Time to sail north!
New Zealand has been really good but it is getting too cold now and it feels like it’s time to sail north! We have been back in Opua and and the Bay of Islands for about a week preparing the boat and waiting for a suitable weather window to begin our 1200 nautical mile journey up to Fiji.
It looks like we will be able to leave on Tuesday after the next low pressure system moves east of NZ, though there is another low pressure trough building in the Coral Sea which may delay our departure. If we depart on the tail end of a low, we should get west to south west winds before the next high moves across from the Tasman Sea. Hopefully the west quarter winds will carry us far enough north to pick up the south east Trade Winds closer to Fiji. Postscript since writing this, is our now updated plan to depart on Saturday 10th May.
It’s pretty amazing here, there are heaps of boats from all over the world waiting in various ports to sail north. The marina in Opua is alive with activity, everybody completing last minute checks and provisioning their boats for the journey north and the subsequent months in the islands.
The Island Cruising Association has 3 flotillas, (or rallies as they prefer to call them) heading to different locations in the Pacific. One lot are heading for Tonga, another to Fiji, and a third to Vanuatu, Australia and then South East Asia. Most of these boats are either from NZ or are international boats who have spent the summer or cyclone season in NZ as part of an extended Pacific or round the world voyage.
It’s been really good fun mixing it with crews from all around the world and swapping stories (mostly exaggerated with the help of a few beers) of our adventures and stories of the high seas.
Although really pleased with the prospect of moving to warmer weather in the islands to the north it is with a measure of regret that we leave NZ. We had a great time cruising the Bay of Islands, the Hauraki Gulf and the coast in between.
Barrier Island, about 50 nautical miles north of Auckland, was a highlight with lots of sheltered anchorages and great walks ashore. We have spent lots of time in the NZ bush climbing hills and identifying native birds many of which are now thriving on the islands away from dogs and cats and other introduced species. One of our favourites is the Tui which has a really raucous call, not unlike a wattle bird, and a little white pouch under its throat.
Auckland was good fun, though surprisingly quiet for a major city. We really enjoyed the Maritime Museum which covered NZ’s marine history from the arrival of Maori to the present. It also had a whole floor dedicated to Peter Blake who is probably NZ’s most famous sailor having won the America’s Cup and the Volvo Round the World race. He was also dramatically murdered aboard his boat in Uraguay while advocating for the environment movement.
The kids also really enjoyed visiting the National Museum and seeing all the animals and Maori artefacts. Rachael and I really appreciated the opportunity to learn more of NZ’s colonial history, especially as there is such a strong movement here for the recognition of Maori rights as the first people of NZ.
We are hoping for a good sail north and have spent a fair bit of time going over the boat in preparation for the passage. I have serviced the motor and have had the rig checked. We have also augmented our ‘toys’ onboard with the addition of a sit on kayak which is good fun to paddle around and explore little inlets and some of the amazing coastal rock formations.
The kayak has also given me a chance to work my paddling muscles as I haven’t managed a surf since Sydney. Without a car it is too hard to get to the surf breaks which are rarely close to suitable anchorages. I’m really looking forward to finding some surf in Fiji!
Unfortunately we didn’t make it down to Auckland to see the Saints play (probably just as well as they lost) but I hear they have at least won a few games!