Back in the Marina

Friday afternoon we enjoyed being at anchor for the first time since we left Tonga in October 2017. We bobbed around, enjoyed watching the huge boats racing in the Millenium Cup and decided to stay put for the night.

We had picked a nice spot between a catamaran and a monohull, with plenty of swinging room, and lo and behold at 5pm a big steel ketch comes in and drops his anchor only about two boat lengths away….which was very annoying as this is a huge bay with lots of room….oh well. We enjoyed a nice dinner sitting in the cockpit in the evening watching the stars, although it was definitely a bit chilly once the sun went down. Thankfully the conditions remained benign and there were no bumps in the night.

Saturday morning and we launched our new dink into the water and secured the outboard to his transom. Richard then tried to start the engine…to no avail! This was a very frustrating development as we had this running before we left the marina. He took the carburettor apart; cleaned the spark plugs; and generally worked his way through the troubleshooting manual. But it refused to start. Damn! So it looks like we will not be going ashore again.

So we settled down to another night on board and downloaded the latest weather only to see some rough stuff coming through overnight and we are in an area which is not noted for its good holding. So we picked up anchor and got covered in very gloopy mud…and moved further into the bay. We settled in, got to grips with our new anchor alarm system, and the heavens opened. So we got dink back up onto the davits and had a quiet evening in the rain. We were much happier in our new position as there was much more sea room if the wind kicked in as expected.

During the night it rained cats and dogs and the wind picked up. Then suddenly, at 8am on Sunday morning, our anchor alarm went off and we were dragging. Quickly we picked up and reset the hook – yuck, mud everywhere again! Thankfully the rain was lighter at this point. Looking around we realised that a number of boats had also re-anchored during the night. Literally half an hour later the wind picked up and, yes, we dragged again – what fun, NOT! So we selected another spot further into the bay and, this time, thankfully we were more sheltered and stayed put.

We then sat back with a cup of tea and discussed our options about the outboard. The tidal currents here are pretty strong to be rowing against so the lack of an engine really curtailed our plans of rock hopping and exploring new places. There were a few other bits and pieces that didn’t work quite as expected either so we decided to return to Opua. So, in 25 knots of breeze out in the bay, we headed back into the shelter of the marina. We were not particularly happy but that’s the way it goes sometimes with boating!

Apparently this weather is supposed to clear on Monday evening but return with a vengeance overnight on Wednesday and into the following weekend with both gale and surf warnings. So we’ll have to consider our options again later in the week. The rest of the day was spent relaxing.

Monday morning we were up early and took our outboard to Seapower. Well, the rain was horrendous, so we holed up in the marina cafe and had bacon sandwiches to cheer ourselves up. We downloaded the weather again and the updated gribs were not favourable at all to be running south along the east coast of North Island as easterlies create huge seas and a lee shore (with many of the coves along the way being untenable in those conditions) and southerlies will be on the nose. Looks like it is going to be a wait and see situation. Check out these gribs.

We have some wriggle room with our schedule, thankfully. The last thing we need for our shakedown cruise is particularly taxing conditions although we will probably make a straight overnight shot at getting to Auckland now.

Monday afternoon Seapower managed to get the outboard running again albeit it was a bit lumpy. So they did a few adjustments and, eventually, the outboard was running great in the workshop….but not for us when we tested it back on board. What?!? So we eliminated all the variables and found the connector between our fuel line and the input valve on the outboard was faulty. The fuel line was showing some signs of wear too so we used up our spare and ordered another for the bilges. We swapped it out and everything was great. Only took a few hours to work it out LOL.

To prevent any further mishaps we decided to take advantage of the light airs to pull all our sails out and refurl them – we had loosened halyards when the riggers were on board – so wanted to double check that they were all good to go. We also spent quite a bit of time in doing some navigation planning and inputting waypoints to the new plotter. We also redid the dockside calibration of the new autopilot as it appeared to have lost the settings in our absence. We’ll do the seatrial calibration when we get into open water. We then had a quiet night on board with a nice glass of wine.

Tuesday morning we started on our remaining list of boat jobs which we had thought we would do once in Auckland. Richard sorted out the wheels on dink – which had got stuck in our absence; he removed and repaired the exhaust flapper; serviced the tie-down mechanisms that keep dink secure on the davits; sorted out the dinghy anchor; and fixed a gas strut under the bed. I got dink down and gave him a good clean to remove the boatyard dust followed by a protective coating of sunblock LOL.

Bill very kindly allowed us to use his car again so we headed over in the afternoon to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. On the way we came across the Wakas being launched from the beach. These are traditional long boats used as war canoes and are intricately carved, usually from one single tree. Lots of crew and really can’t believe the size of some of them! That was fun to see….

We arrived at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to be met by the women from the Waitangi cultural group – doing their scary eye routine LOL.

We went see the Royal New Zealand Navy beat retreat, the ceremonial sunset at the flagstaff and the lowering of the flag. This is an annual event in advance of Waitangi Day and we were surprised by the number of dignitaries there, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ahern and her new baby.

We enjoyed watching the ceremony and headed back to the boat. The traffic was horrendous especially going across the single lane bridge which, eventually, was sorted out by a policeman despite the protestations of a very angry Maori guy behind us in the queue. By this time we were hungry so we headed to the Cruising Club for dinner out on the verandah.

Wednesday morning and it is Happy Waitangi Day and, despite the dire forecast for later, it was a very hot day with blue skies. Perfect! This Bank Holiday celebrates the signing of the treaty between the Maori people and the British 179 years ago. We left the marina and queued in constant traffic for almost an hour to the designated car park where we picked up a bus to take us to the grounds – the actual Treaty area was closed to traffic – and, along the way, cars were abandoned everywhere with people on foot. It was just total chaos. We had decided not to go to the dawn ceremony but wanted to catch the 21 gun salute from the warship out in the bay. We just made it in time and it was quite an impressive sight.

As we walked on the upper treaty grounds we came across a Maori group who had erected a temporary flagstaff in its original position and were praying and chanting. Afterwards we asked a friendly old guy, Owen Oto Simmonds what was going on. He is a member of the Maori Government of Aotearoa nu Tireni (The Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand) and they say that the Waitangi Treaty is a fake as the original one signed by the tribes was amended before the Waitangi signing. Very interesting chap and, if you check out his cap and lapel pin, he is a retired member of the SAS. We thoroughly enjoyed chatting with him for a while.

We then watched a Kapahaka group doing traditional Maori dancing and songs – and, of course, the guys manage to look very menacing doing their Haka. All good fun.

We then wandered down to the lower level and saw the Waka boats being lifted from the water but, sadly, never got to see them in action.

We had some lunch from one of the food vans and tried to get an ice cream but failed miserably. Funny that, on health grounds, alcohol and fizzy drinks were banned from the concessions but you can eat yourselves stupid on fried food!

There was very little shade so we ended up sitting under a tree near the smaller stage and watched some more Kapahaka. The singing is melodic and the show is impressive – not sure you would ever get bored of this.

Returning to the top level of the site feeling a bit frazzled in the heat we headed off to get the bus back to the car and return to the marina. When we got back onboard we rested up for the rest of the day.

Overnight the weather kicked in as promised and it is a cloudy, rainy and very windy Thursday here in Opua. We have provisioned up again and Bill is now heading back this way to pick up his car and move it. He is stuck in a small east coast marina waiting for the weather so that he can move further south. So a common theme here right now!

Bye for now