Kawau Island to Opua

Monday morning we were expecting bad weather and it rained cats and dogs with strong winds and we ended up nodding into the fetch again, so had to re-anchor over the other side of the bay to try and get some respite. We stayed on board all day and spent the day getting Morphie ready to go back to sea and had a quiet night once all our tasks were completed (including getting the outboard on the rail and dink onto the arch).

Tuesday morning we were up early and did our final passage planning and I cooked an evening meal to eat underway. We proposed to leave at noon to allow us to arrive into the Bay of Islands in daylight. So we picked up anchor and motored quietly through the bay to turn to starboard to go through the north passage into the ocean, saying a final farewell to the boating club which had been our ‘local’ for quite a while.

As we approached the exit to Bon Accord harbour there was a Securite on the VHF but we couldn’t work out exactly what was said, although it was obviously the large yacht transmitting who was anchored off the entrance to the bay. We were just going to radio to ask him to repeat his message when we realised that a helicopter was coming in to land on the deck. Not something you see every day.

The wind was a bit fickle but obviously being bent by the proximity of the island to the mainland and we were running against an incoming tide so it was slow going to start with. Oh yes, did I mention how cold it was?

Once we had cleared the island we started to run downwind in light airs but the sea was horrible – lumpy and confused. Oh well, better get used to it I guess, sigh. We cleared the headland and decided to run closer inshore to get a better sailing angle and, once we had done this, we had a good run. The wind varied from 10-20 knots with higher gusts and it swung from SW to SE and back so we had to gybe a few times. We were sailing on genoa alone and making good time – by the time we had enjoyed a sunset at sea and it had gotten dark we were approaching Sail Rock and put in a second reef as the gusts were getting stronger. We had a forecast of 25 knots+ so were being cautious.

At around midnight I was struggling with the fickle wind and then suddenly heard a huge blow alongside the boat….then behind the boat….then alongside again. Richard wasn’t asleep yet so he came up and listened with me. The noise from the blows was getting less frequent and not so noisy but I think it was a whale (it was way too loud for dolphins) just a shame that we couldn’t actually see anything in the black of a moonless night at sea.

Come 3am on Wednesday morning the wind had moderated again so we shook out the reefs and continued to make good time towards the Bay of Islands. At 6am in the dark we turned and left the Hole in the Rock to port and pulled out the main sail as we were now beating into a strengthening wind. We had a great sail and eventually anchored in Pomare Bay, near Russell, at 9 am.

We were both tired so had a few hours sleep before heading ashore. We found the boating club (which was closed) and then walked into Russell itself (which was about 20 minutes away). We found the ATM and a small grocery store so that we could pick up some fresh eggs, bread and vegetables before we stopped and had a late lunch in the Duke of Marlborough.

We then wandered back to the Club (which was now open) and had a cold one then headed back to Morphie before the sun went down. For the first time in a very long time, we had removed everything from the cockpit and locked her down thoroughly when going out as there were some old decrepit cruising boats in the anchorage which can sometimes mean petty theft. We were fine but still took the precaution of locking dink on to the transom before we turned in for the night.

Thursday morning it was quite spooky in the anchorage as the water was shrouded in mist.

We pottered around the boat doing some domestic duties and were joined in the anchorage by Chris and Frances on Usquabe. They invited us over for sundowners so we joined them and had a lovely evening on board their boat catching up.

Friday morning we went through all our lists of things to do and sent emails to people in the Bay of Islands Marina to get ourselves organised. The paint guys are ready for us in the boatyard; the new battery bank and monitor had arrived; the new exhaust flaps were ordered; the EPIRB is booked in for a service and new battery; the dive tank is booked in for a refill; the refrigeration guys are coming to check out our systems (as these are the biggest pull on our battery bank); and Opua Canvas are going to replace the glass screens in our dodger which have just started to perish (but have done us proud with 11 years service). We are also in discussions with a marina in Australia who are going to organise our customs, immigration and biosecurity checks; and a boat yard further south where we hope to haul Morphie when we travel home. Oh yes and we started looking at routes to Fiji too….. As if that wasn’t enough we got in dink and sanded and varnished under the rail. Phew busy day! In the evening we met Chris and Frances in the Russell Boating Club and had another nice time with them.

Saturday morning we were up early on another calm day and, utilising the dinghy, we removed all the masking tape and went around a few times cleaning the stainless and washing the salt off the hull. She looked lovely! But we had been at it for about six hours solid and were feeling pretty shattered. So we had a quiet night in and enjoyed the Hobbit movie having watched a lovely sunset with Usquabe in the foreground.

It was funny to watch Bilbo in his house that we had visited not long ago LOL. During the evening the heavens opened and it rained so Morphie got another wash.

Sunday morning we had managed to secure a berth in the Bay of Islands Marina (Opua) for one night which suited us fine particularly as we could dispose of our rubbish. We had not had access to any trash collections or facilities for almost four weeks, so there was plenty of it!!! We took the outboard off dink, put him up on the arch, and headed the four miles around the corner to the Marina and onto the works dock. Got checked in, headed to Cater Marine and SeaPower (who are going to be making our credit cards nervous again shortly) and had a coffee in the cafe. Was lovely to be welcomed ‘home’.

Here’s Morphie snug in her slip looking very shiny and pretty.

Back on board and I’m blogging while Richard is checking out his new battery monitor as he wants to install it while we are on the hard. Tonight we are going to Indonesian night at the Opua Cruising Club which, as it is on our list of future sailing destinations, we are very interested in. Then tomorrow, Monday, we get hauled out and start living up a ladder again, oh joy!

Bye for now