It seemed prudent to get out of Dodge. A kind of perfect storm of reasons, coalescing into a major imperative to decamp from the Bay of Islands. First, the barometer was dropping like a stone. Second, we were determined to have a little company for New Year’s, and our old friends on Macushla were heading for the beautiful fiord-like Whangaroa Harbor, with its narrow entrance surrounded by high green hills, as great a hurricane hole as I’ve ever seen. Thirty five miles northwest of Opua and with benign conditions predicted as long as we make it before the low pressure trough hits. Anyone but the most pessimistic would announce problem solved. Easy peazy. We leave at first light tomorrow.
Moving day dawned sunny with a heavy dew on the deck, and soon we were steaming past Russell in a dead calm with the promise of a sailor’s wind out in the ocean.
Coastal sailing features much to look at, but much to run into as well as countless decisions in the manor of “should we go around that outlying island or can we squeeze through without losing the bottom?” Marce was feeling quite lucky and I was more hesitant but as the day wore on and our wind didn’t show up so the shorter distance won out every time.
When the wind finally showed up it was predictably unpredicted on the nose with an increasing intensity far beyond anything forecast. Shooting the gaps between rocks and the coast only funneled the nasty wind and exacerbated the nasty sea conditions. The mantra became just hang on it will be over soon, but with Marce’s tender back “soon” was really not soon enough. There were times when with both engines at full cruising power, pinching with our blade jib up, we were barely making a knot and a half. As we closed with what our chart plotter said was the incredibly narrow entrance to Whangaroa Harbor we counted no less than ten yachts all desperately seeking the same harbor of refuge at the same time. All it took was a lot of faith but once inside the 30 knot wind disappeared so we could drop the jib in relative calm.
As we putted down the fiord it was like Shangri-La in here, you would never know what was going on out there. We found Macushla and dropped anchor in quiet Waitapu Bay under the shadow of mighty St Paul’s Rock which of course with any luck at all, we will summit tomorrow morning and take a picture of Escape Velocity from the top.
It’s good to be home.