Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand sailing’

Return to the Bay of Islands

Monday, April 4th, 2011

The timing for our return to the Bay of Islands was clearly fortunate as we currently cling to the bottom of Urupukapuka Bay with our claws out in 36 kts of wind that swoops down from the bluffs around us.

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Though we regret leaving Great Barrier, we know that more time farther south would have cost us a good week of waiting for reasonable conditions to make it back to Opua.

At the end of our fast upwind day we arrived in Deep Water Cove, which is really not that deep.  Among the endearing enigmas of this country – which include kiwi fruit imported from Italy, and referring to a meal after lunch and before bed where one might have chops and parsnips as “tea” – anything over 30 ft is considered deep.

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We spent a pleasant night during which the last of the mosquitoes were discharged to perdition.  In the morning we were invited aboard Savarna for coffee and met some nice people from Nelson who had backpacked in Alaska as youngsters and knew the illegal hiring practices of salmon canneries in Valdez. K was nostalgic.  We took a quick trip ashore, where wild begonias grow from the rocky cliffside,

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and hiked up to the nearby ridge where we finally saw a Tui bird (he was too jumpy to have his picture taken).  But we hurried back to Khamseen to move for the weather. It’s not hard to move smartly when the sunny sky is suddenly scored by a long dark cloud coming down, knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door. This cloud stretched all the way to Tonga.

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So we left the rookery rocks of this new species of heavily-beaked beach chicken,

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and wandered past islets and through skinny passes towards Urupukapuka Bay.


The sheep dotted pastures on high bluffs around the bay reminded us that the larder was getting low and the fishing has been bad – or at least the keeping has been bad even when the catching was alright.

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So we ate the last of our Mexican lentils in a beanless country and watched yet another squall roll out of the endless Pacific and across these cheeky islands.


35°13.30’S 174°14.30’E 4-Apr-11 05:30 UTC

The Mosquitoes of The Mokohinaus

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

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

Pinned Down in Coromandel

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Remarkably, we had visitors while we were hunkered down at Motui.

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Mike was out on Daruma with his daughter Karla and her boyfriend Daniel, and they stopped by to see who was crazy enough to be anchored there in such weather.  Mike has made several trips between New Zealand and Fiji, and we shared sea stories over turkish coffee onboard Khamseen before he and his crew continued on their way.

We finally got tired of listening to our anchor snubbers groan as we were batted back and forth by the cats paws reaching around both sides of the tiny island and into our mouse hole like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. So we headed back south to the quieter anchorages off the village of Coromandel.

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As it happened, the weather eased the next day so we decided to take a Sunday stroll in town.  We headed out as the rising tide filled the shallow but well-marked channel up the river into town.

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Veteran vessels lined the way.

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The bridge made a handy place to tie the dinghy.

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Most of the stores in town were closed, but we did get to see the mining museum, which was full of cool rock specimens and mining equipment, and lots of photos and odds and ends from Coromandel’s history.

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The road out of town was peppered with super-cute old houses behind roses and white picket fences and sheep eyeing us suspiciously from under persimmon trees.

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We didn’t score any persimmons, but we did pick up a bag of Coromandel’s finest fejoias.

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These spoon-sized little gems have a grainy texture like guavas (or pears), a sweet tangy flavor a little like strawberries, and a wonderful flowery fragrance.

We ended our day in town with huge supper at the Admiral’s Arms.  K’s steak and S’s fish and chips both came with the traditional (and curious but highly nutritious) side of beets and fried eggs.

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36°46.00’S 175°29.90’E 28-Mar-11 00:00 UTC

The Wednesday Night Races of Waiheke

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

One measure of coastal civilization is whether their sailboats race every Wednesday night. New Zealand is very civilized by this measure and we had front row seats when we anchored next to the subtle windward mark in Putiki Bay, after the boys in the boatyard put us back in the water.


There was a random mix of classes. We like this wishbone trimaran with a peace dove on it.


Conditions were favoring two well matched sloops on this night.


Red Rum and Free Willey were leading the pack into the evening light.


No one seemed too concerned that they were sailing towards a budding waterspout.


One could ask what the prudent mariner would have done, but in the end the twister went away and the fleet raced home.  Khamseen would have run the other way but she was already well upwind of that beastie.


36°48.50’S 175°02.20’E 14-Mar-11 19:02 UTC

Afloat in Auckland

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

We kind of lost track of TJ’s count down timer on but be assured that we met all of our schedule goals for the 2011 shipyard period.

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“Bint” translates as “Girl” (or “daughter”) contrary to what you may have heard from your forefathers in the Arab corners of the British Empire. And the Girl was looking Hollywood good after a professional (!) topsides buffing and a couple of coats of Mexican bottom paint. She also got a new backstay and a new 550-amp house bank of batteries, and a thorough fuel polishing.  It was a very efficient and unusually comfortable yard period, to the point that we stayed an extra day after the boat was ready to splash just to catch the nearby ferry to the Auckland central business district for a day of fun and shopping.  That, and the free unlimited hot water in the boatyard shower rooms were hard to give up.

Auckland is a marvelous pedestrian city, at least within the central district. We missed a few good pictures for being rusty and then swung the long lens into action for a final round of Auckland candids in the marina district where fancy ladies surf their devices.

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High on buildings where window washers race each other UP.

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Outside the Vodaphone building where deals are brokered.

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In Victoria Park where a busty Victoria, Empress of India,

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still frowns across multiple generations of Indians

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who don’t really notice

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possibly because they are checking out the skin.

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There was quite a lot of pink in the park and it was good to be a place where the sun still shines.

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But after several hours of packing new boat gear and groceries up and down the city hills K was identifying with this stony character who saw too much in “The South African War” and we turned our tired feet to the ferry dock.

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The ferry was under the command of our old friend and Seattle sailor Captain Dennis, and he wasted no time dodging the evening Hobiecats in the channel

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to bring us back to Half Moon Bay with our fellow commuters.

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36°51.20’S 174°45.20’E 09-MAR-10 20:21 UTC