Tutukaka - on the move once more
Sunday 19th April 2015
Having finally finished the last of the necessary jobs – a new LED tricolour and anchor light fitted to the top of the mast, and a replacement knob for the oven controls – and having re-provisioned the boat, we bade goodbye to our friends in Whangarei and set off for the 80 nmile trip north to Opua. Our many delays meant that we would not get to sail to Great Barrier Island as hoped, but we plan to explore the Bay of Islands a little whilst waiting there for a weather window to head to Fiji.
The forecast was for easterly winds of 15 knots and we were looking forward to a gentle sail as our first since we arrived here back in November 2013. Our 2 metre draft means that we had to leave between high tide and half tide so as not to go aground on the mud in the river, and as high tide was at 0800, we slipped our lines at 0900 to ride the ebb tide the 12 nmiles down to the mouth of the river. This should have been a good plan.
We had a lovely couple of hours motoring gently down the river, but when we arrived at the mouth we found not 15 but 25 knots of onshore wind. Now, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture the conditions we met out there – the river now at full ebb gushing out into the sea, and the sea now whipped up by a strong onshore wind into a big swell heading onshore. As the two met head on, the sea boiled, and with no chance of sailing inside the channel we motored right into it.
It was a lumpy ride that took two hours to eventually clear the headland and turn northwest up the coast. And as we turned the corner, the sea became less confused and the wind was – guess what – 15 knots. And that’s what we had all the way to Tutukaka harbour. It wasn’t quite the gentle sail we had hoped for, as there was quite a big swell on our beam, and we were glad to line ourselves up with the leading marks and head through the narrow entrance into the calmer waters of Tutukaka harbour. By 1530 we were anchored in the bay, where there was a small swell, but as the wind was mostly holding our bow into it, we were not too bothered.
On the way we had discussed several small jobs to do once we arrived at the anchorage, but both found that just these few hours at sea had left us with little energy or inclination to do much other than just chill out. And so we did.
The narrow rocky entrance to Tutukaka harbour. The sun setting over a calm(ish) anchorage.