Where are we

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Getting to New Zealand

We left Tonga for a 200 mile sail to Minerva Reef in the company of Bruno's Girl, upping anchor within minutes of each other.

We had a late morning start, so that we'd arrive at around noon after two nights at sea.

After a mixed passage of sailing and motor-sailing we arrived at Minerva Reef on the 1st of October.

We had expected to find other yachts there but we had the place to ourselves.  It is an easy entrance, wide and clear of any obstructions.  The reef is huge and it took us over a half hour to motor from the entrance to the South East corner.  We were expecting reasonably strong winds from the SE and anchoring close to the reef kept the seas flat.

We also expected the reef to be more of a feature.  On the chart it is perfectly round and quite clear of obstructions.  There are coral heads but they are widely spaced and we had no trouble anchoring.  As we were the only boats there, we did have a lot of choice.

Reef at low water (with Claudia) and reef at high water.  The water was a remarkable deep clear blue.  We had expected to stay a couple of nights at least but with a forecast of ever decreasing winds, we decided to press on after only one night and start the 800 mile passage to Opua, New Zealand.


We had a lively start, but that didn't stop Bruno's Girl and ourselves from doing a bit of photography. It isn't often that you can get good photos of you and your boat under sail so we made the most of it.  You can see that we are both well reefed down - Larus with just jib and reefed mizzen and Bruno's Girl with a reefed jib and 3 reefs in the main.  The swell from the South was quite large but we were catching it on a good angle through the trough and across the peak.  The last photo is of Larus taken when Bruno's Girl was at the bottom of a trough with a wave in the way. Taking photos of a moving boat from a moving boat is not easy!  It is Tim's favourite though and I had to include it.

By the next morning the winds had dropped and then popped up from the SE. Later they swung around to the SW, so first we tacked East and then we tacked West.  After sailing 80 miles in 10 hours we were only 25 miles as the crow flies south from where we first started.  What was interesting was that Bruno's Girl had chosen to motor due south and they had covered about the some distance so were still only a few miles apart.


Our first full day on passage.  That might have been an albatross we saw, or possibly not.  We definitely saw squalls all around us but we never felt a drop of rain.  The sea view through the window in the roof of our sprayhood taken by me from my perch on the windward side of the cockpit.  We were trying very hard to keep some south in our direction in a SW wind.  Sea spray and Tim sitting comfortably on the leeward side of the cockpit.  A pretty sunset to end the day.


The second full day where we had little wind or no wind at all.  Day three started with a sunrise with squalls that never came near us but generate a little wind which did give us 10 knots of wind on the beam.  In the flat seas, we easily managed 6 knots of above.

Tim calculated we used motored for just over half the time, but we were quite contented with our easy journey to New Zealand.


Our first view of Bay of Islands, New Zealand.  On the Quarantine Dock at Bay of Islands Marina, Opua.  The dock is not attached to shore, but after being visited by Customs and Immigration and Bio Security, were able to go to tied up to our berth in the Marina.

We spend the first few days putting the boat back in order, washing off the salt, doing laundry and making use of the free wifi in the Crew Lounge.

There is a local shop but the it is very expensive so when we finally got a warm and sunny spring day we took the coastal route to Paihia, the next town which had an actual supermarket.  The 8km needs to be walked during low tide because parts are under water at high tide.  It was a long lovely walk.


The walk from start to finish.


Last but not least is a plug for the local Fish and Chip shop.  The fish and chips are really good.  I like Bluenose best though Tim prefers the Snapper.  What is really special about this shop are the pies, particularly, in my opinion, the Pork Belly and Apple Sauce with strips of caramelised crackling on the top that stick to your teeth like toffee.  This is Heather, the owner of the shop and maker of the most beautiful pies.

Today we will be leaving Phillip, Claudia and Bruno's Girl in the marina while we head out to do a little exploring of Bay of Islands.  This will probably be the last time we will see them before they head back to the UK for an extended stay.  Wah! We've spent a lot of time together since we first met in Curacao at the start of the Suzy Too Rally. Wah! We will miss them.

Nancy and Tim

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