Eat it or Loose It ..
So this voyage has been faster than we expected. The trip south is never an easy one, weather changes every 5 days or so. So forecasts are notoriously wrong.
But we still have a day or so to go, can’t spoil the trip already.
Another day, another 100+ miles or so we hope. The drone of the engines (both) running hot, pushing faster than our ‘normal’ diesel conservative mode. Trying every thing we can to arrive either Opua or Marsden (Whangarei) in the day light.
Day starts off as is should, the last bit of, the very last bit of Jimmy Dean was used to make the last Egg McMuffins for breakfast.. Tasty and sad all at the same time.
Morning time, engines running for hours on end, its time to give them a check up. Stop one, for a bit and let the oil rest to see the level, check the belts the fuel filters etc.. Make sure we are not being mean to the life blood of the boat on an ocean without wind. First port, then starboard and all is well. Nothing out of the ordinary. Get side tracked for a while while port is cooling. Checked weather and distance and speed. No matter what we did, it would be near impossible to arrive either Opua or Marsden with daylight. Dusk would be a good bet at Opua.
Coins were tossed, reality set in.. never started the second engine, and just used the conservative forward effort. Said we would arrive at 11pm. So technically there isn’t much difference between 11pm and 4am in terms of light and safety. Moon would provide the same light either way, 1/2 moon at that.
Couple of boat projects along the way, nothing major, just something to keep the energy flowing and keep from falling asleep. Washed this, cleaned that, glued this, checked skies and instruments for hopes of wind.. Good day but darkness was setting..
Uh-Oh.. new territory. Taking a short cut to the destination. Seemed fine. Plenty of water, no rocks or islands in the way. Accidentally zooming in .. spot a that says “area to be avoided” on the chart. Huh? What does that mean. Normally there is a ‘note’ on the paper chart to explain that. Digital charts say the thing, but then when you zoom in, you can’t find where to look for the “note”.. So after searching, best to just not cross the line.
Hour goes by, checking agin on a different device.. the ‘note’ is for cruise ships and things over 50 meters wishing to cross over a marine reserve. We would have been fine. So add another hour to arrival.
We can see the island, or rock of New Zealand sticking out of the water at 50 miles out. That lots of hours of seeing where you want to be but still waiting to be there. And then the sun goes….
TechNerd: I see a cargo ship on the screen. Will it go into the bay were we want to go. Please let it go that way. We have no tracks to follow to get to through the dredged channel. We have charts but its dark, very dark. The prudent sailor would find an alternative. The sailor that just wants a cold beer on anchor makes different decisions..
The cargo ship eventually decides to head in. Great, I use the electronics to record his path. Now I have a path of a huge ship to follow while red and green blinking lights try to help as well.
Whew, made the long part… now the technical part to find the small path to the marina. Again, it’s still dark, there are no street lights now. Just a silent version of ‘Tom Tom’ (for those with the first gps brains) .. Luckily we have a saving grace. Another boat “Only Time” is also trying to get in, we briefly met in Musket Cove, Fiji and know they have done this trip before. Quick chat on the VHF radio and we get to follow them in to the marina.
Okay, we are doing 5mph, with sunglasses on night trying to find a parking spot at Walmart. Oh my. Just then the Walmart greeter jumps out and says, WELCOME. Scares the “blank” out of you and its just the channel marker you just about ran over.
We make it in, pucker factor in full effect the dock is full. Decide to take a different dock “Only time” takes 1/2 then helps Sugar SHack take the other 1/2.. its 3 AM .. Customs dock for 2, now has 4 catamarans for breakfast.
.. all good.. a nice cold beer and out like a light but need to be up early for the officials.
Overall 1100 miles
Just over 6 days, for something we expected 10 possible with the crazy weather that is possible.
Morning comes as does the bio security guy. All our favorite meals are now gone. The pulled pork made Christine cry. But we did finish the gumbo and Jimmy Dean.. They just mainly wanted the meat, so we should have had pork chops the day before instead of the egg plant parmigiana that we could have kept. Oh well.
All good, we are allowed to stay. After clearing in .. headed to Whangarei..
Rain, Winds, Calm, Waves, Seas, Sun, Clouds .. I think we had it all.
Arriving Whangarei and trying to pull into our slip, we bounce off another boat.. but that story is for another day… Current and wind are sometimes very silent.
Welcome to New Zealand. French craft beer and local rose wine for dinner.