28 November 2012 | Whangarei, NZ
After resting up for a week in Opua, it was time for us to leave and head south to Whangarei. We were anxious to get settled into our new home at the Town Basin Marina. This is where we intend to stay for the next few months.
The trip down was intended to be in 10kts of wind (as was forecast by the "pros") so we anticipated running the engine or a nice slow sail for the 70-ish mile trip.
Of course, as we started to untie the dock lines, the wind ramped up to a nice steady 20kts and made our departure from the slip a little hairy, but we managed not to hit anything and we headed for the fuel dock. As we approached, a car ferry was tied up fueling and we needed to wait a bit. We tied up to the quarantine dock and waited our turn. Sitting on the quarantine dock is a no-no because customs wants to keep the dock isolated; hence "quarantine". After the customs agents explained to us the error in our ways, they agreed to look the other way for just a few minutes. Luckily, the ferry finished up and we were off to fuel up.
The wind was coming across the harbor from our side, pinning us to the dock and the fast current was coming hard on the nose. This meant we had to use a maneuver called "springing off". Springing off for Tanga means casting off the bow line and leaving the stern line attached while giving some throttle. We had done this once before in Tonga and it went well. This time, the wind wouldn't let the bow off so some quick scrambling by Monica and full throttle in reverse and the bow came off. At this point, we are blowing down towards the boat behind us, so she jumps on and grabs the "oh sh*t" fender as I give it full throttle forward. With a few inches to spare, we clear the boat behind us and head towards the fuel dock where now the wind is going to try to keep us off. Some other cruisers(S/V Charisma) see this and know we will need some line catchers to help pull us in. We attempted to pull in on the port side and after a missed attempt , Monica scrambles to move the fenders from the port side to the starboard side and we glide in fine. $4.50/gallon later we're on our way.
Again the forecast was for 10kts, but as soon as we got into the Bay of Islands, it piped up to a sturdy 25-30kts.
A brief gripe....Since our start on this adventure, we haven't had any example of weather forecasters (the pros) being right. If you have a kid that isn't too bright, I would suggest sending them to meteorology school. It's the only career I know of that you can be wrong more than 50% of the time and still be respected in your industry.
The wind was coming from exactly where we wanted to go as we cleared the Bay so we trimmed the sails for some nice tacking and off we went. Unfortunately we left allowing for a slow trip in light air, thus timing our arrival for a sunrise entry into the river. In the heavy air, we were heading along at a brisk 7kts even when falling off the wind with reefed headsail and main.
We arrived at the entrance about 3hrs before sunrise just as the wind died off completely. We turned on the iron sail and bagged our main and then took turns motoring back and forth over a seven mile course while waiting for the sun. The sun greeted us with a remarkable rise over the Islands and we headed into the river for the 15 mile trip to the Town Basin Marina.
It was a beautiful ride in, through a variety of landscapes with rising volcanic spires and lush rolling meadows. As we got closer, the tide was still low and we were warned that on the first visit, it should be made at high tide. We slowed Tanga down to a crawl as the depth was only 5 feet. We are 4 feet 6 inches deep at the keel so we went slow enough that should we run aground, we could maybe back out of it, or just wait for the tide to come in and lift us off. Neither happened and we made it in with only one brief touch on the bottom in soft mud.
We both like the area and are enjoying a town style living with lots of amenities. Our first stop that had to be made was fast food. They have a McDonalds! We haven't seen fast food in 8 months, thus the excitement over something so trivial. We have a grocery store across the street and a micro-brewery/pizzeria so all our basic needs are met.