14 December 2008 | Whangarei, New Zealand
We've finally made it. We are officially settled into our "hurricane hole" for the season: Town Basin Marina in Whangarei, New Zealand.
We left Opua and sailed out of the Bay of Islands in the company of Orca III. The weather was beautiful, the weather gods apparently looked at the calendar and realized it was December for Pete's sake! So rather than bombing down straight to Whangarei we decided to take the 90 or so miles in a couple of day-hops. So we stopped first in Whangaruru (not to be confused with Whangamumu) and spent a lovely evening at anchor before heading a bit further south to Tutukaka. (How fun are these names?!! And to make it even more so, the "wh" is pronounced like an "f". So "Whangarei" said properly sounds like "fahn-ga-ray". As if that weren't enough, the locals refer to Tutukaka as "Toots", so the girls got a kick out of visiting a place with their grandma's nickname.
Anyway, those two day sails reminded us how enjoyable sailing can be when not pressured by the specter of potential gales and "squash zones". However Friday morning we woke to some pretty dreary, drizzly weather so we decided we might as well push on down to Whangarei.
The city of Whangarei is actually pretty far inland, about 2 hours up the river. That river is pretty shallow at any but a high tide so we had to be sure we would have enough "water" for entire journey. Fortunately the tides were in our favor and we motored up the river without touching bottom and tied up to our dock slip without incident.
Whangarei has everything one could ask for in terms of goods and services- much of it within walking distance. We've been positively giddy about the abundance, variety and availability of food, clothing and everything else we've been deprived of during the last year. Add to that what is currently a VERY favorable exchange rate and you can see why we have been very busy reacquainting ourselves with the joys of consumerism.
I've scheduled dentist and eye doctor appointments for routine checks, and met with the local school about the possibility of enrolling the girls for a few months (their school year starts up in February). For his part, John's been quite busy talking to "boat guys" about various boat projects (rigging, stainless, haul and paint, etc, etc, etc.).
While still in Opua we bought a car (a 1994 Honda Legend- cheap!) so we'll be doing some road tripping to see more of this gorgeous country.