Position: 36 50.19 S 175 42.44 E
The wind continued to hold fair for the rest of Saturday and we approached the numerous islands that guard the approaches to Mercury Bay late in the afternoon. The coastline hereabouts is largely precipitous and craggy which makes for lots of interesting and precarious looking geological formations that seem as though they should have toppled eons ago. Certainly the coastline must have made the early European explorers rather nervous as there are also numerous rocks that rise up suddenly from the ocean floor, many of which lie hidden slightly beneath the surface waiting for the unwary mariner. Fortunately, these days with GPS and excellent charts only the completely foolhardy sailor could get caught by one (though, regrettably, I am still occasionally caught out by my own moments of foolhardiness, more frequently than I care to admit).
We rounded Humbug Point at 1640 where the wind freshened considerable, presumably funnelling out of the valley down which the Whangamaroro and Ounuro Rivers flow, their shared mouth providing the inlet in which the town of Whitianga sits. We tacked up Mercury Bay, occasionally burying the lee rail, but the seas were relatively flat, so we continued with full sail until 1830 when we were approaching the shallow confines of Buffalo Bay. We handed sail, started the motor and twenty minutes later let go the anchor in four meters of water off Buffalo Beach with Windbourne, a lovely one hundred year old schooner which we met while hauled out at Whangarei, anchored a cable to the north of us. Here we enjoyed a peaceful night.
This morning, with the breeze relatively light and, according to my charts, the tidal stream minimal, we weighed at 0945 and motored the remaining 1.4 nm into Whitianga Harbour and alongside the berth we had booked at the marina. Now Sylph has had her fresh water wash-down, the sail covers are on, and shore leave has been piped.
Departing Great Barrier Island through Man of War Passage:
Birds roosting on headland of GBI:
The Pigeons (rocks, not birds):
And other precarious looking geological forms:
Hole in the Wall:
All is well.