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).
We 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.
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.
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…
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.
Bre & Andy