Waitangi At Last

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 9 Mar 2021 08:35

Position: 43 56.84 S 176 33.54 W
Moored Port Waitangi, Chatham Island
Wind: W, F2 Sea: slight Swell: negligible
Weather: clear, cool
Day’s run: 12 nm

The wind turned strongly into the SW overnight, to the extent that a slight swell made its way into the head of Port Hutt causing Sylph to bob and curtsey to her cable. It also meant that while the wind was still fresh, and I could see that there was a significant sea and swell running outside of Port Hutt, the anchorage at Port Waitangi should be relatively comfortable and safe. So, this morning I got the dinghy inboard and secured Sylph for sea. At 1000 we got underway, setting the mainsail with the new third reef point, just to try it out. It all looked good and I am confident that the new arrangement is a vast improvement.

Fifteen minutes later we were clear of Port Hutt. I shook out the third and second reef and unrolled most of the jib to the fresh SW breeze. The swell was rolling in at about three meters, piling up against the shoaling waters of Petre Bay, forcing us to come close up into the wind to remain in deep water and particularly to keep clear of an eight meter patch that is marked on the chart as breaking in heavy weather. Despite being hard on the wind and punching into a large swell, we made good time and at 1140 were approaching the entrance to Port Waitangi. Fortunately, the wind was sufficiently in the south so that Weeding Point provided a lee from the wind and reduced the swell to a mere gentle undulation. At 1153 we let go the anchor in six meters of water well clear of all the shoals and the mooring that encumber the bay.

After lunch I got the dinghy in the water and proceeded ashore. My primary mission was to get some fresh supplies. The second was to find the hotel which I understood has a wifi connection so as to be able to get an up-to-date weather forecast, check emails, and to generally see what was going on in the world. Now both those missions have been accomplished (plus a visit to the local museum). The forecasts have the wind shifting into the north at 20 knots tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, where Sylph was anchored was going to be exposed to this wind direction. I figured I had two options – either see if I could borrow a mooring tucked in behind the wharf-breakwater for the night or return to Port Hutt. I had tried to get hold of the harbour master to see about obtaining a mooring; however, there is no mobile phone service in Chatham Island, and he was not in his office or at home so I was unable contact him. I broached the problem with a couple of the locals over a beer and moments later one of them was calling the owner of a fishing boat and had organised a mooring for me. Hooray! I could stay the night and relax for a bit.

After my beer I rowed back to Sylph, weighed anchor, and motored to the designated mooring. And now I am back on board after going ashore again for a pleasant meal at the hotel’s restaurant, ready to turn in for a good night’s sleep.

All is well.