From Port Fitzroy back to the Main
From Port Fitzroy
Back to the Main
I think it was partly the radio broadcaster’s mention of the words ‘Cyclone Hola’ that made Rob and I realise the protection of Kaikoura Island (Selwyn Island) between this narrow inlet at Port Fitzroy and the Hauraki Gulf might not be enough to keep Zoonie safe.
Devastation could easily come from the opposite direction. Heavy rain and serious winds will cause trees to tumble and fall on top of each other up the steep hillsides. If and when these reach the water they can cause havoc to small vessels. But we really didn’t want to leave and return to civilization. We had a couple of days before we should up anchor. There were two things left we wanted to do. First the bush walk to the waterfall and second a stroll through the Glenfern Sanctuary where the wanderer is promised a glimpse of what a New Zealand Forest should look like.
The little green sign told us we had a 15 minute walk ahead of us to the waterfall. We were both wearing sandals and it was raining, but the rain was so warm and refreshing who cared. It was a lovely soggy walk, Tui were singing in the rain bless them. I was reminded of our muddy rainforest walk in Guadeloupe where the warm mud oozed up between our toes. Do you, dear reader, remember the massive leaf I found there, big enough to wear as an apron? Well there were lots of generously round leaves here, not quite so big, but you can see why they were the Andrex of the forest men!
I think the rangers must have numeracy issues as fifty minutes later we arrived at the falls, a modest and pretty affair watched over by two of the remaining kauris. We squelched back to Fitzroy well happy with the exercise.
During our stay there Rob had donned his wetsuit and scraped the entire deeply encrusted Whangarei River growth off Zoonie’s hull so we were looking forward to a return to her usual slippery performance on our way back.
We sat in her cockpit on our last evening there. The Glenfern Sanctuary walk will join our reasons to return, just as have other desirable experiences in other wonderful places. All was very quiet, pigeons making rapid ascents for the pleasure of gliding downwards, white chested shags watching from tree branches looked like candles. Hillsides became black and silhouetted and the sky paled into mother of pearl pink and blue and we were just grateful we had enjoyed a fortnight on this magical island.
March 9th 2018. There was little wind as we motored into the Hauraki Gulf the next morning. Little Barrier Island welcomed Zoonie while she made nice progress past, her hull clean and uncluttered. Way back in the 1890’s the island was given the status of a Nature Reserve to protect the fauna, so even then the government knew there was a need to preserve some of New Zealand’s natural countryside while the sound of thundering logs could be clearly heard just across the water.
Offshore we picked up a very nice south easterly and Zoonie sailed under full rig towards the distant craggy shadow of Bream Head. Bream Bay was so named by Captain Cook as his capable crew caught between 90 and 100 bream when the Endeavour was anchored there on Christmas Day 1769. Surprisingly he made no reference to the significance of the day in a number of years of travel finding most religions were dark and incomprehensible especially to those who professed them. Like Cook I prefer to look from the outside in when it comes to religion but I imagine some of his crew might have felt the need to acknowledge the day.
Cook measured the distance directly across this bay between Bream Head and Bream Tail and found it to be 5 leagues. A league is 3.4 land miles and 3.00 nautical miles so his distance was 15 nautical miles, I make it about 12 nautical miles and almost 20 following the shoreline.
Under the blue skies with the perfect 12 to 15 knot wind it was difficult to believe a third cyclone was bearing down upon New Zealand’s shores in what appears to be becoming a pattern of fortnightly intervals. There is yet another storm showing on our Grib files for the end of this week.
This post La Nina weather is proving very destructive not only for humans but also for wildlife with food supplies used to cooler waters being further offshore, seabirds are having to travel further offshore to feed. Along with this year’s brood of eggs destroyed they are very stressed and a sharp decline in numbers is pretty inevitable.
The upper sea temperature in the Tasman off the west coast is 10 degrees above the norm for this time of year and as cyclones feed on warm water the season is likely to be extended, converging on the onset of the NZ winter and reducing our weather window for making the journey north. We shall see.
Above my head in the saloon we have a little globe hanging from one of the overhead handrails and New Zealand is so far down and away from Europe it looks as if it is just hanging on and the climb north appears tremendous.
Cook knew nothing of cyclones, he did know the seasons are reversed between the north and south hemispheres and I imagine he had a barometer on board but without the advantage of weather forecasting in the 370 ton 106 foot long Endeavour he simply dealt with what came along. No doubt some of the severe gales he wrote of in his coastal surveying at this time of year were cyclones. His seamanship and trust in his men and anchors must have contributed to their survival and of course the fact that Endeavour was a flat bottomed collier who could take a sandy beach but intentionally and not one covered with rocks.
Writing summaries on the aspects of New Zealand that he had experienced and pondered upon Cook goes into detail on the agricultural and mining potential of this fertile and bountiful land. I wonder to what extent it was his findings that inspired the government and early entrepreneurs to send immigrants here (pakeha) to start the wholesale exploitation that is now everywhere for us to see.
Hello Hola. 12th March 2018. As I type Hola is offloading its heavy load down the east Northland coast. We are snug in our warm dry home, slippers on, but it was not like this a year ago to the day when Zoonie had water up to her saloon seats and a team of neighbours worked hard with buckets to stop her from going any further down to the riverbed while we waited on the South Island for the next car ferry back across Cook Strait to Wellington. Much water has passed under the bridge (literally and metaphorically) since, as you well know.