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Onora ready to launch

Sometimes we think the boat owns us

Russell, once the 'Hell hole of the Pacific"'.

At the Waitangi Treaty Grounds we learned that the treaty document translated into Maori did not give England soverignty

November 17, 2015

Whangamumu Harbor, North Island

35'15'S 174'18'E

After two and a half weeks of boat preparations in Whangarei, Onora and her crew have dropped lines and are heading north to the Bay of Islands, an area rich in Maori history. Onora looks rejuvenated with a freshly painted bottom, new canvas work and long overdue solar panels as well as many system improvements furnished by the captain and a few workmen. Onora's crew, however, is tired and achy and ready to be out at sea.

New Zealand Customs will allow us to keep Onora in its waters for two years so we decided to spend this year cruising around the two islands of New Zealand. No ocean passages but many challenges await along New Zealand's coastline. Our first sail of the year was a 9.5 hour downwind trip to Whangamumu Harbour, just south of Cape Brett which, until 1940, was a whaling station.

December 8, 2015

Opua Marina, North Island

35'19'S 174'07'E

We spent three weeks sailing the Bay of Islands, enjoying the scenery of forested ridges and beautiful coastline in the many protected anchorages that we first discovered last March when we sailed here from Nelson. The difference this time is it was the beginning of Christmas holidays and most anchorages were packed with boats by mid-day. Our weather is constantly changing from cool and sunny to blustery-rainy days but thanks to our reliable 200 lb. anchor, we hunker down and wait it out.

Our friends, Kelly and Jos Archer, joined us for a few days on their boat, Mistral, and we cruised through the islands, worked on boat projects and shared our dinners at the end of the day. We have had a peaceful relaxing time before facing the upcoming demands of the holiday season.

We left Onora at the Opua Marina and flew home to Chicago for the Christmas holidays with family and friends. Many international boats check in here to avoid the cyclone season further north and spend their time touring, most by land, around New Zealand's two islands. The Opua Cruising Club hosted a holiday party for cruisers and we met yachties from various countries ' some solo sailors, some families and some 'mature' couples like ourselves, all with yarns.

January 24th, 2016, pt. 1

Nelson Marina, South Island

41'15.5'S 173'17'E

After a three week whirlwind of holiday activities at home, we returned to Onora on New Years Eve, ready for a good night's sleep after 24 hours of travel. We had two days to get the boat 'ship shape' before our friend and ex crew member, Ed Bachrach, joined us for a couple of days before flying home to Chicago.

Ed and his family had celebrated the holidays in Queenstown, the 'Colorado' of New Zealand on the South Island. We were looking forward to showing him some of the beauty of the anchorages in the Bay of Islands but the weather did not cooperate so instead he experienced 'lockdown', tucked into a protected place with anchor dug in waiting for the high winds and rain move on.

Luckily on his departure day we were able to anchor at Russell, a picturesque town set deep in the Bay of Islands. As the Centrex of the first European settlement on the North Island, it was known as the 'Hell Hole of the Pacific'- a lawless frontier town with gun toting Maori and Pakeha (white men) roaming about. Today it is a centrex for big game fishing and holiday tourists enjoying the scenic waterfront.

After seeing Ed off we had in front of us three months for cruising New Zealand with no tight schedules to follow. Just wait for the right weather window and go. Our next destination is Nelson, 468 miles south, and a lovely city at the top of the South Island.

Nelson is a favorite spot of ours but we need to wait for the northerlies that will give us a downwind sail along the North Island's western coast. We cruised up toward the top of the island where we found fewer cruiser boats, beautiful white sandy beaches and a number of serious game fishing boats.

The northerlies came and we took off for our four day passage to Nelson with winds at our back and confused seas giving us a jolly ride for a while. This was our first overnight passage of the year and even in good weather conditions our bodies take quite a beating getting accustomed to the constant motion of the boat. Add to that the four hour watches through the night and the result is a tired lethargic captain and crew yearning for flat seas and uninterrupted sleep.

- [ Part II ] -




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