Tolaga Bay

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 27 Nov 2020 02:46

Position: 38 22.63 S  178 19.31 E
At anchor Tolaga Bay
Wind: W F4. Sea slight Swell NE 0.5m.
Weather: sunny, warm
Day’s run: 160 nm

We didn’t make it to Gisborne today, but we did do better than I was expecting yesterday morning. As mentioned, the wind freshened as we gained some distance off the coast and it held fair for the entire night and into the forenoon.  However, as we rounded East Cape, the easternmost point of New Zealand, and turned south, the winds grew fickle and light, so, wanting to be somewhere snug before the southerly arrived, we furled the jib and started the engine to make for Tolaga Bay. Being closer than Gisborne (and a lot cheaper) we thought we would see what it looked like before pressing on if we needed to.

We approached the Bay at 1300 and first of all poked our nose into Cook’s Cove, a small cove on the southern shore of the bay that was supposed to offer good shelter in most wind conditions. Our cruising guide published back in 1999 suggested that the cove was possibly silting up so we entered with extreme caution and what we saw did not inspire. The cove looked rocky and barren and had sheep walking across its waters. There were numerous submerged rocks and the swell bouncing off the rocks was causing a washing machine effect. I definitely did not feel safe in its narrow confines, unlike the beautiful still caletas of Tierra del Fuego. We turned around and retraced our track out of its treacherous mouth and back into the wide expanses of the Tolaga Bay. While we felt a lot safer in the  relatively open waters of the bay, unfortunately it is open to the NE which is the direction the swell is currently from. Consequently, we knew the anchorage off the beach was going to be bit rolly. Our other option was to press on to Gisborne, another forty miles away, but the problem we saw with continuing on was the risk of not quite making it before the southerly hit, and we did not want to try to make a strange port in the dark with a strong breeze and a lee shore for an entrance. In the end we decided it would be better to put up with a little bit of discomfort and feel safe rather than stress about whether we would make it safely to the next potential refuge.

So, at 1400 we let go the anchor in six meters of water about 100 meters north of the long jetty that runs out from the southern end of the bay. The anchorage is indeed a bit rolly but so far quite tolerable, and we reckon once the southerly comes in the wind will flatten out the swell and help hold Sylph relatively steady. So, hopefully we will enjoy a reasonably comfortable night.

We will see what the night brings. But, for now ...

All is well.