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All going to plan

As soon as it was light I lowered the dinghy, took off the motor, removed the chain & anchor and raised it back again.  We had a coffee to fully wake us off then it was off to the fuel dock.  Raising our main anchor took some time as it was particularly muddy and this had to be cleaned off the chain.  All this happened in light rain – a precursor to the front coming our way.  Refueling was a little awkward and required moving the boat a little more to reach the port filler.  Once this was done we rounded the corner and slipped into our slip.

Withing 15 minutes the front hut.  The winds picked up and the rain came down.  During this I went to the marina office to fill out the paperwork.

Our friend the port seal leak returned for a visit so before relaxing the syringes came out and a lot more grease was applied.

And that was about it for the day.  The weather was miserable, as expected.  We were glad of our decision to dock for our final two days here.

We kept checking the weather forecast every 6 hours.  Last weeks extreme variability is not apparent this week and steadfastly continues to point to a Friday departure.  The only changes have been slight and generally improved our outlook.

At 2 in the afternoon I tuned the SSB into the chat between the folks who left last Sunday.  They are all in solid and rising north easterlies, a long way from their destination and no easy way to get there.  These are our friends and we certainly wish better for them but it doesn’t look good for some time.  It reinforces our belief we made the right decision not to go until tomorrow.

In the evening we went one last time to the yacht club for dinner.  The number of cruisers were certainly thinner on the ground than last week.  Many have left and others were pinned to the boats due to the weather.  We shared the table with Callisto, Paleides, Kilkea and Wonderland.  The weather, of course, was the central topic and how it affects our decision to leave.  The folks heading to Fiji will all be leaving Friday.  Those heading for New Caledonia are thinking about Saturday once the winds have clocked round a little more.

Crewman Paul arrived just before 8 and joined us.  Once we returned to the boat Paul and I stayed up chatting until nearly (real, not cruisers) midnight.

Today we provision and do a final contents check on our grab bag.  It should be generally relaxing as we really can’t do much more to ready ourselves.

I have, of course, checked the weather again this morning.  We should be able to leave anytime tomorrow.  We’ll be leaving under the cover of the passing front with northwesterly winds propelling us out of here.  Saturday may end up being light winds but then we should have a few days of great sailing.  We’re excited.

Goodbye, Hello

On Sunday we got to say goodbye to some friends and hello to friends we’ve recently shared last and final farewells.

The goodbyes went to Imagine, Passages and Boree who were among a number of boats who made the decision to head north yesterday.  When I’d looked at my sources of weather information all I saw was two days of motoring followed by winds on the nose.  The problem is there is more than one source for the weather and certainly more than one brain looking and interpreting them.  We all have different needs, boats and preferences and all this adds up to a decision to stay or go.  A bit of the radio chatter as the boats left made it sound like they were riding off into a rough ride.  I hope, for their sake, they’re not.  But sooner or later we all go.

Paul made his planned return to Auckland.  We walked with him to the bus stop and waited with him.  Once he’d left we wandered around the hilltop roads and made our way down to the coast path that connects Pahia to Opua.  We soon ran into David and Marian from Kilkea and stopped to chat with them.  Sooner after that we ran into the Blue Penguins who we’d recently said our final, final last goodbyes to as they were headed to New Caledonia.  They were going our way so we walked with them back to Opua.  Ben, like me, is fascinated with the whole mentality of the departure decision and wants to write something up on it.

In the evening we had David and Katie from Troutbridge, Kay and Fergus from Paleides (another recent last, final, never again farewell) and Mike and Ann from Callisto over for curry and a few drops of wine.  It ended up being a late one for all and, as ever, a good time was had by all.  And guess what the recurring theme was last night.

The weather.

So what’s it looking like for us now.

The Thursday/Friday opportunity still stands and is now favouring a Thursday afternoon departure.  There’s a trough/front coming over and we simply take off right behind it where we can expect northwesterlies or even westerly winds for a few days.  I’ve morbidly played around with a possible departure tomorrow (Tuesday) riding the northeasterlies up to the north of New Zealand and then sail the following northerlies eastward.  We’d then have to take the coming front out at sea.  I would probably lose favours with the Admiral if I chose that path.

Fiji-itus should be a recognized disease.  Sooner or later the prospect of another day in Opua basin crushes the spirit and the pull of the islands overcomes every other need of mind and body.  I suspect we saw an outbreak yesterday.  But I can feel it in my fingers (they’re cold).  I may be going down with it too.

Leaving NZ?

Another forecast. Another decision. Our general plan of leaving NZ is simply to get out of Dodge when we can, make some distance north and east then take each day as it comes. Even if we have to sit there for a day or two. As long as it’s safe to do so.

So here’s today’s local forecast.

Squall warning. Waves may rise rapidly during squalls. Friday: Northeast 20 knots rising to 25 knots gusting 35 knots this morning. Changing northwest 20 knots this afternoon, then easing to 15 knots this evening and to 10 knots tonight. Squalls of 45 knots possible until evening. Moderate sea becoming rough for a time this morning, then becoming slight this evening. Poor visibility in rain, with some heavy and thundery falls until evening.

If we were out at sea and had no choice and this came down on us we could deal with it.  We wouldn’t like it but we’ve done it before.  Does it make sense to leave land with this happening?  Easy answer.  No.  In all good conscience I cannot set sail into possibly dangerous weather while we are close to shore.

So we probably won’t leave today.  We’ve got to let this one pass.  We had planned to fuel up and check out early morning.  I will at least delay this until we get a longer read on today’s weather but as I said, chances are we won’t leave today.

Looking out to tomorrow it’s not looking so good either.  The low pressure system to our SW is now projected to come a little further north than yesterday’s forecasts were suggesting.  This puts a more northerly component into the winds we can expect over the next couple of days.  We would have to sail extremely close to the wind to make some decent northing.  Yesterday the seas were flat.  We know this from the folks who motored up from anchorages on the coast.  I don’t mind sailing close hauled on flat seas but not those kicked up by squally weather.  So, if tomorrow’s winds remain just west of north (as they are currently predicted to be) tomorrow won’t look good either.

But this is all on a hair trigger which is this low to the SW.  If it stays a little further to the south that is all we need to kick us up northwards.  So now it’s a waiting game.

That was the weather.  Now the news.  I’ll summarize.

Customs were notified of our probable departure today.  Paul arrived.  We borrowed a car from Phil and drove to Opua for lunch and fresh food collection.  In the evening we went ashore for dinner at the yacht club.  A few more of the puddle jumpers have arrived.  Two new comers to Opua were Callisto and Boree.  Nice to see them.  Everyone was talking about the weather of course and possible plans for leaving.  There were many opinions and all were good to listen to.  Also there were Imagine, Passages, Paleides, True Companions, Blue Penguin, Avante, Curious and many others.  I totally violated my no drinking night before passage rule.  It doesn’t seem to have mattered.


Last Bash in Whangarei

Last of the camping gear is purchased and most is stuffed in the car. And boy is that car packed. It’s ideal for the two of us. We always knew it would be a squeeze for four but we hadn’t anticipated going camping with four. The boys will be sitting in the back with quite a bit of gear. And Sam still wants to take his guitar. Final compression testing soon.

Yesterday evening we had a little soiree. Now that we’re all in civilization the notion of having drinks and nibbles for folks aboard seems to have been forgotten. So it was a nice change to have a bunch of folks aboard. We ended up with the folks from Leu Cat, Sea Mist, Paleides, Jackster, True Companions, Emily Grace, Marequesa and Boree. The rain, which had been falling all day, dried out so we had a great evening.

It’s approaching 7:30am. Folks are still asleep aboard. Ben and Sam went out on the town with Ian from Sea Mist so may end being a little groggy when woken. I’ll give them until 8. Then we’ll stuff the last few things in the car, test we can all fit in, then back to the boat to move it over the river and leave it on the pilings. Hopefully we’ll be away by 10.

A somewhat moist day in Whangarei

Curry last night was delicious. We’d recommend the place – the Aroma on Vine Street. Not the best ever but the best we’ve had in a while. We also got pretty lucky in that we didn’t get rained on.

But it did piss down overnight. And this morning. And at various times throughout the day.

Helen and I did manage to make it out and see the Farmer’s Market close down. We found a few odds and ends to buy which was useful. In one store we ran into Fergus and Kay from Paleides – can’t keep away from old friends. We did a semi major shop on the way back borrowing a trolley to bring everything back to the boat. We all went out to return the trolley and went for our biannual MacDonalds. The last one we had was in Tahiti. We haven’t missed much.

I then thought I’d try out the car to make sure it was all right. It wasn’t. The battery was as flat as a very flat pancake. A quick examination revealed why – the parking lights had been left on by whoever delivered the car last Wednesday. Leaving Helen to go off walking around town some more I managed to grab Dirk from Sail Away who was willing to get me started. I had the jump leads and he had the car. On close examination we found that not only was the battery flat but the connections to the battery were loose. Dirk managed to wiggle them tighter so I was able to drive to a slightly nearer car park where I parked to get my tools.

I brought back some extra bits and pieces so I could wire in my earlier purchased device to fix the radio frequencies accessible from the Japanese radio we have. Unfortunately there still wasn’t enough juice to turn the engine. Fortunately Dirk and I had parked next to each other in case this should happen. He came out and jump started me again. This time I left the engine running while sorting out the radio and then went for a drive around town. Hopefully this will be enough to get us going next time.

Not a lot else to report so I won’t.