Thursday, January 26, 2012


A few minutes ago, the NZ coastguard made an announcement on the VHF radio that they are looking for the sailing yacht, "Nilaya," which may have been renamed "Berserk." Yesterday I read on that Jarle Andhøy  is (was) in New Zealand, had bought a boat, and is planning to sail back to Antarctica this (southern) summer. You may have read about his tragic Antarctic expedition in February 2011 when his boat "Berserk," was hit by a storm and presumably sank with all three crew (Andhøy and another team member were already ashore, planning to ride quad bikes across Antarctica). When I had a look at photos of "Nilaya," I recognized it, having walked past it (with a "for sale" sign) almost every day while Twister was docked in Westhaven Marina in Auckland. At 19 years old, Andhøy sailed his 27 foot Albin Vega (alone from Norway to Ushuaia, Argentina, then) with one crew to the Antarctic Peninsula and back to Ushuaia. Ever since, he has been in continual trouble with various authorities for sailing in the Arctic and Antarctic without the proper permits. Good luck, Jarle!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cruising The Bay Of Island

My friend Gary from (the sailboat) La Cueca has been cruising the Bay Of Islands (BOI) with Twister and me for the last several days. We've been spearfishing, collecting mussels, snorkeling, and, of course, sailing. The BOI is only ca 10x10 miles, but has an abundance of lovely bays and coves (no matter which way the wind blows, you'll find a sheltered anchorage). Yesterday we sailed to Deep Water Cove where the wreck of the HMNZS Canterbury sits in 12 to 38 meters. We snorkeled the wreck for about 40 minutes, only reaching the top of the wreck since we didn't have scuba gear. There are three mooring buoys attached to the wreck which is convenient (it's too deep to anchor nearby). 
Back aboard Twister, a NZ fisheries boat came by to inform us that fishing is not allowed in Deep Water Cove. Therefore we sailed to nearby Oke Bay. After anchoring we went for a swim, and Gary shot his second Porae (a NZ fish) which was just the right size for dinner. 

We've also been spending some time with Wattie and Di (who are on the boat Cariad), anchored off Moturua Island (where we are anchored as I write this), as well as Wattie's daughter and family who are renting a cabing (bach, pronounced "batch", in Kiwi vernacular) on the island. 

As I'm nearing NZ's North Cape, I've been contemplating the passage down the west coast (with a little trepidation I'll admit). The weather forecast looks good for a Saturday morning departure from the BOI. If things go according to plan, I will be sailing into Raglan 3-4 days later.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pics from Great Barrier Island

This is a Brown Teal on Great Barrier Island. Isn't it the cutest adult duck-like creature you've ever seen?
Here is the view from the top of Mount Hobson: 

Guess what this is:  


A better view from lower down (looking east, Little Barrier Island in the background) 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Russell, Bay Of Islands

Twister is now anchored off Russell in the picturesque Bay Of Islands in the northern part of the North Island. I spent close to two weeks (rough estimate) at Great Barrier Island. Very nice place, lots of cozy little anchorages, and well sheltered (the bays and coves of Port Fitzroy, that is) in a blow. I don't know what it was like out in the Hauraki Gulf since I was tucked in to a little cove in Kaiarara Bay, but there was a gale warning for the first several days I was at Great Barrier. The little cove I initially had to myself became quite crowded as other boats also decided this was a good place to seek shelter from the southerly gale. I was not happy when a 40 ft catamaran anchored quite close to me (the cove was crowded by this time). We came to almost touching distance a few times when gusts blew over the cove (cats tend to swing at anchor differently from monohulls). Once the winds calmed, the cove was down to Twister and one other boat. I enjoyed some land time and hiked up Mount Hobson which apparently affords a great view of the Hauraki Gulf. On this particular day, I could see perhaps 10 meters/33 feet as the top was socked in by clouds.
I puttered around Port Fitzroy and nearby and checked out several anchorages, including Smokehouse Bay and Nagle Cove where I enjoyed some nice snorkeling (didn't find any scallops but did see some nice looking Kingfish which by the way some nice Kiwis gave me some of from their catch. I continue to get more fish from others taking pity on my lack of fishing abilities rather than actually catching them myself). From Nagle Cove I sailed to Tutukaka (I was aiming for Whangamumu but since I didn't get started at first light and was averaging around 5 rather than 6 knots, I pulled into Tutukaka while it was still light). Yesterday I sailed from Tutukaka (past Whangamumu) into the Bay of Islands and anchored in front of the Town of Russell--not far from Opua where most yachts coming down from the tropics at the beginning of cyclone season, check in to New Zealand (as it's the northernmost port of entry). Today I plan to walk to Opua and see if I can find any of my cruising friends I have met across the South Pacific.
Pics from the last couple of weeks coming soon.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Onward to Great Barrier Island

Based on the latest forecast, it looks like tomorrow (Friday) will be the best day for a while to head to Great Barrier Island. Leaving early in the morning I should be able to get there by early evening and find a spot to hunker down for the next couple of days. A low is forecast to graze the North Island on Saturday, bringing strong southeasterly winds and rain. I plan to anchor in Kaiarara Bay, near Port Fitzroy. Brett tells me it'll be nicely sheltered from the coming blow.
I expect to spend a week or so at Great Barrier Island before proceeding northwards to Whangarei or directly to Bay Of Islands.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another Grounding

I departed Auckland on the morning of January 2. Getting out of the pile moorings was not as bad as I had feared. The forecast was for 25 to 35 knots from the southeast.  Since my destination was Whangateau Harbor , ~30 miles to the north, it was nice downwind sailing, using only the partially furled jib (no mainsail). Twister entered Whangateau Harbor under motor without problems. As I was looking for a place to anchor, I became nervous as the depth sounder gave readings of 7 then 6 feet. Before I could turn around, I was aground. I managed to motor off the first sandbar only to get thoroughly stuck on another nearby. With the tide dropping, Twister was soon leaning over to starboard and I would have to wait for the next rising tide to get her off (sandy bottom, no rocks thank goodness). I rowed out an anchor and rowed my dinghy ashore. Fortunately the wind was starting to abate. Ashore I met Brett (who I met in Tonga and who I was there to visit) and unexpectedly Beat and Beatrice who I had met in American Samoa and again in Tonga. Brett chauffeured us to his house where we had dinner. Around 2330 local time Brett and I went back to the harbor. He had talked to the harbor master and found a mooring for Twister. We rowed out together and found her still leaning and more worryingly, the automatic bilge pump squirting water out of the stern. When I opened the hatch to the cabin I found about 5 inches of water on the floor. I quickly realized I had stupidly neglected to close the valve to the sink drain (which is on the starboard side). Brett and I bailed out most of the water as the tide was rising and Twister was righting. When the tide was high enough we motored over to the mooring and tied up there. Brett rowed ashore and I spent the night on Twister. The next morning I found some food, spare oil filters and odd bits had been soaked. It could have been much worse. The morning was spent cleaning up the mess. Now I'm sitting in Brett's living room writing this and Twister is happily bobbing on her mooring.
I will stay here for a few days then sail out to Great Barrier Island (ca 30 miles east of here) probably on Saturday when favorable winds are expected. From there the plan is to make my way northward (possibly stopping in Whangarei then The Bay Of Islands) and if I still feel adventurous, sail down the west coast of the North Island to Nelson on the northern part of the South Island.
I doubt there is internet on Great Barrier Island, but there is probably cell phone coverage.