This time last year we had just arrived in the Tuamotus. Sunshine, clear water, corals, coconuts, and tropical fish, strolling along palm lined beaches. It all seems like a dream now as we huddle under blankets, while anchored in the river at Whangerei. The wind howls in the rigging and rain patters on the coach roof. We curse ourselves for not leaving earlier, but family comes first.
We did have a bit of excitement last night when "Rat Bag", a classic wooden topsail schooner dragged past us heading down the river in a rain squall. I ran on deck and fired the air horn to notify her owners if they were on board. A voice yelled back that he knew that the boat was dragging, but it was not his boat and he could not figure out how to work the anchor windlass. I yelled across that we would help and Rani turned on the engine and we hauled up the anchor. Getting underway was no easy feat in 30 knots of wind with a strong current added in. We motored down to the schooner, which by this time had stopped dragging, having narrowly missed a channel marker. The fellow on board was a friend of the owner who lived nearby and had gone out to see if the boat was ok. Luck was on the owner's side both for having such a friend and for the direction in which "Rat Bag" had dragged, for it appears that her anchor had caught around the same starboard channel buoy that she had narrowly missed.
At this time of year, system after system swirls over the north island of New Zealand, bringing strong northeast winds, which back to strong southwest ones. We will likely leave on the back of one of these lows and run before the wind, north to sunshine and calm seas.