ANCHORED AT MANSION HOUSE BAY

After a couple of peaceful days in Whangarei whilst the wind blew outside I sailed this morning, passing under the lifting bridge at eight forty-five – the first opening after the rush hour.  I rode the ebb tide down the river, past Marsden Point and out the shipping channel, passing the fairway buoy three hours after departing the town basin.

The south westerly wind was blowing at fifteen to twenty knots and we could sail close hauled on starboard tack at between six and seven knots.  The sun came out around mid-day and we had a great sail down the coast past Cape Rodney to the north channel by Kawau Island.

Just after six this evening we anchored in Mansion House Bay on Kawau Island – good sheltered anchorage from the south westerly wind.  There are six other yachts sheltering here – there is plenty of room for everyone.

Tomorrow I expect to make the final hop down to Auckland, now less than thirty miles away.  As I write this I realise this is my last night anchored out and solo.  Tomorrow I should be sleeping ashore in a static bed.

WHANGAEI TOWN BASIN

Truce is tucked up in the Town Basin at Whangarei.  A secure spot right in the centre of town close to all facilities, bars, restaurants, cafes and shops.  This must be one of the best temporary stops in New Zealand.  He forecast is for high winds – I have put out a couple of extra mooring lines. 

Ngozi arrived just after nine and it was great to meet up again.  The last time we were together was early June in San Francisco.  We went up into town, had a nice brunch, watched a bit of the predictable match between the All Blacks and Argentinian Pumas, filled up my empty gas bottle and generally caught up on what’s been happening since I been away.

Later in the day the previous owners of Truce came by and stopped for a drink and a chat.  So, a nice social day in Whangarei.

Shattered jam jar
Shattered jam jar

In the evening, I was opening a glass jar and the whole thing shattered in my hand, cutting the top of my right index finger quire badly.  I used some steri-strips to close the wound, wrapped plaster around it to hold it all together with a finger stall on top.  Cutting that finger is particularly annoying – it’s the finger that does everything. 

The weather forecast is quite horrendous.  Very strong south westerly winds with speeds up to fifty knots.  I will hunker down in Whangarei until conditions outside are more favourable to continue down to Auckland.

STOP OFF AT WHANGAREI

I had a nice peaceful night at Tutakaka anchorage.  A low swell coming over the reef making Truce roll gently.  I had an early start, departing before sunrise, relying on the leading lights to guide me out of the harbour entrance past the outlaying reef.  My early start was driven by the forecast of south westerly winds later in the morning that would be on the nose as we headed down the coast.

Whangarei Lifting Bridge
Whangarei Lifting Bridge

Once clear of Tutakaka we motored down the coast in rain and poor visibility until around nine when the cloud broke and the sun made an appearance.  The sea and air around us was teaming with bird life – a sea lion surfaced alongside and startled me.

By ten we were past Bream head and heading up the channel into Whangarei Harbour.  The south west wind started blowing hard but by this time we were around the corner and into the shelter of the harbour.  Once we had motored past the refinery and commercial wharfs I anchored just past the Marsden Point Marina for lunch and to await the last three hours of flood tide to take us up into Whangarei town basin.

Whangarei Town Basin, Northland
Whangarei Town Basin, Northland

After lunch, I picked up the anchor and motored the remaining twelve miles up to Whangarei.  One obstacle on the way is a bridge which must be lifted to allow passage.  A call to bridge control on VHF channel 18 produced a positive response and as we motored towards the bridge it stated to open and we passed through without missing a beat.

Once past the bridge it’s a short distance to the town basin, a great mooring spot that’s sheltered and right in the centre of town.  Just after three in the afternoon Truce was secure alongside, the sun was shining and all was well.  I am looking forward to meeting up with Ngozi again tomorrow.

HEADING SOUTH TOWARDS AUCKLAND

I awoke early this morning – because I was cold – must find out where I stowed the blankets many months ago.  It’s surprising that things can be hard to find on such a small boat.

As today is a moving day an early start was not a bad thing.  After a life restoring cup of tea I walked to the local store and bought some fresh bread and milk.  Then to the marina office to check out.  The Bay of Islands Marina is a top-quality establishment and one of the best marinas I have stopped at – anywhere.  They have good, clean, modern, facilities and a very helpful staff – thanks for making my stay enjoyable.

Shortly after checking out I was letting go of the ropes from the berth and heading around to the fuel dock to bunker some diesel.  After bunkering I caught the last of the ebb tide out into the bay.

The weather forecast was for Northerly winds but they didn’t arrive until late afternoon and then not strong enough to sail.  So, it was motoring all day.  At first we had overcast skies and intermittent rain and drizzle.  Then after lunch the sky brightened and we had a glorious afternoon.

After rolling around Cape Brett I could see the coast laid out to the horizon – excellent visibility.  The sea was alive with bird life, dolphins, sea lions and I assume plenty of fish.  We continued motoring and just after six in the evening entered Tutakaka Harbour to anchor for the night.

Tomorrow I will continue heading south and call into Whangarei on the way.  Ngozi is driving up from Auckland and we will meet up on Sunday at the town dock.  I am looking forward to that.

REST, RECUPERATION AND TIDY UP IN OPUA

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.