April 7, 2016
Limestone Island Whangarei Estuary
35'46.7 S 174'21.5 E
My Social Security checks have started coming. My favorite time to go to bed is nine-thirty. I am seventy.
We are anchored just four miles from our winter quarters in the town basin. It has been a good year. As we filled our fuel tanks at Marsden Cove yesterday the boat next to us asked about our travels. When I mentioned we had circled the North Island he said 'big trip'. I thought the opposite.
It has been relaxing but I like to see new places and meet new people. We have met the Jackson's and Fritz and it has been good to revisit places last seen twenty years ago but this is not an adventure.
We are back to two blankets and I tried the heater yesterday. Like most of our equipment it has not been used in this Southern summer so of course it did not start and is added to the project list.
The headline national news is that a real knife was used as a prop in a high school 'Sweeny Todd' and two students were cut. Health and Safety rules will be applied in the future. New Zealand has a lot going for it but it loves regulations. I could not pug into the electrical socket on the dock until I hired, for $120, an electrician to spend five minutes admiring Onora's wiring and present me with a Warranty of Fitness, good for two years. Then, my extension cable a $15 inspection that expires in six months. The empty propane tanks needed to be pressure tested before they could be filled as do the out of date fire extinguishers.
After Port Fitzroy we sailed to Algies Bay to meet Ted and Pam Bosch on board for dinner to relive sailing with Ted in the Falklands and South Georgia with his two sons, Adrian and Marcos, and Amanda, Marcos' wife. She was a trooper.
Continuing North, we returned to the Bay of Islands and anchored off of Russell, dined at the Gables, and visited the bookmaking operation at the Mission founded by the Catholic priest - Pompallier - to print bibles in Maori.
We sat out a three day blow in Assassination Cove along with two dozen other boats. Winds hit the high thirties and Onora acted like a sled dog racing to the end of her chain which jerked her to a stop. I must figure out how to reduce this. A riding sail rigged at the back of the boat might do it.
Kelly and Jos joined us on Onora for two nights. Jeannie needs the company. Jos and I fished for snapper while Kelly crashed. They are rebuilding their house. Kelly's MO is to work twelve hours a day after day until he runs out of gas and then disappears for a few days to sleep.
We returned to Whangaroa and Rere Bay, our favorite anchorage of this year's campaign. Another blow showed the advantage of getting just out of the wind when we moved fifty yards from the middle of the channel to just inside a small sub-bay with a high wall that blocked the wind.
Back to the Bay of Islands and then South, stopping for the night in Matapouri's Sandy Bay under Rangitapu Point with a stern anchor to dampen the swell, then on to Marsden point. Not much wind but flat seas and sunny skies
Marsden Cove Marina is an elephant graveyard: lots of big unmoving boats and no people, stores and just one caf¸. We rode our bikes on the highway shared with roaring log trucks which sucked past us to unload at the adjacent commercial port and double train oil trucks blasting us on the way out. We fueled Onora up and left to explore quiet Limestone Island today and meet Kelly and Jos at Topsail restaurant across the channel for my birthday celebration tonight.
April 9, 2016
The dinghy is stowed and the fenders are over the side. We are waiting for the flood tide so we can raise the anchor and proceed to the town basin where Onora will spend the winter. The Basin is a popular spot with boats rafted three deep. Our ability to parallel park will be judged by plenty of people sitting at the cafes on shore along with the nervous boat owners afraid we will break something when we make the sharp swing for the inside dock, cleared for us because we are staying so long. We will have inches on either side. Onora does not go sideways and our bow thruster is broken.
Later - no problem getting in (no wind and no current) we glided in for a smooth landing. Kelly and Jos stopped by minutes later and Tony Whiting joined to have a chat. Tony will be staying here, occasionally living on his boat in the marina. We will have him over for dinner tomorrow night.
Also met Don from Maine on the dock. His boat is on the hard in Port Whangarei Marine where the 100 ton travel lift hauled him out for a bottom job. The big lift would work better for us; no need to take the back stay off. This would save us a day's work.
April 17, 2016
Whangarei Town Basin
35'72.6 S 174'32.8 E
Our time is almost over. The head sails are stowed and the main is wrapped up. The batteries and fuel tanks are full and the fridge and freezer are empty and clean. We only have to set up the dehumidifier and pack our bags before heading to the airport for a short night at the Novotel and up for our 6:45 am flight home.
This past week we have had two interesting dinner guests, Tony Whiting and Steve Dashew. We have known them from Onora's building days. Tony had an engineering business in Auckland and was involved in the tricky projects on Onora. Tony grew up in a sailing family that years ago left New Zealand for Tahiti, Hawaii and Alaska. His sister runs a sailing school and his brother was lost crossing the Tasman. The boat and crew just disappeared.
Tony is a partner in a business in Whangarei and has moved his boat up from Auckland for a base when he comes up to check on it. He has offered to check up on Onora while we are gone for which we are thankful.
Steve was in to check on the progress of his latest new boat built, a seventy some foot power boat with crew quarters as he and Linda, like us, are getting older. It is a monster that is packed with two of everything so there is a backup. It reminds me of Dodge Morgan leaving to sail around the world nonstop on American Promise. I believe he had six autopilots and they all failed in the first seven hundred miles forcing him to stop in Bermuda. I believe in two autopilots but spare parts for the rest.
Steve and Linda pioneered the concept of a couple being able to intelligently plan and sail a large boat. We are converts.
Steve reminisced and regretted that he had followed Linda's wish and not gone all out on the day they did 350 miles on their 80 foot Beowulf, "We could have done four hundred". I would have been scared to death.
- [ Part III ] -