Waitangi and Back

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 7 Mar 2021 05:49
Position: At anchor Port Hutt, Chatham Island
Wind: N, F4 Sea: calm Swell: nil
Weather: cloudy, mild
Day’s run: 28 nm

This morning dawned windy and wet, with the wind still from the north. According to the last forecast I had, it should have been 15 knots from the west. However, as I have mentioned, I have not been able to get VHF coverage in Port Hutt so my forecast was a couple of days old. I have been able to receive weather faxes but they are sometimes hard to make a reliable wind prediction from. I decided I would sail to Port Waitangi and eyeball the lay of the land and assess the conditions first hand. If the conditions looked good I would stay for the night, if not I would return to Port Hutt. Also, I thought that we might receive a weather forecast when we were clear of the confines of Port Hutt.

The first thing I needed to do was to bail the dinghy out as it was half full of water from the heavy rain overnight. I understand water is rather precious in the Chatham Islands so I transferred 20 litres of the water from the dinghy into two water containers for general cleaning purposes and used another bucket full to clean my hiking boots and give the cockpit cushions a wipe over. With the dinghy dry we were ready to get under way.

The northerly breeze made it a simple affair to sail from anchor so this we did, clearing the entrance a little after midday, from where it was a quarter run down to Waitangi Bay, some ten miles away. En route we did in fact receive a weather forecast on channel 60 confirming my suspicion that the reception in Port Hutt is basically non-existent. The forecast was not good news – NW’lies up to 30 knots and a W’ly gale tomorrow. Bother! Not to worry, we were out here and had plenty of daylight so I thought I may as well continue and have a look at Port Waitangi.

Accordingly we handed sail just on 1500 and motored into the small harbour. It was indeed a tight fit. Numerous aluminium fishing boats were secured to heavy mooring tackle in behind the lee of the wharf-cum-breakwater pretty much using all available space. I motored around for a bit contemplating the possibility of finding somewhere to anchor for a few hours to allow me to get ashore and get some supplies. But it is Sunday so likely the local store would be shut, and, in any event, I just did not like the conditions. The only place I could anchor would have been outside the protection of the wharf and looked decidedly unpleasant. It just did not seem to be worth the effort and risk. I decided to bail and head back for Port Hutt. So it was back out into Petre Bay, sail hoisted once more and the engine shut down.

We tacked our way back to Port Hutt in the light NNW breeze, handing sail at 1850 at the entrance, and dropping anchor at 1905 back where we had started from. While I was disappointed not to have been able to visit the main centre of Chatham Island, it was still a nice day for a sail.

Tomorrow the forecast is for gale force winds from the west, turning SW and easing to 25 knots in the evening. The wind continues fresh from the W and SW on Tuesday and then returns to the N early Wednesday, so that is far from ideal. Thursday the wind is forecast to turn SE, which would be ideal for Port Waitangi but that is as far as the forecast goes out to, so at this stage I do not know how long the wind will remain in that quadrant (and SE would be a good breeze for heading back to NZ). Also, unsurprisingly, and as has proven to be the case today, forecasts tend to be increasingly unreliable the further into the future they are predicting. We will just have to be patient.

All is well.