Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Provisioning!

....one of many loads....now where to put it...and more importantly...how to find it again!

Tucker Thompson under almost full canvas!


The local square rigger on a breezy reach!  Derek....we should be on it!

last night at anchor!

glow of the sunset off the rocks in Otaia Bay

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Snowed in!

Not literally of course!  But 'snowed in' is what it feels like lately.  Unless you grew up in the tropics, you will all know what it is like when the big storm hits and the roads and schools are closed and no one goes to work except policemen, firemen and people who own honking big four wheel drive SUVs and need to justify all that gas the rest of the year!
We, however, having made our way back to Toketie yesterday afternoon against strong headwinds and whitecaps, are now riding it out on the mooring.  Our poor little four horse Johnson outboard could just barely make progress and threatened to run out of gas at any moment, which would have seen us blown back to the marina!  It almost feels like we are at sea, with the boat moving to the seas and the wind howling in the rigging.  It is not uncomfortable out here but not worth the dinghy ride in so we relax, do research, read books, drink coffee and stare out the porthole at the raging blizzard, metaphorically speaking!  For fun, we turn the wind instrument on and sit in our totally enclosed cockpit shelter and watch the digital readout climb over 30 knots…all the while gazing about to see whether anyone has lost their dinghy yet!
We follow the progress of three coast guard rescues on the VHF radio, including a helicopter lift for medical reasons.  Another large sailboat managed to get 300 miles offshore and into very rough wind and seas only to have the engine fail and the sails shredded.  We saw them at the dock after being towed in.  Not sure what they were thinking as weather forecasting is a highly evolved exercise here and the systems that move across the Tasman Sea from Australia are fairly predictable.  Other than the occasional 'bomb' of course, like the famous Queen Mother storm of 1994 that caught the fleet on their passage up to the islands.  These are rare and develop so suddenly, they can not be forecast.  So we prepare for the worst and plan for the best!
Meanwhile we have applied to upgrade our boat insurance to blue water coverage again.  The new batteries (did I mention the new batteries?) have arrived but we have to wait till the weather settles down to haul the 300 pounds out and install them.
The weather gurus say it should start to calm down on Sunday, which would be the day after tomorrow!  
We are almost ready to leave New Zealand.  We have decided not to check into Suva, the capital of Fiji due to recent civil unrest.  We have been assured it does not affect the rest of the country and they eagerly welcome the cruisers so we may go further North to Savu Savu and check in at a more remote location, far from the politics that seem to plague the country.
But for now, the wind howls and we keep busy until the daylight fades and we can watch another episode of Battlestar Galactica!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back in Opua!

Well, the Toketie crew are back in Opua on the mooring.  The weather is typical for fall in NZ, heavy rain and strong winds as low after low move across the Tasman Sea and hit the islands.  But we are getting things organized and in a couple of weeks we will be looking for a 'weather window' to escape North to warmer climates!  I know, going North doesn't sound right but you have to remember that everything is upside down on the other side of the world!

The Bay of Islands!

A dramatic coastline!

working out!

NZ style!

Urupukapuka hill trail!

Great hiking and greater views!

raupo(roofed) storage pits

The Maori hid their communal supplies of kumara in these pits, to preserve them from enemy attack!

Otaio Bay!

That is Toketie on the far right.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Urupukapuka Island

We are anchored in beautiful Otaio Bay! Today we hiked for two hours and had a picnic at the top of the island where we could look down into great chasms and many other little bays all around, as well as out to sea. Clear sky and hot in the sun but expecting 20 knots of wind tonight so should be cosy in here. Finally patched the slow leak in the dinghy which was driving us crazy! Will send pics when we get to real internet....someday!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Toketie on the move!

We finally got out of the Whangarei town basin! Nice as it was, it was time to move on. So we were up at 0630 to catch the tide down the river. By 1100 we were clear of Cape Bream and moving N. By 1500, we were anchored in Tutukaka. That was Easter Friday and today on Saturday, other than diagnosing the alternator and changing the oil and filter, we are relaxing!

The original plan to go S to Great Barrier Island had to be postponed, perhaps next season, as we spent too long tying up the loose ends in town.

Our last night in Whangarei was an enjoyable evening spent with our neighbors on the dock, Warrick and Dylis on 'Senior Moment'. They are residents and avid local sailors who made us feel very welcome while in Whangarei. The fish chowder was a wonderful treat and much appreciated.

And tomorrow we hope to take on fuel and make our way N towards the Bay of Islands where with any luck we can explore a bit before picking up the mooring in Opua to prepare for sea.

Our plan at the moment is to clear out of New Zealand before the visas expire mid-May and head N about 1100nm to Suva, where we will clear into Fiji.

Once we are underway, I should be able to post position reports in Yotreps and Winlink once again.

Stay tuned for further updates!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sukanuk-mobile

The Nissan that Derek and Anthea from Sukanuk were so kind as to let us use while they were away is now all shined up, fueled up, vacuumed up and ready to pass on the their friends in Opua.  This is a special thank you as it made our lives in NZ so much easier!

Our medical supplies have arrived and we are fast running out of excuses to stay at the dock!  The weather is supposed to improve by the end of this week so we are now planning to head out and hopefully explore a bit of the area before making our way up to Opua for the end of April.  There we will make final preparations for the 1100nm jump to Fiji!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April 2 – still in Opua!

We seem to be delayed in Opua!
 
We sent the chain and anchors out to be regalvanized and tomorrow it will be a week overdue. We are also waiting for a package of medical supplies to arrive from Auckland. So meanwhile, we work away at the boatchore list and for every one we cross one off, we add two on!  Might be quicker to throw the list away and go hiking!

We have put in a six month supply of provisions though and that took a few trips to various supermarkets. We have located the Fiji clearance and visa application forms and are trying to figure them out! We are also looking into insurance coverage for the bluewater passage up to the islands.

So we still hope to tie up the loose ends here and head off to Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf for a bit of exploring before returning to Opua to clear customs and await a weather window to head North.

The nice weather ended yesterday with rain and strong winds so we probably would not be going far anyway.