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Cruising on Diomedea
Diomedea is a Van de Stadt Tasman 48
Back to the Beginning
David and Andrea
11/04/2014, Opua, Bay of Islands

Diomedea spent a few stunning days in Port Fitzroy in company with many yachts. We found it quite surprising given that we had seen nobody here in winter. There was even a beach party with a campfire one night! Perhaps most remarkable was a visit by none other than the legendary red ketch "Steinlager" previously skippered by the late Sir Peter Blake. The yacht is back in her original livery after an expensive refit and looks fabulous. She was carrying a crew of 32 school boys. We met two Australian boats, one a Van de Stadt with a young family. The run up to Whangaruru was a frustrating sail and motor for 65 miles in light winds followed by a rolly night at anchor as a big easterly swell entered the harbour. The last day of passaging was around Cape Brett and for this we had good ESE breeze of about 14kts. Diomedea carried her 65 sq m reaching sail nicely, leading to the gybe off the cape and then into the Bay of Islands. Cape Brett is still a most impressive sight, right up the top of the list in fact. From the Cape we fast reached down to Paradise Bay for the night before moving on to Opua for the beginning of the maintenance cycle. Haulout, antifoul, engine overhaul etc etc. We will be leaving NZ soon so we are using up the GST exemption to the max.

New Zealand 2013
12/04/2014 | Peter Style
Sorry to learn that you are leaving NZ soon. Have enjoyed all your writings. Peter Style
16/04/2014 | Jessica and Richard - Elcie
So nice to see that Diomedea is in the Bay of Islands. We are not far - riding out this NE gale in Blacksmith Bay near Kerikeri. I hope we will see you before we both leave. We've enjoyed your photos and blog entries. Best from Elcies
New Pix
David and Andrea
31/03/2014, East Coast

Some new pix of the trip from Akaroa to Tauranga and on up through the Hauraki Gulf. This photo is sunset at sea. CLICK HERE

New Zealand 2013
01/04/2014 | Suzie
yey I am loving the pics, I have missed them. xo
02/04/2014 | Barbara
Congratulations on the voyage. Capt Cook sends his regards.
Circumnavigation of NZ Completed
David and Andrea
30/03/2014, Great Barrier Island

At 4pm Sunday 30th March 2014 Diomedea crossed her previous track from 18th September 2013. Basically we have done the loop around NZ in equinox to equinox. Except this equinox there are no gales like we had last year. Tonight we are in Whangaparapara harbour, Great Barrier Island and it is gorgeous. Crystal clear, flat calm and very pretty. In Tauranga, David had spent three days in the engine room fixing our genset (blown heat exchanger) but we also visited the "Macau" restaurant for an evening with Mike and Chantal. Mike owns the marvellou gyrocopter in which we flew last year. We left Tauranga two days ago and spent the first night at Slipper Island, named after a well known politician in Australia, followed by a night at Great Mercury Island (Iles d'Haussez). The islands were named by Cook due to their proximity to Mercury Bay from which his astronomer Charles Green observed the transit of Mercury. Later given the French name by Dumont D'Urville. Great Mercury Island even has a Mt Cook, being all of 95m high. Today, the island is owned by Michael Fey, of America's Cup fame, and features top end accommodation. Continuing in the rockstar theme mentioned previously, Bono and The Edge from the band U2 stayed at Great Mercury whilst touring NZ in 2006. We did not explore the "crib" but took the morning to stroll across the narrow isthmus of the island to Coralie bay on the eastern side from our anchorage at Hurihuri habour on the western aspect. Stunning limestone cliffs make this coast quite spectacular. Dolphins were hunting whitebait in the shallows, only a few metres from the shore. After leaving the Mercs, we beat up the Colville channel to Great Barrier Island in light NW breeze and flat seas. Lovely sailing but finally the breeze faded for the last six miles. These six miles turned out to be quite dramatic, punctuated as they were by the appearance of remarkably large Fin whales. These mammals appeared to be about the size of Diomedea (apparently they grow up to 27 metres) and had the most unsettling habit of charging toward us whenever we were in stationary observation mode. Naturally we took the hint and moved on to our anchorage where we toasted our trip and reflected on the many adventures that we have had in the time. The only other boat that we know of doing an NZ circumnavigation in this year was "Indian Summer", who was our excellent companion from Akaroa.


New Zealand 2013
Tauranga
David and Andrea
25/03/2014, Port of Tauranga, Bay of Plenty

Diomedea is in Tauranga after her 595nm passage from Akaroa on the Banks peninsula, arriving at the channel entrance at 0200hr Monday morning, i.e. about 5 hours short of a full four days and nights. As you have probably guessed, East Cape was a big psychological barrier for us, and with good reason. Spoken about in hushed tones by experienced sailors, and written about in more worrisome prose in pilots, we approached this huge cape with trepidation. It is a notable for being the collision point of weather systems, different swell trains, and ocean currents. Beset by shoals, big overfalls, and big tide runs, it is a passage to be feared by the prudent mariner. The pilot recommends that small vessels make the trip as expeditiously as possible in favourable conditions, or pass 50 miles or more to seaward to avoid the dangers. With about 20 hours to go to the cape, Diomedea was being tossed like salad leaves in an extremely nasty seaway and my anxiety gland was going into hyperdrive. What would the cape be like in this? Fortunately, as we passed the latitude of Gisborne, things settled and we ended up rounding the cape in light winds and only a 2 metre easterly swell. As the cape and East island drew astern, a good breeze built allowing us to sail for some hours toward Tauranga, still 114nm away. Yes, the Bay of Plenty is plenty big! Our friends on board "Indian Summer" had been with us from Akaroa but were headed to the Mercury Islands so we bid them farewell as they slipped below the horizon. Eventually the breeze bundied off so it was back to the diesel for the trip past the sulphurous and active volcanic White Island. The island was more russets and reds than white but amazingly there were some areas of vegetation on this stunning piece of disintegrating real estate.
Naively we thought that the harbor would be quiet at such a late hour but how wrong we were. Frantic was all one could say as big ships were moving in and out of the narrow tide-riddled channel. We were lucky and had a good run despite an ebb flow and found our way to a short term anchorage just north of the Bridge Marina seawall. We had been advised not to enter the marina in anything other than slack water as tide runs of 4-5 knots are common in the marina, making manoeuvring difficult. We had a toast to our return to the North Island before a brief sleep. The marina is excellent and the airport only a stone's throw away. We have done the walk up the splendid Mt Maungonui for outstanding district views followed by gelato on the strand, remarkably reminiscent of Cronulla. The large cruise liner "Oosterdam" had disgorged its cargo of voyagers for their assault on the area so the beach front was a tower of Babel. I am reliably informed that in strong westerly winds, cruise liners become pinned to overseas liner wharf and cannot get off even with all the horsepower of thrusters, engines and tugs.
Polynesians arrived here in the 13th century but the area was named by Cook in 1769 on account of its abundant natural resources and was settled by Europeans in 1830. Of course we all know the bay due to the wreck of the Rena on Astrolabe reef. The resulting oil spill was NZ's worst environmental disaster. Tauranga does however compete with Nelson for the most sunlight hours per annum but in the last assessment was short by about 27 minutes, so I am told.
One interesting facet of the area is that two of the eateries in the marina are owned by one Phil Rudd. I had never heard of this chap but apparently he is the drummer of legendary Australian hardrock band AC/DC. And we saw him come to "Phil's Café" in his jazzy red Ferrari. He recently made local headlines for all the wrong reasons. He had ordered lunch to be delivered from his restaurant to he and friends but sadly the food was sent to the wrong address. In a fit of pique he precipitously fired all the staff of his eatery. They in turn successfully took him to court for harsh and unfair dismissal. The lunch ended up costing him about $80,000.00. It truly is a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll.

New Zealand 2013
25/03/2014 | Hannah
I am glad you got around the cape safe and sound. I can almost be witness to your experience; great word magic!
East
22/03/2014, 37 38.2'S:178 45.8'E

We are so far east that we can almost see yesterday. The East Cape light was abeam at 0600hr and we motored around in quiet conditions. The evening had produced some big rain dumps followed by waning moonlight. The crossed swell trains of earlier in the day had gone making for a comfortable ride. We bid farewell to Indian Summer as they were heading up to the Mercury Islands. For us it is Tauranga to repair a blown heat exchanger on the genset. We will arrive in early hours of Monday morning. We have had a nice hot shower and changed into fresh clothes rather than the thermal underwear of the rest of the passage. Diomedea is heading on 246 M toward White Island, which is easily seen 35nm away by virtue of its head of steam high up into the sky.

New Zealand 2013
23/03/2014 | Al
Rename Diomedea "Time Traveller". Then you can cross the dateline.
Approaching East Cape
22/03/2014, 38 15.6'S:178 35.6'E

Going well. Lots of boats around us tonight so have to pay attention. Nice sunset amongst towering cumulus clouds all around. Had some quite heavy rain earlier and wind up and down. We are trying to time our arrival for a tide gate off East Island, at the Cape.

New Zealand 2013

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