31:52.26S 176:55.99E Marvels of Marsden

Thu 14 Jun 2018 22:49

31:52.26S 176:55.99E The Marvels of Marsden

So the days at Marsden went by with more Lows hunting across the North Cape from the Tasman with the addition of High pressure systems wanting to hold windy hands with their counterparts producing strong winds in squeeze zones.

As if that is not quite enough to prevent the wary sailor from leaving port weather bombs, baby cyclones following their bigger, stronger parents down from the tropics continue to rain down on the very patch of water we would all like to safely cross on our way north to Minerva and on to Fiji.

So we remained in Marsden and heard of others who had left at different times and described the experience as being in a washing machine for 36 hours. One boat found it had a lot of leaks in the heavy rain that accompanied the low and others suffered gear damage. As the wind shot through the capital of Fiji, Suva Harbour, a number of yachts were damaged as bigger vessels broke from their moorings and collided with them. One yacht had spent months in a shed in Whangarei having work done, we felt for them.

While we waited our turn we spent many happy times on walks around Marsden. Rob discovered the cause of the curious little hollows in the sand with mini ramps coming out of them. Red-beaked gulls paddle the water like and appropriately nick-named by me, ‘riverdancers’. They pluck up morsels of shellfish from their workings.

It is a beautiful area with the mounts on one side of the river, including Mt Manaia with his wife and three children between looking down on us and the river beach one the other side which turns the head and becomes Bream Bay beach, named by Cook for the plentiful supply of bream he caught there.

We walked it all. Along up river to One Tree Point where little chitons cling on to the concrete ramp of the yacht club and there is a welcoming ice cream shop on the way back.

Around the head beside the logging area and underneath the oil pipes that run from the ships to the refinery where a friendly dog demanded we throw his stick for him.

The marina was once a dairy farm and the pastures are now grazed by an ever growing number of very modern, expensive homes of all shapes and sizes, with canals around them and some provided with pontoons for their sport fishing boats. Its nice to get off the site and see some of the modest, home built baches which have the best views over the river and have given fun holidays to past generations and continue to do so. First come first served.

The best part has been the numerous social occasions we have had with Eric (bass guitar) and Vandy (drums) from Scoots and Alison (vocal) and Randall (classical guitar) from Tregoning. Not only enjoying musical sessions, Rob and me (vocal and maracas) joining in as best we can, but with shared meals on eachothers’ boats including Randall’s sushi, Eric’s curry, my veg stroganoff with Vandy’s perfectly cooked rice and Rob’s divine lemon cheesecake.

We have exchanged films and music DVDs to enjoy and had a film evening together on Zoonie in which we aired a film about a Whisky heist in Scotland but I cannot remember the title.

It was turning chilly as the New Zealand winter approached. I caught a glimpse of Rob disappearing into the aft cabin with the duvet under his arm. 2 degrees in the saloon greeted me one morning so Rob became accustomed to reaching for the Ebespacher switch a few minutes before one of us rose to make tea. The sun in the daytime took over once it was high enough to filter through the deckhouse windows.

Rob found 12 full bottles of very old red wine by the bins and brought four back to Zoonie which we shared with our friends, wondering what set of circumstances caused them to be consigned to the dump. They were quite drinkable and what they lacked in bouquet was more than made up for by the fact they were free.

We delayed our departure date numerous times purely because of the weather but it did allow us to help Randall and Alison celebrate their 10th anniversary at sea with a meal in the Land and Sea Restaurant by the marina.

Later back on board we watched the George Harrison Memorial Concert with Ravi and Anoushka Shankar, the former arranging the first half and his daughter giving an amazing performance on the sitar. What a treat that was.

The Queen’s Birthday came and went with a raising of the Union Jack for a few hours under threateningly grey skies and a visit from Jeannie and Merv and Shirley and Max for tea, all of which they brought themselves with two utterly luscious cakes, the remains of which they didn’t think worth taking home, bless them.

Last year on that auspicious day a weather bomb hit some of the north going yachts and caused one mariner to be lost overboard. New Zealand is a hard place to sail to but it is even harder to get away from.

You may have guessed we are now at sea, leaving Marsden two days ago with a few others including Tregoning with Alison and Randall on board. The weather forecast predicted a window of six days of favourable and light winds before the next tropical depression arrives and with 800 miles between us and Minerva Reef, where we can wait it out if necessary, we are trying to maintain an average speed of 5.6 knots to arrive 6 days after our start and 4 days from now.

Yesterday, in perfect conditions the Diva gave us 10 hours and 70 miles of 6 – 8 knots speed but today the wind has gone light and even she cannot perform with so little brass in the band. So the engine is back on with the hope that later we will be able to use some of the winds that are on their way.