Our passage to Kiwi land was eight bouncy and wet days, with a few bruises, but overall “no drama” as they say here. We were closing in but still 300 miles out at sea when Marcy was buzzed by a NZ Orion search aircraft. They called us on VHF radio, by name, and asked a series of questions – ETA (estimated time of arrival in NZ), POB (number of persons on board), and port of departure. They had on hand the information we had emailed to NZ Customs before departing Fiji – very professional. The radio crewman had a distinct Kiwi accent and it was a bit difficult for us to understand, but we apparently satisfied the aircraft’s needs and they flew off to find another yacht.
It was the first indication we had of how serious New Zealand is about the safety and happiness of the annual migration of yachts to the country. We were amazed at how courteous, professional, and thorough the check in procedure was. Even the tires on the bikes and the tent stakes were checked for bio-hazards. Many of the officials are sailors themselves, and we were presented with a gift packet prepared by local retail shops at the customs dock.
Our motor needed a broken exhaust stud replaced, so while waiting for a mechanic – 3 weeks as it turned out – we busied ourselves with exploring and boat projects.
We had fun walking the docks to see yachts we know and hear how the passage went for others. Many had epic stories of heavy weather 14 and even 21 (!) day passages. We saw a broken headstay, broken bowsprit, and many shredded sails.
Since we were on a breakwater in the form of a detached floating dock, we had a convenient place to work. First Peter had to learn how to walk on the dock at high tide without hitting his head….
As we worked, we learned that this part of NZ is a windy place. Weather sweeps in quickly from the ocean and we have had several gales at the dock.
Everyday the tide brings beautiful brown jellyfish into the marina, and then takes them away again.
Way back in Samoa, six months ago, we had received half of a wind and water generator that we had ordered. The other half of the shipment finally arrived here in Opua, after stops in two other countries on the way…..
Opua has a very nice and friendly yacht club, a general store, a small ferry, and ambience similar to a small New England coastal town.
After the Marcy’s motor worked again, we headed out to explore the cruising ground. High on our list of priorities was looking for seafood. Ginger jumped into the freezing water with snorkel gear to look for scallops. They were delicious!
We hiked up the hill near the anchorage with friends.
As another gale moved into the area, we refined our stormy weather at anchor techniques.
Peter checks for chafe on the anchor snubber.
Since our new generator produces lots of electricity during a windy day at anchor, now we can watch Hornblower videos down below!
At anchor in Russell, NZ, Marcy looks like she could be in Puget Sound.
Here is a picture of Marcy in Fiji – just a reminder for ourselves of the colors of the tropics.
New Zealand’s colors are more subdued, but also beautiful…
Labels: 2007 - 11 to 2008 - 05 New Zealand