It's been exactly a month since we arrived at at the Q dock in Opua. After a week at the dock and another at anchor in Opua we finally started moving again on 09DEC and have since criss-crossed the greater Hauraki Gulf (the pink line on the image above is Namani's track over the past two weeks). We've had some beautiful sailing (with quite a bit of windward work as you can tell from the odd looking tracks above), enjoyed some very nice anchorages, and above all some good company with Seabright, Saltbreaker., and a surprise encounter with Victoria.
10 - in New Zealand
... in small steps. It's been a while since we saw a TV set but the scene above on Rakino Island today unmistakably shows that were getting closer to what's commonly considered as civilization (with a Kiwi outdoor-twist). Saw the the city lights of Auckland in the distance last night from Tiritiri. No we actually look forward to spend a few days in this "bustling metropolis" (by local standards - 1.5m people).
Our stay in Kiwiriki Bay on Great Barrier Island (see previous post) turned out be more of a pit stop. We had planned to stay there for 2-3 days but the weather forecast the next morning meant that to make it to Auckland by Christmas without excessive motoring we would have to leave right away again. So off we went, hot on Seabright's tail for the 25+nm back west to Bon Accord Bay. Flakey wind at times, but a good sail overall.
Came back to the bay where we had two nights ago when we had Seabright and Saltbreaker on Namani. Saltbreaker had brought scallops that night which they had just picked up from the seafloor behind their boat. We were keen to dive for our own batch, hence our return to this bay. We crossed Saltbreakers path on the way in today (they were on their way further south) and they recommended to also look for clams below the tide line. So we got a bucket full of Tuatua clams (at least that's what we believe they were) and then dove for some scallops where Saltbreaker had been anchored before.
Sailed the 30+nm from Greta Barrier SE to Great Mercrury Island, and anchored on its western side yesterday afternoon (one of these nice open bays where you can actually sail up to anchor). We had just dropped the hook when we heard "Namani, Namani, this is Saltbreaker, Saltbreaker" on the VHF. Saltbreaker is owned and sailed by two brothers from San Francisco, and we have kept crossing their path ever since the Marquesas in the "less obvious places". Last night we finally had a chance to spend some time with Alex and Nick, plus their visiting friend Dan, and the three Seabrights.
Another day of trying to maximize use of about 5 hours of sailable sea breeze... relaxed close reaching to Tutukaka; now the only boat anchored in a little bay on the northern side of the entrance. Will try to make it to Great Barrier during the day tomorrow with some SW winds in the forecast.
.. was the title of an article Nana had written 3 years ago about our visit to Dave, Jo and Beth on Seabright in April 2009 in the Bay of Islands. The title referred to the hope that we could have Seabright and Namani sail together again, like in those good old days in the Eastern Caribbean. This afternoon we sailed into the entrance to Port Fitzroy on Great Barrier Island together - Seabright coming from just north of Auckland and Namani having sailed from Tutukaka Harbour. A great sight!