Another evening, another beautiful but unpronounceable bay to lie at anchor. As we work our way south down New Zealand’s eastern coast I marvel at this amazing coastline and the profusion of gunkholing possibilities. It would take years to get to know just this northern island but the big island, the South Island is the one with the truly spectacular scenery, as seen in the Lord of the Rings movies. Let’s see, where was I? Oh yes, unpronounceable. Like all things Polynesian every letter is to be pronounced, no freebies here, my friends.
Just to recap, dear Escapees, after our stormy belated New Year’s celebration with Macushla in Waitapu Bay we ran up the mangrove river to the waterfall in Rere Bay just off Pekapeka Bay. Then, with questionable logic and a small weather window, we went further north up to Mangonui where we watched it rain and blow ninety percent of the time.
We eventually capitulated, giving up on our touring plans which included the ancient huge Kauri trees and the northernmost cape of North Island, turned south and took refuge in tiny Waiaua Bay just south of the Cavelli Islands, anchoring in the rain.
Next we rounded Cape Brett, what felt like just a few meters off spectacular Hole in the Wall, while Yours Truly did an in-field repair of the starboard engine’s coolant hose, limped into charming Whangamumu Harbor where we stopped to catch our breath and wait for favorable winds.
The winds stopped but the rain didn’t so Marce said we’ll give it to 10:00 am to clear up. We never start a passage in the rain. It’s kind of a rule we have, so M. called a lay day and we settled back to a nice relaxing day of yacht maintenance.
Sure enough by 11:00am the rain stopped and the sun tried to peek through the low-lying clouds. New plan! With not a moment to lose, we ran about EV reversing what we had just reversed or, not to put too fine a point on it, we rigged for blue water passage-making. We just might make it to Tutukaka harbor which was our penultimate stop before our goal in Whangarei where most cruisers do any serious refitting and we are no exception.
Escape Velocity seems reluctant to sail. It feels as though we’re dragging our very own botanical marine garden on her keels. Finally, as the scudding leaden clouds parted we saw the opening to Tutukaka Harbor directly across from the Poor Knights Islands. Anchoring in the rain is apparently another rule we seem to have.
We fell asleep to the pitter-patter of rain on the deck but we awoke to the sun streaming through the portholes. Things are looking up in good old Tutukaka Harbor which features a hotel, convenience store, marina, pizza, and hiking trails. There’s not a moment to lose.
We splashed Cat Nip and took a nosey, as the Kiwis say, of the marina and resort shops, managed to avoid buying anything and just walked around soaking up the sunshine. After a quick catch-up with friends on Saraoni tied between two poles at the marina, we rolled our eyes at the $18 four-slice pizza and dinghied back to EV. Soon we were way too relaxed to go for a hike up into the hills so trekking would have to wait for tomorrow.
Ah, you Escapees are way ahead of me. Rain, lots of rain in the morning and when it finally stopped we looked at each other and said let’s get out of here. It being quite late there was not a moment to lose. We ran about EV stowing things and rigging for passage making.
The wind was with us for a change, at least until we rounded Cape Bream Head where we dropped sail and motored around Frenchman’s Island into Calliope Bay. The full effects of Whangarei’s ebb flow began to slow us down and it became obvious that we could barely make headway against it, even with both engines running, so we ducked into the shallow but wide and beautiful Urquhart Bay and dropped anchor. Sundowners await, there’s not a moment to lose.