Blog 13 NZ. Opua to Great Barrier. 36.10.38S 175.21.46E

David Batten
Sun 26 Mar 2017 01:41
March 13 2017.  Slight delay in departure as engine cooling water apparently not behaving normally and more of overflow coming out of the cockpit drain on the port side than expected and cooling fan coming on straight away.  Actually, if really honest, amount of water coming out of cockpit drain had not really been noticed before, but further inspection of the engine cooling system did uncover a genuine problem with the anti-siphon system, which had a small hole in the stainless steel weld, leaking salt water into the engine department.  Not good.  Northland Spars and Rigging to the rescue again, welding completed in less than one hour and all apparently well for departure immediately after lunch. We felt the God of little yachts was looking after us.  Very few other boats out and about and we had Awaawaroa bay, better known as Pipi bay on Moturua to ourselves.  Contrary to comment in “Cruising New Zealand” guide, you can access the main walking track from a tiny track in the south west corner of the bay if you are prepared to be a little bit adventurous.  We had a lovely walk perfect peace except for the bird song.
Awaawaroa bay, our last stop before leaving the Bay of Islands......
....and a beautiful calm evening in the Bay
March 14.  Calm morning so motored between Cape Brett and Motukako Island, pointing out holes in rocks and lighthouses to Jane as we went.  Then sailed slowly with the wind at 60 apparent, until skipper got bored and turned on the iron topsail to assist progress to Mimiwhangata Bay.  Our arrival off the Whangaruru estuary was celebrated by a sudden increase in the wind, so we put 2 reefs in the main to complete the beat in, before anchoring as close as we dared in the bay, which is quite wide but provides good holding and reasonably calm waters in southerly winds between east and west.  Then a good leg stretch up the headland walk with more fabulous views, black swans and Pateke for bird watching entertainment.
Mimiwhangata Bay
Walking the headland.....
....and the view looking south east
March 15.  We knew we were going to be hard on the wind for our next leg, with a leading tack to the south and a very bumpy ride on the eastern tack because of the seas.  Early start, with the 2 reefs just right, we ploughed our way to the Whangarei estuary, arriving off Bream Head at about 15.00.  Then a very rough ride into the estuary with standing waves and Alcedo unusually difficult to keep on course, Photographer on the helm, so no photographs!  Once we turned out of the main channel into Urquhart’s Bay, blissful calm and a pleasant evening, with early bed and another early start for a beat to Great Barrier tomorrow.
Whangarei estuary in the morning calm, very different from arrival the night before
March 16.  Up anchor at 07.15, the crew having made the skipper get up in good time for the 40 nm to windward.  Rough seas, variable winds and Hen and Chickens, Mokohinau and Little Barrier Islands dictating much of the tacking strategy, we again ploughed our way to windward, arriving off Nagle Cove in the late afternoon.  Arrival at Forestry Bay was delayed to provide a reassuring lead to an American catamaran who had not been there before.  Strictly unnecessary and he anchored in Kaiarara Bay in the end because he wanted to anchor in about 5 meters, which is not easy to find in Forestry Bay.  However, he asked us for help so like all good sailors, we obliged.  Forestry Bay was as beautiful as we remembered but with many more yachts there and we spent 2 lovely days walking, bird watching and relaxing.  We saw many more Kakas than before and more Patekes in the estuary, including one that came onto the boat to be fed and watered by Jane until we felt the poop on the deck was in danger of annoying the Skipper.
Port Fitzroy from the end of the bay
A very handsome Banded Rail encountered on our walk
A well camouflaged Jane and the Skipper on the Kauri lookout in Glenfern Reserve
At Lookout rock in the Reserve
One of the many Kaka sightings.  Very entertaining and engaging birds, particularly when they are dropping rejected fruits on your head!
March 19 and we are leaving for Whangaparapara before the sail south west to Gulf Harbour.  Needless to say, the south easterlies are going to give way to south westerlies, so we will have to continue our windward progress if we are to spend anymore time in Great Barrier.  Very tiresome!