Archive for January, 2011


Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Ariel view of the entrance to Whangaroa

Tiffany and I just got back to the Bay of Islands after spending 12 days in Whangaroa, a spectacularly protected bay 35 miles north of here. We explored the various arms of the bay witnessing it’s amazing topography. We hiked up to the top of the Duke’s Nose and got some stunning views. We fished various spot where we saw other people fishing and did ok catching lots of fish but only 3 keepers and they were pretty small at that. We cooked, we ate, we read, we played music and after about 5 days we felt that we had done up Whangaroa properly and were ready to leave.

Climbing the lst 100 feet up to the top of the Duke’s Nose

View back down to the anchorage from the top of the Duke’s Nose

Skiffing up the Wairakau Stream

I think this was a bonito that Tiffany caught. It had tasty white flesh and was much better than the bonito we caught back in Mexico:

And my snapper coming in a full 2 inches above the minimum size:

Before we could leave, Mother nature decided to show off Whangaroa’s amazing protection. We got hit by the remains of a cyclone coming down from the tropics bringing sustained 45 knot winds gusting higher, or so we heard. While the tempest blew outside, we had our choice of hurricane proof anchorages in the different arms of the bay. We had some gusts that heeled us over and shook the rigging, but sat out the 2 day blow in nice smooth water. We had a couple of day respite and then got hit by another full gale. Finally a full week after we wanted to leave we finally got out of Whangaroa yesterday. We ducked into the Bay of Islands for a propane refill, some groceries and internet and will be taking back off again to continue down the coast. We’re trying to get down to Whangarei by the 31st to meet up with a friend of Tiffany’s. Then hopefully we’ll bop on out to Great Barrier Island for a week or so before Tiffany has to fly back on the second week of February.

Some wildlife and tall ships in the Bay of Islands

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Tall Ships Regatta off Russell

It’s been more of the same for the last week or so. We spent some more time out in the bay of islands sailing with dolphins, orcas and penguins. The winds been pretty light, so the spinnaker has gotten lost of use.


Dolphins again:

The best orca shot I got, too bad these guys don’t like to play in the bow wake like the dolphins do:

We also hit the Tall Ships and Classic Boat Regatta off Russel. Unfortunately the winds were again light and the action was slow, but the turnout was simply amazing. There were 6 tall ships or so, but there must have been 100 classic boats also involved in the race. We were hanging out on Bodhran for the start. Amazingly enough with 100s of boats in a relatively small area, I didn’t notice any collisions or even any close calls. It was odd to see tall ships like the Soren Larsen dwarfed by some of the mega yachts out sailing along watching the race.

Tall Ships Regatta off Russell

Yesterday Tiffany and I sailed up the coast from the Bay of Islands past the Cavelli Islands to Whangaroa. Whangaroa is an incredibly sheltered bay stretching for miles with many offshoots, but with an opening to the pacific little more that 100 meters across. We just ducked around the corner to the first protected cove last night. This morning we each had a nice paddle around on the inflatable kayak and then motored on down to the Wangaroa Marina for some internet and fresh produce. There are a couple of good trails and lots of bays to explore, so we’ll probably be here for a little while.

Looking back through the entrance into Whangaroa

Bodhran anchored in Whangaroa

And for one of those purely Kiwi experiences, I give you Bluebird potato chips latest offering decided on by a national competition to come up with a new flavor:


It tastes just like you expected and gives you an upset stomach just like you’d think. I’m going to stick with chicken flavor for my meat based chips from now on.

Christmas and Cruising

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Idyllic bay on Motorua

It’s been feast and famine here in New Zealand over the last 3 weeks. Apparently the weather had been beautiful for 2 months before we got here. Northern New Zealand was already experiencing drought conditions and Summer wasn’t even here yet. Fortunately for Northland the drought is now over, unfortunately for us we’ve been rained in for a week at a time twice now. We got a bunch of salt water in the v-berth during the passage from Fiji. The first day here, I rinsed our mattress, bleached it, rinsed it, bleached it again, and rinsed in thoroughly. It was finally dry enough to put back in the v-berth on January 2nd.

Tiffany and I hitched the 100 miles from Opua down to Orewa to spend Christmas with Arek and Iwona. I always worry a bit about being able to get rides and this country is always quick to allay my concerns. It took us three rides to get south and ended up taking about 10 minutes longer than if we had driven our own car. Our last ride just saw us walking with our cardboard sign that said “Auckland” on it and pulled over to pick us up 100 meters before we got to the spot where we were going to start hitching from and dropped us off right at Arek and Iwona’s driveway. I do love Kiwi hospitality.

Tiffany’s cookie contribution and leftover dough santa sculpture:

Iwona was in full Polish cooking mode for 2 days before Christmas Eve preparing a 14 course meal. In Poland you’re supposed to have at least 12 dishes on Christmas Eve to ensure a good new year. Iwona’s neighbor Sue doesn’t eat fish, so she needed to have a couple extra dishes to ensure that Sue would have a good 2011 as well. I think that Iwona was having fun. It was great seeing her making pirogies and pate and these little tortellini looking things to go in the borscht, all from scratch. Tiffany helped out making rum balls and santa’s whiskers and in true Christmas fashion there were hardly any left by Christmas day. We spent Christmas day itself with some other cruiser friends of Arek and Iwona’s at their parent’s farm south of Auckland.

Iwona’s amazing Christmas Eve dinner

Arek, Iwona and myself with out Christmas hats on

After Christmas, Arek was hurting to get a little sailing time in and Tiffany was looking for a little off the boat girl time. So Arek drove me up to Opua while Tiffany stayed in Orewa with Iwona. The plan was for Arek and I to spend a week sailing the Bay of Islands. Sadly we got to the boat right as a gale hit and were stuck on the mooring for the first day. It the proceeded to rain for the next 4 days. We sailed out to Motorua Island on the second day and then off to Urupukapuka the day after. There were two good couple hour long breaks in the weather and Arek got out snorkeling during both of them, but in general it was cold, wet and dreary…..and my mattress still wasn’t dry and it was constantly in the way down below as we couldn’t leave it outside in the rain.

Arek and I motoring to a snorkeling spot during one of two sunny breaks

With the miserable weather, Arek decided to cut off his trip short on New Years Eve and head back down to Auckland. Tiffany hitched up from Orewa in 2 rides, the second of which was with a couple of party girls from Auckland heading up to Paihia for New Years. It was quite a ride, but I’ll let her tell that story. We spent a quite New Years out on the boat, watched the fireworks and went to bed and about 10 after midnight.

On New Years day we sailed out to the islands in sunny weather and light winds with a few hundred other boats. It was fun seeing all the boats, but a bit unnerving when we all tried to cut certain points at the same time. Still the weather was beautiful and we buddy boated with Momo and Rockhopper for a day off Motorua. Their boats were rafted up and a bit like a circus with all the little girls swinging from the rigging from one boat to the next. The favorite spot was the bosun’s chair rigged on the main halyard. The girls would swing from stem to stern out of the water, back and forth for hours until they were forced to relinquish their seat to someone else. I always forget that sailboats really are great jungle gyms.

Tiff and I on Motorua looking out towards Cape Brett

That’s Bodhran right there

Momo and Rockhopper took off north the next day while Tiffany and I stayed on. We spent the next 4 days relaxing, hiking on Motorua and Urupakapaka, kayaking, swimming, playing music, cooking and generally doing all the things you’re supposed to do while cruising. Alas Arek took off a bit too early. I think we’ll stick around this area another week or two before heading south. There’s a tall ships festival coming up which would be a shame to miss, but points south are calling and we’d like to explore some new territory as well.

Tiffany swinging from one of the the brilliantly red Pohutukawa trees on Urupakapaka