Household Chores to Paradise - Our Final Passage to New Zealand
08 November 2019
6 November 2019 ,
Lat 31 22” S Long 175 05 “E Southern Pacific Ocean
Sailing southbound 240 miles due north of Opua, New Zealand
Household Chores in Paradise…our Final passage to NZ
We are now on day 5 of 7 of our 900-mile open ocean voyage from Minerva Reef to Opua, located in the Bay of Islands on the rugged northern coast of New Zealand, North Island. After surviving the first 3 days of pewter gray skies, ‘waring blender’ 2-3-meter seas angrily pounding our port bow (have you ever rode a roller coaster ride, or maybe a tilt-a-world for 3 days without stopping?) we are now motor sailing in nearly flat seas.
In spite of the sea state, there was some great text book sailing those first 4 days, skimming over the seas at 6-7 + knots in 15-20 knots of breeze with full (though heavily reefed) sails under the skillful guidance of Captain Ian who knows how to make Wheytogo give it her all! The weather changed yesterday, awakening us to deep blue cloudless skies with calm azure seas…and NO wind! It was an idyllic day at sea, even though we had to turn on the motors to gain forward motion through this frontal high. The water surface became glassier over the day, reminiscent of our May passage through the doldrums near the equator. No outward signs of life were visible, no boats, no sea life, no birds, as we navigated this very intimate encounter with these ancient waters.
As we passed through this calm deserted seascape a deeply spiritual feeling overtook us, a peaceful sense of connectedness with this powerful ocean, and a deep awareness of our very great fortune to have the privilege to experience it. As evening approached, a kaleidoscope of hypnotic pink-coral color seeped slowly across the western horizon, a little reward from Neptune for the intrepid ocean voyagers who brave the seas to bear witness.
A similar sea state has continued today, though with more cloud cover and still no wind, as we continue motoring on our southern voyage back to the “first world” lifestyle, last experienced in Hawaii in early May. We are anxious to arrive, see family, have long warm showers, have shore power and strong internet. And yet, there is a bittersweet sense of loss, as we leave behind these unique, one -of- a kind interactions with nature and peoples who belong to such a different world.
Now, from the sublime to the mundane…no matter how magical sailing through paradise can be, the pesky real-world problems still await us…smelly salty wet laundry, smelly fridge, creeping mold and mildew, crusted salt everywhere. Now motivated by our approaching land arrival, we are in a frenzy to do laundry, make more water (via the noisy de-salinator) for cleaning and drinking, empty the fridge, sort the mounting pile of garbage that we have to turn over to bio-security people in New Zealand. See...and you thought it was all just one magical holiday! We are cooking and eating our way through left -over provisions which will be confiscated by NZ authorities, who are quite strict about bringing in outside food, flora, fauna, germs and bugs. Two unopened bottles of honey are a definite no-no. If we ate 6 meals a day before our Friday AM arrival, we could not consume it all. Laundry is hanging to dry on a makeshift line on the back deck, making our lovely Wheytogo look like a sailing junk. Remaining wine is being consumed at an alarming rate, as Ian has decided to take one for the team! (just kidding!)
As we prepare, the skies are becoming grayer and the air cooler. We are definitely not in the tropics anymore.
Only 220 more miles and then LAND HO!! After so many weeks of dodging storms and carefully picking safe weather windows, we are relieved that we should make it there early on Friday, November 8 (only 7-10 days later than originally planned) before the next upcoming weather depression with 50 Knot winds is forecast to hit Opua on 9-10 November.
Thank you, mighty Neptune (and also David and Patricia at New Zealand Gulf Harbor Net, Rick Shema in Hawaii, our daily Tonga-Minerva Net SSB radio contacts, and all other weather gurus and fellow yachties who helped us thread that needle!) A special thanks to Tim and Anna on Pae’kaloa who hosted the daily Minerva Yacht Club radio sked on VHF at Minerva as well as the SSB net providing communication for all of us on passage to NZ.
As we approached land, we were greeted with heavy sea fog and grey skies, however familiar land marks from my years past deep-sea fishing experiences slowly came into view, Cape Brett [hole in the rock] to the south, the Nine Pins to the north and Urupukapuka Island. Adjusting our heading to our final way-point off Tapeka Point and the channel entrance, we motor sailed proudly into the Bay of Islands, what an adventure!...
As we approached Roberton Island on port, we glanced to our stern to see the Endeavor [Capt Cook’s replica sailing ship] supported by local Maori waka canoes moving into our wake and proceed to follow. How about that!
Wheytogo being the entry vessel to a small slice of NZ history as we round Tapeka Point, past Russell, Waitangi and Paihia to Opua.
Completing the Customs and Immigration formalities we tie up in our berth at the BOI marina…job safely well done.
Sharon and I commenced this amazing adventure of transiting the Pacific from Hawaii to NZ 6 months ago, visiting some magical Pacific islands and atolls, connecting with the different Polynesian peoples and cultures, establishing new friendships and sailing with many fellow cruisers, who like us, were living their dreams of adventure.
As we sign-off this phase of our exploration journey we thank you all for joining us on our Pacific discovery adventure. We remind ourselves and share, the inspiring words of Mark Twain:
“So, throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor and catch the trade winds in your sails”
Explore. Dream. Discover.