Fairway Bay, Whangaparaoa, New Zealand
Every passage has one memorable day – good or bad.
This one was spectacular – a windless, sun-drenched day, the sea a smooth and delicate powder blue, motoring across a mercury mirror surface. After the first couple of days of the trip, when the sea was cranky and confused and we were getting thumped in 25+ knot south-easterlies, it felt like the ocean was letting out a long, slow breath.
We made the most of this last taste of the tropics, breaking out the BK and boardies, and gorging ourselves on tropical fruit smoothies: pawpaw, mango, pineapple and bananas. Yummo.
The glorious day slid into a sunset that went on for ages: pinks, reds, lemon yellows swirled in the water. I watched a flame-orange sun slip below the horizon and just as it did, we rose on a swell and it popped back up: it was undeniably GREEN! The elusive green flash! True – I promise!
I took one or a gazillion photos: sunset at 30°30’S at 20:00hrs, crossing the axis of the Sub-Tropical Ridge.
Later that night, I was on the midnight to 2:00am watch. It was the dark of the moon and with no light pollution for hundreds of miles, the Milky Way stretched clear and sharp, like a white rainbow from horizon to horizon, almost bright enough to read by.
I watched the Southern Cross come up and sat on the bow in the darkness, feeling the warm breeze off the water and trying to identify all the different constellations. The bow wave trailed ribbons of phosphorescence and unidentifiable sea creatures glowed momentarily and vanished like flashes of lightning in the ocean.
Despite the rough-ish conditions, we’d made good time in the first few days – 210 nautical miles a day, which was very respectable in the conditions. What a difference a mainsail makes!
We crossed the STR axis and a day later, the wind filled in and we were barrelling along at around 10 knots, with full main and gennaker and the hulls humming. Top speed around 13.3 knots in 18 knots apparent: not bad for a ‘fat chick in lycra’ as our friend Lionel calls us! One of the best day’s sailing we’ve had on the boat.
Of course, perfect sailing days don’t go on forever and, as we drew level with North Cape, New Zealand, the wind turned southerly, the sea turned crappy and we had the worst day of the trip within sight of land, when we should have been protected!
We’d been headed to Auckland, but with the wind blowing 25-30 knots on the nose and things flying around the cabin, with worse forecast, we decided to detour to Marsden Cove. We’d never been up the channel in the dark before, but we made our way in through the confusion of the channel lights. We pulled up on the Customs dock and turned the engines off at 11.55pm, 6.5 days and 1200 miles from Vuda Point.
We cleared Customs next morning and Kiapa sailed in to meet us. Our first evening’s meal was supplied by Irene and Lionel: freshly caught scallops – my favourite!
On Friday, we sailed with Kiapa down to Fairway Bay Marina on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, just north of Auckland City. Having not had a bite all the way from Fiji, Damian hooked up one under-size kingfish, followed by a very decent one that put up a formidable fight!
We’ll be based in Fairway Bay while we get the electrics fixed, but that’s about as far as our plans extend at this stage.
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