Tuesday was cloudy most of the day, and the winds were blowing around 23 knots with gusts up to 30. We also had rain squalls throughout the day, and the seas became confused later in the afternoon, which made for an uncomfortable ride. The line on our radar reflector chafed through so it came down and was dragging through the water until we retrieved it. One loss that we suffered was the peanut crème Oreos. Gary was eating them during his watch when they fell onto the cockpit floor and got soaked, so over the side they went—he was bummed.
Night was coming as we rounded Poor Knight’s Island to parallel the coast just a couple of miles off in order to minimize the fetch from the approaching cold front, which we expected at any time. Steve went to check our engine and found an oil leak (the head seal has finally started to give out). We turned off the engine just long enough that he could check to see how bad it was (not bad at all) and to add more oil. The wind and waves were coming from our stern, and at one point we saw over 10 knots of speed over the ground—we were surfing!
We made our turn around Bream Head and began working our way up the buoyed channel. The red and green lights were everywhere so picking out the ones that we needed was very difficult. Steve was using the GPS to find the buoys and I was using the paper chart. I thought that I had finally spotted the next red light that we needed. As I looked at it, however, I realized that it also had a white light, and it was moving past us. Turned out it was a tug boat leaving the harbor. Soon there was another tug leaving. I decided to go up on the bow to keep a lookout while Gary stayed in the cockpit to help Steve. We were making progress through the winding buoys when I heard Steve give an exclamation--we had a large cargo ship coming up the bay close behind us. Those two tugs had gone out to bring it in.
Making our way around the bay and over to Marsden Cove Marina was a challenge to say the least. We slowly made our way to the GPS waypoint for the entry. There were boats anchored along the route with no anchor lights on, so we had to find them with our spotlight. There were no real channel lights at this point, but I finally spotted the red and green lights leading into the marina; however, finding the right point in which to make the turn was more difficult. At one point we found ourselves in shallow water with the tide going down. The three of us finally agreed on our course, so we made our turn and proceeded through the dredged channel to the jetty entrance and then continued to the docks. We located the Q dock for Customs, and Steve decided to make a turn so that he could pull in with our port (left) side to the dock. When he was half way through the turn, the wind came up and caught our bow, but Steve was able to complete the turn, which was good because we were getting awfully close to a boat tied up at the end of that dock. When we beside the dock, Gary and I jumped off and secured the lines. We let the boat settle in, made sure the lines and fenders were all in place, and gave one another "high 5’s." It was now 3 a.m. and we were all exhausted, cold, and wet. We all crashed quickly because Customs would be at the boat in the morning.
We got up around 7:30 and picked up the boat as best as we could. Brian from Bio-security arrived around 9:30 (why had we gotten up so early!) to collect meat and vegetables and fill out the required forms. Right after he left, Anita from Customs arrived and filled out those required forms.
We now needed to make our way 12 miles up the Whangarei River with the wind still blow up to 30 knots. When we left the marina the wind and waves were right on the nose so we were struggling to move forward. Actually, a couple of times we were stopped dead in the water. Once we got into the river channel, the ride became better, and we were able to appreciate the beautiful countryside. When we arrived at Riverside Drive Marina, we had to hold our position while sv Shilling pulled into their slip. This was not an easy task since the winds were still gusting. The dock hands were tying up Shilling when there was a lull in the wind, so Steve yelled to them asking if the one open slip was ours. They answered that it was, so Steve just gunned the engine and headed into the slip because we wanted to get in before the winds came up again. A couple of guys did come over to take our lines. Steve came in pretty fast and then gave the engine full reverse to stop her. The dock lines were pulled in, and she settled in just fine. We had arrived!
Whangarei is a lovely town, and I will write about it in the next blog as this one has become quite long-winded. Gary was able to book a flight out on Thursday morning so on Wednesday evening Janet and Dennis from sv Shilling joined us for dinner and to celebrate arriving here. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and then headed back to crash—we were all very, very tired.