March 17, 2017
38'40 S 178'01 E
At four the next morning, when the tide went for us, we backed out of the slip. For a moment I panicked, thinking I was heading into the sea wall, then sorted out the lights and found the channel. Soon we were riding a tail wind and just after slack water, picked up the east flowing current out of Wellington, entering the Cook Straight just as the sky started to lighten.
The winds were light for the next thirty-nine hours and so we sailed when we could and motored the rest. We arrived in Gisborne in the early evening of the second day just beating a gale with hard rain that was to last several days.
Stuck in port, we rented a car and drove through the downpour to Wairoa for a night and on to Urewera. We aimed to test our legs on the hiking trails in what used to be a national park but is now a person.
The personhood was explained at the newly opened Maori welcome center, an architecturally pleasing glass and wood sustainable structure on the shore of the misty mountain lake that centers the area. A young lady explained that this was compromise worked out by the Maoris, who hold that this land was always theirs and the government who claimed it for the Crown and designated it a national park.
Now, 'just like a person, this land belongs to itself', she explained. I wondered who the lawyered this brilliant compromise.
A week later the winds finally changed to the south and we left into what became 30-40 gale force with very rough seas washing over the deck. It gave us what we call the 'runaway train' experience-moving very fast, close to the edge of control with three reefs in the main and just the staysail set.
After thirty-six hours we arrived in the dark in the sheltered waters of Great Barrier Island's green mountained Port Fitzroy.
We slept until the sun finally made it over the mountains and shone down into our eyes. We dragged our bodies out of bed and, to atone for the late start, we set out for exercise.
We moved to Kaiarara Bay, dropped the dingy into the water and were soon facing the green sign with gold letters posting hours to trail destinations. Mentally I wanted to climb to Mt. Hobson which we had done twice before, the last time twelve years ago. But we decided that the seven hour round trip after the pounding we had just been through would be the equivalent of an NFL double header. We opted for the four hour return up the stream through the fern forest. The hike took us to the remains of dam where, a hundred years ago, Sequa sized Keri trees waited after felling to be flushed down to the shore in a thunderous flood that could be heard and felt for miles.
After our 'day off' it is time to go. We have a date in the Bay of Islands to go fishing with Jos and Kelly Archer who already have their hooks in the water, eighty miles north of here. We are on our way.
March 19, 2017
Pareanui Bay, Bay of Islands
We met Kelly and Jos for a day of catching and releasing. The snapper were biting but the minimum size is over a foot long and none of mine were keepers. Jos managed to find three so we did have a fish fry.
March 22, 2017
Before we head offshore I always put on the harness and Jeannie hoists me to the top of the mast to look at all the fittings top to bottom. This time I found a problem. I am waiting for a rigger to arrive to look at a broken strand in one of the stays.
Onora has a massive rig and I am confident we could safely sail to Brisbane with the one broken strand but it is a warning sign and so we will replace the stay.
I have alerted customs both here, to let them know we are leaving, and in Australia, to let them know we are coming. We may leave as early as Saturday as one of the four models shows good winds for the passage but the others disagree. We will not leave until all are in alignment.
The often wrong predictions are for light winds. If true we will motor half of the way. If so we will fish. I have my lures ready.
This is our first offshore trip for over two years and will take a week to cross the Tasman Sea to Brisbane Australia. Jeannie says she is ready to go. Onora is ready.
In the early days of sail there were no weather forecasts and when the ship was ready the boat left. Now we have access to four weather models so we wait but soon we will be back at sea. We will miss New Zealand.