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!
The North Island is under a high pressure ridge with almost no gradient wind. There was a bit of a sea breeze picking up around 11am this morning. So we weighed anchor and had a beautiful afternoon, sailing out of the Bay of Islands passed Cape Brett and down to Whangamumu Harbour under sunny blue skies (all of 20nm! ;-). There is no harbour down here but remnants of an old whaling station and a very beautfiful bay. Braved the icy NZ waters for a quick swim this afternoon (why did leave the tropics again?).
After two weeks in Opua we weighed anchor at midday today (Saturday, 08NOV) and moved out into the Bay, to Urupukapuka. The unsettled weather of the past few days has gone and we enjoyed a nice sail and a beautiful anchorage this afternoon and evening.
We enjoyed our stay at Opua (even though the 2nd week was largely weather imposed), but is definitely nice to be "out" again. Now we're looking forward plan to meeting Seabright at Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf during their vacation next week.
It's just a little over one week ago that we arrived here in Opua - time for a little update. Clearing into the country last Saturday was a pleasant 15 min affair - friendly, pragmatic and effective, a nice change. The drug dog (a very cute retriever-type - an instant star among the kids on the Q dock) was sent into the weekend before it got to Namani; I guess we didn't meet the "threat threshold"...
Tied up to the Q dock at Opua at 2115 local time tonight after a perfect sailing day. At 0200 last night we finally emerged from under that stationary front and within a few minutes the wind picked up to a steady 20kn+ on the beam. It settled down a bit in the early morning and we had great day on a beam reach, averaging close to 6kn. We made landfall around 2pm and sailed into the Bay of Islands just before sunset. Hard to imagine a more beautiful finish to this passage (and - in a way - to our journey here that started from the US East Coast a year ago).
Well, it seems that stationary occluded front that has accompanied us the last two days isn't so staionary after all. It keeps slowly dropping south, just enough to stay in synch with us. It appears that every time we get a bit of clear sky and sailable wind the front is eager to catch up and a few hours later we have 8/8 cloud cover and no more than 5kn of wind again. That not withstanding, we did have some nice sailing wing-on-wing this afternoon and are now (0030 local time on 23NOV) less than 100nm from the entrance to the Bay of Islands.