Blog 16. Back to Whangarei and on the hard. 35.45.40S 174.21.03E

David Batten
Mon 15 May 2017 18:08
We left Gulf Harbour on Monday 27th in sunshine but with the threat of occasional showers and a north easterly, so a good sail to the Whangaparaoa Passage and then hard on the wind with help from the motor as we approached Kawau.  With a northerly, forecast to increase, we elected to anchor off the Kawau Yacht club on the North side of Bon Accord harbour, with many fewer yachts in the anchorage or on the move than we saw earlier in the year.  The weather the following day was rubbish, with a strong northerly and persistent rain, so we delayed our final sail to Whangarei until Wednesday and started the end of cruise clean up.
The trip back to Whangarei was very painless in good conditions and we spent a peaceful evening in Urquhart’s Bay after a lovely coastal walk to Smuggler’s Bay.
Anchored in Urquhart’s Bay
View across the estuary entrance, seen at its best on a calm evening
Our motor up river the following day would not be worth recording except for a thrilling encounter with a pod of Orcas.  They were coming downstream just upstream of Marsden and two of them decided to examine the boat at very close, in fact scarily close, almost touching the stern when we turned the boat to follow them downstream to get a closer look.  The camera was below, so best shots were missed but herewith some evidence:
Very recognisable member of the pod, who has obviously had a close encounter with something damaging.
Damaged fin joined by another member of the pod, we are being pursued!
2 other members of the pod moving downstream
What an ending to what has been a great natural history sailing holiday in a wonderfully under populated country. 
Alcedo is now on the hard, fuel tanks full, water tanks as empty as we could get them, decks cleared, laundry done and put away and interior like a new pin.  We hope she will survive as well as she has everywhere else we have left her, ready for more extensive travel next year when we hope to visit New Caledonia, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and on.