This is just a brief note that will be updated/replaced later.
Wasabi arrived at Opua Q (Quarantine) dock just after 4pm on Thursday, November 12th. There was much fuss over Gypsy, the parrot. We were boarded 3 miles off Cape Brett to check that Gypsy was in her cage, and then eight customs and MAF people came on board at the Q dock.
Kena arrived at the Q dock around 10pm on Friday, November 13th, so everyone had to stay on board until the next morning. We've completed the importation of Kena into New Zealand.
Sal arrived in Opua from Australia on Monday the 16th (fussing greatly about having to trundle her large case several kilometers downhill from the main road).
Wasabi and Kena left Opua on the morning of November 17th and after a scallop dive (successful), stayed overnight in the Bay of Islands. The next day, we headed south, stopping for another scallop dive in Whangaruru (not so good) and then on to Tutukaka.
We've suspected a leak in Kena, and the port water tank is leaking --- the bash south seems to have caused a few problems. So... she was taken out of the water at the Norsand, Whangarei, boat yard yesterday. Hopefully the problems won't be too bad.
We'll be taking Wasabi south to Auckland on Tuesday or Wednesday.
We are still close hauled against a southerly wind, making our progress painfully slow. Last night the wind died completely, forcing us to turn on our trusty, but slow Buhk diesel engine. You always feel like a traitor to the true spirit of sailing when you begin to motor, however, this is not a stretch of ocean where you want to linger. On average, fronts come through the area every 5-7 days, and often they pack some serious weather. There is a front scheduled to hit us sometime tomorrow evening, in which they predict 40 knots and sizeable swells. All of which is manageable, it just might be a bit rough, wet and needless to say exciting.
Wasabi, with my dad and Bruce onboard have put close to one hundred miles on us since we left Minerva Reef. They have quite an advantage with 14 feet of water line length on us and a 160hp motor compared to our measly 34hp. However, have had problems with hydraulic jib furling system, so they now have to go up onto the bow and manualy crank it in and out, and also with problems with water in their fuel, most likely from dirty diesel in Tonga. They have had to drain a sizeable amount of water from their Racor filters (special filters designed to electrically sense water in the diesel as it passes through them before it reaches the engine). If water gets through it will stall the engine and a lengthy and complicated process of bleeding the engine must be done. When Wasabi fueled up in Tonga they did not use a fuel filter before filling the tanks, because it takes more than twice as long to fuel up. When we pulled up with Kena to the dock they strongly encouraged me not use our filter, saying that the diesel is 'very clean' and not to worry. We have encounter numerous fuel dock operators who all have say similar things. I told them I was not going to fuel up unless they allowed me to use the filter, and at the prospect of losing a few hundred dollars in diesel, they conceded. We held the up line and made a big power boat named Karma wait, but it turned out to be the right thing to do.
Again today we were visited by a school of leaping dolphin, this time they were the rare Striped Dolphin and got some great photos of them jumping that we will post on the blog when we get to New Zealand.
We have also recently been seeing Albatross, with their massive wingspan, soaring just inches above the waves. It's incredible to think that they spend years out at sea and rarely, if ever land upon it.
We just finished a wonderful meal of albacore tuna that was an hour old. Both Alan and Tomas were taking naps when got a double hit on the rod and boat lines. I yelled 'fish' but no help came, with the engine running no one heard my cries. I went for the rod and no sooner had I grabbed the rod than the fish flung itself out of the water and off the lure. I put gloves on began pulling the boat line in. I soon saw a large silvery mass boiling in the water. It came in quite quietly until the last 5 meters, and as if it knew it was close to its demise it went absolutely berserk. It began swimming under the boat towards the propeller, so I yanked it as hard as could and flung into the cockpit. It of course landed blood, scales and all on my book "Freakonomics"...a great book by the way. I grabbed the fish and 'ikigimied' it, or brained it by putting a screwdriver into its gray matter, killing it instantly. When selling fish to Japan, which Alan used to do, if a fish is not 'ikigimied' it loses value and is considered less flavorsome, because if the fish is not killed quickly and dies stressfully, it changes the consistency of the flesh, making it less firm and flaky. Both Alan and Tomas woke up just as I finished filleting the fish and putting it the fridge, and soon after we enjoyed some sashimi with the usual garnishings of wasabi, soy sauce and seasame oil. Albacore meat is much oilier than yellow fin tuna, a sign of the fact that it is a cold water fish and that we aren't in the tropics any longer.
Last night we had some unfavorable weather. It was not so much that there were strong winds or big waves, but the direction of the wind forced us to beat into it, called close hauled or beating, and is the most uncomfortable point of sail. You crash into waves sending plumes of spray over the bow and bashing the rig with every impact. It also creates a feeling of being on a seesaw as the bow rises up the side of a wave to its crest and falls off, launching the stern in the air, making it quite difficult to sleep. My place of slumber is in the forward berth and up there the sound resonates, and seemingly amplifies, through the hull creating loud dramatic booms with every wave encounter. The autopilot does not perform well at this angle of sail so when on watch you have to put on your fowl weather gear and spend a few wet and frustrating hours at the helm as you move slowly in your desired direction.
Today, however, has been a pleasant day of sailing, storytelling, reading and guitar playing. We managed to tune the sails perfectly so that the boat sails itself, with no autopilot and only the occasional minor adjustment to the helm. Our only downside of the day is that is seems we have finally left the tropical warmth behind us and have had to dig out our thermals and beanies from the bottom of the bilge. A high is slowly passing over us, delivering chilly southeasterly winds from the southern ocean.
We have been fishing day and night but with little success. All we have caught is a small tuna that we threw back. Fortunately our fridge is still stocked from our lucky streak in Tonga and Minerva reef. This evening I made a coconut curry with mahi mahi and splurged with a bar of chocolate for dessert.