Finally New Zealand
02 December 2017
View from Minerva Reef
It took us 2 days to get to Minerva Reef, a stop we missed last time but made sure to make it this time around. It is a different look to be sitting in the middle of the ocean, calm and not moving and seeing the swell of the South Pacific outside of the reef was once again an awesome sight. The weather looked very good for the next week or so to New Zealand so we ended up staying only one night, but it was enough to get a good rest. We monitored weather daily and spoke with Serenity daily to discuss the weather. It is always reassuring to have another opinion and to see we were seeing the same forecast. We had a very benign mix of weather from no wind to light winds. We saw nothing more that 20knots and the sea never got above 2 meters. We had a mix of good sailing and motor sailing. It was one of our best passages ever. Unfortunately, for some reason, the toggle on the inner shroud broke. This was the same toggle that broke last time we came to New Zealand. We were absolutely surprised as our sailing was very easy with no undue stress on the rig. But having learnt our lesson we had a spare. We slowed down for about an hour and had it fixed, then we were on our way again. Of course this happened in the middle of the night. But then if anything is going to go wrong, it will happen in the middle of the night. One of those life lessons we have learnt. We arrived at the entrance to Opua around 0100 in the morning. Since we were familiar with the route into Opua and they have good navigational lights, we decided to make our way into the Customs dock. But it was pitch black with no lights on the dock and it was windy so our landing at the dock was a little rough. But nothing the buffer won’t fix. Here we were in Opua after a great 6 day passage from Opua. After helping Serenity tie up, we caught a few hours sleep before the friendly border authorities boarded us. Clearing in was nothing more than what we were prepared for except Customs declined to sort our import duty straight away and we have to deal with it later. 10 years and 50,000 miles later we were home. We planned to hangout in Opua for the next month to enjoy the activities put on by the local businesses for offshore cruisers then cruise the Bay of Islands till we haul out in Whangarei on December 5. Our plans for the future are unsure till we can complete our business with NZ Customs.
20 October 2017
We anchored at Pangaimotu, the home of Big Momma’s Yacht Club. Earle and Big Momma are incredibly helpful to cruisers and provide great services. With the help of our taxi driver West, we were able to get some leaky oil hoses replaces and a new cap for the header tank. Earle has a ferry that goes into town daily. This made provisioning relatively simple. Sometimes we would take a taxi and sometimes we would walk from the ferry wharf. Some of the new buildings in town certainly have a very non island appearance. It seems the Chinese are investing heavily in the infrastructure in the main town with new parliament buildings, new ferry building and several new hotels. We spent the next week or so preparing for our trip to New Zealand and looking at weather everyday. Our plan was to stop at Minerva Reef to reassess again the weather to New Zealand. Happy hour at the bar was a constant talk of weather. Finally, it looked good and we were on our way.
20 October 2017
We charted a course through the Ha’apai’s to get us to Tongatapu without having to sail overnight. It meant for 2 very early starts but it is so much nicer when we get to sleep at night. Finally, we were able to get away from the mass of boats. For some reason, most boats don’t visit the Ha’apai’s. There is certainly some challenging navigation but well worth it to sit off white sand beaches in clear water. We stopped at one island where we spent the day collecting coconuts and eating them till we could eat no more. We visited several villages, where the people seemed to be friendlier. At Ha’aeeva we spent the entire evening watching 3 whales frolic in the anchorage behind our boat and then listened to them, as it got dark, through the night. We visited the newly formed Royal Nomuka Yacht Club but nobody was at home, so it was just a walk around the island to see the progress of what is likely to be a very unique Yacht Club. After several weeks of very pleasant cruising, it was time to move south again. An early morning start saw us finally at Tongatapu later that afternoon.