Monday, April 27, 2009

Weathering a Blow

April 25, 2009--When we anchored back in Kiwiriki Bay, we put out plenty of chain and used our new Anchor Buddy, which weighs 40 pounds and is made of a zinc alloy. It hangs on the last 40 feet (or so) and keeps the anchor chain low to the bottom so that the chance of dragging the anchor is greatly reduced. We were glad that we took the time to anchor well because that afternoon the winds began to pick up. By early evening the winds were steady at 25 knots, and by the time we went to bed at 11 o'clock, the winds were around 30 to 35 knots and gusting to 40 knots. The wind blew that way all night long, and many times the boat was heeled over enough to have things slide around. When we looked out the windows at the waves, it looked like whitecaps all around us, but we could see that the bio luminescence caused the waves to look whiter than they really were. In the morning the winds had died down to around 25 knots again, so we were a bit more comfortable. The anchor held tight all night long, which was a good thing as we did not want a repeat of our anchor drag at Kenutu Island in Tonga.

We have been on board the boat for almost five days now, but we have enjoyed reading books and taking care of those pesky little jobs. The weather isn't good enough to tackle any big jobs, which is good because we are both tired of projects.

Around 10 o'clock this morning we pulled the anchor, which was buried completely in the mud, and motored over to Port Fitzroy. This is the only place in this area to pick up some vegetables, bread, etc. We anchored over a rocky bottom and went ashore to see the sights. The sights consisted of the dock, a Burger Bar, the post office, a small grocery store, and the Visitors' Information Centre. The woman at the information centre was very friendly and helpful. She told us that in the summer, there could be as many as 900 to 1,000 boats around the island. Boy were we glad that we came after the regular season. The Port Fitzroy Boating Club was not open for lunch, we went to the Burger Bar where we enjoyed delicious hamburgers, fries, and cokes.

After pulling the anchor, we decided to move to the north coves so that Steve could do a little fishing and where we would be ready to cross back to Whangarei in the morning. We anchored in Bradshaw Cove, and Steve fished for a bit, but it was shallow so he was catching only small Snapper. The wind had now shifted to the northeast, and that made the anchorage more tenuous. We looked at the chart and decided to move over to Karaka Bay. This bay gave us protection from the northeast to the southeast. There was a very small group of buildings on shore and all were privately owned, so we just sat in the cockpit and enjoyed the late afternoon scenery. We then put the dinghy on board and prepared the boat for the crossing in the morning.

Thursday morning we left our anchorage at 6:30 with a triple-reefed main and headed directly west to Whangarei. The forecast didn't sound too bad, and we had winds around 15 knots and slight seas--at least at first. The weather began to deteriorate as the morning went on. We put the third reef in the main and pulled in some headsail to slow us down a bit. We were surfing down the backs of the waves and decided that it was safer to slow her down. Rain showers passed over us several times, and at one point a wave on our starboard side broke right over the boat.

The forecast for the Whangarei area was forecast to be pretty nasty by late afternoon, so we pushed as hard as we safely could to get to Marsden Cove Marina. We approached the channel to Whangarei Bay around one o'clock. The channel shallows, and the winds were gusting around Bream Head, so we got some nasty conditions for awhile. We were not even sure that we wanted to pull into Marsden Cove Marina in 30 to 35 knots of wind--again! We did get a call on the radio telling us we could pull up to the end of C Dock and stay there for the night. I rigged all the lines and fenders, and we made the entrance just fine despite a few gusts. We could see that the dock was completely empty, which was good for us, so we pulled up to the dock and let the wind blow us right up against it. Luckily, there were cleats on the dock--most docks here have rings, which makes it much harder to tie off the boat quickly. We got her all secure and then went below to get out of the lousy weather.

We then went to check in and get set up for our stay here at Marsden Cove Marina. We plan to be here until a good weather window opens up, and because the Customs officials are located here, it will make checking out that much easier.

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