Our passage to NZ was fast and relatively painless, overall. We enjoyed an 8 day 2 hour passage and only had one day where it blew a full gale. Even though we had no engine our batteries stayed charged with the self steering vane doing most of the steering and the solar panels pumping in lots of juice as the days got longer on our way south. The last 36 hours of the trip the seas got steep and the wind strengthened. We sailed upwind for almost 24 hours with our storm staysail and 3rd reef in
our mainsail which was the perfect combo for the 30-35 knots of wind. In the steep seas we rolled gunwale to gunwale at times and it was important to have as much sail up as possible to minimize the roll. We took a lot of waves over the bow and the bedding around the forward hatch completely failed. We had water pouring in over our v-berth and fortunately had the ubiquitous blue tarp handy to cover our gas generator stored up there on the floorboards. We also had a few port leaks which resulted
in water pouring from the high side of the boat in the port, across the saloon table and onto the settee on the other side. We took water in through the anchor locker hatch as well and for the last 20 hours of the trip were hand bailing quite a bit. Our strainer on our main bilge pump kept clogging and the sucking foot on the pump is only long enough to reach the port side of the boat anyway. As most of the passage was spent on port tack it was easier to just hand bail the water. We vowed to
avoid hand bailing ever again if possible and added items to the fix-it list. Needless to say as we approached the Bay of Islands and the seas calmed we were quite happy to be heading to shore. We enjoyed the company of 4 other boats on the same passage checking in to a radio net twice daily. Every boat had challenges and it was a spirit lifter to hear everyone's struggles as we were all out there together.
As we came into the bay we notified customs that we were without auxiliary power. We asked by radio if we had any options other than the customs dock if we couldn't make it to the dock under sail. There can be a strong current in the bay and the wind was directly on the nose for the last mile. The authorities verified that there were no options other than the quarantine dock so we continued on. We had to tack a few times to reach the dock and at the end customs guys came by in their beefy RIB
to push us, but we didn't need any help as Marcy executed a perfect docking under sail. Good thing, as we had a huge audience from the yacht club next door watching our arrival. It was definitely a high point of the trip to have our friends cheering our arrival from the yacht club deck. We arrived at 7PM Sunday night so we spent the night on the quarantine dock and were cleared in Monday morning. Within 10 minutes of the customs officials arriving on the dock we had the phone number of one of
the officers and an invitation to dinner at his house when we're in Auckland. Maybe the black eye helped with sympathy. We've never had such a welcome to a new country. They let us sit on the quarantine dock all day until slack tide in the late afternoon when Volare and Noorderzon towed us to the other end of the dock with their dinghies. Champagne was then in order!
With no time to spare we went ashore (we're tied to the breakwater dock so we have to use our kayak to get ashore) checked into the marina and arranged to have our engine worked on all before 5PM. The following day there was an announcement on the morning radio net that someone with a car was going to the butcher, hardware store and grocery store and had room for one more rider. Peter stayed on board cleaning up the boat and rinsing salt water off every surface while I took advantage of the ride.
The closest town is over 6 kilometers away by car so it was a great treat to get a ride to get the necessities - meat, beer and veggies. With the shopping done and lunch taken care of it was time to get a local phone card and arrange for our dinghy to be repaired. I called the local dinghy repair company which is about 30 minutes away by car and Tim, the guy fixing our dinghy, said that his father was at the marina right then and could pick up our boat. A quick jog, paddle, loading of the dinghy
in the kayak, paddle and delivery to the car and project #2 was underway. Meanwhile our social calendar was filling up, Don, from Sand Dollar, had caught a large tuna on the trip here so he arranged a dinner at a local restaurant. Every day ashore has been seeing friends we haven't seen in weeks and/or months and also meeting people from boats we've heard on the radio but never met. It was an exhausting and exciting time to see another friend every time we went ashore. Of course, sharing stories
and catching up were in order with every reunion. The following day was for laundry, showers - finally! - and more boat straightening. We received one lost package from Pago Pago but it wasn't the missing towing/wind generator, rather it was a beaten up box of books from Amazon. Half of the books were already re-shipped by them so we had a round of email with them to figure out how to return those. Thursday we got a ride with Paul from Blue Stocking and went to explore the towns of Kawakawa,
Kerikeri and Pahia. This was Peter's first trip outside of the marina. The countryside is rolling and green. We have seen our share of sheep now and have determined that the narrow shoulders, steep hills and fast cars do not lend themselves to biking here.
Wednesday was a very stormy day and we mostly stayed aboard. There were steady winds at 35-40 knots in the marina and our hearts went out to our friends from Ruby Slippers and other boats who were still at sea and on their way in.
Friday, our wedding anniversary (thanks for the emails) we were planning to go out to a celebration dinner but were invited to a party in Russell at Terry's house. Terry and his wife Chris are the owners of Mufasa. We last saw them in Pago Pago and we enjoyed a nice evening in their beautiful home catching up with them and the other boats who came to dinner.
Today we decided we needed a few things at the grocery store and some exercise. We did our first tramping today. No that doesn't involve makeup and small clothes, we walked the trail to Pahia. This was the first time we've had real shoes on since last September and my feet complained bitterly, in fact they're still complaining. We walked for 5 1/2 hours and are sure that we must have walked at least 14k in that time. For us, who have been unable to walk more than a mile due to heat and inclination
for the last year, this was quite a feat. We're back on board soaking our feet tonight and planning our boat projects for the upcoming week.
Have I already mentioned that the climate, people and countryside here and fantastic and we're thrilled to be here? It feels a little bit like New England and a little bit like San Juan Islands. We're looking forward to exploring. We heard there's an island in this bay where a person can snorkel for scallops and get the limit of 20 in about 15 minutes. Situations like this are exactly why we have shorty wet suits on board!
Thanks for all the emails and well wishes on our passage.
PS: Does anyone read 48 North? Will someone save the November issue for us?
Labels: 2007 - 11 to 2008 - 05 New Zealand