The Mosquitoes of The Mokohinaus

You’d think twenty-five miles offshore would be far enough to avoid bugs, yet we found the mosquitoes of the Mokohinau Islands are competing well with sheep for the largest biomass between Seattle and Dunedin.  The islands in this cluster are a wonderland of micro-bays, pinnacles, caves, tiny passes and octopus gardens. The attraction is magnified by fickle winds and open ocean swells crashing into the rocks making the most interesting spots hazardous, untenable and mysterious.

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We were disappointed to have to admit to ourselves that we have the wrong boat to explore places like this. But we have the perfect boat to take on a metric ton of poor, tired and hungry mosquitoes who had been waiting a very long time for a boat without local knowledge to come and anchor at their preferred port of embarkation. We fled at first light after a night of wholesale mosquitocide including a chemical barrage of patchouli incense which disoriented the mosquitoes, reminded S of grad school, and made K feel even more like a hippy.

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The utter slaughter would take another full 48 hours of relentless bloody killing. Carcasses covered the deck and the blood had to be washed overboard with the fire hoses. Or so it seemed at the worst.

Khamseen sailed fast to the north, so fast that we failed to stop for the night because we passed our intended night harbor at lunchtime.  It would have been a record upwind day if we were the types to keep such records. Our records are notoriously unkempt, K got bored just thinking about it, so we satisfied ourselves with the goal to sail just low enough at a fine pace to clear Cape Brett in the Bay of Islands 50 miles away.

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In the way of these things, we were met by a great squall within sight of the Cape.

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The wind backed 20 degrees and put us into a tacking duel with this spinning cell as sunset approached.

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There was a deluge and then a calm, and these were more than enough to prompt the unsatisfactory but expeditious decision to motor without grace through the pass between Cape Brett and Motukokako Island (or “Hole in the Wall”) to make our anchorage.

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Then out came the sun and illuminated S. Grace was restored.

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35°55.50’S 175°06.70’E 3-Apr-11 05:00 UTC

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