Honestly…it was hard to get into the mind-set of sailing again after our passage to get here to New Zealand. I was a little apprehensive and worried about weather conditions going south to Whangamata as the systems here are different and seem to have a short-lived “window” before something else “brews up”. Originally I wanted to day hop and sail only during the day but cautious as I felt, the weather looked like it would be stable and calm for about 2-3 days so we just sailed straight to Whangamata, 190 nautical miles.
Being so unfamiliar with the weather and seas here, we decided to sail out side of all the little and big islands that surround the east coast of New Zealand. I didn’t know how the currents and tides would affect our sail capabilities inside all the islands so playing it safe, we just headed out to sea…..
Timing is everything…that’s what they all say….and we wanted to head out of the Bay of Islands, Opua at high tide to get out of the slip without a “shit show” and not be hindered by the incoming tide against us (currents can get up to 2 knots in the BOI). Additionally, Whangamata harbour is a VERY shallow entrance (1.4 meters at low tide which is equivalent to about 4 feet- we have a draft of 5.5 feet) as the sand bars here shift with the tides and currents and we needed to arrive at high tide to make sure we could get in and not be subject to any currents coming into a new harbour. So we left BOI, Opua at 7:30 PM and needed to arrive at Whangamata harbour by 8 AM.
I would’ve chosen a more favorable weather window for sailing conditions (with actual and consistent wind) but instead…. scared to get back on the horse again…we choose a window where we would probably have to motor most of the way but it would be a comfortable ride….here is how it went.
Saturday Night December 16th – Little wind, but we finally shut off the engine around 11pm with 8-12 knots of wind on a starboard tack flying jib and jigger (jib sheet and mizzen sails out) with wind at about 60-90 degrees to us. We had clear skies and LOTS of stars. Unfortunately we had to turn the engine back on in the early morning to keep our speed up above 3.3 knots of speed.
Sunday December 17th – About 5am, we experienced the swell increase and winds head on…it was only about 8-15 knots but it made things a bit bumpy for about 3-4 hours. We knew we would have variable wind directions (light winds) and at times we had downwind sailing as well. We ran our engine most of the day but would turn it off periodically to slow down. We did however notice there is a current here that would slow us down or speed us up….all things equal.
Monday December 18th – As the sun rose, we sailed for about 3 hours with 5-10 knots on a port tack. We were coasting about 3.3 knots (speed over ground) but we were perfectly timed for getting there in time for high tide so we didn’t mind slowing down and enjoying the peace and quiet of the morning and under sail.
Finally in the channel…we needed to navigate around piling moorings (rows of pilings that boats can tie in between for moorage). Not sure what happened here….
Whangamata town – After checking in to the marina office and tidying up the boat a bit, we headed into town to take a quick look around. Whangamata seems to us like a Seaside vacation destination (reminds us of Ocean Shores in the Pacific Northwest)…clean, cute little cafes, souvenir shops, lots of surfing goes on here too. Not a lot of traffic and a little bit “sleepy”. We had a small bite to eat and a celebratory adult apple cider for lunch. We returned back to the boat for a well deserved nap.
We have plans to have dinner with my sister’s fiance parents (Robert and Pamela) tonight…without my sister and Jake…. We are excited to meet these soon-to-be-family members.