Well the weather is a bit changeable down here. The famous four seasons in one day.
Our first couple of weeks here felt a very long way from Fiji.
It was wet and windy and we were just glad not to be at sea. We left Escapade in the marina at Opua, moved ashore and headed inland in a rented car.
Keen for a bit of tourism, we found ourselves basking in natural volcanic hot springs in the pouring rain. Wonderful.
I can’t seem to travel very far in any direction up here without finding myself having lunch at a winery. Hard to dodge all those tasting rooms and cellar doors.
Summer finally arrived on Dawn’s birthday and we celebrated with a trip to see friends in Auckland and a weekend on Waiheke island with Fi and Kate.
More wineries! One offered us a trip round the estate on electric mountain bikes.
Bryan and Auriane have bought a car and gone chasing surf in Raglan and Taranaki.
Dawn and I, encouraged by the warm sunshine and the impending Summer Solstice, moved back on to the boat and sailed off for a week in the Bay of Islands.
Until now the only fishing rods on this boat have been for trolling lures whilst underway. But now I have acquired a new spinning rod so I can catch supper while we’re anchored.
This is a whole other world of tactical fishing, using all the cunning techniques I learned in Guernsey from my friend Dave. He taught me to fish for the tricky black bream, usually at a considerable cost to Dave’s tackle box.
Here the target species is the snapper, they are very tasty and fun to catch. My new favourite sunset activity is fishing from the stern steps with rod, reel and bait. Fishing is a way of life here and you can buy bait in every grocery store or gas station. I have been favouring frozen squid and mullet.
It’s a similar game to the Guernsey bream, the snapper are pretty good at robbing the bait from the hook and getting away with it. A couple of sharp tugs on the line and it’s gone. But every so often my lightning reflexes allow me to put my beer down and reach for the rod in time to set the hook. There’s generally a fish or two scaled and in the fridge by nightfall.
We spent Christmas in the Bay of Islands, hiking up steep tracks, through manuka forests and pohutukawa trees to see the views from the hilltops.
We were here years ago on a chartermaran, windsurfing round the anchorages. Now I’m wingfoiling which is much better suited to the light summer breezes here.
Misty mornings, long sunny days with 9pm sunsets.
Dolphins swim through the anchored boats. Gannets dive bombing for fish.
There are a lot of boats here. New Zealand has the world’s highest sailboat ownership per capita, and in the Christmas holidays it seems like most of them have come to the Bay of Islands.
You can see why, it is a perfect mini cruising area, so many pretty anchorages within a few miles. Reminds us of the Channel Islands!
After a week we went in to Russell to re-supply, (oops, another winery lunch) then we sailed out of the bay.
We set a course through the spectacular gap with Cape Brett lighthouse to starboard and Percy Island to port.
Then down the east coast for a few miles and tucked in to the natural harbour of Whangaruru. We found a nice sheltered spot and went ashore to discover ‘Bland Bay’, hoping it had been unfairly named.
Well there’s really nothing here but a few cabins, summer holiday homes and lots of tents in the campground. The camp shop is well stocked with ice creams. And bait.
Back on board we check the latest forecast and batten down the hatches. Plenty of chain down. There’s a storm coming.
A deep low pressure system has been spinning just north of New Zealand and lashing this coast with wind and rain.
We have been confined to the boat. Nothing to go ashore for here and the Pacific outside the bay is wild with a huge swell, so we’re not going anywhere.
It’s a bit like a lockdown!
We have plenty of snapper in the fridge, actually lots of good things to cook and eat and drink, plus films to watch on the hard drive, and a few jobs to do.
At least we have a good phone signal so we can get online. (Until one night the 40 knot gale took down the local phone system!)
7 days later..
A bit of bad weather is all part of boating life, you’re connected with the elements and all that. We don’t mind huddling round the Scrabble board for a day while the weather blows through. But a whole week?! Non stop wind, rain and fog. We haven’t seen the sun since 2022!
A grey world outside our cabin. I’m struggling to maintain my usual sunny outlook on life.
Dawn is calling for the boat to be put on the market.
Four seasons in one day seems to have become one season for a whole week. And it ain’t summer!