A NEW ADVENTURE BEGINS
January 6 2020
For many months I have been painting, maintaining and refurbishing Truce. Now, we are both ready to venture out again, this time for a New Zealand cruise.
After so many months of stationary activity it’s wonderful to be moving again. This cruise will be different as I have no set timetable or itinerary planned. I would like to visit the north coast above the Bay of Islands, Fiordland, Stewart Island and the west coast of the South Island. How and when I get there will be dependent on the boat and weather. If I like a place I will linger and if the weather is nasty I will stay put in shelter. The dictum for the cruise will be ‘No Hurry in Life’.
We sailed from Hobsonville Marina early on New Years day, on a rising tide in calm conditions. Once clear of the channel up to West Harbour we anchored in the stream for breakfast and awaited the outgoing flow to carry on down the harbour. There was very little wind and we had a leisurely motor across to Mawhitipana Bay on Waikeke Island for the night. The next day a S’Wly breeze took us up to North Cove on Kawau Island. An easy sail on the port tack the whole way, wonderful sailing. It was a little blustery in North Cove in the evening but nothing too bad, we had plenty of room to put a good scope of chain out.
The forecast overnight was for more S’Wly wind and we decided to head further north to Whangarei the next morning before the stronger winds set in. Another brisk sail in building winds took us to Whangerai Harbour entrance where we had an interesting interlude with the headsail furler. As the wind was gusting hard I reefed the Yankee on the new Harken Furler, only to find I had a riding turn on the furling line with the sail three quarters out. Ten minutes spent on the bow sprit getting dunked sorted the problem out but by now we had dropped downwind of the entrance and had to motor into a short chop and strong wind to round Busby head into the harbour. We motored a few more miles up the harbour and anchored in ‘The Nook’ together with five other boats sheltering from the building wind.
We have now been anchored either in the Nook or Parua Harbour for the last three nights as the wind continues to blow from the West. The Nook anchorage is a fine place to be in a blow with excellent holding for the anchor. We are quite happy to sit here for a few days, we have internet connection and lots of little jobs to do in a leisurely manner. I have adjusted the lead for the furler which should fix the riding turn problem, just a teething problem with a new furler. I may change the furling line for a larger diameter rope, but will see how the new lead works first. Another excitement was the dinghy flipping upside down in a gust of wind. Unfortunately the outboard was still attached and it got a good dunking. Saltwater and outboards is potentially life threatening to outboards. I spent a few hours washing, cleaning, dismantling, lubricating, replacing the fuel and oils and some coloruful language fuel before it spluttered into life once again.
Yesterday, in the afternoon I felt a chill in the air and caught a faint whiff of smoke. Soon after, the sun disappeared behind a layer of smoke blown across the Tasman from the Australian bush fires and the whole place turned a dark orange colour. Quite apocalyptic , street lights came on due to the low light. Amazing that the smoke has travelled over 2000 km and is still thick enough to block out the sun. A sobering reality check – the conditions in some parts of Australia will be truly awful.
Tomorrow we hope to sail north again as the winds are expected to moderate. We could have sailed today but don’t see the point in being uncomfortable, another day won’t make any difference. No hurry in life!
January 7 2020
At last we have broken free of the windy weather of Whangarei Harbour and the anchorage at the Nook. We sailed from Whangarei in blustery conditions and made good time up the coast to Tutakaka. The wind had subsided by the time we made Tutakaka and we found a good anchorage in the outer harbour. Once settled we went ashore to stretch our legs. It didn’t take too much encouragement to duck into the Tutakaka Angling club for a fish supper and a couple of beers.
Feeling refreshed, lubricated and with full stomachs, we headed back to Truce. Both of us looking forward to a peaceful night’s sleep which we have been denied the last few days due to windy conditions.
Tomorrow we will head a bit further up the coast, maybe Bland Bay or Whangamumu.
January 8 2020
After a wonderful peaceful night’s sleep we had a leisurely breakfast before heading ashore in the dinghy. The little Suzuki outboard is running a bit rough, I think it needs some adjustment on the carburetor, a side effect of its recent drowning no doubt.
Once ashore we wandered around, bought some ice for the ice box and additional petrol for the outboard. We gave the ice crème a miss as it was just too chilly even though its supposed to be summer.
After a late lunch we weighed anchor and by 14:30 we were headed out of Tutakaka and up the coast. The wind was slight, not enough to sail anywhere in a hurry. We motor-sailed in beautiful calm conditions up the coast, fairly close in to see the shore.
I steered into Bland Bay to have a look for an anchorage. The bay has a long sweeping beach and anchorage can be found at the south end. We didn’t like the look of it so headed out and set course for Whangamumu, only another eight miles away. At 19:30 we were anchored in perfect calm in Whangamumu Harbour, what a beautiful place.
Dinner this evening is courtesy of my Christmas present – a pressure cooker! How did I ever survive before without a pressure cooker? Now I am certainly no cook, but rice, pasta and boiled veg are cooked to perfection in my new device. It’s easy to use, cheap on gas and easy to clean. I am told that it’s possible to can fish as well. I would like to try that one day if I ever succeed in catching a tuna or similar.
Tonight looks to be another epic sleeping night. Perhaps we will linger here another day in Whangamumu.
BUSH WALKS AND TIRED LEGS
January 9 2020
Another wonderful sleeping night. Awoke this morning refreshed and looked out to a peaceful calm anchorage. Lots of boats in the anchorage, many of them preparing for a day’s fishing.
We took breakfast in the cockpit, coffee with English muffins and my homemade grapefruit marmalade. The weather is warm now, looks like the New Zealand summer has arrived. During breakfast the local pod of dolphins arrived to say hello. They frolicked beside the boat for a couple of minutes before heading over to the next boat to say hello. Later we saw a bunch of children swimming with them – funny things dolphins.
Mid-morning we headed ashore to the old whaling station. Ngozi had packed water and provisions for a tramp and we set off on the trail towards Cape Brett. What a trail, not a flat bit to be found, up and down and around. After thirty minutes I was knackered, not used to walking! We saw Te Toroa Bay, it looked idyllic, we tried to get there but it was a beach too far. We turned back and made the exhausting return trip with a few smoko breaks along the way.
Once back at the old whaling station we flopped exhausted on the grass before dunking out feet in the sea. It was warm. Rowing back to Truce seemed to be much further than when we had come ashore.
Ah, but back on board the reviving qualities of cold beer soon brought us back to life.
AROUND CAPE BRETT TO THE BAY OF ISLANDS
January 10 2020
An early start this morning in calm clear conditions. We picked up the anchor, motored out of Whangamumu harbour and continued up the coast towards Cape Brett. As we approached Cape Brett the birdlife increased, obviously some good food source for the birds around here.
We passed close to Motukokako Island (Percy Island) with its ‘Hole in the rock’. I remember when we first visited New Zealand on holiday we took a tourist boat and went through the hole. Quite a memorable experience, one that is being experienced by tourists today – although the boats are much faster now.
Once around Cape Brett we headed into the Bay of Islands. Quite a busy place with boats of all sorts everywhere, everybody on the water enjoying the glorious weather and summer holidays.
I took advantage of the calm conditions to set up the new (second hand) Raymarine tiller pilot. First I did a reset then calibrated the compass. Then adjusted the settings to get a decent response and course keeping. It did OK but I am not overly impressed, the real test will come when the conditions are more trying. At the moment I think my old Autohelm was better.
In the afternoon we headed over to Whale Bay on the Purerua Peninsular. I haven’t been here before, it’s a beautiful Bay with deep clear water and a beach at one end. It’s totally open to the south and I expect it could be uncomfortable in anything but calm weather.
After we dropped anchor I took the dinghy and drifted along the rocky shoreline with a fishing line out. Soon I had some good sized Snapper hooked up. I kept one pan sized fish for dinner.
We ate Thai fish Curry tonight. Excellent and the pressure cooker did perfect rice. So good not to have a pot of mushy rice bubbling away. It’s been an excellent day, I will sleep well again tonight. Tomorrow we may explore on shore and if the weather is good may stay in Whale Bay for another night.
CAPTURED IN WHALE BAY
January 11 2020
Another perfect night. I am getting spoilt with calm conditions and peaceful anchorages. The only disturbance this morning was the cows on the hill making noise. This place is good, we are captured here for another day as we can’t think of a better place to go.
With my new found fishing confidence I decided to take the dinghy, head over to the rocks and catch some more fish. Only had the lure in the water for a couple of minutes and got hooked up on a rock. No amount of pulling, jiggling and jerking would get the dam thing free. Ended up losing the lure and returning empty handed. Confidence a bit dented but will try again this evening.
With fishing postponed I set about getting the outboard running properly. This problem has not been caused by the dunking it got in the Nook a few days ago. It had been running rough previous to that incident. Before setting out from Auckland consulted YouTube, I was sure someone had the same problem. Lucky a few people appear to have similar problems with the Suzuki DF2.5 engine. Rough running and poor idle seems to be the norm. Fortunately a fix is at hand. There is a sealed mixture screw on the carburetor. The seal cap needs to be drilled out and the adjustment screw can be found underneath. A few twists of the screw had the motor running near perfect. Apparently the screw is sealed to comply with federal (USA) emissions standards. There is no mention of the mixture screw in the Suzuki owner’s manual, but luckily YouTube has an answer for most things.
With the outboard fixed I started rigging lifting slings for the dinghy. A quick schoolboy calculation indicated the center of gravity of the dinghy with he outboard motor attached and the required sling length to get everything balanced. I fitted the slings and hey presto it worked. I can now quickly hoist the dinghy alongside the rail and lash it there in a secure position. It’s also easy to fit and remove the outboard in this position. I am quite chuffed with the outcome and this will prevent future capsize events in gusty weather with the dinghy tied astern. I had a celebratory beer after.
The next little project was fitting a new anchor light, one that comes on automatically at dusk and turns off at dawn. I have an anchor light at the mast head, this is a nice bright light but I would also like a light lower down clearly visible to any vessel approaching at night. A bit of wiring and soldering later the light was working. I can now leave the light out when I am at anchor and it switches on and off automatically.
I tried fishing again this evening, caught a snapper and threw him back. Then the wind freshened and I kept getting blown away from the rocks in the dinghy. Decided to call it a day and returned to Truce for sundowners.
It’s been a good day with a few little jobs knocked off. Tomorrow is a moving day.
MOORED UP FOR A FEW DAYS
January 12 2020
This morning we had a leisurely sail towards Opua, there was not much wind and we ghosted most of the way with just the yankee helping us along. It took awhile but eventually we picked up a mooring in English Bay. We have rented the mooring for a few days as we are heading back to Auckland tomorrow to pick up friends who are arriving from the UK.
In the late afternoon we took the dinghy ashore and checked in at the Yacht Club for a few beers and a feed. The beer and food were both good and we arrived back at Truce later in the evening happy and tired.
The following morning we tidied up the boat, checked the mooring arrangements for a last time and headed ashore for the trip back to Auckland. The guys at Burnsco were good enough to stow our outboard and oars in their warehouse for a few days and the dinghy we left tied at the dock. We then walked up the hill and caught the bus to Auckland, bang on time.
SUMMER SAILING, VISITORS AND WONDERFUL WEATHER
January 25 2020
Back in Auckland we were reunited with the traffic jams and city noise, luckily we only stayed two nights before heading back north. We collected our visitors, Richard and Doris from the airport and had a couple of days at home and introduced them to Auckland. We then set off to Tutakaka for a night, then onto Russell where we dropped off Richard and Doris at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, where they would stay for two nights. Richard asked me to buy a car for his visit and I managed to pick up a Volvo at the auction for a decent price, hope it holds up. Its really handy to have a boat and a car in the same location.
Ngozi and I headed back to Opua, rigged up the dinghy and headed out to Truce. It was a wet ride back, wind against tide made for a short choppy sea. The dinghy was overloaded with stores and we took a fair amount of water on board before arriving at English Bay. Nice to be back on board. We slept well that night, nice and secure on the mooring.
Over the next few days we cruised in the Bay of Islands, visited Waitangi, Rangihoua Bay and Marsdens Cross, Kerikeri, Stone Store, Whale Bay and various other nooks. Once finished in the Bay of islands we motored round to Whangaroa Harbour, what a delight! This is the first time I have been there and I will certainly return. Numerous sheltered anchorages, bush walks, fishing and even a fresh water buoy.
After two nights in Whangaroa we moved around to Mangonui for a couple more nights. On the 23rd January Richard and Doris departed to continue their New Zealand vacation by car. It had been so good having Richard and Doris on board, lots of fun and catching up on the ‘good old days’. But, truce is not really geared up for long term guests and it was good to just have the two of us on board again for a couple of days.
On the 25th Ngozi departed back to Auckland and I was alone again. After having people on board for so long the boat suddenly felt very lonely. I made myself busy preparing to depart south and by 12:30 I was on my way, motoring out of Mangonui Harbour. I soon picked up a light NE’ly breeze and had full sail set, sailing at 3 and 4 knots, not fast but easy sailing on a low sea and heading in the right direction.
MANGONUI TO HICKS BAY, A MIXED BAG
January 28 2020
After a promising, slow but steady start from Mangonui on the afternoon of the 25th the wind died and I had to resort to motor, passing Cape Brett around midnight in calm seas. All the next day the wind teased me, alternating between scampering along under full sail to being becalmed and slatting sails. The motor was on and off all day, running seven hours in total. In hindsight I was trying too hard, no need to run the motor, there was no hurry.
After looking at the forecast I decided to sail directly to Hicks Bay and not call in at Great Barrier as previously planned. It was slow going, wind then no wind, I determined not to use the motor unless absolutely necessary this second day out. I managed a full day without the motor, but only sailed eighty eight miles for my troubles. It was slow and frustrating but coastal sailing around New Zealand often is, but it was beautiful to be out here on the ocean and enjoying the freedom.
Although I thought nothing of my decision not to stop at Great Barrier, Ngozi became concerned when I hadn’t checked in with her. I was enjoying myself so much it never occurred to me that she might be concerned. Anyway, Ngozi called the Coastguard and asked them where I was. They didn’t know so they called Maritime New Zealand. This resulted in me getting a call from Maritime Radio on VHF radio when thirty eight miles off Hicks Bay, which I received and answered on my handheld VHF in the cockpit. I was surprised to get a call and even more surprised that the handheld VHF reached the shore station with a good strength signal according to the operator. Maritime Radio confirmed that they had my position on AIS, I apologised for the inconvenience and reported all was well on board.
This little incident left me a little upset. All my fault of course. I now file trip reports with Maritime radio when sailing around the coast with check in schedules every 12 hours. If I expect to be out of phone coverage I make sure my passage plan is communicated to Ngozi. In addition Ngozi can now track me on AIS using Marine Traffic website – nowhere to hide.
We arrived at Hicks Bay early morning of the 28th with 25 knots of wind from astern giving us a good push for the final miles. Finally dropping anchor off the disused jetty at seven in 8m of water. All day the wind howled, it was too windy to put the dinghy down for a run ashore. I sat in isolation swinging around the anchor, the one compensation being a telephone signal and internet access. In early evening I increased the anchor scope for peace of mind and had a good sleep.
A major let down on the trip down from Mangonui was the failure of the Raymarine Tiller pilot on the first day. For some reason the compass in the unit is wandering off course. This is the Raymarine ST2000+ model which is supposed to be up to the job of steering Truce. I have opened the unit up and can’t see anything obviously amiss, the compass looks ok and the electrical connections look OK. It’s all very disappointing, I only have the ancient Autohelm tiller pilot as backup. Single handing without a reliable autopilot is not much fun.
The forecast for tomorrow looks fairly benign for rounding East Cape and the tides look good for a late morning start.
ROUNDING EAST CAPE
January 29 2020
The wind died down last night and I finally had a really good rest. I awoke early this morning and had a look around , all was peaceful and I indulged in another hour in bed. After a leisurely breakfast I sailed off the anchor with triple reefed main and yankee at 10:00.
I soon shook a couple of reefs out the main sail and in a light W’ly breeze made good time towards East Cape. A beautiful crystal clear day and the shoreline clearly visible as it slid by to starboard. East Cape is one of the few lighthouses I have visited from the shore, always interesting to get a lighthouse keepers perspective – although there are not many lighthouse keepers around anymore.
My timing for the tide turned out to be spot on, I had the south going current with me and took the inside passage between East Cape and East Island. The wind went light as I went around but there was just enough to keep sailing and the sea was calm. A beautiful morning.
Once clear of East Cape the wind returned and it was a glorious sail down the coast towards Tokomaru Bay with a good following breeze . We averaged well over 7 knots for a while with just a reefed main and yankee and Micky doing the steering, effortless – how it should be.
All good things come to an end and an hour out of Tokomaru Bay the wind died, just like someone had turned a switch. The services of Mr. Yanmar were called upon to get us to the anchorage before dark. We anchored in the north part of Tokomaru Bay, just off a disused wharf in Waima Cove. It’s a funny sort of anchorage, quite open to the sea with a reef providing some protection. An interesting anchorage and maybe I could have got further in, but without local knowledge I wasn’t going to try it.
There is supposed to be a good pub here and I wanted to get ashore and give it a go. But, I didn’t have the courage to leave Truce in such an open anchorage so passed on the opportunity. Maybe another time.
I feel we are making good progress to the south, passing East Cape is always a significant milestone when travelling along this coast. The weather ahead and into Cook Strait is not looking too promising at the moment, lets see what happens in the next couple of days.
NO ANCHORAGE, SO A NIGHT AT SEA
January 30 2020
The anchorage at Waima Cove turned out to be quite good, just a little chop coming in over the reef and a low swell but I had another good night’s rest. Today I want to head south but the forecast further south is not nice, particularly around Castlepoint where gale force winds are happening, they often blow around Castlepoint. I have it in my mind to travel a bit further south and anchor at Tolega Bay awaiting an improvement in the weather.
By seven we were clear of Waima Cove motoring south in calm conditions. All morning the wind teased on and off and Mr. Yanmar was on and off in the calm patches. A beautiful day, more suited to motor boats.
By lunchtime we arrived at Tolega Bay and I prepared to anchor. I found a suitable spot just off the long jetty where the local youth were having a great time jumping into the water and swimming around. The wind became gusty, maybe only a sea breeze, the sandy bottom, the ground swell and the exposed nature of the bay put me off. I don’t think Truce would have been happy there. I didn’t feel comfortable anchoring in that position although I have seen yachts anchored there previously. A bigger boat would be OK or in very settled weather it would be acceptable for Truce. I lingered in the bay, thinking about it. Nah, if it doesnt feel right trust your instincts. I restowed the anchor and thought few the possibilities. I had to lose some time before heading further south or we would run into bad weather.
While in Tolega Bay I took the opportunity to check out Cooks Cove, a place where he carried out some needed maintenance to the Endeavour. A great cove, providing shelter from wind and sea. It looked very inviting and I would have liked to get in and anchor there for the night. However, the cove is silted up and a check with the satellite feature on google maps confirmed that it is very shallow, drying out considerably at low water. I think there is a sheltered anchoring spot in there, maybe possible with local knowledge and a shore line.
With my anchorage options reduced I decided to head out offshore for the night and slowly work my way down towards Portland at the north end of Hawke Bay to be ready to go south when the weather improved. I headed offshore to get some searoom.
The evening was very pleasant, a light N’ly breeze set in slowly pushing us South. An Albatross came to visit for a few minutes, circling Truce and looking down as if examining the rig critically before heading off with hardly a wing beat. Was he carrying the soul of a deceased sailor? Later the Cruise Ship ‘Silver Muse’ slipped by, all lit up.
That was about all the activity for the night. I settled into a routine of cat naps, cups of tea and the never-ending contemplation of the weather.
UNSCHEDULED SHORE LEAVE IN GISBORNE
January 31 2020
All night the wind remained fickle as we slowly headed south towards Portland. By 05:00 the wind started to pick up and an hour later was gusting 25 knots, the top end of the forecast range. As we approached Portland the wind seemed to have increased even more. A log entry for 06:30 notes, wind 30 knots off Portland, rough seas, double reefed main and 1/3 yankee.
As we came out of the lee of Portland I had reduced to triple reefed main and handkerchief size yankee, the sea became rough with short breaking seas. I tried to lay a course for Napier where I could get some shelter. By 09:00 it became clear I could not make Napier if the wind held direction, we were getting pushed too far to the south and it was a bet and bumpy ride trying to beat across to Napier. We could easily get around Cape Kidnappers and head further south but unfortunately that road led to Castlepoint where there were 60 knot winds forecast and no possibility of any shelter or anchorages on the way.
I had run out of options and reluctantly turned around and headed back northward towards Gisborne, the only place of shelter available. I didn’t want to go back but it was the only safe option available.
On the way back past Mahia Peninsular the Rocket Lab range control called me up on VHF radio. They had a launch scheduled for later that day and wanted to confirm I would be off the range by then. Yes, I confirmed I would be clear. I asked their wind speed reading, they confirmed gusting just above 30 knots. I sailed back in the direction of Gisborne making great speed and arrived at the fairway buoy at 17:48.
I started the engine to enter Gisborne and after a few minutes it stopped! Most unusual as Mr. Yanmar is usually the most reliable of engines. After a check around I restarted the engine and motored gently to a berth and was all tied up by 19:00. As I stepped ashore to tie the dock lines I felt a bit unsteady on my feet, it has been five days since I have been ashore!
Once Truce was secure, I jumped ashore and headed up to the Gisborne and Tatapouri Fishing Club on the dock. A club member signed me in and I was able to get a very nice fish supper before the kitchen closed and a couple of pints of draft beer.
It’s been quite an eventful day. Didn’t turn out the way I expected or planned. We sailed just over 100 miles since last midnight and some of it in the wrong direction unfortunately. But never mind, we can’t change the weather and safe and sound in Gisborne, well fed and watered, is not a bad place to be.
I will check out the Yanmar engine in the morning to see why it stopped. In the meantime, I intend to get some serious sleep, nice and secure alongside the marina.
REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE DAY IN GISBORNE
February 1 2020
I awoke this morning completely rested. The trip down from Mangonui had been good but the last couple of days have been tiring, a good sleep has restored my mojo. Gisborne marina is well situated close to the town, with local 4 square and laundry close by and a couple of bars outside the marina gate.
This morning I fresh water washed down the boat, it was absolutely caked with salt after shipping so much spray over the last few days. Then a trip up to 4 square to stock up on fresh bread and fruit. A visit to the laundrette to do the dhobi, finally to pick up some ice for the cold box before returning on board. Once back I set about making a well-deserved brunch.
With brunch out the way and feeling happy and healthy I started to get to grips with the Yanmar engine. I soon found very dirty fuel in the primary filter, that’s the big filter between the fuel tanks and the engine. I am sure the wild weather we experienced yesterday off the Mahia Peninsular stirred p some dirt that had settled in the fuel tanks and sent it to the filter. I reckon (hope it was) the dirty fuel clogging the filter that caused the engine to stop.
I have a spare filter cartridge on board so got to changing it out and washing the filter bowl and everything to ensure no further contamination. I also changed the small secondary fuel filter on the engine just in case any dirt had made its way that far in the system. A dirty and messy job and of course some diesel made its way into the bilge requiring further cleaning.
As I was on a maintenance day, I decided to change out the Jabsco raw water impeller and clean out the raw water intake strainer basket.
After bleeding the fuel system, I started up Mr. Yanmar and he ran as smoothly as ever. This was a relatively simple job, it took me well into the evening before everything was finished and tested, tools put away and the boat cleaned up. Happy to have resolved the problem I went to bed feeling relaxed and tired.
DEPARTING GISBORNE SOUTHWARD
February 3 2020
I lingered another day in Gisborne. It’s a nice place and I wanted to have a look around. There was no point in sailing earlier as the weather to the south at Castlepoint and Cook Strait is diabolical. I didn’t expect so much bad weather at this time of year.
At 10:00 we let go from the marina and motored out into a flat calm Gisborne bay. I motored for a couple of hours until midday when a slight breeze set in from the north. Very happy that the motor ran without missing a beat after the previous fuel problem. We set full sail and were moving along nicely at 5.5 knots when, an hour later, the wind died completely – what nonsense!
The no wind situation continued until sundowners. I am just floating around out here, enjoying an evening beer and wondering why there is wind everywhere else but not in my patch of sea.
Well there is really no hurry as the forecast for Castlepoint and Cook to the south is still horrible. I will just take my time and go with the weather gods gifts.
TRAPPED IN HAWKES BAY
February 4 2020
Just before midnight last night a thick wet mist descended upon us. It was a fog but the water droplets were like miniature rain, everywhere quickly became wet and visibility was very poor. By 05:00 the mist had gone and it felt very wet and cold. Strange weather.
The weather remained calm until midday when a light N’ly picked up and by 15:00 we sailed slowly past Portland Island Light House. By 18:00 the wind had died, we were becalmed again. So, we are back in the same place we were a few days ago.
But wait, at 19:00 a NW wind set up and was soon blowing 15 knots. Not the direction I wanted and the sky looked ominous, so I reefed the mainsail a couple of reefs. Sure enough by 22:00 we had 20 knots and gusting, soon the third reef went into the main as the wind picked up to a gusty angry 25 knots.
With no safe anchorage available I tacked down towards Napier roads, trying to keep the boat comfortable as the sea was becoming rough with short seas. Not very comfortable and not much sea room available.
All evening spent trying to keep comfortable and reduce stress on the boat. It’s still bad weather down to the south of us so I need to linger in this area for a few hours more before rounding Cape Kidnappers. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
ROUNDING CAPE KIDNAPPERS
February 5 2020
My logbook records that at 01:00 we had 35 knot gusts from the NW. With hindsight the wind may have been closer to 30 knots, but in the dark with the short breaking seas it felt like 35 knots and was not comfortable. I spent the rest of the night and early morning dodging to the north into Hawke Bay in strong winds awaiting daylight.
At 09:00 I turned to the south with the wind still gusting to 30 knots, with triple reefed main and small handkerchief yankee we made good time, spray flying everywhere. By noon wind and sea has eased considerably, we had full sail, heading to Cape Kidnappers at 5.5 knots. The wind then came around to the SE and I had to take a big tack out east before tacking back to clear Cape Kidnappers which we rounded at 18:30.
It felt good to be out of Hawke Bay and its windy grip, finally to be heading south towards Cook Strait. We had to tack down the coast as the wind seemed to bend along the shoreline, it didn’t matter we were making progress again – or so I thought. At 21:00 the wind died. No wind and flat calm, sails slatting back and forth. Frustration, this just wasn’t forecast.
I will wait until midnight and if there is any wind coming. If not Mr Yanmar will be called upon to get us going under motor again. I don’t want to lose too much time on this leg down to Cook Strait as there is a weather window after which gale force winds are predicted to set in again. I would like to get somewhere sheltered before that happens.
FICKLE WIND AND ENGINE PROBLEMS
February 6 2020
At midnight I started the engine, we had no wind and there seemed no prospect of wind as a thick wet mist had descended on us. Unfortunately, at 02:00 the engine spluttered and then stopped, the silence was deafening. I tracked the problem to air in the fuel system and once it was bled, we were on our way again.
An hour later the engine stopped again, same problem, air in the fuel line. Once again, I bled the system and we were on our way again. This time the engine lasted thirty minutes and stopped. As the situation was not getting better, I decided to investigate further, I suspected the primary filter as being the problem.
I opened up the primary filter (more diesel in the bilge) and took the whole thing apart, checking for any way air could get in. When I took off the hose between the engine and filter, I noticed there was a vacuum in the line, as though the engine was sucking fuel but not getting anything. Very strange. I had replaced the old WIX filter with a NAPA filter, they were supposed to be compatible and I had checked online before replacing the WIX filter in Gisborne. On closer examination I found that there were no perforations in the top of the NAPA filter to allow fuel from the tank to pass through. I got out the electric drill and drilled some holes in to the top of the filter, taking care to collect all the metal swarf. Desperate measures.
I refitted everything, bled the system again and started the engine. Yes, running again! We had lost a lot of time and I was concerned we were losing our weather window for Cook Strait. With still no wind we continued to motor south until midnight when we were still a few hours off Castlepoint.
A very frustrating day, no wind, lots of motoring and work on the fuel system, everything smelling like diesel. Times like this make me wonder why I am carrying around this mast, rig and sails. They have just been ornaments today. Only seventy-two miles progress today due to all the stops for engine problems.
INTO COOK STRAIT
February 7 2020
At 04:00 we passed Castlepoint, still motoring without wind. It must be quite unusual not to have wind at Castlepoint.
The engine stopped at 09:15. The same problem as before, air in the fuel system. I thought my fix of drilling holes in the filter had fixed the problem, not so, only a very temporary fix. Once again I went through the bleeding routine and the engine started again.
The fuel problems continued throughout the day with multiple engine shut downs. I became very good at bleeding the fuel system. In the end the engine would only run for fifteen minutes before it shut down. Basically, we were without engine until I could get somewhere and fix the problem properly.
Fortunately, a bit of breeze had sprung up and we rounded Cape Pallister around 21:00 and headed up towards Wellington with a light S’ly breeze. Looks like I will have to sail into wellington, just hope this S’ly wind holds long enough to get us there before the forecast N’ly sets in. The trip down from Gisborne has been tiring so far, little wind, too much wind, calms, motoring and fuel problems.
UNABLE TO MAKE WELLINGTON, PLAN B, SOUTH ISLAND
February 8 2020
At 03:30 this morning we were only eight miles from Wellington Harbour entrance, I was hoping the s’ly wind would hold for a couple more hours. But no, the light S’ly wind died and a vigorous N’ly wind set in. Without motor it was impossible to make Wellington.
The forecast was for 25 knot N’ly winds in Cook Strait gusting to 30 knots. My options were to run down to Akoroa, head back around Cape Pallister or run across Cook Strait towards the top of the South Island.
I chose plan B, to head across to the top of the South Island roughly aiming for the Cloudy Bay area. By 04:00 the wind was shrieking through the rigging. I had managed to get all sail off the boat apart from a scrap of yankee that was driving us forward at a crazy speed. We were shipping seas over the boat and quite a few ended up in the cockpit. All courtesy of the Cook Strait wind against tide thing.
Amidst all this mayhem a cruise ship called me up on VHF radio and asked what my intentions were. Now, that is Merchant Navy speak, meaning “are you going to alter course for me”? I replied that I was unable to alter course (I have right of way anyway) and just hanging on to survive. Very politely the officer of the watch informed me he would alter course to pass ahead. I asked what wind speed he had on his anemometer, he replied gusting fifty knots. Well, it was certainly more than the thirty knots forecast!
By daylight the wind had reduced to around thirty knots and at 10:00 it was reducing quite quickly and the sun was shining through. At Midday the wind turned around to the south and give us a good 20 knot breeze to get us going towards Port Underwood, the outer Marlborough Sounds.
Luckily the S’ly wind held good and we were able to sail in glorious sunshine and sparkling seas to make Port Underwood. The wind started to die but just held on for us to ghost under yankee into Oyster Bay and anchor at 18:00. Now the weather is cool, overcast and wet, had just about everything today.
It has been a very eventful day. Defeated in getting into Wellington, a nasty night of very strong winds and high seas followed by a beautiful sail into a nice protected anchorage. We haven’t ended up where intended but are very happy to be here.
As I sit here secure in a calm anchorage, I feel very tired. It’s taken a huge effort to get here. I think just one beer tonight will see me off to a long sleep.
February 9 2020
I had a wonderful sleep last night and had a late start and leisurely breakfast. The last few days had been hard and i needed to catch up on sleep. The day is sunny and warm and all’s well in my little world. Well, almost, as I have an engine that needs some maintenance. Truce has come through our battering yesterday without any damage apart from a few sail slugs ripped off the mainsail.
My friend Richard who is on vacation in the South Island came over this morning and we used his car to drive into Blenheim to source a replacement filter cartridge. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find one in stock so have ordered one from Supercheap Auto.
In Waikawa we found exact Bainbridge replacement sail slugs from Oddies Chandlers. A stroke of good luck as Burnsco didn’t have any. I will get busy with the palm and needle and sew new slugs onto the mainsail when I have a quiet day.
The afternoon we spent in Picton having a few drinks followed by dinner. Afterwards we somehow ended up in the Irish bar. We all arrived back at the boat after dark and Richard and Doris stayed on board for the night. Nice to have company on board again.
ENGINE FIXED AND STEVEN ARRIVES
February 10 2020
Another beautiful morning in Oyster Bay. Everybody slept well last night, maybe the drinks at the Irish pub helped. Richard, Doris and I had breakfast on board and planned the day ahead. Its Monday morning and a google search, a couple of phone calls, revealed a compatible FRAM filter cartridge available in Blenheim.
So off we set again to Blenheim to pick up the filter. With filter in hand Richard and I returned to Truce and fitted it then tested the engine. All seems to be running well now and I am happy that I can see the fuel moving through the filter bowl. The real test will be on a long engine run but I am confident we have fixed the problem.
This evening my Son, Steven arrived on the Interisland ferry from Wellington. He has come over from Melbourne for a holiday and will join me on Truce for a few days.
Steven and I arrived back on Truce early evening. Richard and Doris are staying in Picton for a few days.
Tomorrow Steven and I are going to sail Truce around from Port Underwood to Picton or Waikawa.
AROUND TO WAIKAWA WITH MOTOR AND SAIL
February 12 2020
Steven and I had a leisurely breakfast this morning, heaps of toast with home-made grapefruit marmalade and fresh coffee. At 09:00 we started the engine and picked up the anchor, departing Oyster Bay. There was no wind so we motored out of Port Underwood and up along the coast towards Tory Channel. It was a beautiful sparkling sunny morning. We tried fishing with a lure but only succeeded in catching a large lump of seaweed.
The passage through Tory Channel was expected to be difficult as the tide was coming out at around six knots. My plan was to try and sneak up the south side of the channel close to the rocks in what may be a slacker current. The plan went well until we tried to turn the corner, a large rock with very swift current over it blocked our progress. With engine on full revs we were only holding our ground and not making any forward progress. Then a breeze sprang up and we set sail, our speed shot up with the wind assistance and we slowly clawed our way into Tory Channel and out of the worst of the outgoing flow.
Halfway down the channel the wind went light but by now we were out of the worst of the current, we motored into Queen Charlotte Sound. Once in Queen Charlotte Sound a N’ly breeze took us down to Waikawa where I secured a mooring for four nights. Once safely on the mooring it was ashore again for Diner with Richard and Doris at their rented apartment. A lovely diner with good company, much nicer than a restaurant meal.
Steven and I returned to Truce with full tummies for a good rest. I am happy that we had no problems with the engine or fuel system. The FRAM filter is working well and hopefully we shall never talk of this subject again.
PICNIC IN THE SOUNDS
February 12 2020
Well, the holiday and nice weather continues, a beautiful morning after a peaceful night spent secure on the mooring. After breakfast Steven and I took Truce around to Picton to pick up Richard and Doris from the public dock. Once onboard we headed up Queen Charlotte Sound to find a suitable stopping off spot for lunch.
After a few miles we turned into Ruakaka Bay and found a lunchtime anchorage off a beach at Ratimera Bay, a beautiful place to stop for lunch. Ashore there were picnic tables, campsite and toilets – this place is so well organised.
Steven was brave enough to have a swim and went ashore. The water was too cold for the rest of us. The water has to be almost tepid before I will venture in.
Doris had made up some delicious lunch for us. Delightful, sitting in the cockpit in lovely weather, sipping wine, eating lunch with a beautiful scenic backdrop. After lunch we just lazed about, chatted and drank more wine.
Too soon it was time to get going. I didn’t want to be late getting back to Picton as Ngozi was arriving on the Interisland Ferry in the early evening. On the way back to Picton we even managed a little sail with the yankee, it only lasted a few minutes.
Once Richard and Doris were dropped off in Picton Steven and I returned to the mooring in Waikawa. Richard arrived a short time later with the car to take us back to their apartment in Picton.
All in good time, Steven and I walked down to the ferry terminal to meet Ngozi. In the evening we dined in Richards apartment and stayed the night. Very different being in a fluffy soft double bed with no rocking and rolling, anchor rumbling or the myriad boat sounds.
February 14 2020
Yesterday Ngozi, Steven and I returned to Truce at the mooring in Waikawa Bay. We had planned to go ashore to the Jolly Roger pub in the evening but didn’t make it. Nobody was really motivated to jump in the dinghy and paddle ashore. It was good to be together again on the boat, so we just stayed on board, ate, drank, chatted and had a good family reunion. We all had a good night catching up onboard.
It was an early start today as Ngozi and Steven are returning to Auckland. It was an early morning dinghy ride and the taxi picked them up from shore at 06:30 to take then to the Ferry Terminal in Picton. I was alone again.
As it was nice and early and quiet I decided to drop the mooring and head down to the fuel dock in Waikawa Marina. I topped off with diesel and fresh water and am now ready to go again. I returned to the mooring , had breakfast and planned out the day. I have lots of little chores to catch up on. When people are onboard it’s difficult to find time for maintenance and fixing things, I now had a day to myself before I headed out again.
One of my priorities was to clean out the bilge which is normally dry. The major concern is the diesel that I spilt when changing and messing around with the fuel filters. Fortunately, it was not as bad as I had anticipated, a couple of cleans with warm water and detergent saw them spotless again and smelling sweet.
I then rigged new boom preventors. My old set up had too steep an angle from the boom, putting too much stress on the system. While the old set up worked – it needed some improvement. I thought about the problem for some time before coming up with the solution. On the bulwark right forward I have secured pad eyes, to the pad eyes I have luggage tag secured low friction rings on dynema loops. The boom preventor line passes through the rings and then back to the cockpit where I can handle them. I can now keep both port and starboard preventers rigged at all times and available for use. Each preventer line is attached to the boom with a soft shackle, a lightweight, strong, silent and convenient attachment.
Pleased with my mornings work I had a late lunch and siesta. Later in the afternoon I changed out the reefing line on the new Harken furler. The new line I put on is too smaller diameter and hard on the hands when furling in windy conditions. I have replaced it with the old furling line from the scrapped Merriman furler. Unfortunately, this line, while kinder on the hands, appears to be a little too large diameter. I will use it and see if it settles in after some serious use.
Now it’s off to an early night, I plan to start my exit from the Marlborough Sounds tomorrow.
HEADING OUT THE SOUNDS
February 16 2020
back by myself again. I dropped the mooring at Waikawa early morning and motored northward up Queen Charlotte sound. A windless day with sunshine and calm all around. being a Saturday there were a few boats around, many whizzing past heading to fishing grounds. How much fuel they consume for the pleasure of catching a few fish.
We motored steadily on at economical speed, passing Ship Cove where Captain Cook visited and replenished, there is a monument in the cove. Then past Cape Jackson, Ninepin Rock and Clay Point before heading into Turners Bay to anchor for the night. It has been calm all day and I enjoyed motoring with the autopilot doing the work. I completed the repair to the mainsail slugs, good as new again.
Turners Bay is quiet, there is a house ashore and a jetty but no one to be seen. It looks very private so I didn’t bother venturing ashore. Its a calm evening, I am enjoying the solitude after the hectic socialising of the past few days.
Ah, a peaceful night at Turners Bay, flat calm all night. This morning looks very different to yesterday, low dark overcast clouds. Looks ominous. The early morning forecast predicted N’ly winds, 15 knots rising to 25 in the afternoon with rain. My plan was to sail over to Abel Tasman National Park in the morning aided by a building N’ly wind on the beam. It’s only a 35-mile crossing and a nice beam wind would have been perfect.
Soon after leaving Turners Bay a strong NW’ly wind sprang up. We motored into it towards French Pass, I gritted my teeth, more wind on the nose. On the approach to French Pass the wind dropped and we were swept through the pass on the south going current. This pass is quite a big deal in New Zealand as there aren’t many places where the current achieves this sort of speed. Compared with some of the passes and rapids in British Columbia and Alaska its quite mundane, but still exciting.
On the south side of French Pass the wind filled in quickly from the north, we were soon sailing along nicely under the yankee, I was waiting to get out of the pass before committing to the mainsail and staysail. It didn’t happen, the wind went light and fluky, after forty minutes of trying to sail the motor was back on again.
There was no N’ly wind to sail across to Abel Tasman National Park, it was all a figment of the weatherman’s imagination. There was calm and residual sea and swell that gave poor old Truce a rolling workout. Even more disappointing, the forecast now predicted the wind back to the NW and increasing, effectively giving us a headwind. I may not be a gentleman, but I don’t like going to weather, so plan B came into play.
With motor on we headed down the coast and into Croisilles Harbour and up into Oyster Bay. The anchor went down in nine meters of water and I put 30 meters of chain out. By 16:00 we were getting very heavy wind gusts and driving rain. I increased the scope of chain and put out a double length of snubber.
Early evening and the wind is howling and coming down the hillside with the sound of an express train. I strongly expect the hills are creating some kind of wind funnel into this bay. There don’t seem to be any other options for a sheltered anchorage so will stay here, heeling and spinning with each gust.
Another yacht has come into the bay for shelter, they are also heeling and spinning with the gusts. I have company, a fellow sufferer.
RELAXING IN ABEL TASMAN
February 20 2020
I eventually spent three nights anchored in Oyster Bay. A blow from the north and west made getting across to Abel Tasman difficult. The second day at Oyster Bay I weighed anchor and headed out, had to use radar as the visibility was poor. The wind had too much west in it to sail over the Abel Tasman. I could have shot down to nelson but didn’t fancy it, so I turned around and headed back for another night in Oyster Bay. The sailor on the other boat gave me a wave as I returned, he must have been wondering what I was up to.
The next day I departed Oyster Bay early. Once again I had the radar on as the visibility was low in a thick mist. Once a mile out of the harbour the mist cleared to reveal an overcast sky. Quite unusual weather for this time of year. The trip across to Abel Tasman was only thirty plus miles but it took some time. The wind was light and patchy. At 15:30 we dropped anchor in Still Bay to a dying breeze.
A funny night at anchor, the wind was from the north, but it came into Stilwell bay from the south with little waves causing a joggle. I could see the boats in the anchorage under Adele Island, only half a mile away, facing to the north and we were facing in the opposite direction. The night was peaceful enough, but I decided not to anchor there again.
This morning I did some housekeeping and changed the engine oil. I usually do it every 150 hours, this time I did it a bit early as a precaution as I feel the engine has been running hard and we have had the fuel filter problems which may have affected the oil in some way. Now Mr Yanmar is topped up with fresh oil and should be good to go for another 150 hours.
Early afternoon I moved anchorage to Watering Cove. A beautiful anchorage just off a beach with a campsite and a stream. I chatted to a local yachtie and he advised me of the best anchorages for the northerly blow we are expecting tomorrow. Seems there are two decent all-weather anchorages in the park, his preference being on the west side of Adele Island. I think I will take his advice and check out the anchorage tomorrow.
STILL RELAXING IN ABEL TASMAN
February 21 2020
The weather this morning was calm. However, the forecast has been talking up a N’ly blow for this afternoon and they seem quite serious about it. After breakfast I secured the dinghy on deck, lashed any loose gear down, making everything secure on deck. Then I weighed anchor and headed over to Adele Island anchorage. I found a good spot in seven meters of water and laid out plenty of chain on a double length snubber.
During the afternoon a number of other boats arrived in the anchorage until there were about fifteen anchored about. The wind built in the late afternoon, the anchorage did provide good shelter and the blow didn’t really amount to much in the end
I didn’t go ashore today, beautiful weather, just a bit windy. Pottering about doing odd jobs and reading – still relaxing.
SMALL WORLD – I RUN INTO AN OLD FRIEND
February 22 2020
Strange weather this morning, overcast and cool with drizzle and calm. The bird life on Adele Island was in full song. Today I was going to explore a bit further north and head into the anchorage for the night. Things turned out differently.
I picked up the anchor, it was well dug in and I had to soak it out. Nice to see the anchor came up with thick grey clay mud on it. It made a real mess on the foredeck but it’s nice to know its good holding in that anchorage.
At nine I decided to head down to Kaiteriteri where there is a grocery store. I needed some bread, beer and fresh provisions. I picked up the anchor, it was well dug in and I had to soak it out. Nice to see the anchor came up with thick grey mud on it. The mud made a mess on the foredeck but its nice to know its good holding in the anchorage.
By eleven we were anchored in Kaiteriteri Bay and I took the little pig ashore on a shopping mission. The place was very busy with tourists, not surprising this is a beautiful part of new Zealand. I lingered ashore for a while and treated myself to an ice cream. By midday I was back on board with provisions.
I picked up the anchor and headed up to Astrolabe Anchorage where we anchored for a couple of hours and had a late lunch. A beautiful spot. Then it was up with the anchor again and we motored around to Torrent Bay.
No wind again so I slowly motored up the coast, taking care to avoid the numerous kayakers out and about. As I turned into the anchorage I saw a yacht anchored in what I had selected as the best anchoring spot. As I turned around the stern of the other yacht the guy on board gave a wave and then shouted, “Is that Ray Penson?” I did a double take and then recognised the guy. It was Steve Hall. We first met in Warm Springs Bay in Alaska in 2016. We then ran into each other in Tonga in 2017. Now we meet up again – it’s a small world.
Fortunately, Steve has a fridge on board his boat, which means cold beer. The evening was spent catching up on events of the last couple of years and sampling various beers. A great end to the day.
VISIT TO TONGA ISLAND
February 23 2020
Considering I had a couple of beers last night I felt surprisingly good this morning. I invited Steve over for morning coffee, it was about smoko time when we sat down in the cockpit for coffee and ginger nuts. Beautiful calm sunny weather.
After coffee Steve departed to go down to the Adele Island anchorage. I hung around and cleaned the soot from the engine exhaust off the transom. Once Truce had a clean stern again I picked up the anchor and headed north to Tonga Island. No wind again, seems the mornings here are always calm, so it was a slow easy motor up the coast. Tonga Island is a marine reserve – so no fishing allowed. It’s a pretty place with sea lions and plenty of wildlife – although I didn’t see any.
I dropped the anchor and had a leisurely lunch. Two other boats that were in the anchorage left as a wind was starting to blow in with a bit of wave action building up. Tonga Island didn’t look like a good place to spend the night in a N’ly wind, I decided to head back down to Adele anchorage.
The N’ly wind had built nicely and Truce was happy sailing with the yankee, doing 5 to 6 knots, down to Adele island. My plan was to sail into the anchorage, luff up into the wind, quickly furl the yankee and drop the anchor. The first part went OK but I messed up furling the yankee and had to start the engine to get back to the anchor spot – so much for showing off. No doubt it provided entertainment for the other boats in the anchorage. Steve of course made sure to rub it in. Of course, if no one had been watching it would have gone perfectly.
By late afternoon we were snugged down at the anchorage. Then it was ashore to the beach for sundowners with Steve. In the bush behind the beach the birdlife was prolific the birds seemingly unafraid of humans and coming very close.
What a perfect way to end the day, sitting on the beach, basking in the last of the suns warm rays, chatting and drinking beer, doesn’t get much better than this.
Later tonight I will download some weather files and have a look at my options for getting south. Abel Tasman National park is very nice, but I feel it’s time to move on.
BACK TO THE SOUNDS – THROUGH FRENCH PASS
February 24 2020
Last night I spent some time downloading weather files and looking at routing options in Predict Wind. It seems that getting a clean run down the west coast is a long way off. There are a procession of weather fronts coming into the bottom of the South Island, effectively blocking my path for the last part of the trip.
But it looks like there is a good opportunity to head down the east coast to Akoroa this week. Of course, this means heading back through French Pass and up around the top of the sounds. Quite a detour but for the West Coast route i could be waiting around for some time.
As I don’t like waiting around, I decided to take the east coast option. Early this morning I stowed the dinghy on deck and made everything sea secure. Then picked up the anchor, said farewell to Adele Island and headed eastwards. Once again, a flat calm morning and motoring.
After lunch a faint N’ly breeze set in and we were just able to motor sail towards French Pass, making good time as the tide turned and the current became favourable. We had to get through French Pass before 15:40 when the current starts to flow southward, we just made it with thirty minutes to spare. I was very happy to get through the pass this afternoon as its saved us having to anchor on the south side overnight waiting for the next northerly flow tomorrow.
As we approached French Pass the ‘Spirit of New Zealand’ overtook us, they were also going through on the last of the N’ly flow. I have seen The “Spirit’ all around New Zealand, what a magnificent ship, she looks wonderful.
At the entrance to the French Pass narrows the Spirit of New Zealand slowed down and hung about, allowing us to go through the pass first. We motored through the swirling waters on full power, just to be sure we got clear before the southerly flow started.
Once through the pass we headed north to Cherry Tree Bay, the anchorage I had chosen for the night. I reduced the RPM on the engine and we pottered the last couple of miles to the anchorage.
Cherry Tree bay looks like a good anchorage, certainly in the weather we have now. I have found what feels like a good spot in nine meters of water. A quick dabble with the fishing rod brought in a Blue Cod. As I have dinner prepared, I don’t need fish, so he went back over the side. I caught it on a soft bait, seems blue cod will bite anything.
Next came a swarm of wasps, trying to invade the boat. I fought them off with flit, they were very persistent and only went away after many fatalities at sunset.
There is no telephone signal here. No news, weather files or email. Cut off again, but its peaceful. Tomorrow I will continue around the top of the sounds, hope to get a weather update and plan my run down the east coast.
COLD START TO WARM DAY IN THE SOUNDS
February 25 2020
Wow, it was cold this morning. I awoke around four shivering, for the first time this year I put on a second blanket . I was up again at six for an early start. By six thirty we were clear of Cherry Tree bay, in morning twilight, motoring towards Clay Point. The tide was against us until midday, speed was down around 4.5 knots.
The sun came up at seven, very welcome as everything on deck and in the cockpit was wet from a heavy dew. Visibility is excellent and I could see Cape Terawhiti on the North Island 45 miles away.
This trip is a return of the outward trip a week ago, around Cape Lambert and Cape Jackson into Queen Charlotte Sound. We passed the entrance to Pelorus Sound with tide rips, whirlpools and eddies. The seals were frolicking in the disturbed water. I tried to capture them on camera, but they refused to pose, disappearing as soon as the camera pointed at them.
As we came down Queen Charlotte Sound I decided to stop off at Ship Cove as I had gone past without stopping on the outward trip. This is a place where Cook is reported to have spent over 100 days on various trips repairing and restocking his ships. It’s not the most sheltered of places but does offer a couple of decent places to get a ship close to the shore and there is a stream for fresh water with a clear flat area for a camp. Probably just as important it offers a clear exit to sea should the need arise to clear out in a hurry.
I had planned to go ashore. But the water is deep close in to shore and I could not be bothered to anchor in shallower water further away. I took truce close into shore for a couple of photos of the Cook Monument and departed. I can come back another time.
After departing Ship Cove the wind filled in from the north, I tried sailing, full main and yankee had us up to 3 knots, five minutes later it was back to calm and motoring again. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon; visibility was exceptional and the scenery stunning.
In early afternoon we turned off into Tory Channel and headed to the overnight anchorage at Jacksons Bay. By 16:30 we were anchored and I cracked the first beer. The anchorage is shallow, we only have one meter under the keel at low water, its protected enough in this weather. The only disturbance I am feeling is the gentle rocking as the Interisland ferries occasionally go past. From the anchorage I can see out through Tory Channel into Cook Strait, I can even see the wind turbines at Cape Terawhiti on the North Island in the distance.
Tomorrow morning I will check the weather forecast. If all is good will head out of Tory Channel on the first of the outgoing tide around midday. I should then be able to ride the tide down Cook Strait to Cape Campbell. Once around Cape Campbell I have a straight run of around 140 miles to Akoroa on the Banks Peninsular or maybe Lyttleton, we shall see.
SOUTHWARD BOUND, GREAT SAIL AND BECALMED
February 27 2020
Wednesday morning opened flat calm and clear at Jacksons Bay. The night only disturbed by the occasional ferry wash, gently rocking Truce, as the ferries passed along Tory Channel just outside the anchorage. A good peaceful night.
The morning forecast was excellent with N’ly winds of 15 knots predicted down the Cook Strait and along the coast down towards Akoroa. After a leisurely morning, I picked up the anchor just after lunch to catch the ebb out of the Tory Channel entrance and the start of the southerly tide down the Cook Strait.
As we cleared the Tory Channel, shooting through under engine at seven knots over the ground, a light N’ly breeze kicked in. The breeze gradually increased all afternoon as we made excellent progress under full sail towards Cape Campbell with the tide helping us along. At 16:20 we crossed our outbound track, now we were on our way further south on the east coast than ever before. By late afternoon we had rounded Cape Campbell and thankfully started to leave the Cook Strait behind where the winds were forecast to increase to thirty knots later.
The weather this evening is cold again. I have layered up with fleece top and have socks and sea boots on, over all that I have my offshore trousers and jacket.
Progress was good during the night. Truce is not good at running downwind, unless the yankee is poled out or a spinnaker set. Poling out the yankee is a big job single handed, the pole is quite heavy and cumbersome, only viable on ocean voyages where the effort is rewarded in days and not hours. As for spinnaker, I am not carrying it this trip, just too much to go wrong when single handing on the coast. I will think about obtaining a lightweight pole for the yankee – an easy simple rig may be possible.
By midnight we had twenty five knots of wind and very rough seas, There was a 2m swell from the NE, a 1m swell from the SW, a sea from the north and it looked like a north going current was heaping up the seas. The mix created a rough confused sea which was quite uncomfortable. But progress was still good.
I had forgotten to make a flask of coffee earlier, as I usually do on nights when it’s cold or bumpy. Now in the disturbed seas it was a real chore to balance cup and kettle without spilling something. I have had the easy life in the sounds and Abel Tasman National Park, forgetting the offshore night routine.
Just past Akaroa we fell into a calm hole, no wind just a confused sea bouncing us around. Three hours later the wind returned, this time we only sailed with a full yankee, making a better downwind angle at 5 knots. The wind was not solid and became fickle until at midday. There was no point trying to sail, the flogging of the sails when Truce rolled became unbearable, I took all sails in. The remaining12 hours of Thursday were spent rolling around, becalmed, going nowhere, frustrating as the weatherman on the radio kept telling us we had 15 knots from the NE.
There are plenty of albatross out here. They are magnificent birds. I can watch them for hours, effortlessly cruising over the waves, in between the swells with hardly a wingbeat. They must be the most efficient flying machines out there. I never tire of watching them.
Another invasion happened this evening, this time it was moths. I don’t know where they came from, they descended like rain. At first, I thought there was only one but a check around with the flashlight revealed a massive incursion. They were everywhere, with plenty in the accommodation. How they managed to pick me out 20 miles offshore is a mystery. I can’t believe they flew out 20 miles, maybe they were carried out from the forest by these strange fickle winds.
RUNNING DOWN TO LYTTLETON AND BRUISED AT THE DOCK
February 28 2020
The weatherman was still telling us we had 15 knots, but now he was also predicting an approaching gale. Well we know ‘no condition is permanent’ so I waited in anticipation for the elusive wind. By 10:00 zephyrs were showing on the water, a slowly building N’ly breeze, we were soon sailing with the main double reefed, staysail and yankee, making good speed. As I hoisted the sails bunches of moths dropped out, I tried to avoid stepping on them but unfortunately some are squashed onto the deck and need cleaning up.
In view of the upcoming gale I had decided to head for Lyttleton and not Akaroa. Lyttleton is a few hours closer, we could make it before dark. Also, its an easier course to steer as it’s not directly downwind and we could make it on one tack.
Progress towards Lyttleton was good and steady, the wind building gradually all afternoon to 25 knots, gusting 30, approaching the harbour mouth. By 17:00 we were past the big headland, Godley Head, that marks the northern entrance to Lyttleton harbour. Just past the headland we were hit by a particularly strong wind gust, rounding us up and setting us on a fast track towards the shore. It took a couple of minutes to get sail off and everything calmed down again.
I had arranged a berth in Lyttleton Te Ana marina. My friend Steve had advised me that it’s a tricky place when the wind is blowing and to be careful if going there. His advice was to take any vacant outside berth in windy conditions until it settled and we could safely move into an inside berth. Well, the wind was gusting quite wonderfully with lulls in between the gusts. I entered the marina, looking for my allocated berth. When I located the berth I realised I would not be able to berth there single handed as the wind would push me away from the dock and down onto an adjacent boat. I reverted to plan B and headed for another empty dock where I could lie until the wind gusts eased, then relocate.
As I headed into the vacant berth a tremendous gust of wind caught the bow, just as we were entering the berth. Nothing I could do as I watched in horror, Truce listed to starboard and the bow flew around. A sickening crunching sound told me we had landed hard. I jumped ashore with the lines and secured Truce. I hardly dare look at the damage I had inflicted. It is not pretty, a gash about 70cm long that has cut through the outer skin of the hull down to the second layer of planking.
I am disgusted with myself. I was warned. I feel I have let Truce down badly.
After Truce was well secured I went ashore and had a nice hot shower. The Te Ana Marina has good showers, the best sort they are not coin operated or hot water rationed. They are free but of course you pay for it somewhere in the berth fee.
After a good shower and clean clothing, I was in a condition to re-join humanity and socialise. I headed into town and found Eruption Brewery. The guys there were friendly and served good beer. A couple of young guys asked me to join them and we had a good chat, one a sheet metal worker, the other a Tradie having made a few trips to Antarctica. Being young guys they wanted to hear stories of pirates, rescues at sea, mutiny, debauchery and storms. I think they found me a bit boring.
Ngozi is in Christchurch visiting friends and its only twenty minutes away, we will meet up tomorrow. I can’t wait for her comments on the damage to Truce! But whatever, it will be great to catch up again.
I am not going to move from Lyttleton until repairs are effected, one way or another. Not much I can do until Monday, apart from putting a waterproof cover over the damage.
CATCHING UP WITH FRIENDS AND SOCIALISING
March 1 2020
I awoke with a sore head yesterday morning, maybe caused by too many beers at Eruption Brewery the night before. A cup of tea followed by a cup of coffee and I was fine again.
Ngozi and friends we had met in Melbourne came down to visit. They brought beer and lots of good things to eat. We spent all day on board, sitting in the cockpit, drinking, eating, chatting and relaxing. The day was sunny and warm, although a cold wind occasionally reminded us where we were.
In the evening we tried to get a table at Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant, unfortunately it was fully booked. We looked around and found Nommnom Kitchen where they had a table for us. What a brilliant restaurant, great service and wonderful food, happy that we didn’t get a table at Fisherman’s Wharf. I didn’t expect to find such a quality place in Lyttleton. A big change for the old days. Recommended.
Fed, watered and feeling happy I was dropped off at the marina to say my goodbyes to Ngozi. She is staying with friends in Christchurch tonight and flies out early morning Sunday. It had been a brief encounter, but we will meet up again down the track fairly soon.
This morning, being Sunday I had a lie in, Then it was chore time, after muffins, marmalade and coffee for breakfast. First I headed up to the laundrette to do the laundry. Doing the laundry is quite therapeutic, the machines can’t be hurried and the forced waiting is taken up reading old magazines – which have really interesting stories.
Once the laundry was done I returned to Truce and launched the dinghy so I could run a stern line to the outboard marina pile. Now I can haul Truce away from the dock so she is not sitting on the fenders and graunching away at the hull paintwork.
Then it was onto more menial chores, restowing the mainsail and putting a cover on. Checking the rig and replacing a split pin and seizing a shackle on the main halyard. All these little things that come loose or wear when at sea can lead to calamity if not caught in time.
I am happy to have an additional stern line out this evening. The wind is up again, but we are comfortable and lying clear of the dock.
Tomorrow will be an interesting day I think. I will get the insurance people on the phone and decide a course of action to move on repairs.
HOT AND COLD IN LYTTELTON
March 3 2020
Yesterday, being Monday, I had a bit of back and forth with the insurance company. The repair to Truce is only a small job, I was quite happy to do a temporary repair myself and get if fixed properly when we return to Auckland. I have checked the inside of the hull and nothing has moved, its all good. The Insurance company didn’t like that idea and insisted on a boatbuilder to do any repairs or the insurance would not be valid. An interesting statement when they haven’t even seen the damage. They also said they would only pay for one repair so the cost of any subsequent repair I would have to bear.
That left me in the position of getting a boatbuilder to do a complete repair in Lyttleton. The guys from Stark Bros. put in a quote for the work, it has been accepted by insurance and work commenced on repairs this morning. It will take a few days as the epoxy glues and paints need time to harden.
I Checked in with the marina office and am now a resident for a few days. Importantly, I now have the WiFi password, excellent but a bit slow.
When I first came to Lyttleton many years ago it was a dump, just a commercial port and a few shops and bars. Now it’s a nice little town with good cafes, bars, restaurants and shops. It has a nice relaxed feel about it. All the people I have interacted with have been very friendly and helpful. I am starting to like this place.
Not sure what is happening with the weather, particularly the temperature. Yesterday it was overcast, gloomy and a chilly 16 degrees. Today started calm and has been beautiful with a humid 30 degrees.
This morning I got the hose pipe out and gave Truce a complete wash down. It’s amazing how much dirt and grime settles on a boat, not to mention moths, which I am still finding and removing.
I finally got around to putting a name on the dinghy. So far, this new dinghy is working well. I can just manage to pick it up from deck and manhandle it over the side and into the water, not an elegant performance, but the dinghy gets from deck to water without all the heavy lifting and winching the old pig required. I bring the dinghy back on board on the spinnaker halyard, either by hand if no outboard or with a winch if the outboard is fitted. As its easier than before I am using the dinghy more frequently.
Now the hull repairs are underway and as I will be here for a few days, I can start to explore a bit. This afternoon I went to the information office and met a lady with a strong Scottish accent. She was most helpful and pointed out numerous attractions and walks. She was a good talker – I was quite relieved to escape when someone else walked through the door.
CHRISTCHURCH GONDOLA AND LONG WALK
March 6 2020
Once again, the guys from Starks turned up early morning. They do some work in the morning and then go away for the day and let the glue or filler or whatever set overnight. Yesterday was the glass cloth and today is the layer of filler to be sanded down, probably on Monday.
Interestingly I learnt this morning that the roller fenders on the marina berths have caused previous damage to boats. Upon a hard impact the rollers deform and a stainless retaining disc on top of the roller cuts into the hull. Numerous boats have this damage, even Starks own boat. The Marina are aware of the problem and are in the process of ordering a different type of roller.
Yesterday was shopping day in Christchurch. I needed a few bits and bobs that I couldn’t get in Lyttleton so made the trek over to Christchurch by bus. A very easy trip, a good bus service and best of all free to gold card holders like me. Christchurch is a well laid out city, very organised on a grid system. It reminds me of Adelaide in Southern Australia, the style of layout is very similar. Not surprisingly, Christchurch and Adelaide are sister cities. Both laid out by military men, who maybe went to the same city layout design class.
If you like cities that are flat as a pancake Christchurch fits the bill, I find it a bit boring. Downtown in the city centre there are still big gaps that haven’t been filled since the earthquake.
On board Truce is a Dickinson Newport diesel heater. A wonderful piece of equipment that keeps the boat toasty warm in cold weather. Some time ago I replaced the fuel metering valve but never got around to calibrating it properly. As the weather is getting colder, I decided to get the heater running properly. After a bit of fiddling the heater is going well, a bit scary how much heat it throws out and how hot the chimney gets. I would not feel comfortable going to sleep with the heater going.
Days fly by. Today I set out to ride the Christchurch Gondola up to the top of the port hills. My plan was to ride the Gondola to the top from the Christchurch side and then walk down the Bridle Path back to Lyttleton. Once at the top the views were awesome, Christchurch laid out below and the Canterbury plain stretching into the distance up to the Southern Alps
The walk down to Lyttleton was easy, just a long way downhill. I don’t know why but I find it more difficult to walk downhill than uphill. My legs were starting to complain by the time I reached Lyttleton. The views were stunning out across Lyttleton harbour to Banks Peninsular.
A blustery wind is blowing this evening in the marina, gusting 30 knots plus according to the port weather instruments. I doubled up on the mooring lines to give peace of mind and a good sleep.
DIAMOND HARBOUR, A GREAT DAY OUT
March 7 2020
A blustery night in Te Ana Marina last night, with doubled up dock lines Truce was snug and secure, I slept well. This morning was less windy, fresh and sunny. I had a late start and messed around on the boat before heading off to do the laundry. Suddenly it hit me, I had forgotten the Lyttleton Farmers market, held every Saturday morning. Too late, the big event of the week and I had been sitting reading outdated magazines in the laundry! I am a bit disappointed but at least I have clean bedding tonight.
After lunch I took the Black Cat ferry across from Lyttleton to Diamond Harbour. It’s only a short ferry ride and free to me with my gold card.
Once ashore at Diamond Harbour I set off on the Coastal track towards Parau Bay. A beautiful walk along the coast, the visibility was crystal clear and the scenery stunning. At the head of Parau bay there is a small settlement, I didn’t get that far. Feeling in need of refreshment I turned off the track and headed back towards the village centre at Diamond Harbour.
At the village I found the café served draft beer, oh wonders will never cease. I enjoyed a couple of draft beers sitting in the sun chatting with fellow travellers. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Late afternoon I took the ferry back to Lyttleton. Diamond Harbour is a good place, very laid back with an Island feel. I am pleased I made the effort to go, a nice day out. I am feeling tired now, done quite a bit of walking in the last couple of days.
DAY OUT IN CHRISTCHURCH -SOME CULTURE
March 11 2020
Sunday was a quiet day. Nothing happened on the damage repairs being a weekend. I did several odd jobs on the boat, went to the pub returned and had an early night. Monday, we got some undercoat on the repair and sanded it down in the early evening. Tuesday was a wet rainy day, but I managed to get a coat of undercoat on the repair in a dry spell.
Today, Wednesday, I got the final coat of undercoat on this morning. What a relief, now all remains is to sand it down and get a couple of topcoats on before Truce and I head out again. The delights of Lyttelton are wearing a bit thin now and I need to move on.
Once my morning chores were finished, I hopped on a bus over to Christchurch for a day out. It was cold today, a bone chilling southerly wind. In 2011 Christchurch had a catastrophic earthquake, it marmalised the place and brought devastation to the city centre. 185 lives were lost. I visited the remembrance wall to the earthquake victims, quite a moving place.
Parts of the city have been very well redeveloped with a sort of modern European flavour, trams, pedestrian only precincts and cafes. Adjacent to this are seemingly abandoned broken buildings and fenced off bare sites. It reminded me of when as a child we had bomb sites in the city, places that had been bombed in the second world war but not yet redeveloped. They made great playgrounds for kids, definately not safe places in todays culture. I think it will take many years before the city is fully redeveloped.
One iconic reminder of the earthquake is the cathedral in the city centre. It was badly damaged in the earthquake and unsafe to use. A dispute has been running between those who want to restore the old cathedral and those who propose to knock it down and build a new modern cathedral. I think the restoration group have won the day, even though it will be more costly than building a new structure. Judging by the condition of the old cathedral there are many years work ahead.
After my walk around the city centre, I headed over to Hagley park, in the centre of the city. There is a lake, golf club, tennis club, cricket ground, polo club, croquet club, botanical gardens and massive recreational spaces. What an asset to have in the centre of a city. I am not a gardener, but the botanical gardens are quite special. For people that are into Herbaceous borders this is the place to be.
Next to the botanical gardens is the Christchurch museum. I popped in, needed to get out of the cold and its free entry. To my surprise I spent the rest of the day there. The exhibits are varied, well presented, fantastic attention to detail, the work and expertise of the curators is outstanding. They also do a good coffee in the café. I really enjoyed the museum.
I took the bus back to Lyttelton in what was rush hour, no big deal, just a few more cars on the road but no hold ups. What a difference to the congestion of Auckland.
When I arrived back at Truce I had intended to give the last coat of undercoat a sand down in preparation for the topcoat. Unfortunately, it was so cold today the paint hadn’t cured and was still tacky, I couldn’t sand it. Hopefully, in the morning it will be dry.
BALLISTIC BARKERS BERRY JAM AND ROTTEN TOMATOES – AKAROA
March 13 2020
Finally, the painting of the repair was finished yesterday evening. Thanks to Pete and Maurice from Stark Bros for making an excellent job of the repair. In anticipation of sailing I did the laundry, had a shower, got a few groceries, had a pint of Kilkenny at the pub, filled the water tanks and generally got everything shipshape and ready for sea.
For the past couple of weeks I have noticed a slight port list developing. I have checked the bilges, water tanks, fuel tanks but couldn’t find the reason. Then it dawned on me, the beer locker on the starboard side was getting empty. I called the super liquor store in town, they confirmed they could deliver to the marina. Now I have fresh beer stocks on board, we are back on an even keel again.
Today is Friday the 13th. A day and date to give any seafarer nervous palpitations. Sailing on Friday the 13th is never a good idea. I have only done it once, from Houston many years ago when I was Second Mate. We had a German Captain who didn’t subscribe to superstitious nonsense. The Agent even offered to arrange the pilot for one minute past midnight on the 14th. The voyage was a disaster and we were lucky to reach port, battered, bruised and damaged.
My logic for sailing this morning is that we are not going on a voyage, just repositioning to the other side of Banks Peninsular, to Akoroa. By 06:30 we were clear of the Lyttelton harbour and motoring down the fairway towards the sea, still dark. At 07:22 the sun popped up on the horizon, very soon the first warmth of the day was felt, at ten it was warm enough to take my jacket off. It was a beautiful morning, not much wind so we motored on a calm sea.
A couple Hectors dolphins showed up, they are quite reserved creatures and don’t frolic around like other dolphins. Their dorsal fin isn’t curved like most dolphins, it’s more like one of Mickey Mouse’s ears that’s been stuck on their backs. They are small and seem to wiggle a lot more than their bigger cousins to get speed up when swimming alongside the boat. My favourite, the Albatross also turned up to check Truce out, did I detect a disapproving look because we were motoring and not sailing?
Once we were clear of any shipping and in clear water I went below to make some toast and coffee. when I opened the Jam pot things went a little wild. It was Barkers Bramble Berry Jam; I think it must have been fermenting in the jar. As I took the top off it exploded, and jam spattered all over the galley. I finally got some on my toast, it still tasted good.
Lunch was Cheese and tomato, with bread rolls and Branston pickle. To my surprise the tomatoes had gone mouldy and rotten, I only bought then a couple of days ago. I managed to salvage a couple; the rest went into the Bendix.
The wind arrived for the last couple of hours from astern. I just kept the full main up and we made good progress at around 6 knots up into Akaroa Harbour. The Hectors dolphins came back to escort Truce into Akaroa.
A large cruise ship was at anchor with multiple tenders running passengers ashore. Disgusting polluting things carrying an obnoxious cargo – just my opinion. By two thirty in the afternoon we were anchored in French Bay. Once everything was secure and snugged away I was relieved to settle down in the cockpit and have a beer. We had made the short forty-mile trip without problems. I will stay on board tonight, don’t want to push my luck.
Tomorrow I am looking forward to getting ashore. Maybe get some fresh French bread and croissants.
AKAROA – LAZY DAY AT ANCHOR
March 14 2020
I had a lay in this morning, the sunrise is almost seven thirty so there’s no light shining through the hatch to wake me up. The morning was cold, overcast and didn’t inspire me to action. Instead I pottered around the boat and made pancakes and real coffee for breakfast. Comfort food on an overcast morning.
I have been too lazy this morning and missed out on the Akaroa croissants for breakfast but tomorrow I will try again.
There have been two cruise ships in port all day. The ‘Azamara Journey’ and ‘Celebrity Solstice’, both registered in Malta. The Celebrity Solstice has been belching smoke all day, it’s not right they can do this in New Zealand. Boats from both ships have been ferrying hundreds of passengers ashore. From the anchorage in French Bay I can see them all walking up and down the main street and crowding around the jetty. That put me off going ashore, I don’t want to mingle with gormless cruise ship passengers.
I spent a couple of hours downloading grib files, weather fax and weather forecasts. It’s hard to get a thirty-six-hour period that has stable winds for my next leg south, and even harder to get different forecasts to agree with each other. Some are wildly different, one showing 35 knot S’Wly winds and the other 15 knot N’Ely winds for the same time period. Lots of head scratching. My next step will be down to Dunedin, my studies indicate the weather is shaping up for a Tuesday night departure from Akaroa. That should get me into Dunedin a few hours before a S’Wly gale sets in. We shall see in the next couple of days how it firms up.
Mid-morning the sun came out and it’s been a nice day. As the days are getting shorter, I have to be smarter how I charge my electronic devices. Less hours of sunshine mean the solar panels are not feeding as much power into the batteries as before. To date I have not had to use the engine for battery charging, but with only two 55-watt panels I think a couple of short cloudy days may put me into deficit. Changing all the interior and exterior lights to LED has resulted in a tremendous reduction in power consumption.
The rest of the day was spent reading, listening to music and watching the world go by from the cockpit. I concocted a fresh stew in the pressure cooker. Potatoes, onions, carrots, peas and a can of red-hot chilli dog. Gourmet it is not – but good solid grub on a cold day.
This afternoon I rigged up the dinghy for shore duty tomorrow morning. I have been working on the outboard to get it running better. Despite my best efforts it’s still not right. It runs ok for a while then starts hesitating, like it’s not getting enough fuel. Never really recovered from its last dunking. I may need an outboard mechanic to service it $$$$$.
AKAROA -OH LA LA SHORE LEAVE
March 15 2020
A beautiful clear night and a billion stars last night. Nice and calm this morning and I was woken by the sound of birdsong, at first I thought I was dreaming, but no, definitely birds cheeping away above me on deck. I opened the hatch and there they were, all lined up, perched on the lifeline. By the time I got my camera to take a shot they had disorganised themselves. I think they are swallows, maybe starting to migrate north?
Just after eight in the morning I took the dinghy to shore, the outboard spluttering away but not failing me. When I got ashore another cruiser commented on how quiet my outboard motor was – little did he know I was just nursing it along.
Akaroa is a funny place. Due to an attempt to colonise the place by the French the town has retained a strong French influence. The petrol station sells l’essence, the streets are called Rue, men walk around in French Berets, there is la boucherie and bread shop of course. It’s all good fun and I am sure the locals and tourists alike love it.
I finally got my breakfast croissants and coffee. It was nice to sit outside with a checked tablecloth and have coffee and croissants French style.
After breakfast I went for a walk around town. At the museum I spent some time looking and reading about Frank Worsley, he was born in Akaroa. Worsley was Captain of the Endurance during Sir Earnest Shackleton’s ill-fated polar expedition. The boat journey that Worsley and Shackleton undertook from Elephant Island to South Georgia to seek help is one of the most amazing boat journeys of all time. The navigation skills performed by Worsley on that voyage are almost beyond belief. I have Worsley’s book, ‘Shackleton’s Boat Journey’, on board Truce. It’s a riveting read.
I called in at the Akaroa Yacht Club, not many people about. I had a beer and watched the world go by. There is a yacht race on, three yachts going offshore up the coast and returning late afternoon.
When walking down to the yacht club I noticed that there was another cruise ship, the ‘Golden Princess’ at anchor. I thought it strange that no boats with passengers were coming ashore, I intended to get out of town before the invasion. One of the guys at the club informed me that the boat had suspected cases of Covid-19 onboard and it was quarantined. The government stopped all cruise ship visits yesterday but it didn’t apply to the ones already here finishing their visits. There must be a couple of thousand passengers and crew on board – oh boy what a mess.
By the time I returned to Truce the wind had piped up from the NE, it was a slow ride back and I was quite damp on arrival. The wind is forecast to increase so I decided to move anchorage to a more sheltered spot. Looks like I will move again tomorrow as the wind is forecast to switch from north to south. Tonight, I will download some more weather gribs and see if we still have a window to sail south on Tuesday.
AKAROA – SAILING AROUND
March 16 2020
Last night I moved to Pine Tree Bay, just on the North end of French bay. The wind was blowing from the NE this anchorage proved to be just perfect and sheltered for a quiet night. This morning I was woken by natures alarm clock again, the little birds had returned in droves, or maybe it’s a flock. Judging by the little deposits left behind, I reckon they had been eating some sort of purple fruit.
A lovely flat calm morning and I took the dinghy ashore to Akaroa. The outboard seems to be running better now, I don’t know why.
I found a nice café, had coffee and free wifi, downloaded more weather files. The weather systems are so active it’s difficult to figure out exactly what’s going on. Even more so when the different weather models contradict each other. What is certain, there is a gale warning in place, I can expect a strong S’ly this afternoon and tonight. The coffee was very good, I had a second cup. Reading the news, it’s all about Covid-19. We shouldn’t worry, America will develop a vaccine (at great cost and profit) and we will all be safe again.
As I was sitting enjoying the sunshine I noticed the trees swaying in the wind. Oops, the S’ly blow was arriving early. I decided I had better head back on board. Short little waves had built up in the harbour, the dinghy ride back to Truce was a damp affair. Once back on board I decided to have a look around Akaroa Harbour and find a suitable anchorage for the S’ly gale.
In a building S’ly breeze I sailed across to Cape Three Points to check out the anchorage there. The wind was curling around the point and the bottom looked rocky. Next, Tikao Bay, looked good but quite a few moorings in the best spots, I moved on. French Farm Bay looked too exposed to the south, although supposed to be good for a SW blow. Finally, I sailed across to Takamatua Bay, the shelter was immediately obvious, I furled the Yankee, rounded up and dropped the anchor to the bottom, I heaved it up and was pleased to see sticky grey mud on it. I like thick grey mud when it’s going to blow. I let the anchor go again and brought up in four meters of water.
By the time I got around to stowing the dinghy on deck the wind had picked up quite a bit. Getting the outboard stowed was quite easy but getting the inflatable stowed was more of a challenge. The inflatable is a small RIB and light weight, with every wind gust it threatened to take off. Eventually, with a bit of cursing, I got it securely lashed down. Oh, the joys of single-handed sailing.
This evening we have plenty of wind, some rain and lots of noise from the anchor chain and snubber. Too noisy to sleep in the forward cabin tonight, I will sleep on the salon settee. The barometer is rising fast and still has a long way to go.
AKAROA – VISIT TO THE GIANT HOUSE
March 19 2020
By Tuesday afternoon the southerly blow has run its course and I picked up the anchor from Takamatua Bay and headed back around to Pine Tree Bay. The anchor was well stuck into the mud and took a bit of soaking out, comforting to know there is good holding in this bay.
Back at Pine Tree bay I anchored closer into the shore. Last time anchored here I noticed that there was a calmer patch just inside the sailing club mooring. We ended up about 30m from the shore, just the right position for the expected N’ly blow overnight.
Wednesday, all the wind disappeared overnight, the morning was perfectly calm. Beautiful. I went ashore exploring. First on the agenda was coffee and WiFi. The news about Covid-19 is everywhere, an awful thing, but the constant news feed is somehow addictive. I walked up to the Giants House, a beautiful sunny day. On the way I met a guy doing his gardening, he summed it up ‘not too hot – not too cold – just perfect’.
The Giants House is a large old house built back in 1880 for a local Bank Manager. For the last twenty plus years the house has been the home of Josie Martin, a modern artist, sculptor and painter.
Having chilled at the Giants house I headed for town and sustenance, this I found at the Madeira Pub. An unassuming and uninviting place from the outside, but a sunny courtyard behind. The fish, chips and salad were delicious. Next off to the Four Square store to pick up some fresh fruit before returning to Truce.
As the weather was settled for a day, I moved anchorage back to French Bay. I thought I might be able to connect to WiFi from the anchorage but no such luck. Thursday morning, I was ashore again. Morning coffee and wifi to check the weather for a departure tomorrow.
The weather has been constantly changing between northerly and southerly winds on an almost daily basis, with the southerly winds predominant. It has been impossible to find a thirty-six-hour period of constant winds. Now, as I check the long-range forecast things don’t look too good for a quick trip to Stewart Island. Looks like I can get a window to reach Port Chalmers, but the outlook further south is showing strong south westerlies with little break in between. Not wanting to get stuck in Port Chalmers waiting for weather I have decided to head back north. Disappointing, but I have spent too long in the Far North and Abel Tasman before heading South. Going to Stewart Island now won’t give me sufficient time to see the place in a leisurely fashion, I don’t want to be rushed. Also, weather in the south is getting colder and the days much shorter. On top of this there is the Covid thing, a lot of uncertainty about what will happen next. There is always next year, and the theme of this cruise is ‘No hurry in life’.
Having made the momentous decision to head back north I went for a walk around town. I was shocked and surprised at the lack of people around. When I first arrived here the town was overflowing with tourists and cruise ship visitors, I even avoided coming ashore one day to avoid the cruise ship crowds. Today there are very few people around, what a contrast in a few days. The effects of Coronavirus measures have been swift, I saw the first person wearing a face mask today. This will affect the local economy which is heavily dependent on tourism, some consolation being its coming at the end of the summer tourist season.
I returned to Truce in the afternoon and prepared for sailing tomorrow morning. After being in port for a few days I have things scattered all over the cabin, time to tidy and stow. Dinghy well lashed on the foredeck and outboard secured.
There is a strong southerly blow due overnight and dying out in the morning. I want to try and use the tail end of the southerly to take me around the south and east of Banks Peninsular where I may pick up a northerly breeze. That’s the plan according to forecast, but we know things rarely go to the weather plan this trip.
AKAROA TO PORT LEVY
March 20 2020
The 05:33 morning weather forecast predicted the 25 knot S’ly breeze would die out in the morning leaving variable 10 knots behind in the afternoon. I wanted to pick up the diminishing S’ly breeze (not the 25 knots that can mean 30 knot gusts) to take me around the south and east of Banks Peninsular.
I sat at anchor and tried to figure when the wind would start to reduce. By nine I could wait no longer, the anchor was stowed and we were on our way down Akaroa Harbour directly into a stiff S’ly wind and short chop. The wind didn’t decrease and the short sea became deeper as we motored down harbour, shipping spray over the bow, at one point we were reduced to 3.5 knots on full power. I reasoned that the harbour was acting like a wind funnel and outside it had to be better. It took a painful hour and a half to cover the six miles out of the harbour.
Once outside the harbour the sea was very rough, the wind disappeared, not strong enough to keep the sails full as Truce was rolling and pitching wildly. I hand steered as we motored around the south of banks Peninsular, it was a wild ride. Once on the east Coast the sea evened out a bit and a Southerly breeze started to fill in. By one in the afternoon we were sailing again and I was able to engage the wind vane and take a break. As you know hand steering is not my thing.
Hectors Dolphins were swimming around as we went down Akaroa harbour and kept showing up all along the route today. Usually I just see one or two at a time, they don’t show off much. But, this afternoon I saw three for the first time and they performed a perfectly executed synchronised jump out of the water for me. The Albatross were also around today, giving an imperious look down as they glide past.
As we continued around Banks Peninsular a strange thing happened, the wind continued to blow from the south and started gusting down from the hills and inlets between. It wasn’t forecast but I wasn’t complaining as we sped along on a reach, alternating between 3 and 8 knots depending on the gusts. The wind was too gusty and unpredictable in direction for the wind vane so I hand steered and adjusted sails as we went along. By the time the wind died we were only eight miles short of our overnight stop.
I motored the remaining distance into Port Levy and at six in the evening anchored in the South East corner. A position I hoped would provide shelter from the N’Ely gale forecast for tomorrow. Today’s run was only forty nine miles but it was pretty full on and hard work all the way. I guess that’s coastal sailing in New Zealand, lots of variety.
Port Levy is a quiet place, a few mussel farms on the way in and a small settlement at the end of the bay, with a few more remote houses dotted around the hills overlooking the harbour. Just ashore from where I am anchored a picnic table has been set up on the shore. A great spot in nice weather with wonderful scenery. Not sure I will get the weather or chance to use it.
There is of course no telephone signal here, I am cut off from the world for a while. Fortunately, I can still receive the weather forecast on VHF radio.
I will sit here and wait out the N’Ely expected tomorrow and look for the next window to sail north.
HUNKERED DOWN IN PORT LEVY
March 21 2020
Trying to stay positive – not easy to take any positives from today. It has been miserable. The N’ly wind started to increase around nine this morning and has blown hard all day, a gale warning is in force. Truce and I are in our own little orbit, swinging in circles around a 45-pound CQR anchor.
In addition to wind we have had constant low overcast cloud, drizzle and not one ray of sunshine. The most power I have seen coming from the solar panels to the batteries is half an amp. Oh yes, it’s cold as well, a contradiction from a northerly wind. Days like this (thankfully few) are difficult, it’s not easy to get motivated to do anything as its too cold and miserable outside.
Yesterday the barometer rose eight millibars, today I watched if fall eight millibars, back into low pressure territory. The weather forecast is a constant stream of front, ridge, trough, front – at quite amazing speed. Wind changing from north to south daily, thirty knots being the new normal now.
On a positive note, last night was nice and calm, I had a good sleep. The anchorage is quite well protected from the N’ly wind, just subject to wind gusts and a bit of sea sneaking around the point, causing a bit of a roll, nothing uncomfortable. A hectors dolphin has been around the bay this afternoon, just one by itself. Apart from that not much wildlife about.
On boring inactive days like these thoughts turn to food. Today I have consumed numerous cups of tea, cuppa soup, coffee, ginger nuts, noodles and other tit bits. Usually when I am sailing, I lose weight. Not in a bad way, just that eating becomes less important and I only eat when hungry, so any excess body weight just burns away. This trip I have remained plump, lots of time for eating and snacking when waiting on weather.
I am not sure when I will be able to move from here. I need a nice couple of days of wind from a southerly quarter, fifteen knots SW or SE would be perfect. E’ly or W’ly wind would also be fine, just nothing from the North or above 25 knots to be comfortable. At the moment all I can get is thirty knots S’ly for twelve hours before it turns N’ly again.
I must be patient; the weather will change one day. Then all this waiting around will be forgotten. The only plan I have is to get to the top of the South Island or the bottom of the North Island and then see where I can go from there.
In the meantime, I have about a quarter of the series ‘Breaking Bad’ to watch, a whole bunch of movies, some good books, plenty of music and a well-stocked bond locker.
PORT LEVY TO PORT UNDERWOOD -RIP AUTOPILOT
24 March 2020
Stuck in Port Levy in a N’ly gale for two days was depressing and I was feeling a bit despondent. I have given myself a mental talking to, snap out of it and harden up.
After studying the weather, it looked like I had an opportunity to head for Wellington or the Marlborough Sounds. The forecast indicated I would have a 15 knot S’ly first, followed by light airs, then a 15 knot N’ly, then a 15 knot S’ly followed by a 15 knot N’ly before a 50 knot S’ly storm. The weather is all over the place thanks to fronts, troughs and ridges bombarding the South Island. The plan was to arrive somewhere safely and beat the S’ly storm.
I motored out of Port Levy on Sunday morning. A couple of miles out the autopilot gave up, expired, RIP. Raymarine autopilots are useless, I hate them. Without autopilot the trip was going to be tedious, I don’t like steering.
The S’ly wind didn’t arrive and I motored into the early evening before an easterly wind sprang up about twenty-five miles before Kaikoura. The east wind became a S’Ely and we had great sailing, Mickey the wind vane doing great work, until one o’clock Monday morning when the wind died away. Then back to motoring and hand steering again.
The forecast was now predicting 35 knot N’ly winds in Cook Strait, headwinds of course. The 50 knot S’ly storm was also creeping up behind us. All morning we motored in light airs and by lunch time we had rounded Cape Campbell into Cook Strait. I hoped I had beaten the 35 knot N’ly in Cook Strait, but soon the wind started building, it was going to be a hard upwind slog. With triple reefed main and staysail we started to make progress but the southerly stream out of Cook Strait was setting us down to leeward. Motor sailing helped us point higher but not enough. I thought about tacking across to the North Island but decided to keep on towards Oyster Bay. Down came the staysail and we motored at full RPM into the sea and wind towards our destination. Hectors Dolphins came and played around Truce, on one occasion there were about six putting on a show.
It took seven hours to motor the final twenty-six miles into Port Underwood where I anchored in Oyster Bay. The peace and quiet when I shut the engine off was deafening. I was feeling quite tired, lots of hand steering, although I had managed to use the wind vane a bit when motoring, quite a delicate balancing act.
Quick noodles for dinner and a beer followed by a deep sleep.
This morning was clear and cold, The sun soon warmed things up, a beautiful day. No sign of the S’ly storm. Today the news is all about the lockdown in New Zealand to try and contain coronavirus spread. In the afternoon I went ashore and practiced my first social distancing with a guy I met on the jetty. Quite weird, standing in the middle of nowhere talking to someone from a distance, no hand shaking of course. We both social distancing is BS but we don’t really know what this virus is all about.
I think I will stay in Oyster Bay for another day. I want to try and get some diesel tomorrow and top up fresh water from a tap on shore. Then I plan to head around into the Marlborough Sounds and up to D’Urville Island. It’s pretty remote up there and social distancing should be hard not to achieve.
OYSTER BAY – REPLENISHING
March 25 2020
This evening, at midnight, New Zealand goes to Alert level 4 and into a four-week lockdown to contain the spread of Coronavirus. The instructions are ‘where you sleep tonight you should stay’. That leaves me locked down on Truce for the next month. I am not happy about this situation.
The guy I met ashore yesterday, his name is Graham, offered to pick up diesel for me in Picton. A generous offer that I have accepted, now I don’t need to go to the fuel dock in Picton with Truce. He is generously providing a couple of his jerry cans as I only have small cans on board.
During the day I made a few trips backwards and forwards to the dock in the dinghy to pick up fresh water. By mid-afternoon I had all the freshwater tanks topped up with nice sweet water. After that I stowed and lashed the dinghy on deck in preparation for sailing tomorrow morning for the inner sounds.
Later in the afternoon Graham came back from Picton with full jerry cans of fuel. What a gentleman, he has really helped me out. After delivering the fuel we had a beer, him standing in his dinghy alongside Truce and me standing in the cockpit – the statutory two meters apart as required by the Covid protocol.
It has been a nice calm warm day in Oyster Bay. I am happy the water tanks are topped up and that I have more diesel on board. Hopefully, enough to last me the next four weeks. Lets see how this pans out.
As I write this in the evening, the forecast is for N’ly gale force winds in Cook Strait tomorrow. I may not be able to sail around to the Tory Channel entrance as planned in the morning. First thing tomorrow I will check again and make the final decision.
OYSTER BAY – WAITING ON WEATHER
March 26 2020
Early morning the wind started to blow and the anchor snubber began to grumble. I turned out of bed in the cold and dark to hear the early morning forecast. As expected, the N’ly gale had started. Its forecast to go from twenty-five knots to gusting forty knots in the afternoon. Although its only fifteen miles from Port Underwood up the coast to Tory Channel I would be motoring directly into the wind and sea. Speed would be painfully slow and I couldn’t make Tory channel before the tide turned.
So, I resigned myself to another day in Oyster Bay and started on breakfast. The first day of lockdown in New Zealand and too windy to go ashore in the dinghy anyway.
I decided to have a look inside the broken autopilot, maybe I could find an obvious problem. On opening it up everything seemed to be fine, all the connections were good, the drive belts were good and the motor turning OK. I took off the contact strip from the compass, cleaned it and replaced it. When I put everything back together again and plugged it in it worked. I am not confident I have fixed anything. It was working for a few minutes and then stopping before, like it wasn’t receiving any commands from the compass. I will try it tomorrow and fingers crossed for a miracle.
Afternoon was bread making time. I haven’t been baking bread so far this trip, just relying on store bought bread. I had forgotten how nice the smell and taste of fresh bread is. I will be making bread every two or three days from now on. All day the wind blew hard, reaching its peak around five in the afternoon.
This evening the forecast has improved, the N’ly is decreasing to 15 knots tomorrow morning then changing to S’ly gusting 45 knots in the afternoon. I don’t want to be in Oyster Bay in a southerly, the locals say it’s very uncomfortable, the salt spray burn on the vegetation high up the hillside proves their point.
All being well I will sail tomorrow morning and arrive at Tory Channel entrance before the tide turns at midday. I am looking forward to being back in the sounds and away from this wild Cook Strait weather.
INTO THE MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS
March 27 2020
My Birthday today.
Gentle rain, dark, calm and cold when I stuck my head outside the hatch this morning. I quickly ducked back inside to put the kettle on and listened to the morning weather forecast. The S’ly storm was coming, now was the perfect time to head around, through Tory Channel and into the inner sounds.
At the start of morning twilight we were motoring out of Oyster Bay and clear of Port Underwood before the sun rose. The north going current sped us along the coast to arrive outside Tory Channel entrance before ten. I slowed down to allow the Cook Strait ferry, Straitsman, unhindered passage out of the channel before heading in. Once in Tory Channel it started to rain, within a few minutes it was hosing down, visibility down to about a quarter of a mile.
By Lunchtime Truce was moored in Missionary Bay off the Tory Channel. I picked up a mooring – no one else is around to claim it. The bay is supposed to be protected from S’ly winds and I plan to ride out the storm here. I spent the afternoon making sure everything was well lashed down and secure and messing around with odd jobs.
The rain continued all afternoon, almost tropical in its intensity. The first strong gusts of wind arrived around afternoon smoko. By eight in the evening the wind was gusting fifty knots.
The autopilot, it’s a Raymarine ST2000+ tillerpilot, was put into action after its inspection yesterday. It worked! I have no idea why it’s working but I suspect it’s something to do with the compass. The only thing I did was take out the compass connector strip, clean it and put it back. I do wish they would make these things more heavy duty, they are so flimsy and plasticky.
For a few days now I have suspected that we are losing electrical power somewhere. I have been searching for something running or switched on that’s draining power, I couldn’t find anything. The solar panels don’t seem to be bringing the battery up to power like they used to, it’s only a small loss, it has been puzzling me, just doesn’t seem right. This afternoon I have found the cause (I hope). One of the battery connections was slightly lose, I have tightened it up and hope all will be well again. When we get some sun I will find out. Why the connection had slackened off I don’t know, these little mysteries often happen on boats.
The New Zealand Lockdown for coronavirus is in full force now. I still see Interisland Ferries running, taking the last of the stranded passengers back to their respective Islands. I suppose the ferries will continue to run during the lockdown, transporting freight and essential goods.
With the weather as it is, I expect to be moored here for the next two nights. The forecast is winds of at least forty knots into tomorrow night. Then I need to move on and find an all-weather anchorage somewhere. My isolation and social distancing is complete.
MISSIONARY BAY WIND BOWL
March 28 2020
Last night was a shocker. Not much sleep possible as strong 50 knot plus gusts hit us from all sides. Wind bombs blasted down from the surrounding hills into the anchorage. A real wind bowl. Oh, and it rained all night as well. The rain has done a good job of washing the salt off Truce, now the wind gusts are making spray and putting it back on again.
During the night the water surface took on a surreal electric blue sparkle as wind gusts activated the bioluminescence on the water surface. I could clearly see wind gusts travelling along the water surface by the bright luminescence being churned up. The bioluminescence was bright enough to light up the cabin. I was relieved when daybreak arrived, its far less stressful when you can see what is happening.
After breakfast I put in a call to the Rescue Coordination Centre to discuss my movements during the Coronavirus lockdown. The person I spoke to was very helpful and pointed out that it was a police matter to enforce or approve movements. I was then referred to the Wellington Marine Police. The police clarified that only essential travel was allowed. Moving to a safe all-weather anchorage was obviously approved on safety grounds. The normal distancing rules etc applied and I should not go on sightseeing trips. Going further up the coast to New Plymouth was not considered essential and not approved as it could necessitate rescue personnel coming out of isolation if I needed assistance.
So, it’s quite clear, I must stay in the general area and can move to a safe anchorage until the lockdown is ended. Not what I really wanted to hear but these are extraordinary times, I am happy to comply fully with the lockdown if it will bring a swift end to the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand. In the meantime i am not supposed to go sightseeing!
By mid-morning the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. Electrical power was pouring into the batteries from the solar panels and I was relieved to see the batteries getting back up to full charge. Tightening the battery terminal has cured the leaking power problem.
All was well in the world and I made bread.
Early afternoon the wind started to decrease and was recording 48 knots offshore. However, to my dismay the wind has increased this evening and is now recording 55 knots offshore. Forecast is for a reduction to 40 knots tomorrow morning and then 30 knots tomorrow afternoon. I look forward to it. This wind is getting tiresome, I want to move on away from this Cook Strait area further west.
When the wind decreases, maybe tomorrow afternoon or Monday morning I will start to move up Queen Charlotte Strait and around to Pelorus Sound. I have identified a couple of anchorages in the lower Pelorus Sound that should be well sheltered and hopefully provide cell phone coverage. I am looking forward to moving on, away from this wind bowl.
MISSIONARY BAY TO DOUBLE BAY, QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUND
March 29 2020
Sunday lunch time I departed from Missionary Bay. Weather still not nice with low cloud and rain showers. Destination is Double Bay on Queen Charlotte Sound. This bay looks like providing good shelter from the south and is on the route to Pelorus Sound, my final destination.
A stiff wind took us out of the Tory Channel and into Queen Charlette Sound. I sailed with just the staysail as it was only a seven-mile trip, the breeze giving us plenty of speed. Once around the corner into Queen Charlotte Sound the wind became fluky and we motored for the last couple of miles into the anchorage.
By six in the evening Truce was anchored in Missionary Bay, there was one other boat in the bay hanging on a mooring. It’s very quiet in the sounds, hardly any pleasure traffic as everybody is in anti-coronavirus lockdown. I saw a couple of Interisland ferries moving between Picton and Wellington.
This evening I am looking forward to a good sleep to catch up on the last couple of nights disturbed slumbers.
DOUBLE BAY TO BURNEY’S BEACH, QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUND
March 30 2020
This morning, the day opened with low cloud, light rain and a slight S’ly breeze. I had a perfect sleep last night and feel refreshed this morning. After breakfast I picked up the anchor and sailed out of Double Bay under staysail. The breeze was very light, just enough to keep us moving along up Queen Charlotte Sound. Today I decided to have a short sail and take it easy, this evenings anchorage being only six miles distant. I see no point in hurrying moving around to Pelorus Sound, escape is still weeks away.
Just after lunch time we picked up a mooring at Burney’s Beach, a bay on the west coast of Arapaoa Island, well protected from the S’ly wind. On cue the sun came out, the first sun for three days! I cracked a beer and put a fishing line over the side. Very soon I had two plump Blue Cod on board for lunch. Things were looking up, fresh protein again.
Before and after photos.
Once the lunch had been dealt with, I decided to go for a walk on the beach. I haven’t been ashore for five days and needed to stretch my legs. A short dinghy ride over crystal clear water and I was ashore. Of course, the place is absolutely deserted, only the birds for company.
Burney’s Beach was the site of a sad incident in relations between the British and Maori. A party of ten sailors from the Adventure landed ashore to eat lunch. They were soon joined by locals, some drinking took place, arguments started and shots were fired. Before the British sailors could reload their guns they were attacked and overpowered. The following day their dismembered and cooked remains were found by Burney who led the search party for the men.
This evening there are some strange animal noises coming from ashore. Not sure what they are, must be birds, they sound very creepy, its pitch black so can’t see anything. I hope they desist soon so I can have another nights undisturbed sleep.
The weather is taking a turn for the better. The wind is forecast to be favourable to move around into Pelorus Sound tomorrow.
INTO PELORUS SOUND, RICHMOND BAY
March 31 2020
Another peaceful night and I had a civilised breakfast before moving out from Burney’s Beach and heading up Queen Charlette Sound. There was a nice light S’ly breeze from astern. We sailed up the sound and around Cape Jackson with the yankee, doing 4 or 5 knots all the way. The breeze stayed with us past Cape Lambert and Alligator Head and then it disappeared, flat calm.
I turned on the motor and headed through Allen Strait and into Pelorus Sound.
The tidal stream was against us in Pelorus Sound, it was slow going. It didn’t matter, the scenery was wonderful, the sun was out and we had plenty of time to get to the anchorage before dark. In fact, in these lockdown days there is no hurry to get anywhere, I am stuck in this area until the lockdown is lifted and I can head north again.
At five in the afternoon we were securely moored in Richmond Bay. I cracked a beer and enjoyed the last of the days sun before it sank behind the adjacent hills. A very quiet day of sailing, I didn’t see any other boats apart from a couple of commercial fish farm tenders.
For sport I put a line over the side, I didn’t want to catch fish to eat, just entertaining myself. Immediately I was getting bites, unfortunately it was the spotties. A horrible greedy little fish with sharp teeth that strip bait off a hook in no time. After pulling up a couple I gave up fishing. When the spotties are around its pointless.
I don’t have any plan for tomorrow, I can’t go far because of the lockdown. If the weather remains good, I may just stay here for another day.
RICHMOND BAY, PELORUS SOUND
April 1 2020
One week of Coronavirus lock down completed. Isolation in my bubble continues. It’s a lonely existence but could be worse. I am in an area of outstanding natural beauty, healthy, have a good stock of food, beer and water on board and am self-sufficient.
This morning I decided to stay another day in Richmond Bay, it’s a nice place to linger a bit longer and I fancied a walk ashore.
Because of the high land around the sun’s rays didn’t hit the solar panels until ten this morning. The heavy dew on deck and in the cockpit didn’t dry off until well into the afternoon. The weather is a bit autumn.
I took the little pig ashore and found a track heading off around the bay. From the track I had the occasional glimpses of the bay and mussel farms through the bush. There was no one else around, the place is completely deserted. Only the birds for company.
Once back on board I carried out a few repairs and maintenance to the mainsail and then restowed it in its cover. As I am not sailing any great distance now, I have stowed the mainsail and will use the yankee or staysail to get around the sounds on short trips.
The pace of life is slowing down in this lock down era. Tomorrow I will continue heading south, further down Pelorus Sound.
BARBERS SHOP AND PICNIC
April 3 2020
After a leisurely breakfast I dropped the mooring and headed further into Pelorus Sound. There was no wind so we motored easily down the sound and picked up a mooring in Jacobs Bay mid norming. It was only a ten mile run today and once again I only saw a few commercial boats moving around.
After lunch I went ashore for a walk. I was pleasantly surprised to find a camp site, toilet and water tap. The water is marked for boiling before use, but looks and tastes clean and fresh, not that I intend to drink any of it. There is a well-marked track through the bush, I went along it for half an hour before turning back. In these days of lock down, we are not supposed to wander too far into the bush. Nobody about, just the woodland animals scampering around.
I returned to Truce and collected a book, then went back to the picnic table and read for awhile in the warm afternoon sun and drank a beer. This is the life. Later I had an good evening meal and an early night. This bay is an excellent fair weather spot.
The next morning I decided to have a personal maintenance day, a day of personal grooming and to try and improve my appearance. Late morning when the sun had come up, I took the dinghy ashore with a couple of cans of beer, a packed lunch, a good book and my toilet bag.
First job was a haircut, I got to work with the clippers and soon had my head #4 close cropped. Next the beard came off and a close shave followed. All the time a frantic Fantail flitted about, indignant that I was invading his space. Once I was sheered and shaved, I headed over to the tap for a shampoo and wash. Fortunately someone had discarded a plastic noodle pot and it made an ideal scoop for rinsing hair. The water was very refreshing. I look a bit more presentable now – but there’s nobody to present to.
Feeling cleaner and refreshed I sat at the Yogi Bear table, soaked up the sun and warmed up. This is a very pretty spot, I felt I had a private garden with a fantastic vista.
I had a Peanut variety sandwich for lunch, that’s bread with Marmite and Peanut butter, not everybody’s taste but I like it. A couple of cans of Speights Beer saw me through to early afternoon.
The book I am reading again is ‘Sailing Alone Around the World’ written by the American, Captain Joshua Slocum. I have read the book before but now is the time for a reread. Slocum was the first person to sail around the world alone, a feat he completed in 1898. It’s a good read and interesting to learn how the world operated in those days.
As the sun started to dip behind the high land to the west I departed from my garden and returned to Truce. Not wishing to spend another night at Jacobs Bay I motored to Maori Bay, just four miles to the south.
I moored in Maori Bay and was a bit disappointed. It’s quite shallow and mostly covered in Mussel farms. It feels dark and dismal. There is nowhere to go ashore, I think I will move on in the morning when the tide is flooding.
This evening I have discovered a downside of Jacobs Bay. While I was enjoying the sun and lounging around the sand flies were feasting on my blood. I have very itchy legs and ankles this evening.
MAORI BAY TO LONG BAY, KENEPURU SOUND
April 6 2020
I shifted from the uninspiring Maori Bay on Saturday morning and moved into Kenepuru Sound, there I found a good anchorage in Long bay. This anchorage has good shelter but is open to the south. However, if there is a strong blow from the south, I can get good shelter just around the corner in St. Omer Bay.
Kenepuru Sound is different to the outer sounds, it has a softer feel to it, the hills are not so tall, the hillsides have grass areas and cattle grazing. It also seems more sheltered, that is only a feeling and not proven yet, time will tell.
Coronavirus lock down is in full force now, it’s an offence to go boating, swimming, surfing, tramping, hunting and all the outdoor pursuit type activities where rescue services could be needed. I will be hanging around this area for the next couple of weeks at least before I am able to move on. It could be worse.
The autopilot, I thought my last attempt at repair had gone well and produced miracle results. Not so, its gone back to its old ways and let me down again. I am pretty sure it’s a compass problem – or more exactly a problem getting the signal from the compass to the course computer thingy. When it’s on standby the compass course follows well, the display shows the correct course according to ships compass. However, when auto is engaged the autopilot doesn’t follow the course and drifts off slowly either to port or starboard, but mainly to starboard, it just gives up steering. When the standby button is pressed the compass course on the autopilot display corrects itself.
Sunday, the autopilot was on the operating table once again. This time I took the compass out and checked it over, cleaned it and stuck it back in. I cleaned the contacts once again and made sure there was nothing in the case to jam anything up. After careful reassembling everything, I tested it – still the same, no improvement. Nothing else I can do now apart from taking it to the dealer when I get back to Auckland. In the meantime, I am going to have a bit of practice hand steering.
This evening I made a wonderful discovery. Right at the back of the bond locker I found a bottle of Taylors fine ruby port. Excellent stuff and I had a couple of glasses before turning in for the night.
Tomorrow is another lock down day. No plans to move anywhere, just stay where I am and try to keep busy and my mind occupied.
HAVELOCK FOR SUPPLIES
April 11 2020
Having sat through a dreary overcast day in Long Bay I decided that on Wednesday I would head into Havelock Marina and top up on water, diesel and get some fresh provisions on board. In fact I am getting the nautical equivalent of cabin fever and need to get a change of scenery.
Havelock is a small town but has a Four Square store where all essential groceries can be obtained. To make sure they were open I called ahead, yes, they were open and could also drop my provisions off at the marina for me. I checked with the marina and got the green light to come in, just for essential supplies and then I have to go again.
On Wednesday morning I took the flood tide up to the marina and was all secure alongside by ten in the morning. The marina was very quiet, nobody around. The Covid-19 lockdown is in full force with the marina closed to recreational boaties.
Once ashore, I walked the short distance into town and found both the Four Square and Garage open. I filled two shopping trollies with provisions. I also purchased another Gas bottle as I am not sure how much I have remaining in the two on board. The store manager delivered everything to the marina for me, excellent service, thank you Four Square.
With the provisions safely on board I headed back into town and obtained some diesel engine oil from the garage. There is an oil change due in another fifty engine hours and like to have some spare on board. I also discovered that the garage had a laundry next door that was functioning. Wonderful! I went back to Truce and gathered all the laundry together and headed ashore again, remembering to take the dhobi dust with me this time.
Havelock town is a nice little place with cafes, restaurants, a good-looking pub, pharmacy and assorted shops. But, due to the lockdown it was all shut up, hardly anyone around and very little traffic. Amazing to think the whole of New Zealand must be like this.
On return to Truce I spent some time stowing away all the new provisions and making the boat tidy again. By which time the tide was flooding and darkness was falling. Not feeling inclined to sail I stayed the night alongside and went for a walk around town and along the marina. A couple of people were out walking their dogs and that was all the life around town.
I have sufficient provisions, fuel, water and gas to get me back to Auckland if the lockdown is lifted in the next couple of weeks. Laundry is done, clean clothes and bedding again. Garbage is ashore and in the recycling bins. A very successful visit to Havelock.
Late Thursday morning, I waited for the tide to ebb, as I was preparing to let go from the marina dock the marina manager came down and seemed quite annoyed that I had stayed overnight. Then he charged me for a days mooring and said I had to go. I wasnt too happy but think everyone is a bit wound up at being locked down and the seemingly never ending changes to the rules. Anyway, a few dollars lighter I let go from the dock and dropped down with the outgoing tide back towards Kenepuru Sound. When approaching Putanui Point I noticed a mooring in a small cove on the south side. I diverted and moored up just off a track in the bush. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus lockdown the track is closed, I was unable to stretch my legs. Oh well, this seemed a nice quiet spot so I decided to stay overnight.
Friday morning there was a bit of a chop coming into my overnight mooring, I decided to move and headed around Putanui Point. On the North side of Putanui Point I discovered another mooring in calm water just alongside a big mussel farm. I moored up and spent a couple of hours in the calm and warm sunshine. Unfortunately, this mooring is completely exposed to the north, a fair weather mooring only.
Later in the day I moved on further up Kenepuru Sound. On the way I checked out the southern shore for anchorages providing shelter in a southerly blow. The best option appears to be Te Mahia Bay, having a good depth of water and shelter on all side apart from NW. This is a very attractive bay with some impressive houses surrounding it. Happy that I had a bolt hole for a southerly blow I returned to Long Bay, just one and a half miles across the sound.
By early afternoon I was again moored in Long Bay. A sheltered spot from all winds except south. I will remain here, in lockdown and try to keep my sanity.
LOCK DOWN – WEEK THREE
April 16 2020
Another day in Lockdown, now its three weeks – it feels like three months. My shortwave receiver is not picking much up, it could be the antenna but the unit is quite old and maybe munted. Anyway I cant pick much up from the outside world on radio. Mostly I receive talk back radio, it can be quite entertaining and informative during the day but at night the callers all appear from the loony bin.
I find I keep humming the Freddy Mercury lyrics ‘I’m going slightly mad’. On the positive side, there must be worse places to be locked down. Outside my back door I have the Marlborough Sounds in all their glory all to myself apart from a few mussel farmers.
Having grown tired of the limited scenery at Long Bay I have moved across to Portage Bay. This bay is not so sheltered but has the big advantage that I can get ashore easily and stretch my legs. Being confined to the boat without any sign of human activity is extremely boring. At Portage there is a road, some houses and the occasional sound of human activity.
My lockdown days are taken up with odd jobs, reading, cooking, eating and the occasional beer. The subject of food never seems to be far from the front of my mind. I spend a lot of time thinking about what to eat and what to cook. Every two or three days I bake bread, my new specialty is scones. I have become very proficient in turning out first rate scones. Beer consumption has increased, mainly because I am at anchor or on a mooring.
This afternoon I went ashore for a walk around. Portage is a nice little place, there is a hotel here with bar and restaurant, looks very inviting – but of course everything is shut down.
I took off up the road towards Torea Bay which is on the other side of the hill on the Queen Charlotte Sound. Not very far up the road I realised that my deck crocs are not the best walking shoes and decided that a couple of miles would be enough. At the top of the hill, a place called the saddle, I came across the Queen Charlotte Track and a war memorial for the first and second world war. Not quite sure how they go together.
From the saddle I caught a glimpse of Queen Charlotte sound. Maybe, if the weather is nice tomorrow, I will take my walking shoes and walk across to Torea Bay. On the way back to Portage Bay a guy passed me on a bike. The first person I had seen since coming ashore. He seemed surprised to see me, he swerved and moved to the other side of the road, mumbled a g’day and sped away. I saw no cars moving, very quiet.
It seems the birds are enjoying the lack of human activity. They are everywhere, lots of birdsong, they have temporarily claimed the road as their territory. The fantails are active as usual putting on a show as soon as I came into view.
I have been reading quite a bit. Just finished ‘Venturesome Voyages’ by Captain Voss. I picked the book up at a second-hand shop, the story is over a hundred years old and a very interesting read. Captain Voss was obviously an exceptional seaman, what he advocated with regard to sailing so long ago is still very relevant today. My book stock is seriously depleted, I need to get some new books or will soon end up reading the engine workshop manual.
In Portage Bay I am getting excellent radio reception and a strong phone signal. Nice to have a 4G phone signal and access to internet, makes lockdown a bit more bearable. Also, being out of the immediate shadow of high hills the sun hits the solar panels earlier and lingers a bit longer in the afternoon, very welcome as the days are getting shorter now.
LOCKDOWN – INTO WEEK FIVE
April 24 2020
Every day I awake to the same scenery and same radio program. We are now into week five of the Covid lockdown, it’s really starting to become boring. Beam me up Scottie!
Our wonderful government is promising we can go from level 4 to level 3 lockdown next week. Level 3 means that some businesses can open for contactless transactions and purchases made online can be delivered. There are still severe travel and social restrictions in place. For us sailors it doesn’t make any difference we are not allowed to sail in level 3 lockdown. The reason being that if we get into trouble the rescue services will be at risk coming to our aid. I can’t comment further without being impolite.
Portage Bay is not the worst place to be. I can get ashore and walk up and down the road and there are a few people around. I have a friend who is on a boat locked down in Abel Tasman National Park. There are a few other cruising boats there and they have organised themselves into a social bubble. They are having a great time.
A few days ago, I walked up the hill, over the saddle and down to Torea Bay on the Queen Charlotte Sound. A nice walk up and down the hill, not a soul in sight. At Torea Bay there is a good jetty used by the water taxis running out of Picton. Nothing much else to see. I sat on the jetty, had a sandwich for lunch, washed it down with a beer and then headed back over the saddle to Portage Bay. Not a very exciting day but I got off the boat, had some exercise and a change of scenery. The bird life was extraordinary, they are enjoying lockdown.
Yesterday I headed off in the opposite direction up Kenepuru Sound road for a few kilometres. Beautiful weather, cool air and warm sunshine. The road winds around the edge of the sound with good views around every corner. I stopped a while at Take-In Bay where there is a scenic spot and a gap between the bay and the upper part of Kenepuru Sound.
Further on I came to Picnic Bay. I was disappointed to find there was not a picnic table at Picnic Bay. My plan was to stop here for lunch. I sat on the rocks but not for long – the local insect wildlife zoomed in for a feast, I moved on.
After a while more walking the desire to round the next corner waned. I turned around and headed back to Portage. Once back at Portage Bay I sat and had lunch overlooking the bay. Nice and calm and the sun warming me through. At any other time this would have been idyllic, after four weeks of lockdown it is less so.
Next week I will make another trip into Havelock Marina for fresh groceries. I just need some fresh groceries and more importantly i want to see some civilisation and interact with human beings again. I also hope to collect a new Tiller Pilot, ordered online and to be couriered to me when we move into Level three lockdown on Tuesday. I am looking forward to having a functioning autopilot once again, hand steering is mind numbing.
This afternoon, for some reason, I stripped down the wind-vane. Always a stressful event, working over the stern with nuts, bolts and vital irreplaceable metal parts. My record of losing bits to the sea is excellent, a habit I am trying to break. Now I have a jumble of parts to finish cleaning and reassemble tomorrow. My hope is that the wind-vane works as well when reassembled as it did before I ‘maintained’ it.
FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS
May 5 2020
Lockdown has now been forty days. It’s been tough going hanging around, restricted in movements and being alone. However, the end is in sight! For the last two days New Zealand has had zero new cases of Coronavirus – this must mean the lockdown will end soon.
Last weekend brought a northerly storm, fifty-five knot wind gusts and damp conditions. Not very comfortable at two in the morning. I have been at sea a while and nobody has ever been able to give a good explanation as to why the worst weather always happens between two and three in the morning.
Anyway, the last dose of bad weather prompted me to get into port and have a recoup. On Monday afternoon I took the flood tide up to Havelock Marina where I am now safely moored on the visitor pontoon. Such luxury to be alongside and secure, not swinging around an anchor, it’s worth the additional expense for a couple of days lashed up alongside. The folks ashore seem a bit more relaxed about lockdown now, the marina manager says I can stay alongside if I want to.
Last night I was able to get a hot shower, my first for 53 days! Quite an event and warranted an entry into the log book. After my shower I found a takeaway restaurant in town and ordered fish and chips. I learnt how to do the social distancing thing and contactless payment and pickup. Back at Truce I enjoyed the excellent fish and chips (big portions) and celebrated with a couple of beers. Then I got out the vintage port. I got a good way down the bottle before hitting the scratcher for a very deep sleep.
Today has been wet, thunder and lightning this morning and constant rain all day. A light southerly wind arrived in the afternoon with some cold air from Antarctica. Don’t know what I did all day today, but the day has flown by. Well the days are much shorter now. I did the laundry again, so have nice clean sheets and bedding. Oh, it’s so cold tonight, there is a light dusting of snow on the hills, a reminder that winter is around the corner.
I have the two oil lamps burning in the salon and the heat they put out makes the cabin quite comfortable. If it gets any colder, I will move the dinghy on deck to clear the chimney for the Dickinson diesel heater. Once that is fired up I will be toasty warm.
Not sure when I will leave Havelock. I had planned only to stay a couple of nights alongside – but now I am here and have human contact I’m not too keen to go back out and swing around the anchor. I just want to get going and sail north.
BREAK OUT TO HOMESTEAD BAY
May 9 2020
In the end I stayed four days alongside at Havelock Marina. A very enjoyable few days of walking, sightseeing, take away food, hot showers and the occasional socially distanced conversation. But all good things must come to an end and I am eager to get going. We are still in lockdown but I figure its OK for me to move anchorage for shelter.
Yesterday I did a final shopping run, I reckon I have enough food on board now to sail to South America. This morning just before midday I let go from the marina and got underway, taking the outgoing tide out from Havelock and northwards up the Pelorus Sound. It was a beautiful day, not a breath of wind so we motored easily making good time with the tide pushing us along.
By four thirty in the afternoon we were secure on a mooring in Homestead Bay. A beautiful calm and sheltered bay. We were the only boat there. The fishing was excellent and I caught a few Blue Cod before finding a nice plump fit fish to keep for dinner. On the beach a number of Weka were foraging around and the birds were happy singing in the bush. I sat in the cockpit, drinking a beer and enjoying the sights of a new anchorage.
CHERRY TREE BAY
May 10 2020
This morning opened cool overcast and with a touch of winter in the air. Homestead bay was flat calm and an old shaggy sheep was wandering around on the beach. After a good breakfast I let go the mooring and headed out into the bay to calibrate the new Raymarine autopilot. With the autopilot calibrated a light breeze arrived and we sailed out of Port Ligar with just the yankee.
Of course the breeze didn’t last and we motored across the Cherry Tree Bay where I picked up another mooring for the night. Once again the Blue Cod fishing was excellent, I caught a few for fun but didn’t keep any, they all went safely home.
PORT HARDY D’URVILLE ISLAND
May 11 2020
A dark, cold, cloudy and wet morning. Just after six I dropped the mooring in Cherry Tree Bay and headed out towards French Pass. The dark and drizzle was depressing. Once again, no wind and we motored south, the lights either side of French Pass becoming visible through the rain as we approach.
Just before sunrise we entered the pass, its spring tides, the stream was strong with plenty of turbulence, we were jostled around quite a bit before entering smoother water below the pass.
The day continued damp and gloomy as we motored up the west side of D’Urville Island. The sun broke through mid-morning as we were off the entrance to Greville Harbour where I had considered anchoring for the night. But the headwind was light, the sun was shining, the day was turning out well. I decided we should continue further up the coast to Port Hardy.
There were some quite strong tide rips along the coast, I hadn’t expected that. I tried to correlate the tidal rips to the tidal flow but couldn’t make sense of it. The tidal stream setting into and out of the bays and around the headlands seemed local and often contrary to the general flow.
Around noon we rounded Nile Head to enter into Port Hardy, the wind against tide creating a confused sea and gyrating us around for a few minutes until we made the sheltered inner waters. Just after one in the afternoon I picked up a mooring in the South Arm. A very pretty and snug small cove well sheltered from just about all wind directions.
I didn’t see any other boats about today. There is no activity in Port Hardy, nothing moving, very quiet. Also, there is no telephone signal here, I can’t call out, receive calls or texts. Fortunately, I can receive the Marine weather forecasts given out a few times each day a on VHF. Looks like I may be around here for a couple of days.
NOCTURNAL PANDEMONIUM AND I SEE THE LIGHT
May 12 2020
Another day on the mooring at South Arm. This really is a pretty place and well protected bolt hole for bad weather. The only downside being lack of phone signal. I didn’t do much all day, just a few chores and tidy up.
After dinner I watched a movie before turning in for the night. Just as I was nodding off I was awoken by a terrific commotion outside. I jumped out of bed as if poked by a cattle prod and tumbled out into the cockpit. It was pitch dark. At first I thought it was the wash of a large boat passing by, I could see the waves on the water surface. Then I heard the explosive bursts of air from dolphins or whales close by. The water surface was all roiled up, Truce rocking from side to side. The animals were splashing and creating aquatic pandemonium. Judging by the way they were blowing it was hard work. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see clearly what was going on and I didn’t want to disturb whatever was happening by switching on the searchlight.
After five minutes the animals went away and calm returned. It was certainly an exciting few minutes. From the sounds and level of disturbance created the animals seemed too large to be dolphins. I guess they could have been Orca using the steep side of the small cove to coral a school of fish for feeding.
Once the excitement was over, I realised I had been standing in the cold night air not wearing much. Returning to the forward cabin I noticed a small light under the bunk. At first I thought it was a shaft of moonlight from the rising moon reflecting off the varnish. But no, there was a small shaft of light coming from the finger hole in the cabinet door. On opening the cupboard, I discovered a small light inside there was switched on. Ah Bingo! At last I had found the source of the vampire power loss. For weeks I have been perplexed at the apparent battery drain. I have been checking everything on board without luck. The drain is too small to be really noticeable but I know the boat so well, I just knew in the back of my mind that something was not right. I had completely forgotten about the small light under the bunk – I never use it. One of our quests may have switched it on and forgot about it way back in January or February.
Without the whales or whatever they were, I would not have had a darkened cabin or the night vision to see the light. Thank you whales. I returned to my scratcher happy and slept well.
The Government have finally announced the end of Level 3 Covid lockdown on Thursday 14th. That means sailing and inter regional travel is permitted once again. Wonderful, I can get going again at the next weather window. The weather is too light at the moment to sail anywhere – but in another couple of days we could be back in business.
Sailing up the West Coast
May 18 2020
Thursday morning, 14th May. Lockdown lifted and no wind. Sitting in Port Hardy, the water was flat calm, not a catspaw disturbing the surface. The forecast was for another day of light and variable winds. I resigned myself to wait another day and had breakfast. By smoko the elastic band of frustration snapped in my brain. I dropped the mooring and was moving. The logic being it’s better to be trying to move somewhere than sitting waiting. What did it matter if it took two days to cross the Cook Strait? I was going to head up the West Coast of New Zealand and a day here and there didn’t matter.
Once out of Port Hardy all sail went up and soon we were ghosting along at three and a half knots. Stevens Island at the top of the South Island gradually dropping astern. It felt so good to be free again and finally moving after being in virtual prison for the last weeks. Just after midday I called Maritime Radio and gave them my trip report, ETA Spirits bat 18:00 on 18/05.
By four in the afternoon I could see Mount Taranaki seventy miles in the distance. Then the wind started playing tricks, exceptionally light winds and variable. It was to be another 24 hours before Mount Taranaki was abeam, but progress was being made, eighty-three miles in the first 24 hours, but not all in the right direction!
Once past Cape Egmont a southerly breeze set in, I rigged the spinnaker pole and was able to sail all night wing on wing with one reef in the main. Nicely balanced like this Micky the wind vane had an easy time steering us through the night. Saturday morning brought calms again which lasted on and off until sunset. Despite the calms we still managed to clock off ninety-nine miles noon to noon, mostly in the right direction this time.
All day Sunday we had good wind from the SE. We made a further one hundred and eight miles noon to noon. By late evening we had a front coming through with gusty winds and rough seas. Truce was down to triple reef main, staysail and 30% yankee. Not a nice night but we were making good speed for once in exactly the right direction.
By six on Monday morning I could see Cape Reinga light, flashing every twelve seconds. We were on schedule to take the favourable tide around the cape.
ROUNDING CAPE REINGA – NORTHLAND
May 18 2020
I remember when I first came to New Zealand taking a bus trip up to Cape Reinga. I stood at the Cape by the lighthouse and looked out to sea, where the Pacific and Tasman seas meet. There was a tremendous tidal rip clearly visible for miles out to sea. Now, as I approached the Cape, I wondered how bad that tidal rip was going to be.
Just after ten on Monday Cape Reinga was abeam to starboard. The wind had switched around to the east and was against the east going tide. Steep seas mounted up, I dropped all sail and motored, Mr. Yanmar straining flat chat to make headway. After three hours of strenuous exercise we covered the last nine miles and dropped anchor in Spirits Bay. At 14:00 we were safely anchored, four hours ahead of the original ETA. Not a bad run up the coast in changeable conditions.
Spirits Bay is a fair-weather anchorage. Exposed to the north and subject to swell, it would be untenable in any northerly wind or swell. The anchorage itself is close in at the east end of the beach under Hooper Point, behind a small island. It is a beautiful spot with a magnificent beach, one of the best in New Zealand. On the hillside horses are grazing. I am not going ashore as the swell is causing a surf on the beach, don’t want to get tipped out the dinghy.
Looking out from the anchorage, its open to the north and Cape Reinga is clearly visible in the distance. Directly out of the anchorage on a bearing of 288 degrees is Brisbane, quite a way off.
The steep seas off Cape Reinga caused us to move around quite violently, rocking, rolling and pitching. The books in the bookshelf decided to jump the bar and break free with seat cushions being tossed around the cabin. I have a bit of tidying up to do.
I had intended to sail around North Cape and down the east coast after rounding Cape Reinga. However, the favourable weather forecast for this trip when I set out has altered significantly. There are now SE’ly winds coming up the coast for a couple of days, effectively blocking my progress. This is all due to a sub-tropical low to the east of New Zealand messing things up.
Now I plan to wait in Spirits Bay for the weather to moderate and give favourable winds on the east coast before moving around, maybe setting off again at the weekend. In the meantime I will catch up on sleep and relax a while.
SPIRITS BAY TO HOUHORA HARBOUR
May 25 2020
Spirits Bay is a beautiful place, well worth a visit but the weather must be settled. The feeling at this anchorage is like being on top of the world. Unfortunately, I was unable to get ashore as the surf on the beach was a little too high for a dinghy landing in comfort.
I am just waiting for the South Easterly winds to reduce on the east coast so I can start heading south again. The weather forecast appears to be at odds with the weather reports from the coast stations, I am suspicious something nasty is coming along and am now eager to get going as soon as possible. The cray fisherman who also uses the anchorage thinks we are in for a N’ly blow. That being the case I want to be well clear of North Cape before that happens. His opinion is at odds with the weather forecast but I think he may have it right.
On Saturday morning, after three days at Spirits Bay the tide was right to sail, the wind appeared to have reduced further down the coast. Time to get going. Once out of Spirits Bay it was a bash into a light headwind, large swell and lumpy sea. We skirted Tom Bowling Bay and headed around North Cape. As we approached the Cape the sea got quite rough, wind had picked up against the tide, a three-meter easterly swell had also picked up giving us a roller coaster ride. But we made steady progress, Mr. Yanmar once again punching above his weight. Four hours after leaving Spirits Bay we were clear of North Cape and heading to the south.
The forecast NE 15 knots was not happening, stubbornly remaining E’ly at best. Fortunately, we had just enough of an angle to motor sail down towards Houhora Harbour, making excellent speed. I expected the entrance to Houhora Harbour to be difficult with the high easterly swell running. To my delight once we rounded the entrance to the harbour, Perpendicular Head, the swell died down and it was a straight run, in calm water, up the channel with the flood tide behind us.
Just before dark I dropped anchor to the west of Tokoroa Island, happy to be in a safe anchorage as the wind was increasing and the weather looking nasty. My fisherman friend had been correct.
The next day, Sunday, the wind blew even harder from the North West. Rain and overcast all day. Too wet and windy to go fishing, I made bread and scones and fussed around with housework all day. Late afternoon, the forecast was for even more wind, I let out more anchor chain, no point in it sitting in the locker when it can be working. The night was uncomfortable, strong wind gusts and wind against tide meant that we were windrode again, the anchor chain leading aft and the wind from astern.
I was thinking again about Tom Bowling Bay. In my travels I have come across a couple of Tom Bowling Bays around the place. It must be an old name used by sailors from a past age. I wonder if these bays are named after the character Thomas Bowling, from the adventures of Roderick Random by Tobias Smollett.
I think it’s a little too late in the year to be enjoying the delights of Houhora. Time to move on again.
HOUHORA HARBOUR TO MANGONUI
May 27 2020
By Monday morning the wind had moderated to around fifteen knots NW, I was ready to move on. As soon as the ebb tide started, the anchor was up and we headed outwards down the channel. Just after ten we were clear of Houhora and sailing across Rangaunu Bay to round Moturoa Island and Cape Karikari.
I had considered going close in around Cape Karikari, between an off lying island and the coast, due to the high swell I thought it may be too dangerous and opted for the outside route. As we approached Cape Karikari from seaward I saw the inside passage had rough water and high swells breaking on the rocks. Passing to seaward was a wise choice.
I planned to have a look at Brodies Creek as a possible spot to anchor for the night. I had read that it provided good shelter in N’ly winds. Brodies Creek turned out to be out of the question, the E’ly swell was entering the bay, creating breakers on the beach and a nasty roll in the anchorage. I swung around and in a dying afternoon wind motor-sailed across Doubtless Bay to Mangonui Harbour.
Under heavy clouds and drizzle we anchored in Mangonui Harbour at sunset. So overcast and gloomy it was almost dark. The day had not been so bad, we had a nice sail from Houhora to Brodies creek and finished up in the safe harbour of Mangonui. Still, a bit of sunshine would have been nice.
The last time I was in Mangonui was the 25th January. I sailed on that day down to Hicks Bay, close to East Cape. So, I have now come full circle around the North Island. Who would have guessed in January that the Covid virus would appear and reshape the world. My cruising plans for this year have certainly been reshaped.
My next stop on the way south is Whangaroa Harbour. The forecast for tomorrow is variable winds, so I may linger a day longer in Mangonui and get ashore for some fresh groceries. I fancy some red meat and a hearty stew to combat the damp weather.
MANGONUI TO WHANGAROA
June 2 2020
I had a nice stop at Mangonui, I like the place. Some good shore leave and exercise and stocked up with fresh groceries. In the Four Square store I was taught the Covid level 2 protocol, wait to enter store, use hand sanitiser, keep distance from other shoppers etc. With fresh groceries at hand I returned to Truce at anchor. Only to find I has forgotten to buy potatoes, so back I went for another dose of hand sanitiser.
In the evening I produced a hearty stew to keep out the cold damp conditions. The night at anchor was peaceful, hardy a breath of wind and a low swell coming into the harbour, gently rocking Truce, I slept like a baby.
The trip down from Mangonui harbour to Whangaroa was a motor affair all the way. I left at first light to try and capture the calm conditions of early morning. There was a ten-knot breeze from ahead, that kept heading us no matter what cape we passed around, and a lumpy sea with easterly swell. Nevertheless, we made good progress and arrived off Whangaroa just after lunch time. As we entered through the channel into the harbour the resident dolphins turned up to welcome us. It’s always a pleasure to see these creatures.
Once inside the harbour I was undecided what to do or where to anchor. Whangaroa Harbour has so many protected anchorages its hard to choose. Like going into a half full car park, always difficult to decide which is the best spot to park.
First, I investigated Lane Cove in Rere Bay. This is an excellent anchorage protected from all wind directions. I wanted to anchor here as there is also a good walk ashore. Unfortunately, there was no phone signal.
I then moved out into Pekapeka Bay and did a spot of fishing – I was successful first cast. Once again, I didn’t keep the fish as I have fresh meat on board that I must use up first. After a bit of fishing I anchored in Waitepipi Bay, where there was a phone signal. Soon after anchoring the rain started and a breeze sprang up. I decided to move on, this time going further up into the harbour where I picked up a mooring in Okura Bay.
Finally, I settled down for the night. I had a phone signal and a nice protected bay with a mooring. The drizzle and rain continued into the night.
I awoke this morning to find everything outside sopping wet, it had rained, that light soaking type rain, all night. Heavy overcast clouds blocked out the sun completely. The forecast today is not good for sailing south, the wind is stubbornly from ahead, twenty to twenty-five knots. I will stay in Okura Bay for another day hoping for an improvement tomorrow.
In the afternoon the sun broke through the clouds and gave some charge through the solar panels, very welcome as I thought I may have to run the engine to charge batteries. Although the sun was out for a couple of hours it was not strong enough to dry up the wet, outside on deck it remains damp.
Late in the afternoon I brought the dinghy back on board and lashed it down on the foredeck. It has been too wet all day to go ashore, well I could have gone ashore but wasn’t able to motivate myself. With the dinghy back on board we are ready to go anytime the wind allows.
WHANGAROA TO WHANGAMUMU
June 4 2020
First light in Whangaroa and it was hosing down, biblical style rain. I Let go of the mooring and motored down the harbour, slowly, the rain was so heavy visibility was reduced to just a few boat lengths. I had the radar running just in case there were other boats around. Once at the harbour entrance the rain reduced, replaced by a brisk NW’ly wind and lumpy sea.
After clearing the harbour entrance I got some sail on, double reefed main, staysail and yankee. I was able to motorsail, close hauled, to clear Flat Island and then bear off and sail down the Cavalli Passage. The going was good now, motor off, a favourable wind pushing us along and more sheltered waters inside the passage. Time for coffee, late breakfast, relax and to watch the scenery travel past.
On clearing the shallow patch at the south end of Cavalli Passage I shaped course for Tikitiki Island (Ninepin Rock) and the entrance to the Bay of islands. My intention, to anchor in the Bay of Islands for the evening.
But, Cape Brett was visible twenty miles to the east and the wind was fair and seemed to be holding. I had a cup of tea and some ginger nuts while musing over my options for continuing around Cape Brett and then anchoring in Whangamumu for the night. Seemed like a good plan and if the wind died, I could always motor a few miles south into the Bay of Islands for the night.
I sailed on in sparkling conditions, twenty knots of wind, towards Cape Brett. The wind held and the sailing was splendid, Mickey the wind vane doing excellent work in the steady wind conditions. By mid afternoon as we approached Cape Brett the wind started to go light, it always seems to happen around here. From my experience the wind at Cape Brett always seems to go light, other capes tend to be the opposite, maybe I shouldn’t have written that.
By going a bit further offshore I hoped to keep the wind a little longer and get around the cape without resorting to using the motor. The tactic worked but took a bit of effort and was slow going in flukey conditions to make the last few miles down to Whangamumu Harbour.
Off Whangamumu the wind finally died away, I motored the short distance into the harbour as the daylight started to fade. Whangamumu is a well sheltered harbour from most winds but the north easterly swell does get inside somehow. It did today, but only low, gently rocking truce and I to sleep in the evening.
Last time I was here in January the anchorage was packed with boats, maybe around forty. But this evening I shared the anchorage with only one other boat, very quiet. It was a beautiful night, calm glassy water, low swell, waxing moon and a sky full of stars. There is no phone reception here, no distractions. It had been a wonderful sail down from Whangaroa today. Rum and coke in the cool of the evening followed by a hot pasta meal. Happy days.
WHANGAMUMU TO A WINDY TUTAKAKA
June 8 2020
After a beautiful calm and peaceful night in Whangamumu Harbour I awoke early and had a relaxed breakfast at anchor. The day was fine and clear with no wind. As today’s forecast called for variable 10 knot winds it seemed that sailing would be difficult.
I weighed anchor after breakfast, the water so clear I could see the anchor on the bottom, seven meters below. I hoisted the mainsail and motored out of Whangamumu to meet a low easterly swell and calm seas outside. The weather was warm and I was soon reduced to shorts and T shirt, the sun hot on my back, as we motored easily down the coast towards Tutakaka. Mile after mile we motored on, not a breath of air, the mainsail hanging limp. Thank goodness the Raymarine autopilot was working well.
At two in the afternoon I anchored in Tutakaka harbour. I had considered going further down the coast to Whangarei Harbour but couldn’t bear another few hours of motoring, I just wanted the noise to stop. At five in the afternoon the weatherman issued a gale warning for the following (Sunday) afternoon, E’ly 30 rising to 40 knots in the evening. Still a day away and no immediate threat, with options to sail tomorrow or stay where I was.
I had intended to take the dinghy and go for a walk ashore. But for some reason I was not confident about the weather so the dinghy remained lashed on the foredeck. I went to bed in the evening and all was nice and calm.
Early morning at one I was awake, the wind was singing in the rigging. I had a look around outside and could see that in the space of a couple of hours the weather had deteriorated badly. The wind was coming from the NE, the only direction from which Tutakaka is not sheltered. I removed the wind vane sail and stowed it below. It was now two in the morning and the wind was increasing. I didn’t like the look of it and the barometer was plunging.
The early morning forecast was for E’ly 30 knots building to 40 knots in the late afternoon. The weatherman should look out the window because we had 40 knots already. By first light I could see the swells crashing over the rocks at the entrance to the harbour. It had become rough in the harbour and as Truce was on a lee shore I wanted out of the situation. We were not in a good spot.
At seven I heaved up the anchor, not easy on the pitching foredeck with the bow plunging into the waves. Once the anchor was up I motored off the lee shore and headed into Tutakaka Marina. Once in the marina I rounded up and managed to get a line on the fuel dock and after a few minutes had Truce calmed down and secured alongside. The weather was wild by this time, howling wind and driving rain. What a contrast to the day before and how quickly it had changed.
A short time later the marina guys allocated me a berth and I shifted from the fuel dock. Truce ended up secured with two head lines, two stern lines and four springs. The wind and rain continued all day and increased to a solid sixty knots by midnight. By seven on Monday morning the wind had reduced to thirty knots, but the rain persisted all day on and off. That was a real weather bomb and the weather guys missed it completely.
I decided to spend another day in the marina, hot showers and laundry being a big attraction. The Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers Club being another magnet with hot food and draught beer on tap. I slept well that night having been well fed and watered, sleeping in freshly laundered bedding and a secure berth alongside.
TUTAKAKA TO AUCKLAND
June 9 2020
Tuesday morning in Tutakaka Marina opened overcast and calm, although everywhere is still wet from the storm. Today I will head south again and see how far I can get and what the weather will throw at us. The forecast is calling for westerly winds that gradually decrease towards the evening.
After letting go from the Marina I headed over to the fuel dock to top up with diesel. The fuel is a good price here so worthwhile to top up. Its also more convenient than refueling in Auckland. On completion of fueling I headed out of Tutakaka Harbour, sailing with just the staysail.
Once outside the harbour the familiar easterly swell picked up us up and a fresh 20 knot westerly breeze set in. Up went the double reefed main and the yankee about 60% out. Truce settled into a good rhythm and the speed hovered between six and seven knots as we cantered down the coast. Glorious effortless sailing.
Just after lunch we had Bream Head abeam and the wind held well. Occasional gusts from the land heading us up until Mickey got himself organised and back on course. We sailed past the hen and Chicken Islands and close under the lee of Sail Rock.
On we sailed towards Cape Rodney with Little Barrier Island on our port side. Now the wind started to diminish, slowly reducing as I shook out the mainsail reefs to try and keep the speed up.
I had considered anchoring at Kawau for the night, but we still had wind and after such a great days sail I didn’t want to anchor when we could still make ground towards home. We sailed outside Kawau Island and at its southern end could suddenly see the Auckland Sky Tower showing through the Tiri Channel some twenty-five miles distant. We were almost home!
By this time the wind had reduced, our speed was down to three knots and a bit less at times. But it was a lovely night and we were still moving in the right direction. Eventually, just north of the Tiri Channel the wind headed us and on went the motor.
I kept the staysail and main up and in very light wind motor sailed down through the Rangitoto Channel around North Head and into the Waitemata harbour. In the harbour the sails came down and I motored the last five miles, under the harbour bridge, to anchor in the river just off Henderson Creek, just before two in the morning. With the motor off everything was quiet and peaceful, just the trickle of the incoming tide against the hull. We were just a mile away from the marina and home.
After a few hours sleep, I picked up the anchor at first light and motored up the Henderson creek. It was a wet foggy morning and I am sure the Hobsonville ferry doing 20 knots was just as surprised to see me creeping up the channel as I was to see him coming the other way at 20 knots. At sunrise I nudged into a berth in Hobsonville marina and was soon securely moored.
Cold, foggy and wet outside, I settled down for a good hot breakfast in the warmth of the cabin, soon be time to reflect on the New Zealand cruise.
It has been five months and three days since I departed from this place.
Now I am back home, sleeping in a double bed, without movement and no wind in the rigging. I do wake up in the morning and momentarily wonder where I am, but that will pass. Having not watched television for five months I find I am now strangely addicted, but that will pass as well I hope.
Truce is secure, fore and aft, on a pole mooring. Not as convenient as a marina berth as I must take the dinghy to and from from the shore. But the cost is less expensive than a marina berth so I will give it a try.
I am also back at work in the red shirt as a casual employee at Burnsco in Westhaven. The first day back was good, catching up with the other staff and meeting some interesting customers.
I have been reading through my logbooks and reflecting on the cruise and the last few months. Firstly, it’s clear I did not achieve what I set out to do. But, back in January who expected a global pandemic would change our lives so drastically?
My motto for this cruise was ‘no hurry in life’. I set that parameter before I started. I wanted to avoid any situation where I was pressurised to meet deadlines. In that goal I was successful and had no pressure to sail or take risks. This made the cruise a much more relaxed affair and allowed me more time to linger in places I liked. I will adopt this mantra from now on.
In the end it didn’t matter that I missed getting to Stewart Island or Fiordland. I enjoyed seeing and visiting many other places. A cruise to the South of lower New Zealand can happen another time, there is always next year.
Truce stood up to the cruise very well. There were no major breakages and all the gear worked well. The two failures to occur were the Raymarine ST2000+ autopilot and an engine shut down. The autopilot failure was annoying but manageable until a replacement unit was sourced. The engine shut down was self-inflicted, I used an incompatible fuel filter. After sourcing the correct filter, the engine resumed normal service. Throughout the cruise I carried out preventative maintenance and as usual with boats or ships, the more they are used the less problems they give.
Of particular merit were the solar panels, LED lights throughout the boat, Oil Lamps and Dickinson Heater. The solar panels performed well and provided sufficient power to run all onboard equipment without resorting to the engine for charging batteries on all but a few very overcast days. The use of LED lights reduced power consumption drastically. As the weather turned colder, I lit one or two oil lamps in the cabin. They provided sufficient heat to warm up the boat which is well insulated. On very cold nights the Dickinson diesel heater was excellent, delivering heaps of heat and a nice cosy atmosphere.
A some of the things I would like for future cruises: –
- A fridge, not only to keep beer cool but to allow the carriage of fresh provisions for longer. The downside being the increased cost, complication and power drain. I would need to increase the solar and battery capacity. I am also concerned about adding a layer of complication to a simple self-sufficient boat. But on balance I am planning to convert the icebox to a fridge.
- A light wind sail on a top down furler. I have a spinnaker that I do not use single handed, it is just too much effort to rig and set by myself, particularly when coastal sailing. A hoistable top down furler would be easy to manage, provide drive in light wind conditions and be simple to furl and drop when the wind picks up. Unfortunately, these things are costly, it will remain on the wish list.
- A replacement for the existing timber spinnaker pole. A lightweight carbon fiber spinnaker pole would be much easier to rig single handed and less likely to cause damage to either the boat or myself.
Some of the highlights of this cruise: –
- Whangaroa Harbour, enjoyed the many sheltered anchorages.
- Abel Tasman National park, beautiful scenery and almost tropical setting.
- Spirits Bay, remote and tenuous anchorage awaiting favourable winds on east coast.
- Catching up with family and friends in Abel Tasman, Nelson, Lyttleton and Northland along the way.
- Catching fish and the generosity and friendliness of commercial fishermen.
Some of the less pleasant events: –
- 50 knot winds crossing the Cook Strait when only 35 knots forecast.
- Hordes of cruise ship passengers in Akaroa.
- Weather bomb at Tutakaka
Facts and figures for the cruise: –
- Cruise Distance 2,732 miles
- Cruise Duration 158 Days
- Anchorages 55
- Marina days 22
- Total fuel consumption for cruise 439 Litre diesel
- Total Engine hours for cruise 319 hours
- Fuel cost $570
- Fuel Consumption 1.37 Litre per hour
Finally, many thanks to Micky (wind vane self steering). Mickey looks after all steering on board when we are under sail and sometime when under motor as well. With the occasional drop of lubricating oil he performs without complaint, day in day out, sometimes in challenging conditions. He uses no fuel or electrical power, just needs a bit of wind to keep him happy. He does not complain and stays awake 24 hours a day. The best crew you could wish for.