Hot baths and hot springs (Great Barrier Island to Whangarei)

Hi everyone,

Last we wrote, we had made it to Great Barrier Island (GBI) and were anchored in Smokehouse bay for 3 uneventful days. Smokehouse bay is very popular with yachts visiting GBI because there is an ingenious wood fired bath set up, hand wrung laundry and a pit toilet. Last Saturday we met a few fellow yachties around the campfire and it wasn’t until our second visit to the bay that we actually had a hot soak in the bath. The land is for public use in perpetuity and it is up to the yachties and a trust to keep the place maintainted. They’re doing a great job of it so far. 20170420_10154120170420_10150620170420_10134520170420_10135320170420_101304 After leaving Smokehouse, we contined further down the West coast of GBI to Whangaparapara (wh pronounced ph) and spent a couple of days walking on some nice trails. The first walk we did was to Whangaparapara summit which we did in “jandles” NZ for flip flops or if you’re Aussie, ‘thongs’. This was a smart choice especially on the way back as i slid down on my ass once, and fell crossways on my knees once. Andy was walking a bit behind me so he could laugh at my slips and skids as I traipsed down the ‘mountain’. Summit and mountain are very generous terms to describe the trail. I would call it a “lookout” at best. 20170417_134211.jpg

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The wind picked up at our anchorage in Whangaparapara harbour when we got back so we didn’t sleep the best, thankfully the next day we were planning to visit the ‘#1 must do’ in GBI. We were going to visit the Kaitoke hot springs! After reading a review that it was ‘wallowing in a shallow warmish pool’ we were more than excited to commence our who knows how long hike to get there. We walked along the old tramline track to the hot spring (that was decommissioned in the 1940s) and came back via walking 5k along the road as the ‘gentle incline’ of the tram track started out great for the first 500 m then became mud, ravines and creek crossings which Andy loved and I complained about. At least we had on proper shoes though!

20170418_124057After we returned to the boat it was getting pretty cold so Andy hooked up the fireplace and we enjoyed relaxing with a bottle of red and some spaghetti to replace all the calories we must’ve burned traversing ravines and creeks.

The next morning we went back to Port Fitzroy for some lunch at the boat club and then we spent another night at Smokehouse bay where we actually used the hot bath after Andy chopped a bunch of wood and had the fire going for a couple of hours to warm the water tank. We went around the corner on our last day to Bradshaw Cove where there are some old war bunkers in the brush. Good thing we didn’t bring any unruly children that may’ve climbed into the bunkers…

We left at 5 am the next morning (Friday April 21) to make it to Whangarei Marina before the office closed and we made pretty good time. Andy let me sleep in for the morning so I’d be less cranky and thankfully the radar and chartplotter helped Andy get the boat up the narrow river channel to the Marina as visibility was poor at best. Luckily, I got to test out my wet weather suit and donned my sea boots for the very first time which all worked great. After checking in to the Marina we stayed in for the rest of the afternoon and cozied up to the fireplace.

We will be in Whangarei Marina until we get a good weather window to make a break for Tonga. We are enjoying the central location and being a few 100m from all necessities will make provisioning extremely convenient. On the way out, we can clear out of customs at Marsden Cove Marina (at the river’s mouth)and top up fuel.

Thanks for reading,

Bre & Andy

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Soaked through (Opua to Great Barrier Island)

Hi everyone,

Last we wrote we were hoping to start exploring some of the offshore islands near the Eastern coast of the North Island. Before leaving Opua last Sunday, we filled up water, did laundry and savored showering at the Opua Marina facilities one last time. Of course, as soon as the laundry was out of the dryer and I was back in the dinghy, halfway to Wanderlust, the wind picked up and the rain set in.  There was nothing to do aside from get drenched and learn the lesson to put washing in a dry bag next time or trash bag (like everyone else I saw at the laundry). The dinghy also had 100L (100kg) of water filled jerry cans in it weighing it down so there was no way to go over the waves, instead I had to plough through them.  We left our anchorage in Opua the next day (Sunday, April 9) and anchored around the corner from Cape Brett lighthouse at deep water cove (Maunganui Bay).

capebrettWe set off earlyish the next morning with all intention to head for Poor Knight’s Islands, but after going around Cape Brett, the sloppy seas and the previous night’s super spicy curry had us both feeling sea sick. Neither of us vomited, thankfully, but we decided to get out of the swell and try again the next day. Andy changed course for Whangaruru harbour and just as we were turning in, we snagged our first fish! It flopped around for quite a while spraying a bit of blood around the cockpit and making a huge mess. The best sight ever for someone feeling dizzy and nauseous. Hopefully we’ll try to improve the method next time and bleed it before it comes onboard.

We got a slow start the next morning and set off for Poor Knight’s, renowned for it’s diving. Unfortunately, once we got there we were unable to anchor safely so took turns hopping into the dinghy and exploring a large cave on the islands.

2 tank dive trips cost $280 nz and depart from Tutukaka harbour (on the mainland) where we would later anchor for the night. Andy is very mindful of the tides, currents etc especially when we’re anchored and therefore we reset our anchor in Tutukaka around midnight as the tide was still going out and we would probably end up with less than a meter of water under the keel. It was a very rolly night’s sleep and neither of us got any complete sleep.

We left for what we estimated to be about a 10 hour trip to Great Barrier Island on Wednesday and had been forewarned by Andy’s boat mate, Neil, that a downgraded cyclone was coming to NZ and would cause dangerous winds and seas on Thursday. We had wind on the beam, 20-30 knots the whole way to Great Barrier and made record time averaging 7.5 knots the whole way, shaving 3 hours off our estimated time. The best part was a huge pod of dolphins swimming along with us for quite a while and doing acrobatics out of the water. dolphinsdolphin jump

The worst part was the v-berth mattress got pretty saturated coming out of Tutukaka Harbour as the foward hatch seal is a bit dodgy. When we got to our anchorage in Great Barrier Island at Port Fitzroy we decided to spread baking soda and rice all over the mattress to help absorb as we weren’t going to see sunshine for another two days. (It didn’t work spectacularly), but today is SUNNY so they dried on the deck.20170414_093342.jpg

Thursday morning we were woken by strong winds, but we were in a well protected anchorage and the wind gauge only recorded a max of 30 knots so it wasn’t as bad as some of the weather predictions and at least we’re already on the water so the ongoing flooding on the North Island doesn’t affect us. We waited out the wind and rain by reading, playing scrabble and bananagrams and baking 4 doz. oatmeal cookies! Andy ate 5 of the first batch…IMG-20170413-WA0000.jpeg

Today, with the sun shining and cabin fever to shake off, we ventured into Port Fitzroy which is a shop, one restaurant and an information bulletin. We hiked/tramped on an easy track for a few km to a waterfall and had a swim. It was cold, but made the cool air feel warm once we got out.

We now are across the bay anchored at Smokehouse bay and plan on taking a hot bath later today or tomorrow in the on site outdoor bath tubs. We’ll most likely spend the next week or more exploring around Great Barrier.

Stay tuned,

Bre & Andy

The cold hard truth: Boatlife

20170328_191729.jpgHi everyone,

Last we wrote, we were looking forward to being reunited with Wanderlust after nearly a month of land travel. We were shacked up near Russell in a beautiful 5 star waterfront airbnb with Colin and Sandra.2017-04-07 15.29.27.jpg

The location of Russell today is 7 km away from “old Russell” where the capital actually was and the area was known as ‘the hellhole of the Pacific’ thanks to whaling and shipping and the subsequent bars and brothels that sprang up in the area to service the seamen.

Luckily for us, the airbnb had not one, but TWO washing machines as on return to the sealed up boat, guess what!?! EVERYTHING was moldy. Andy’s straw hat was extra furry and even the mattresses were starting to germinate. We ignored the mold and had a beautiful day out on the water with a stop off at Motuarohia island which means beloved island. Settlers renamed this island Roberton Island so they could pronounce it.

After my first ever swim in NZ from the shore back to the boat, we cast off from this idyllic island and returned Wanderlust back to her mooring in Opua. After spraying a few surfaces with mold killer and throwing away a few kg of hummus, it was back to the house to start on the several hundred loads of laundry and savor a clean environment while we still could.

Colin and Sandra departed a week ago and were kind enough to take us around to pick up some boat essentials like more fuel for the dinghy, food, screwdrivers that would soon be donated to the ocean and a few other bits and pieces before heading off.

After several dinghy loads to get everything back on the boat it was time to get down to business and start in on the pile of boat projects staring us in the face. I got to tidy everything up and wipe everything down while Andy dismantled part of the boat to fix an oil leak on the engine. 20170331_152457

After the leak was repaired in less time and with less frustration than I anticipated, it was time to set off and leave the little mooring ball behind. We made it basically around the corner to a secluded anchorage (Awaawaroa Bay of Moturua Island) with crystal clear water and most importantly, the leak was fixed! 20170403_155053.jpgI had a kayak around the small secluded bay and saw a few stingrays in the shallows then I tied the kayak back up and swam in the deep around the boat. It’s still surprising that the water is pleasant enough in April in New Zealand to go swimming. Andy and I expected much colder temperatures and even brought our uggs in preparation.

After a relaxed and sunny Monday afternoon we were in for 2 solid days of heavy rain and howling wind, the dregs of cyclone Debbie that recently massacared parts of Australia. We were fine, the anchor held and it was a boring 2 days of staying below deck and reading, playing too many games of scrabble and watching movies.

We came back to Opua yesterday to pick up our much missed sail that was being repaired after we had to cut it down way back when on our entrance into Lord Howe. Today has been a day full of hoisting and being hoisted up the two masts to repair the snapped wind vanes, restring ropes and rerig the good as new mule sail. 20170407_150917.jpgHopefully in the next few days we will be setting off from the bay of islands to the South to discover poor knight’s island, great barrier and maybe even Waiheke then it will be getting close to our onward voyage to Tonga.

Thanks for reading,

Bre and Andy