Sailor's Amnesia is Already at Work, Glad to be in Kiwi Land!
09 November 2012 | Opua, New Zealand
I'm at a bit of a loss for words but wanted to let everyone know we arrived in Opua, North Island, NZ yesterday, Friday at 3pm. We're 17 hours ahead of the US east coast time, unless there was a change with US daylight savings recently. We're still in shock and Jon keeps exclaiming "We're in New Zealand!" to help us adjust to the reality of it all. Opua is a yachting hot spot in the heart of the Bay Islands and so from the glimpses we've seen so far, it looks to be beautiful here. The marina we're tied up is great and once again, all the boats are piling in. Check-in went well and was very efficient; I think they were a bit overwhelmed with all the boats lined up. They took every stitch of produce, fresh meat, wild rice and my air plants but other than that, I kept everything else.
The passage here did what was promised. All the books say you'll likely get a dose of uncomfortable conditions due to the frequency of weather systems that move around in this area and although we thought this window would avoid it, we got our share. We had about 36 hours of 25-35kt winds with higher gusts, but with big, rolling, confused seas that are difficult to move through. Since we were close reaching, the waves would just blast the decks with frequency. We've never seen so much water in the cockpit, such that the floorboards would float as the water drained out and we took some rainshowers into the boat as well from the companionway and from the dorade vents. But all was mopped up quickly and aside from a massive pile of laundry, the interior is fine. This was the first passage where we've had to hole up inside and just peek out every 10 minutes. The cockpit was untenable. We lost our staysail very early on (it tore at the top of the furler, definitely related to solar damage) so we continued on with just the mainsail up which worked out but we went slower and would have liked to even out the forces with 2 sails. We'd planned to replace the staysail here in NZ anyway, so it wasn't a surprise that it let go and it isn't something we have to add to the list. Our oven door on the other hand, did break a hinge and so we currently have no oven since the door is being held on with a bungee cord! We have some minor tears in covers and the varnish is in sad shape but we are otherwise intact and much better off than many other boats who sustained more damage.
Anyway, we all kept close tabs on each other via the nets and VHF and although we were uncomfortable, boats that left later than us got severely beat up, one was rolled and a rescue mission kept us all on guard since it could happen to anyone. Overall, the boat handled well, took a beating for sure, but we felt safe and are motivated to make a few changes to the boat to make it even better for next season when we get to head right back into that same area!
Last night we pulled into a slip, took a shower and headed up to the yacht club to celebrate. We both got dark draft beers and already we've forgotten about how we got here- what matters is that we are here! Sailor's amnesia is a wonderful thing!
This morning it was 55 in the cabin so Jon got the heat going and now it's roasty toasty. We've got a full couple of days of cleaning and spiffing up the boat but hope to do a couple of fun things too before moving on to Whangarei. The salt that's caked on the decks is incredible.
It's hard to concentrate on writing this because chatter box over in the corner is talking a mile a minute. He just said he's so excited to be here he could just pop. I'm in the same boat!