Where are we

Friday 11 September 2020

Still in New Zealand

Hello!  We hope you and yours are all well and not going too stir crazy.  

We are safe, well and destined to stay in New Zealand a while longer.  Until Covid-19 is under control and countries feel safe to open their borders, there are very few places for us to go, so we have applied to have our visas extended for another year.  

So that is where we stand right now. 

Sept 02  - Where we sit right now is in Oke Bay, North Island.  We sailed up yesterday from Urquhart's Bay, which is at the mouth of Whangarei Harbour.  

Tim took the opportunity to install the new wheels for our dinghy. With wheels, we can roll the dinghy up a beach very easily, and even more easily roll it back down.  We are very pleased with it.

The pink lines are our previous trips around the Bay of Islands to Whangarei and back. 

The sail was a mixed bag it started off slowly until the rain squalls from the SW brought us 20 knots gusting 25.  With the wind coming off the land we had quite a flat sea, which makes a faster passage.  Rounding Cape Brett the wind dropped and we motored down to Oke Bay.

Oke Bay is new to us, but as we have a gale from the south going on it is a perfect location.  We only get the odd big gust and tiny ripples off the beach thanks to the high cliffs around us. You can see our 'boat' on the chart in the top right of the photo.

We have two types of weather down here. Throughout the winter and much of spring, the weather tends to arrive wet and warm from the north or cold and dry from the south. Today is a perfect example of a wind from the south.  Out of the wind it's quite pleasant, but it was about 14 C inside the boat this morning. 

Oke Bay is open to the North West but it is very well protected from the South, East and West. 

We took the dinghy ashore, rolled it up the beach, climbed the rough steps and rocky path to the top of the ridge, walked down the steps on the far side and then carried on along the road to Kaimarama Bay.

The road ended at a beach, slipway and view further into the Bay of Islands.

The tide was out and at the side of the slipway, I noticed some odd red jelly like lumps between the rocks. Once back on board a quick interent searchtold us that they were Red Sea Anemones waiting for the tide to come back in before opening up again like flowers.

'NGA HAU E WHA,' inscribed in the plaque above the stairs back to Oke Bay, means 'the Four Winds' in Moari, which is a symbolic name for a meeting place for all people from everywhere.

When I searched for Nga Hau E Wha on the internet, I found it is used by or to refer to a variety of groups, places, works of art, libraries, churches and meeting places in general.  

These steps are the start The Cape Brett Track, a 16 km hike. We have been around Cape Brett numerous times by sea as we travel between the Bay of Islands and Whangarei.

06th September.  We did a little shopping at the Supermarket in Paihia (Pah-hee-a) and are now anchored off one of our favourite anchorages near Russell in anticipation of a strong southerly wind.  In retrospect, it was a bit of a damp squib, but that could have been because the bay is so well protected by cliffs from the south.

Much of our time since the lockdown in March has been spent in the Bay of Islands moving from anchorage to anchorage depending on the strength and direction of the wind. Often we go 4 or 5 days without going ashore.  It is easier to live at anchor here than in Whangarei.  There are good shops in  
Paihia and Russell which area an easy dinghy ride ashore.

07th September. We arrived at Paradise Bay, on Urupukapuka Island, nice and early so that Tim could clean the bottom of the boat.  

The water temperature is only 15C and Tim is now the grateful owner of a 5mm hooded wetsuit and a Deck Snorkel. The deck snorkel is a wonderful thing and allows Tim to do a more thorough job. He has been able to clean the bottom of the boat once a month.  If you do it regularly it's a reasonably easy job. A scrubbing pad or brush with get rid of the layer of slime and grass that is the first to start growing.  After a couple of months, baby barnacles will have started to grow and they have to be scraped off, so best to not let them get started in the first place.

The next day we replaced the anode on the propeller as Tim noticed yesterday that there was very little anode left. Tim did the underwater stuff and I sat in the dinghy handing him the bits he needed and going in search of the bits we forgot he needed. It went remarkably smoothly.

09 September. We did had a quick visit to the shops of Paihia again yesterday for milk, bread and onions and this morning we were on our way to Whangaroa by 0700.

It is 'Spring' here, which started on the 1st of September.  We are still finding quite cold often down to single digits over night and up to the mid teens, but the sun is rising earlier and setting later.  When we arrived last October in the Bay of Islands, we were shocked and horrified by the wind, rain and low temperatures.  None of this seemed to  bother the locals in Opua Marina who wandered around in shorts and sailing boots.

It was cold this morning even before the wind came up.  Once that happened, I put on a woolly hat, another jumper and stayed below with a blanket.  

It took up about 5 hours to get from Paihia to Whangaeihe Bay, Whangaroa. It was a brisk sail. With the wind - 15 knots plus - coming off the land the sea was flat and we were making up to 7 and a bit knots in the gusts.

The little green boats you can see on the chart are underway and have been picked up by our AIS (Automatic Information System).  We have been into Whangaroa Harbour on a previous trip as you can see by the pink track lines.

We chose Whangaihe Bay because we are expecting strong winds from the south over night and we are very well protected here.

Tomorrow we are heading a little further north to the town of Mangonui.