Sunday, 5 June 2022

Musket Cove

We have been anchored in Musket Cove since our last blog.  It is truly hard to tell exactly how long we’ve been here.  We are in very good company with Craig and Julie on Hullabaloo of Normandy and Colin Burmese Breeze.

Musket Cove is a very convenient resort island.  There are lots of moorings to rent if you find the depth at the anchorage of approximately 20 metres to deep for the amount of chain you carry.  We are happily anchored and are just a short boat ride from the resort itself.

Julie and I do yoga most mornings ashore.  It started with a group of ladies from various boats.

This is coffee time after a Yin yoga class lead by Diane, second from the right.

This photo was taken from the deck looking down at tiny fish being chased by the bigger fish in the stunningly clear water. 

The water is not always this clear. The tide runs through the anchorage first one direction and then the other.  At times it is crystal clear, then later is gets rather cloudy with ‘stuff’ being carried along. It wasn’t long before we realised that some of the stuff was what we call Sea Lice but are actually jellyfish spawn. We do not like them and they can take all the fun out of swimming.  The welts are extremely itchy, but that will stop if you can not touch them or let anything brush against. They go from puffy pink to dark red before disappearing after about a week.  Though many sites say they are invisible, I am sure I can see fine translucent tubes with little dots along them - and when I do, I don’t go in.  Other times, I find covering up helps, but anything not covered is fair game.

We are still waiting for a meaningful change in the temperature. It’s almost always 30+ degrees C. Right now it’s 32.1 inside in the shade. Recently, a cool wind comes up in the evening making the temperature a chill 27 or so, which actually feels quite cold. 

I keep thinking about the 40+ heatwave that came early to Indian this year and cannot imagine having to live and work in those temperatures.


We do get some spectacular sunsets and, with little light pollution, the stars are quite brilliant.

Tomorrow, we are heading back to Denarau. This is where we intend to leave Larus while we are away. I fly out to Canada late on the 9th of June and arrive early on the 10th.  Tim flies to the UK on June 17th.

We’ve been quite busy the last couple of days organising paperwork and the various travel requirements as well as filling the fridge with meals for Tim and Colin and disposing of or giving away food and cleaning the interior to discourage mould growing.

It is so exciting to be going home!

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

First Impressions Fiji

The people of Fiji are extremely friendly. ‘Bula’ or even ‘Bula Bula’ is the traditional Fijian greeting and we hear it all the time. People are very welcoming even outside the marina. When we  first arrived on the customs dock, after we’d had our Covid RAT, cleared in with customs and immigration a group of 15 or so marina staff arrived on the dock to sing us a song of greeting.  Eventually, we were moved to our current location in the inner basin.

This is our new staysail drying after a fresh water rinse. It is very humid here it took a long time to dry and we had many people stop to comment on what a fine looking sail it is.

It is hot here, particularly in the marina. Out at anchor will be cooler, but in the basin little breeze gets past the lush foliage. It is so hot we have ordered and other wall fan on the back of Colin’s, on Burmese Breeze order of 10.  Last night I had to resort to sleeping under a damp towel with the fan trained on me, a technique I first used in the Caribbean. Tim isn’t as bothered as much by the heat.

It is very Indian with a mix of people of Indian or African descent.  It’s feels very like Trinidad in some ways.  We went shopping in city of Lautoka, where you can find all manner of foreign supermarkets (air conditioned) as well as Fijian supermarkets (not air conditioned). It’s an interesting mix of East and West. 

We walked along the long harbour wall and spotted this Russian super yacht which has been impounded by the Fijians. It is purported to belong to one V. Putin.

The open air market was huge and needed a lot more time spent on it than we did. We had a taxi driver waiting with the meter running. He knew where to buy the cheap beer.

Tomorrow, we are taking Larus to Denarau Island (just a short motor to the south) with Colin on BB. The tubes on his dinghy are becoming detached and there is a guy in Denarau who can sort it out for him.  We will anchor off, tow Colin’s dinghy to the shore and then put Colin back on BB. We will then stick together so he has a means of getting ashore and we’ve missed his company. There is another supermarket in Denarau so I will pick up a few more things to keep us going.

After that, we will head to a resort island to anchor off so we can swim and acclimatise.

Another yacht, Hullabaloo of Normandy, that we have met in the past are coming out to play as well.

More to come as we get over what feels very much like jet lag with a side of heat stroke. Lol.

Many thanks to everyone for following us on our passage and for your good wishes. 

X Nancy and Tim

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Tomorrow is looking good…

Tomorrow looks like a good departure date.  Having had a drop of cold condensation from our aluminium window frames land in me as I climbed out of bed this morning, it’s about time! New Zealand is having a winter blast from the south east.  

Picking a departure date needs a lot of patience because weather being weather and there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it.

To help us decide, we use a number of computer based weather models created very various countries GFS (American), ECMWF (European), ACCESS (Australian) and ICON (German).  We access these models using an app called Windy on our iPads - no account needed for basic functions.

Leaving as a High approaches NZ gives us a good wind direction towards Suva, Fiji. All the models are the same which would be expected as Friday is tomorrow. We should have moderate winds from the southeast and should be on a comfortable broad reach. 

By Tuesday, out halfway mark, the models are still pretty similar and we expect to be motoring through the High. We expect to motor for 24 to 48 hours in a slight sea. There might be a bit of gentle sailing but we are psychologically prepared to use the engine.  This is the most expensive of diesel tank at $1.69 US a litre we have ever purchased. The most expensive 60 litres of diesel we have ever bought was in Bermuda that at $2.09 a litre back in 2017. I shudder to think how much it is today.

FYI - Tim has a spreadsheet where he records when, where and how much our diesel purchases cost.

Our plan is to head eastward throughout the passage because the final third or so of our 9 day at sea will be in the Tradewinds which blow from East to West.  We don’t want to end up west of Fiji and have to sail East into the wind to get there.

By Friday of next week we expect to be a put where the wind speed mark is on the top of the high. This is the GFS model and is a little more extreme than the other models, but we are almost above the High and into the Tradewinds where the models agree more or less. We expect to arrive on Sunday.

We have some last minute stowing to do tomorrow and I’ve decided that our first night at sea will be a Methi Paneer curry, which I will make today.  I have dried methi (fenugreek) leaves to use up and paneer, Indian curd cheese, to use up and want a meal that will stay hot the longest.  We have 12 hours of night right now and once the sun sets it gets pretty cold.  For us anyway. We usually eat together in the cockpit but we might well take turns eating down below. We will have to see. 

When we left Tonga for New Zealand, we were told by someone who knew that the temperature dropped 3 degrees C each day as you sailed south.  It is warming to think of the temperature rising 3 degrees daily as we head north.

We might be finding it cold at the moment but the locals are made of sterner stuff.

The annual Paihia to Russell Open Water Swim. The distance is about 3.2 km and the estuary is tidal and would add to the challenge particularly for the slowest.

So our plan is set and unless there are some drastic changes to the weather in the latter half of our passage we will clear out with Customs and Immigration and then depart tomorrow morning.

We have brilliant sunshine and it should be a lovely, if cold, start to our sail Fiji. 

You can follow our progress via our posts to which are displayed at the top of our blog.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Things to celebrate

We have a number of things to celebrate and be grateful for.

May 2nd, 2012 is the date we left England to begin our circumnavigation.  10 years on and we’ve only made it halfway, though we aren’t completely to blame for that. We are very glad to have the opportunity to spend so much time up in New Zealand and avoid the worst of the Covid lockdowns.

Larus's has benefited greatly from our lengthy stay. Over the 2 and a half years here, she has new sails, sail covers, anchor, stainless steel chain, generator, wind generator, steering pedestal and Tim installed the pre-ordered solar panels. We refreshed the Coppercoat on her hull and replaced the bearing on the rudder. 

We have been here long enough for Tim to have two teeth implants and for me to have surgery to remove a pesky benign lump from might right knee that has probably been causing me issues for years. 

As you can imagine, Larus is truly shipshape and Bristol fashion and we aren’t far behind her.

Why mention this all this?  Bragging? A little. Reassurance? A lot. Satisfaction that our floating home and crew are ready and willing for our next adventure? Definitely.

We are pleased to announce that there is a very good chance that in just over a week’s time we will be on our way to Fiji.  

Just as exciting, we have flights booked to Canada and the UK. Flights, I might add, that are fully changeable and refundable. What flights would be available should it be necessary to change them is another issue altogether and we don’t see any need to even worry about that at the moment.

Having been cloistered in Jacinda’s protective embrace, we have little experience of living with Covid in the community. We just head to anchor whenever it raises its ugly head.  It’s a little unnerving though as the ‘everyone’s going to get it eventually,’ attitude of the moment could scupper any part of our plans. Getting Covid in no way fits into our timeline so we are taking every precaution.

So far so good.

The cyclone season officially ended on the 1st of May and we seem to have a good weather window in the next week or so.

Our time is now spent preparing for the passage.

Tim using the Deck Snorkel to give the hull one last scrub.  Tiny barnacles start forming pretty quickly in the murky waters of marinas and river fed estuaries. He doesn’t expect to use the 5mm hooded wetsuit in the foreseeable future.

The beginnings of a happy freezer.  

We can’t bring any fresh fruits or vegetables into Fiji I prepare things like lasagne in the white container and muffins made with ripe bananas for the passage. I plan to have vegetarian meals frozen of the whole 9 day passage.  You can only bring in unopened meat and cheese from NZ into Fiji and I’d rather not have to worry about it on arrival.  There are still things to be used and replaced with Fiji-friendly foods.

We eat quite a lot of plant based meals these days. Our latest favourite is  Spaghetti and White Bean Balls. I have always avoided wholewheat spaghetti like the plague but had been given a very thin type by a friend and as the recipe called for it, I gave it a try. We were astounded to find we liked it better than the regular spaghetti. I have a lot of the bean balls frozen as you could eat them in a sandwich like a burger or serve them with a dip as a snack.

Other meals are chilli and curry and we have two of each type of meal. I make a big batch, have one meal that evening and then freeze two. Oh, and lasagne x 2!

We haven’t had to keep night watches for an awfully long time and I want life to be a simple as possible.  We generally do watches of 3 hours on and 3 hours off from dusk till dawn. After that we take turns depending how we feel and the daily chores that need to be accomplished.  

As part of our preparation to leave New Zealand, we’ve made sure we did things that we had always intended to do, but hadn’t.

This is Basin Marina, Whangarei where we took a berth for in December 2019. In the back of this photo you can just make out a crane poised over a large flat grey area. That grey area was the beginnings of the Hundertwasser Arts Centre.


I visited the gallery the day before we left the Whangarei area for the Bay of Islands. I thought it was amazing and there are extremely knowledgeable staff eager to take you deeper into the works and life of Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

Very shortly after this visit we headed down river and passed under the lifting bridge, Te Matau a Pohe,  inspired by the design of Māori fish hooks crafted of bone.

The bridge opens everyday at noon regardless of marine traffic, which can be pretty random, for those who wish to see it in action.

We had a final over night stay in Urquhart’s Bay at the mouth of the harbour and sailed up to the Bay of Islands the next day.

Our sail to the Bay of Islands was memorable as we were able to sail all the way up to Cape Brett, gybe around the big rock and then sail to within a mile of the entrance into the Bay of Islands. We have never managed that before. A moderate south easterly wind, allowing us to sail a NW heading to the Cape and then a SW heading toward the entrance, coupled with the high cost of diesel these days made us less inclined to switch on the engine until absolutely necessary. Sometimes it’s just convenient or the conditions uncomfortable.

We spent a lovely time with our first NZ friends, Jan and Rob. We met them in Basin Marina November 2019.

They welcomed us to their farm to feed the odd calf, pick olives, to eat, drink and be merry and we will miss them.

We’ve been at anchor for several days and are heading back to the Russell / Paihia area to do some more prep for the passage.  We still think we will be leaving next week sometime but the exact date depends on the weather forecasts.  The closer we get to the departure date the more reliable the forecasts become, so we wait and watch.

That’s all for now and but we’ll let you know when we are finally Fiji bound.

Nancy and Tim

Ps. And today’s weather is rainbowy.


Thursday, 27 January 2022

From the Far North, Northland, North Island, New Zealand

All is well for us down here in New Zealand.  After booking 2 sets of flight for a visit to the UK and Canada, starting a passsage on Larus to the South Island and having them all cancelled, I have been loath to mention any plans.  

We are both double vaccinated, will be getting our booster in the coming weeks, are fit and well, lurking at anchor in some of the more remote cruising areas north of the Bay of Islands, and are keeping very much to ourselves.  Prior to leaving the Whangarei area, we stocked up on KN95 masks and all my Bin Inn staples and went out to anchor. 

We left Marsden Cove Marina on the 20th of January and prior to Tim going out to yesterday for milk, we have been keeping ourselves to ourselves.  We knew it was just a matter of time before the Omicron variant escaped the NZ border quaratine facilities and we decided to put ourselves out of its path as best we could.

We aren't busy now but we had been pre and post Christmas.

Before Christmas we were helping out friends who are stuck in the UK and who's boats are on the hard in Marseden Cove Marina.

We finished a partial completed job of peeling the brown metallic 'wrap' hiding the rather tired hull of Supertramp.  


The wrap really wasn’t that keen on coming off.  Heat and brute force did the trick.

Tim enjoyed (a lot) using the scissor lift to get to those hard to reach places.

We also prepared and Coppercoat’ed the hull of ‘Into The Blue’ whose owner 
was also stuck back in the UK.

Those jobs done, we met up with Colin and his guests on Burmese Breeze for Christmas in Parua Bay, just a stones throw from Marsden Cove Marina.

Colin, Tim and I, Gerri and Richard on Christmas Day.  The weather almost all the time we were there was clear skies, but the wind blew and blew.  Parua Bay isn’t hugely sheltered and was a very choppy week. Colin and guests started to sail down to the South Island shortly after Boxing Day. 
They had a really good run down the East Coast, just over a week, and we were looking forward to following them within the next week or so.
Before that happened we were contacted by Dave and Leanne on Perigee and invited up to Basin Marina, Whangarei for New Years. 

As well as Leanne and Dave, we met Carla and Alex on Ari B. We had quite a spectacular spread starting with Leanne’s sushi rolls, followed by Carla and Alex’s chilli prawns and a main course of baked salmon. My contribution to the meal was the spuds as we had been at anchor for a week and potatoes and cream were the only ingredient I had a lot of.   I used a recipe from The French Cooking Academy which resulted in a subtle melt in your mouth Gratin Dauphinois.  

While in Basin Marina we picked up some shopping and saw how the Hundertwasser Centre had progressed since our last visit.

It isn't yet open but you get an idea of what a wonderful experience it will be when its finished.

On the 2nd of January, well provisioned we left Basin Marina to start our passage down to the South Island.  There are two routes to the South Island - one down the East coast and one down the West. Which route you take is completely dependant on the wind direction and it looked very much like we would be taking the West coast route.

We spent a day anchored at the mouth of Whangarei Harbour in Uruquart's Bay before hjeading north up the East coast toward the Bay of Islands.  We stopped the first night in Tutukaka and carried on the next down into the Bay of Islands. We stopped in one of the outermost anchorages on Urupukapuka Island to be ready for and early start to head further north the next day.

Well, once we’d dropped anchor, I turned on the hot water tap to find the water wasn’t hot. We had been motoring for at least half an hour which is plenty long for the water in our immersion tank to reach scalding point.  I mentioned this to Tim who had commented in the previous days that the engine seemed to be running a little hot, but put this down to a much warmer summer sea temperature.

A quick look in the engineroom showed nothing until we turned on the engine.  The engine water pump had failed and was spraying water quite spectacularly over the front of the engine.  The front of the engine just happens to the be least accessible phyiscally and visually. When he would have first checked the engine he could see nothing out of the ordinary.
All plans of continuing to the South Island by any route were now out the windows. We decided to head back to Marsden Cove Marina with the next suitable forecast that would allow us to sail all the way to Whangarei Harbour.  While we watied for a favourable weather window, Tim a chance to assess what he could do to reduce the chance of the engine over heating. He disconnected the altenator as charging the batteries puts more load on the engine and he rigged up a hose in the engineroom to quickly top up the heat exchanger should it be necessary.  Despite the failed water pump, there was still adequate water in the system below the pump to cool the engine. 

We didn't wait long before we had a forecast that would take us all the way to Marseden Cove Marina. We decided not to do the work in the Opua Marina in the Bay of Islands as the Whangarei area has a huge marine industry and any parts and tools needed would be more easily had. A big plus in favour of Marseden Cove Marina was that the car we have use of is parked there.

We had a cracking, if rough sail, down and were moored up in the marina by late afternoon.  We'd had a stiff easterly wind, which always seems to cause several metre high waves with a short interval between waves. When waves have a short interval, and the  7 second interval that day was short,  it makes the waves close together and because of that very steep.  When they are coming at you directly on the side it makes for an uncomfortably rough ride.  It also made us wish we'd fixed the dribble of a leak to one of our cabin windows where the sealant had perished, again, from the UV rays.

Happily, I had the forethought to make sandwiches before we left the anchorage and weren't forced to eat muffins the whole journey.

Marsden Cove Marina is landlocked except for a right-angle cut from the harbour into the basin.


We had no trouble at all motoring out of the anchorage at the start of the trip or motoring in the marina at the end.

Our engine is a Ford Transit Van engine and is pretty robust. The short amounts of motoring didn't even get the engine warm. It is also a very common engine so parts are cheap. Our water pump was $100 NZ while a Volvo water pump cost a friend £700.  

We started work quite quickly.  The engine room is quite small and in a pinch you’d eventually manage to change the pump, which is on the front of the engine, but you wouldn’t be happy!

To make things easier we took out one half of the cockpit floor. This not only allows access from above the engine, but light and air as well.

Access from the engine room doors or from above.

The only direct access to the front of the engine in the galley. The bulkhead is structural so that’s the biggest hatch possible.

My favourite photo. It shows how awkward a job it was.

We were done in record time. Once the pump arrived it was all over in a couple of days.  Without anyone else to help, I’m pleased that I learned quite a lot about our engine cooling system.

Taking the cockpit floor up is a pain, so when you have to it behooves one to think up any and all things that it allows you to do. Like taking taking out the generator to change the our working perfectly but old gearbox oil cooler which lives underneath it.

The generator sits at the back of the engine room. It would be much easier to lift out if we removed the aft cockpit floor panel, but this is a big job in itself.  The steering pedestal sits on top of the aft panel so all the hydraulic lines would have to be disconnected and the pedestal removed and it would add days to the job.

We managed in the past to get the generator out with only three people without disturbing the aft panel, but we were only two.  We use the main halyard to lift the generator vertically and we use a block and tackle to change the direction of pull to horizontal to get the generator out from under the aft panel.  Tim jury rigged a ‘slide’ made from a plank of wood braced on the engine. This allowed the generator to be tipped on an angle to 1) clear the aft panel above and 2) to get over the hump of our great lump of an engine ahead of it so that it could finally hang vertically from the main halyard and be lifted clear of the engine room.  

It would have been great to have photos, but I do think you’d need an awful lot of people helping before you had a ‘spare’ for that. We managed it with 2 but one could probably find work for 6.

We got all the engine room jobs done, resealed the cockpit floor and resealed the leaking cockpit windows with a super duper sealant, drive up to Whangarei for one more big shop and to find the KN95 masks before leaving the marina.

Gosh, I nearly forgot.  During our last few days in the marina, our electronic barometer did a strange thing. At about 7 in the evening in fine weather the Gale alarm sounded and then stopped.  Normally we need to cancel it when there drop in pressure fast enough to register. We shrugged and carried on with dinner. It wasn’t till the next day we learned of the eruption of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai. No Tsunami Alert had been sent out and we learned about the eruption from reading the BBC news the next morning.  It seems that our barometer registered the air pressure wave created by the explosion as it passed us in NZ.

We cruised from the northern most islands of Tonga down to Tongatapu in the south visiting many of the island’s in between in 2019. We met many poor but generous people and had hoped, pre- Covid, to return.  We now hope that are more saved than seems possible from what information we have and that the country receives immediate and and long term assistance. We can help by donating to The Red Cross Tonga Appeal.

We are currently anchored on Mangonui in the Far North of Northland. 

The summer holidays are finished here and it’s very quiet. We are the only boat at anchor right in the middle of bay.  We plan to move in a day or two into the next bay north of us and continue to keep ourselves to ourselves.


Friday, 10 September 2021

Weather and Walks

We're back in the Whangarei area in Marsden Cove Marina. We had planned to be here just a couple of days to check on friends boats that are out of the water when the Delta variant raised its ugly head in Auckland.  We have just come out of approximately three weeks of full Covid lockdown and will be at Level 2 as of noon today. We have been safe and well throughout and are due our second Covid jab in about a few days.

We spent the previous month in the Bay of Islands. We like it there for the convenience anchoring off Paihia and dingying ashore to the shops and laundrette. We also have the use of a car and we take advantage of the free parking across the road from the Paihia Police Station. This is not as secure as it sounds as the station is seldom manned. 

(Funny story from pre-Covid.  Tim and I still had the hire car I did all the touring in and we drove from Whangarei up to Paihia to meet Jeremy and Suzy from Joy of Shamrock.  It was summer and as a holiday resort Paihia was really busy. Parking is limited and we could only find a few 30 minute parking spots free.  I popped into the tourist office to ask where the nearest long term or better yet free parking was.  The gentleman at the counter started to explain and then noticed the Tilley hat I was wearing.  It turned out he was a Tilley hat enthusiast. He pointed to his Tilley hanging on the hook behind him, then leaned in close and said quietly, 'There's no parking attendant on duty in Paihia today.' Happy day.)

When we moved up to Larus up to the Bay of Islands, Tim took the bus down to Whangarei to bring the car we are looking after for the absent owner up to Paihia.

We haven't used the car as much as we'd like because of the winter weather. Depending on the wind direction and strength and/or the swell direction and height we will move to the most sheltered bay for the conditions.  We often end up quite a long way from Paihia.

For our biggest forecast blow we headed to Pipi Bay, Motorua Island.  It's a long narrow high-sided horseshoe shaped bay. It very well sheltered from the southwest through to the northeast and is seldom trouble by swell.  When we arrived there were already two boats tucked into the bay so we ended up farther out than we hoped. It is a good deep bay and with a well set anchor and lots of chain out we were in a very good position.

The two day forecast called 30 knots winds gusting to 45 knots and periods of 40 knots gusting 55 knots, but as expected we experienced nothing like that.  Our maximum gust was just over 40 knots.  In the bay the surface is nice and flat so all we had to suffer was the flukiness of the gusts.

Stuck on board in bad weather makes getting exercise ashore difficult, so when we do have a break in the weather we go walking.

There are some lovely walks in the area - a very steep one that takes you up to The Lookout for views across the bay toward Russell,  an 8 km one-way coastal walk to between Paihia and Opua and a new walk for us from Paihia to the Hurua Falls.


 The walk to Hurua Falls followed along the river, through the mangroves up to the Falls.

I did not know all these things about this type of mangroves. The mangroves in the Caribbean that we are more familiar with are quite different.

The falls were farther than I thought, 6 km one way rather than 5, making it even more of a blow to discover that the public toilets were being refurbished and not open.

Stoats are a big problem for Kiwis (the bird) throughout New Zealand.  I think that they were brought in to keep the imported rabbits population in check, but kiwi chicks are a much easier meal.  Traps are found all along the path and all have a message of some sort for example: 94% of kiwi chicks are killed by stoats.  The trap photographed was at the top a particulary long and steep hill.  The traps are baited with a chicken's egg.  

The walks are more limited in the Marsden Cove area. It's flat as a pancake and more residential, but being on the coast makes the walks that we can do ever changing with the rise and fall of the tides.

More walks photos. I enjoying taking them more than Tim enjoys waiting for me to take them.

My foot and a Horseshoe Mussel surrounded by a little rock oysters.  The oysters are edible but the Horeshoe Mussel is not. Piahia walk.

The most beautiful stick I have seen in a long time.  It was over a foot long and surprisingly heavy, a dense hardwood possibly.  Space is at a real premium on a boat and I am almost content with a photo. Paihia walk.

The mouth of Whangarei Harbour is a short walk from Marsden Cove Marina, One Tree Point. One Tree Point is such a great name for an area.

Tide out. 
Something lives at the bottom of that hole, but I was okay with not knowing what. 
In the distance you can just make out the Marsden Point Refinery.  There is also a port where ships are loaded with enormous logs for export. You can't see it, but if the wind is blowing from the right direction there is a strong scent of pine.

Tide In. Variable Oystercatchers 

Patiriella regularis, also known as the Cushion Star.

Spoonbills which are relative newcommers from Australia.

Tide out

Tide in. 
In other locations we have seen starfish making their way labouriously down to the waters edge.  This one has made no effort at all.

Thanks to having use of a car, now often walk on Ruakaka Beach.

Ruakaka Beach is spectacular, particularly when the tide is out.

The high water line is artfully strewn with shells and driftwood. 
New Zealand tends not to put out garbage bins in public places. Instead they post signs telling you to take your rubbish home with you.  This policy works very well and this beach at least was pristine.

I couldn't resist creating a little beach art.  We've often seen rock, shell and dirft wood circles on beach in the Caribbean.  I liked that as the tide comes in my canvas will be washed clean. Also, I could only find a very short stick to draw with so it was a punishing workout for the ole glutes.

Purple seaweed on silver sand.

Oystercatcher tracks on the spit of land between the freshwater estuary and the sea.

The tracks were outside the roped off area.  In fact most of the birds were outside the roped off area.

A very different day from the clear skies of our first visit. 
There are two walks we do at Ruakaka; we either turn left for a long walk or right for a short walk.  on our last walk we turned left and walked toward the river where the birds are nesting.  

As we walked along a young Fur Seal dashed out of the dunes, passed us by about 2 metres and carried on straight into the sea. It rolled and ducked under the slight waves rather otter like.  We continued our walk, which takes us to the estuary, a little up the river, along behind the dunes and then back onto the beach.  There was no sign of the seal and I hope it had hustled back into the dunes and was cuddled up with its friends/relactives who had been too cowardly/lazy to come out.

Last but not least a totally unrelated photo taken at the thermal springs near Piahia. Laura and I visited in January 2020 and they have been greatly refurbished. Tim had been longing for a bath and this was our only option.  
The temperature range of the pools on that day was between 10C to 45C.  Tim stuck to the middling temperature pools. Once I got up my nerve, I altered between the 45C pool and the 15C pool.  The trick of the hot pool, I was told, is to lean back and keep you toes in the air.  The trick of the cold pool was to move as little as possible so the water warmed by your body stays near you body.  Both tricks seemed to work and getting into both got easier surprisingly quickly.
It was a busy day with coach loads of people from Whangarei up for the day, so we didn't take many photos but will go back again and have another try. 
We are leaving Marsden Cove Marina and heading up the river to Basin Marina, Whangarei.  We have our second Covid Vaccination on the 15th and are having our 20 year old saloon cockpit cushions replaced.  We're equally excited about both.


Sunday, 11 July 2021

Bay of Islands - Assassination Cove and Great New Zealand PublicToilets

After leaving Whangarei and between weather windows, we made our way back up to the Bay of Islands, via Tutukaka. Tutukaka is about a 4 hours sail north from Urquart's Bay. With strong winds and a rough sea forecast from the SW, we popped into Tutukaka for two nights.  It was very pleasant to be happily, if gustily, anchored well out of the large seas we could see thundering past the harbour entrance. 

The next day with a reasonable wind direction and the seas reducing in size we finished our passage up to and around Cape Brett and into the Bay of Islands.  The sail up to Cape Brett was one of the best we've had in a long time.  We were on a close hauled beam reach, which is our fastest point of sail. A slight current was with us, we had a quite a flat sea except for 1 metre swell that gently propelled us forward another knot or 2 in speed so that at times we were making NINE KNOTS.  We never make 9 knots, so to be able do that in such comfortable conditions is memorable. 

Sailing can be more or less enjoyable for all sorts of reasons.  

A flat sea and comfortable motion and the right amount of wind from a good direction that allows you to sail a direct route, meaning that the wind not on the nose.  But we don't want it directly from behind either as a running before the wind is a slower and often very rolly point of sail. 

Warm and sunny beats cold and wet and, I think, warm and wet might well beat cold and sunny depending on just how wet and how cold we are talking about. 

Heeling at a comfortable angle so that you can make a sandwich or use the toilet with relative ease. 

Day sailing so we can both sleep at the same time and going a good enough speed so that you aren't tempted to turn on the engine or that you aren't slowing down the closer you get to your destination.  It is very discouraging to see the distance continue to reduce while your arrival time gets farther away.

Long distance sailing is similar but the length of time it takes changes your perception.  Far a start, if you arent enjoying the conditions, they'll change in time and you'll just have to wait it out.  What you will have is time to get into a routine and everything slows down.  Sailing off shore with no chance of running into any land at all for days or weeks is in itself very restful.  

With our latest New Zealand Visitor Visas extended to January 2022, we won't be going any great distances just yet.

We are currently anchored in Assassination Cove.  The website,, under the link says of Assassination Cove,  'French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne was slayed and possibly eaten here in 1772.'  This is not why we came.

Our reason for being here is the very good protection it provides from an Easterly gale which will blow over the next 48 hours on and off.  There are about 10 boats anchored in the area as well waiting for this weather system to pass through. 


While we're waiting, its a good time to show you some of my favourite New Zealand things - their public Toilets.

When I made the Hundertwasser post I didn't have a photo of 'the Seed', and this was taken by my friend Susan who visited in December 2019 into January 2020.

Seed was a taste of what to expect from the finished Hundertwasser Art Centre. My interest was piqued by the artist and later when my sister, Laura, arrived in January 2020 we made a visit to the Hundertwasser Toilets in Kawakawa.

Tada! There is a tree growing through the building and a roof garden, which is a Hundertwasser theme.

The Men's

The Women's

A wonderful glass bottle window at the end of the corridor.

I'm very much looking forward to the opening of the Hundertwasser Art Centre in December.

Paihia, north of Kawakawa, is our Bay of Islands shopping anchorage. They got creative with one of their Wee Toilet on the waterfront.  I particularly like the roof top flower pots.

Even farther north, the Far North of Northland in the North Island, Laura and I found the Centennial Playground Kaoe.  The link gives you a 360 degree view of the playground and Church.

You can tell from the outside that it's going to be equally special on the inside and it did not disappoint.

The star of the mural is the Pukeko and you really can see them everywhere, real and in paint.

The Playground also had a very fine Hop Scotch board.


About halfway between Whangarei and Auckland are the famous Matakana Toilets.  Laura and I took an enourmous detour to visit them after spending the morning watching sheep shearing at Sheep World.

The detour was worth it. Perched above the Matakana River, carpark and picnic area and on the main Matakana roundabout is this very impressive public toilet.

It is quite a hike up from the carpark.


The symbols outside the toilets were handmade and each one individually made. Someone else like them too as they stole a couple. Shame on them.

The interior doesn't quite live up to the exterior, but they were clean and they worked.

Unfortunately, to get this view you have to stand in the middle of the roundabout and we have found that pedestrians are given no leaway, but I think I was worth it.

Susan and I found the most in touch with nature public toilet on a walk to Soda Springs on the foothills of Mount Tonagriro.

This really is a state of the art eco-friendly facility.  You even had to bring your own toilet paper. You are warned of that at the start of the trail.  I like that it blends in so well the its environment and has guy wires to stop it from toppling over a strong wind.

Last but nearest and dearest to the hearts of Susan, Laura and myself are the Helensville Public Toilets. 

State Highway 16 passes through Helensville and is an alternative route, which avoiding the Auckland City Centre, and a convenient stop between Whangarei and Auckland Airport.  The drive from the east coast to the west coast is a lovely change from State Highway 1 and all its roadworks. These roadworks have been underway since we arrived in Nov 2019. In their defense, it can't be easy widening and repairing roads in a country that was formed by volcanism.  In fact it's hard, damn hard.

On the way south from Whangarei, you take a right at Wellsford onto SH 16.  State Highway sounds very grand when it is two lanes only as are most of the SHs outside of those servicing Auckland or Wellington. The road winds its way over ridge backs, down into valleys, over rivers and past fields with many places to stop and look at the views. 

About halfway to Helensville if you keep you a look out to the west you will see a large areas of grazing pastures scattered with at least 20 sculptures large enough to be seen as you drive by. 

The two in this photo are easy to see.

I think there are four in this one.  From left to right - 1) the four uprights, 2) the back figure on the hill top, 3) a yellow cone like thing, and 4) the red lump on the far right.

I read that the land isn't open to the public except on very rare occasions as it is a working farm.

It didn't occur to me to take a photo at the time of the Helensville Public Toilets as they look like just any block of three stainless steel toilets, but they are very much more than that. With a press of a button the door glides open.  Another press to close it and a calm and reassuring voice tells you how the toilet operates and that the door will open in 10 minutes time, ready or not.  Then the music swells and you have the pleasure of listening to an instrumental version of the What the World Need Now Is Love Sweet Love

I never listened to the end, but thought you might like to.

This link opens in Google Maps and Helensville Public Toilets.  The link opens in google maps and if you look left you will eventually see the coffee shop with the date scones that Tim was very fond of.


We are still anchored in Assination Cove.  There is still a gale blowing but we are well protected and though we have experienced winds of 30 knots, gusting 40 occasionally it is due to calm down this evening.  We are anchored in about 5 metres of water with 80 metres of chain.  Lots of chain keeps the anchor being plucked out of the seabed because of strong gusts and that in turn means that every horizontal tug on the anchor by the swinging of the boat causes the anchor to bury itself further and further into the seabed.  

We aren't going anywhere! We will probably have to drive Larus over and around the anchor to loosen it from the mud before we can haul it up.  .