Today was dedicated to clean up and chores on board Truce and taking it easy. In beautiful calm sunny weather, I set about tidying the boat. Stowing all the bits and bobs that I had been using on passage and stashed in the quarter berth for convenience and ease of access from the cockpit.
On the passage from Tonga we used the engine far more than usual to get through the extensive calm patches. All the running meant that the scheduled one-hundred-and-fifty-hour oil change became due sooner than expected. Changing the oil isn’t a job I like, it’s always messy sucking the old oil out of the dipstick hole. With a bag full of rags, the job was accomplished and Mr Yanmar now has clean oil and a new oil filter to keep him happy for a while.
Another session at the laundry means that we have fresh bed linen and towels on board. The last laundry session was in Honolulu and the supply of clean sheets and towels had been exhausted – laundry was definitely due.
I don’t know where the day went, time flies when your having fun, but soon it was happy hour and time for some refreshment. I got myself cleaned up and headed down to the Opua Yacht Club – just a short walk away. Nice to sit out on the deck overlooking the harbour as the sun goes down. The sand-flies also enjoyed dining out on my body.
I was back on-board Truce in the early evening as I plan to sail south tomorrow. I checked the weather, tides and put a course on the chart, with a list of available stops and shelters on the way. Not sure yet where I will go tomorrow. I am heading south down the coast towards Auckland, first I need to get around Cape Brett and then have an idea I may stop in Whangarei. We shall see tomorrow how it plays out.
This morning the wind finally died at ten, just ripples on the water. We now have a huge spreading calm patch to get through before picking up the strong north westerly winds that will take us the final step to Opua.
The Yanmar engine has been running since the wind left us. Maybe it will be running for the next day as well – if the diesel lasts out. So, we are making slow progress and now expect to arrive on Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday night.
I haven’t seen much bird life today. I think the birds like some wind to play with, just like us sailors. In the distance I saw another boat this morning, don’t know what it was, not a big ship or yacht so maybe a fishing boat. The first boat I have seen since departing Minerva Reef on the 15th.
When making pasta last night one of my gas bottle ran out. One that I had refilled in San Francisco back in June. Amazing how long these gas bottles last, must be the best value fuel out there.
My food stock is getting low now, at least the stuff I want to eat. My diet for the next days until port will be boring pasta, noodles, cereal and the occasional tin of something.
Last night we changed clocks to Summer time in New Zealand. To celebrate this occasion, I am having an extra tot of Mount Gay Rum for sundowners this evening – I still have two fresh limes from Nuku’alofa.
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.