Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sailing to Whangaroa

I left Opua yesterday just as the tide began to ebb, coasting down the channel under jib alone to the open beach anchorage off the town of Paihia. This tourist resort has a Countdown grocery store on its outskirts that promised cheaper provisioning than the smaller stores in Russell.

Roz and Holger take a break from working on their boss Tim's boat. I kept them company for a morning, helping with sanding and scraping Tim's 99 year old wooden yacht.

It turned out to be a good long walk through the town and out the other side to the store and an even longer walk back with 2 weeks of groceries including some chicken for my slightly non-vegetarian Christmas dinner (sorry Rani - your good influence is wearing off already as far as my bachelor diet goes). I walked the row-boat end for end down the beach, loaded the groceries, and rowed back to Ladybug, stopping to chat with Paul on Trumpeter, a local cruiser whom we had seen in Fiji earlier in the season. Paul told me I was a silly sod and could have anchored much further down the coast if I had sailed around a set of islands that fill the bay. This would have put me much closer to the store. I had already noted this fact on my long walk in but we had an amiable chat anyway.

A paint-spattered Tim looks like he would perhaps prefer to own a 2008 Beneteau just at that moment!
Once the groceries were stowed, I pulled up the hook, again under jib alone, and sailed dead downwind for the north entrance to the Bay of Islands, marked by a giant shark tooth rock named 'Ninepin Rock'. A lovely schooner crossed our bows at one point and several yachts criss-crossed the bay on their way to anchorages at Kerikeri and among the islands. As I passed between the rocky coast and the shark's tooth I left all this activity behind and entered a different world, turning west and sailing along a coast of rocky cliffs capped by green rolling pastures. The wind blew steadily off the land and the lowering sun reflected off a million wavelets like so many jewels.

Mike and Marni of Picara repaint their lovely steel boat. They rebuilt this boat virtually completely over a period of several years in Sidney, BC. They are taking a break from working on other people's boats in Opua to work on their own.
While I chatted with Mike and Marni, I helped clean up Picara's propeller. They plan to coat this with a special epoxy based compound that prevents growth from sticking to it. Most of the local yachts use this.

I had left Paihia around 2pm and was concerned I would not reach a safe anchorage before dusk at my sedate pace, so I hoisted a reefed main and was soon bowling along at 6-7 knots, the wind building and turning into the south west. I passed only one other boat - a small but speedy coastal cruiser hugging the cliffy shore for shelter heading for the Bay of Islands. A little further on I began to pass through rafts of sea birds resting on the water as Ladybug drew abreast of the Cavalli islands.

Panorama as we leave the Bay of Islands - click for a bigger image.

Shortly before 7pm, I furled in the jib and dropped the hook using the mainsail to coast into a small indentation on the Purerua Peninsula known as Orokaraka Bay. This bay is well sheltered by the cliffs of the peninsula and has stunning views of the Cavalli islands, which form a protecting ring to the north and east.

Without Rani's helping hand I have had to resort to unusual strategies when I need assistance on the helm.


Arnamentia said...

Aah! Cute! I'm going to have to kidnap your reserve crew for when I'm feeling queasy!

Great photos, again, Chris.

Hope you have a lovely Christmas in a calm anchorage with friends old and new.

Best wishes
Carol & Jon

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris!
Merry Christmas to you and please say hi to Mike and Marni from Lyneita and me...
We spent dome time with Picarra in San Blas.
Good people!