Here we sit. A lot of boats took advantage of a less than perfect weather window two weeks ago and ended up motoring much of the way up to Minerva Reef. We weren’t quite ready — although I suppose we could have rushed to get out — and now we’re sorry we missed the opportunity. It’s been an endless stream of nasty weather marching across Northland making a passage impossible until there’s enough of a break to get clear of the coast before the next system moves in.
Normally we’d get all zen-like and enjoy the time waiting it out, but right now we are up against our visa expiry date. Immigration is unsympathetic and tell us we must apply for an extension, an exercise that is costly, time-consuming and requires chest X-rays and doctor’s certificates, which are not possible here in Opua. There is no provision for a short-term weather extension. We will work around it and hope we aren’t carted off in handcuffs before the weather gods shine on us and we can point Escape Velocity northward.
Meanwhile, we meet friends ashore at the cafe in the morning, or at the Cruising Club for drinks and dinner once or twice a week. We do laundry, replace the provisions we’re consuming while we wait, and take on more boat projects.
On EV we bit the bullet and bought a VHF antenna splitter, which allows us to share our mast-top radio antenna with the AIS transceiver, making us visible to ships from a further distance, and allowing us to see ships sooner rather than later. That’s good for our peace of mind while we’re at sea. Our original AIS antenna, mounted on our cockpit roof, has become less and less effective over time, and after a near lurid moment with a cruise ship on a passage in French Polynesia we needed to improve our range. This was the perfect, though not inexpensive, solution and we’re happy with the results.
To keep the cabin warm I’ve been using the oven more than we do in the tropics. Cookies, casseroles, lasagna, bread, cake, any excuse to fire up the propane and take the chill off the late autumn air. Our weather sources all say to sit tight for the rest of the week and we make no argument against that. Two hours ago another front passed through with 30 kt winds that stirred up the water in the anchorage and reduced visibility down to about 15 yards. Out on the coast the wind was at least 10 kts higher with serious damaging waves and we’re happy to stay here with our anchor securely embedded in the dense Opua mud, drinking a glass of wine and eying the last of the chocolate Irish whiskey cake.