Monday, December 1, 2008
Distance sailed today: 53.4 NM
We departed the small harbor at Tutukaka at 0640. It was gray and dismal and drizzling rain for half the day. Winds were too light for sails alone, so we again motor-sailed. About 3 hours before reaching
the winds filled in, rain stopped and sailing was perfect until we got between
2 islands at the entry to Port Fitzroy bays on . We anchored behind tiny Great Barrier
at exactly 1340. The trip took less time
than we had anticipated. This is a
beautiful anchorage, very calm and protected and surrounded by high mountains
covered in every shade of green imaginable.
Picture perfect place. Reminds me
of the Pacific Northwest of the Grave Island USA
or parts of Scotland.
A weather front moved across the North Island of New Zealand from the
Tasman Sea on Tuesday. Winds blew steadily at around 20 knots from
the west for 24 hours. This did not
bother us because we had anchored behind
for just that reason. So we were
somewhat sheltered from the westerly winds.
But it was cold as all get-out and I refused to go outside all day. We had originally planned to proceed onward
to the marina near Auckland on Wednesday, but since we didn’t do anything all
day Tuesday we decided to delay that departure until Thursday when weather
prediction would be better for sailing in that direction. Grave Island
Wednesday morning we finally put the dinghy in the water. First time the dinghy has been in the water since we left Tonga more than a month ago, and the outboard took a few minutes to decide to run smoothly again. It was a short ride over to Port Fitzroy, where we hired a car for the day. Bill had forgotten to bring his wallet so we had to rent this car in my name and they said Bill could not drive it. The clerk also said that the police do spot-checks looking for unauthorized drivers on the rental cars; so that meant I really was going to have to drive it. We rented a Toyota Mark II. It was a small 4-door sedan with diesel engine and automatic transmission. This was my first experience at driving on the left-hand side of the road, as well as my first experience at driving a car with the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. Driving on the left-hand side of the road was not a problem. But remembering to use my left hand to shift the car was a different story altogether. Good thing it wasn’t a stick shift. My first instinct was to use my right hand on the column (which was the turn indicator) instead of the gear-shift on the floor between the front seats. Then when I wanted the turn indicator I could never find it. Just seemed like the totally wrong place for the turn indicator to be on the right-hand side of the steering wheel.
Shortly after we started on the winding mountain road Bill remembered that he had forgotten to take his daily medicine that morning, so we turned around and he went back to the boat and took care of that. While there he also picked up his wallet. We then added him to the car rental contract so that he could drive. But I was enjoying driving this strange little car so we agreed that I would drive until we turned around, and then he would drive back. That way we each had the opportunity to scare the other person on the extremely narrow winding mountain roads with sheer drop-offs hundreds of feet down. In the
you would have guard rails on roads like these, but not here.
As we left Port Fitzroy (which consists of whopping 9 buildings including residences and businesses), we encountered a young couple walking on the road. So we offered them a ride. Heck, this is an island with only one road. We must be going wherever they are heading anyway. Turned out these kids were from
. This year they have been hiking in Woodstock,
New York Iceland and in the Philippine Islands, and just
recently arrived in New
We haven’t seen very many young people from the USA traveling
about in the Pacific, but have seen hundreds of European high-school and
college age kids bumming about. They
usually travel on a very low budget. Wish the American kids would get more into
this travel-while-you-are-young idea because visiting other countries and cultures
provides such a valuable life experience.
The Woodstock kids got out when we reached the
Windy Canyon Trail, and we continued on our way.
I drove all the way to the southern end of the island. We stopped at the Claris Texas Café for lunch.
Texas, it is not. Texas
taste, it did not have. Texas food items, it did
not have. We have no clue why it was
called Texas Café. Kiwis are sometimes
We switched and Bill drove all the way back to the northern end of the island. We saw some spectacular views along the way --- the type views you saw in The Lord of the Rings movies. Also looked down on some beautiful white-sand beaches. However, about two-thirds of the road was unpaved (or unsealed as they say here); and we got tired of bouncing about on the loose gravel and were glad to turn in that rent car. The only thing that I wish we had seen were the natural
hot springs. But that required another hour on the unpaved
road plus one hour walk in and one hour walk back out. Our time was limited because we wanted to be
back on the boat before dark. So we
opted to forgo visiting the hot
Back to the boat for a steak dinner. We checked latest GRIB files and weather looks good for the trip to
December 4, 2008 Thursday
Distance sailed today: 45.3 NM
It was a beautiful day; bright sunshine and calm seas with light winds. Dozens of dolphins (porpoises) played around the boat. When we were about 10 miles inside the
a whale crossed our path about 200 feet directly in front of us. There might have been 2 whales but we only
clearly saw one of them. Great day for a
leisurely sail with beautiful scenery. We
motor-sailed with poled genoa and arrived at Gulf Harbour Marina shortly after
is located on the Whangapararoa Penninsula about 13 miles north (across the
water) of downtown Auckland
proper. We went straight to the fuel
dock first and filled up. We will not
need fuel for months but the reasoning is that partially empty fuel tanks will
get condensation inside and foul the diesel with water. We never had to worry about this before
because we have always been in hot climates where condensation does not
form. But with the cold nights and warm
days here in the Auckland
area, this condensation would be a problem.
BTW, diesel is very reasonably priced in New Zealand. Much, much less expensive than gasoline
A very nice guy helped us at the fuel dock and then guided us to our assigned slip. Since we are transient and liveaboard, we were assigned a slip on ‘N’ dock which is across the waterway from the yacht club, shops, offices and boatyard. At least there is a toilet and shower facility right at the end of our dock; all other amenities require a dinghy for access. After we were tied up in our assigned slip the nice man gave us a ride across the waterway to check in at the marina office. Guess we will have to put the dinghy in the water so I can do laundry before our flight home next week. All marinas in
New Zealand are
located in “no discharge” areas which means we cannot operate our clothes
washer while in the marinas and must use the marina laundry facilities. And the laundry facilities are across the
waterway. Taking the dinghy to do
laundry seems so strange. Not something
we have ever had to do in any marina.
Supposedly there are a couple of small eateries and one very small grocery store within 20-minute walk from our slip. And there is some kind of market held on weekends at the construction site of a new store being built near the end of our dock. Since we will only be here less than a week before flying home, the limited things within walking distance or dinghy distance will fill our needs for the moment. All other stores will require a car, a purchase which we will research after we return in January. For now we are settled into our temporary home until April in slip N4 at Gulf Harbour Marina and very glad to be here.