remain. These will also be gone before we land in Opua, not allowed to bring such stuff into New Zealand.