Thursday, January 28, 2010


Hi there.

Arrived in Whangarei yesterday afternoon after taking a couple of days to sail down from the Bay of Islands. We stayed in Tutukaka on the way down.

Dan was unable to find work in BIO at the moment, one place said maybe in a couple of weeks, so we are here and he has put in his CV in one place but if not successful we will carry on down to Auckland.

We did a bit of bay hopping in the Bay of Islands. We figure we could probably be there almost a year and still not see every nook and cranny. We didn't get anywhere near the Kerikeri side of the Bay. We spent a couple of nights in a large bay, (sorry can't remember the name) due to a supposedly strong SW forecast, but didn't get much over 20 knots but all the other boats left on the second day and we were starting to doubt our decisions!! But the holding was good and we weren't at all uncomfortable. And we did share the view with Micheal Hill - Jeweler in his big grey vessel (can't call it a super yacht as I don't think it was very attractive!)

On the Saturday we came up to our first wharf ever and got some lovely spring water kindly supplied by the local land owner. We then went just around the corner to Dicks bay which was great swimming and playing and BUG finding as you can see by the photos!

After a lazy morning another easy sail around to Urapukapuka Island again where the we meet up with another family by chance that we had met over the weekend. Another great place for swimming and play and lots of under sized snapper caught much to the boys delight. Didn't matter that they had to go back, thrill of the catch and all.

On the Monday night we went to Opua and the wharf to charge up the battery bank and try to find Dan a job, with not much luck, so after a night with the ferry giving us all its wake every 15 minutes we headed to Oke bay then Tutukaka before getting to Whangarei.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Learning to surf
School time - maths flashcards

Me driving while Dan tells me where to go!
Jodes playing in the sand

Sun set from Urapukapuka Island.

Tall ship in Russel

Jodes leaving :( on her fast ferry.

The two days after our trip North were spent in Teamaro Bay just south of Doubtless Bay. This bay has several coves for safe anchorage for weather from the S to W. The first night we were in a cove with a rocky shore which proved quite difficult to negotiate in jandals while trying to do washing or explore, so after lunch on Saturday we headed around the corner to the next cove. Here there was a secluded sandy beach with some little surf like waves that we all had fun playing in. There was also a tyre swing in a tree, a warm pool left by the outgoing tide and a dam that needed repairing! On the Sunday morning on a higher tide we returned there for some photos in the trees and rocks and a power walk along the soft wet sand. The surf at high tide was really impressive and we needed to pick our place to take the dingy.

We then headed out of our resting place towards Whangaroa Harbour. It took us couple of hours under full sail to get to the entrance of this hidden haven. Jodie wasn’t at all sure that we weren’t heading for the rocks until she saw a launch disappear behind them. Dan and I had been here by road many years ago but were unable to remember what it was like and it was amazing to have this large area reveal itself from such a narrow entry. The landscape was breathtaking with amazing rock formations and foliage colouring. We headed straight down the harbour to Totara North to think about getting some stores but decided we could do without them. Dan tried to see if we could get a marina berth to plug into power to recharge the batteries but the marina there didn’t have a space wide enough for us. We then headed back up the harbour to spend the night in Rere Bay. We sailed most of the way back up which was rather unnerving with the wind shifting around due to the surrounding cliffs and the huge amount of water traffic. This may have contributed to the fact we forgot about our centre boards and we were gently reminded when the bottom of the bay went from over two metres to 1.6 and the port centre board copped it again by digging into the soft mud. We safely anchored on the other side of the bay and the kids, Jodie and I went dingying/exploring while Dan cooked tea. The next morning we headed up a creek in the dingy with the outboard and left it tied to a tree as we followed a well marked track up into the bush for about half an hour. We met several groups of people on the way and got interesting photos of stick insects and landslips. Unfortunately when we returned to the dingy the outboard wouldn’t start so it was a long, but peaceful row back to the boat through the mangroves. We refuelled ourselves with food and water/coffee then headed out of Whangaroa towards the Bay of Islands.

It took us five and a half hours to do 32nm in light winds from the NE. We caught another fish as Dan aimed for the flock of birds on the water. The kids and I spent most of this time on the tramps at the front reading stories or doing maths. We were past by triplet launches at one stage all cruising along together which seemed quite comical to us. We had already decided where we wanted to go so headed to Urupukapuka Island for the night. Once again there was a lot of water traffic and even more anchored in both of the bays we were thinking of staying, but we found our spot in water so clear we could see the bottom with 5 meters of depth. Once again a fish dinner and bottle of wine to help enjoy our surroundings. As seems to be our routine we headed for the beach in the morning by dinghy and boogie board and built sandcastles and swam. We contemplated doing some of the walk around the island but it was just too hard to stand up to do so. Another easy sail in the afternoon saw us get to Russell where we anchored and had lunch. Dan once again tried to get us a berth in Kerikeri or Opua marinas for the night but we have managed to time our arrival for Bay of Islands race week and there is no space at the inn. Plan C was then to head just around the corner to Matauwhi Bay for a safe anchorage past all the moored boats in close to the shore. We walked over the hill to shops for the first time in over a week and sorted out transport for Jodies departure the next day. An icecream and coffee break, stock up at the local 4 Square and back to the boat for our last evening with Jodes. Kids in bed we spent the evening in the cockpit listening to sounds on the outside speakers and star gazing.

This morning we said goodbye to Jodie as she was wisked away in a red fast ferry then spent and hour or so around Russell. Where we are anchored there is a small reserve and we kicked a ball around and played with some new found friends. One of the really cool things around here is the kiwi protected areas which we have been hearing the calls of kiwi on and off all evening. The kids are really excited about knowing they are in the wild. A small downside is seeing a little one squashed on the side of the road.

Well that is up to date for the moment so will leave off here and update you on our goings on and highlights in the next couple of days.

South to North

Jodie at the helm - a natural

First land North Cape Friday Morning

Max Speed for the journery - just to prove it!

Well we have made it to the North Island, and are currently hanging out on the North East Coast. We left Tarakohe Harbour on Tuesday the 12th of January and came around Cape Reianga 0730 on Friday 15th. We sailed a total distance of 565nm with an average speed on 6.72knots and a top speed of 20.24 when I was on the helm! Our good friend Jodie kindly agreed to be our crew for the trip after several beers on New Years Eve, a couple of texts and a phone call.

We had initially thought to leave on the Monday morning, but the weather system coming up the country was about 24 hours behind forecast. This meant the rain on Sunday prevented us completing our jobs and no wind on the Monday morning so we used the extra time to get a few more jobs done and have a couple of good nights sleep.

We left Tuesday morning with no wind in the Bay again and motored out towards the north, seeing Separation Point and the trees at the end of Farewell Spit. We spent this time answering Jodies questions and teaching her some of the basics of our boat. There were lots of recreational fishing boats out off of the point all enjoying the settled weather – great for them but not so for us. We ended up heading much further East than we had hoped as the wind was directly from the North. We saw many seabirds including gannets and a mussel bouy that had obviously broken free floating past us. As we slowly lost sight of land the questions from the kids started as we had never been out of sight of land before and I must say I think all of the adults also had a few flutters of anxiety as the hills disappeared into the haze. We had a bit of story reading with the kids but this didn’t last long as the swell was starting to make the stomachs uncomfortable. Towards evening Dan spotted what he thought was one of the Maaui Gas rigs, this turned out to be a fishing boat, ever optimistic that we had got that far north in such light winds. I settled the kids into bed then left Jodie and Dan to it while I caught four precious hours in bed before my first ever night watch. While I was resting Dan and Paige saw another sailing catamaran motoring south.
I was woken at 2355 by an almighty crash, quickly followed by another as something hit the port bow then centre board, luckily veering away before getting to the skegs or rudders. I was out of bed before I was really awake and Dan already had the red bike light looking around the centre board case to ensure no water was coming in. Thankfully not, but poor Jodie who had been on the helm at the time must have had a hell of a fright. Being only five minutes before I was due on I got myself sorted and headed out into the dark for the first time. This was very uneventful as we had 3 knots of wind gusting up to 5! I had the pleasure of seeing the lights of the first gas station for the whole three hours. I also had a very large vessel come over the horizon from behind me and then pass us at a distance off of our port side. I did wonder what they were thinking on their bridge deck about the yacht wallowing out in front of them. Dan took over from me and I slept on the settee in the saloon, being woken by Dan saying he was too unwell to carry on. He did mention later that he was finding it very hard to stay awake and the lights from the gas rigs were often moving from the starboard hull around to the port side of the stern. I now wonder while writing this if Jodie and I were at a great advantage over Dan due to the fact that we have both done our share of night shifts and on call work over the last few years. As it was I was only there for about half an hour before Jodie surfaced again to start the next day.

It was rather disappointing as the day lightened to have the same rig visible in the distance but about 0700 off of New Plymouth the wind started to pick up and we were away, cruising along at around 8 knots. We had an overcast day with winds from the SW in the mid to high teens. It was great for go forward but not so good for the motion sickness, even Jodie succumbed to a small bout after being down in the galley, which is a place Dan and I couldn’t even think of going. Rylee and Oliver were both very lethargic, not even being able to get changed and lying on the settee eating very little. Thank goodness for the plums from Nonni and Pops tree and the boiled sweets sent for Christmas from Nana and Grandad as they were the only things most of us could bear to eat. We saw only one other vessel early in the morning for the whole day, and even the sea birds had lessened highlighting once again how far from land we were. The kids listened to stories on CD while Dan, Jodie and I alternated between watches and sleeping with the occasional thought to food and water. Paige was a real trooper as we knew she would be from previous trips being the only one on board not effected by nausea. She ended up being our “go-for” girl, helping me get the kids baked beans and spaghetti around 3pm for a meal as they were feeling better and we decided to eat when we could. She was also the only one who was able to keep up a routine with dressing and teeth cleaning etc. Dan, Jodie and I were all feeling very lethargic and even though the nausea was easing found that we just couldn’t be bothered doing much, staying in our wet weather gear even when not on watch.
I was fortunate enough to have the sunset shift and the clouds that had been over us all day cleared off to the west and I was able to watch the sun sink into a horizon unimpeded by buildings or even land in an amazing array of colours. Being on the helm during this day and over night was great, but not so for those inside as the noise was likened to being in a train tunnel as the boat would hum as she surfed down the waves. We also had slightly confused seas so we had random waves catching us from an angle that caused everything inside to bang and crash if they hit under the bridge deck.
I was back on watch at 0200 in much the same conditions but a little harder to catch the waves as I was unable to see them coming and by the time you saw them in the stern light it was too late to surf them. This also increased the nausea again as there was nothing to focus on and I had to use the little white bucket while still hanging on to the wheel to relieve this. I decided to try and do another three hour stint as I knew Dan was still feeling less than fantastic but when I was just into the third hour I lost concentration and turned the wheel the opposite way to where I wanted to go and accidentally gybed. I tried by myself to bring the boat back on course but there was too much wind in the sails for me to do so. I knocked on our hatch to get Dan out of bed to give me a hand to get us back on track. As we were trying to sort out sails and sheets etc we were side on the the swell and a large wave came and banged us about a bit. The noise of this got Jodie out of bed to check on things inside for us. Rylee and Oliver had woken but had their torches so were feeling OK and Paige was still sound asleep despite all of the boxes that are on her shelving being around her head! Dan decided to stay on that course for a while and relieved me of my watch so I could get some rest. This meant that on day three we were heading in towards land again.

The conditions on the Thursday were much the same as the Wednesday with the cloud cover continuing but thankfully no rain and SW wind helping us North. It was evident that we were coming closer to land as the sea bird life was once again increasing. We all enjoyed watching the white-faced storm petrels “dancing” over the water and the flocks of sooty shearwaters paddling like mad on the water before flying off just as we would have run over them. We were all starting to feel a little better as everyone and everything I read said would happen. During the day Dan started our new generator while we had the noise of sailing to try and recharge what we had used motoring the first day. The kids again listened to stories on CD, but towards the end of the day I was able to read stories to them again. We even managed to have sausages and rice risotto for tea thanks to cook Jodie. In the evening I saw a flying fish, my first ever and was so excited to think we had come far enough North for the water to be warm enough for them. I didn’t know what it was at first thinking it to be a bird, until I realised it had four wings and a funny tail.
The other exciting thing was a container ship, the first vessel in nearly 48 hours also giving us hope that we were getting to our destination. We made a joint decision to ensure all our night shifts were only two hours and over night made our way up Ninety Mile Beach with decreasing wind speed.

Friday morning and we could see LAND!! We probably would have sooner but we had poor visibility and the cape kept coming in and out of focus. Spirits soared at this and cameras came out for photos. We could see schools of fish on the surface of the water and the kids came out on deck to watch them and the birds that were fishing them. We put out a leur and caught our first fish of the journey which we stuffed with lemon and wrapped in tinfoil for tea. Unfortunately the wind died so we once again motored and ran the generator to get us across the top as the current there was causing our speed to be less than 3 knots over ground. Dan managed to bake a fruit loaf for morning tea and I spent a good couple of hours playing cards with Rylee and Paige. We tried to send texts to everyone first sight of land but had to wait for cell coverage, when Dan sent one to just about everyone in his contact list! We initially thought we would head to Whangaroa harbour but the wind wasn’t really with us so tucked into a bay just south of Doubtless Bay there to eat our fish (with potatoes and salad) and a bottle of wine to celebrate. We all appreciated a full nights sleep laying at anchor.
After a couple of days debriefing, hanging out on beaches and soaking up the serenity of the Northland East Coast, we couldn’t have asked for a better time. Jodes was amazing, fitting in with us so effortlessly and doing three hour watches during the day so we could rest, cooking and feeding the kids when we just couldn’t and being on top of all the dishes and “house work”. Dans and my confidance in plotting our position and working out our course grew as the days went on as landmarks appeared in the distance as they should have. The kids would like to say that they enjoyed the trip up the coast (except the sick parts) and have increased their knowledge on sea and bird life.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

North Island Trip

Hi Just to let you know we are now in the North Island, and I am writing this from a wee internet place in Russell. We had a dream trip up the West Coast, taking 72 hours from Tarakohe to Cape Reianga. I have started a full story of our journey, but murpheys law have left the flash drive on the boat, so will update you all further at a later date.

Sadly we have just said Goodbye to our wonderful crew member Jodie, and we are now getting the first substantial rain we have had since leaving Golden Bay, so we will head back to the boat for a "what now" conversation. It is Race Week in the Bay of Islands so probably not much until next Monday.

Will be back soon with a fuller story and piccies.