BOI: OCC pot-luck Opua Cruising Club

Ocean Cruising Club port captains Tony & Nina Kiff organized a fun get-together at the Opua Cruising Club. Forty-three sailors turned up!

We met old friends and many new — too many to itemize here. We were tickled to again meet Derek & Anthea Bunting of s/v Sukanuk that we had not seen since Alaska — just a bit to catch up on.

Amongst the fun new couples we met were Dennis & Janet Knight of s/v Shilling of Hamble, who like many of the sailors here, sailed out of England long ago, 1999 for them. Somehow we missed each other in Alaska. There son Paul has joined them for part of their New Zealand cruise. Paul is a marine electrician, so he was possibly the most popular guy at the party.

We enjoyed our brief visit with Angela Farrant of s/v Spring Gold, who is doing something possibly more adventurous than crossing oceans. She is in Opua on a house-swapping arrangement for the Farrant’s house back in England.

Lastly, thanks 10^6 to Tony and Nina for organizing our event!

BOI: Cape Brett and Hole in the Rock

Of course the next Bay of Islands “must do” was to sail out to Cape Brett for an up close inspection of Percy Island and the famous “Hole in the Rock”. The latter is heaps of fun to explore in a boat that can fit under the arch – there are often thousands of fish schooling in the shadows of the rock.

But ADAGIO needs 25 meters to clear the top of her mast, so there was no chance we were going through 🙂

BOI: Urupukapuka Island 10 Nov

We were blessed with good weather in the days right after ADAGIO made landfall in New Zealand. We wanted to show Andrew and Ian around the Bay of Islands a bit, so one of our first adventures was to anchor in Urupukapuka Bay then spend the day walking all over Urupukapuka Island. We still didn’t make every one of the Pa sites. We’ll visit those when the Weindorfs visit around Christmas time.

By New Years we expect the pohutukawa trees to be blazing red all around the island.

BOI: Waipiro Bay

ADAGIO is very happy to be back in NZ’s Bay of Islands. As soon as we were cleared of formalities, bought some groceries, and booked some travel arrangements for Andrew and Ian, we were off to explore. Our first stop was Waipiro Bay – just 1.5km south of Urupukapuka Island – where we plan to hike tomorrow.

We were hoping to find MAGIC DRAGON anchored in Waipiro – and so we did! What a treat, as it has been some five years since we last had Jane and Michel DeRidder aboard. We have a lot of yarns to exchange and catching up to do. More to come in future posts…

One of the bits we learned from Michel was that he had built a house atop the western point of Waipiro some years ago. Subsequently that house was purchased by a new family who decided to build a much more costly/luxurious home in its place. That is just an example of what we are seeing everywhere in the Bay of Islands. “Big money” seems to arrived since we last visited in 2004. We have seen at least a dozen multi-million dollar new estates constructed in the most special BOI positions. I think we will see this repeated as we revisit our favorite anchorages.

New Years at the Fay's Great Mercury Island

Here’s an excerpt from the wonderful account by Will and Dana Rousmaniere – backpackers invited by Michael and Sarah Fay to spend a few weeks visiting their remarkable island retreat.

New Year’s

We spent New Year’s Eve on the island, and attended the Fay’s annual party for the “boaties”: a rip-roaring dance-hall night complete with flashing neon lights, dueling djs, hip flasks, cannon blasts, dances under a billion stars, and a 2 a.m. breakfast of bacon & eggs. Will stayed up and joined the younger Fays in welcoming the New year sunrise, one of the first in the world. New Year’s Eve festivities were followed by a New Year’s Day beach outing. The Fays and Richwhites loaded up various boats with their fifty-ish guests, dogs, and baskets and baskets of food, and ferried them to a white beach on the far end of the island. We rang in 2003 with a Gatsby-esque scene of women in white pants and straw hats sipping Pims under Pahutakawa trees on the beach. We met some really wonderful people from all around the world.

For more on Will and Dana’s adventures check out their website The Roaming Year 2002-2003

New Caledonia to New Zealand: a full moon passage

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For the passage from New Caledonia to New Zealand we were joined by fellow Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania members/former officers Andrew Boon and Ian Turnbull. Andrew and Ian arrived at Ile des Pins on 11 October, so they were able to make a big contribution to our happy passage, not least helping us get ADAGIO ready to sail again.

For three weeks our passage weather challenge has been the forecasted headwinds on our track to New Zealand. Usually we like high pressure in the Tasman Sea, provided the HI center moves on along to the east. This is because, as the HI center approaches it brings headwinds to the north half of the passage. Then as the high moves off it brings favorable winds for the beginning of the passage. Very, very roughly, in October before the equinox, it could be a good time to sail out of Newcal when the HI center reaches a position north of NZ North Cape (at a latitude midway between Newcal and NZ). A fast boat like ADAGIO has a chance of keeping pace with a “typical HI” to avoid the headwinds and gales of the next approaching Tasman system.

Our problem has been a series of slow moving and intense Tasman Sea high pressure systems. As we watched eagerly for a high to move off we would see the models predicting a replacement high emerging off the Australian coast around 32S. The models were right. The result was the Tasman Sea high pressure was being continuously refurbished and was not moving east as we wished. In early October we also had the challenge of forecasted southeasterly (i.e., headwind) gales developing in the 30-34S zone approaching NZ. Both factors kept coloring the weather outlook “unfavorable” for our NZ passage.

Finally, on October 30th our routing discussions with Rick Shema indicate coming relief from the headwinds. We decide to sail on the 31st, expecting about a day of headwinds turning more westerly and beamy. We just hope the winds do not also go too light on us if the angles deepen as predicted. The good news is the Tasman looks like it will fill with high pressure – so if the winds do go light on us we are unlikely to encounter on-the-nose gales approaching North Cape. When highs are moving smartly across the Tasman that is a very possible development — the first 2/3 of the passage has favorable winds, then the next high system kicks up southerly quadrant headwinds in the NZ “approach zone”.

Before heading out of Noumea, given the lightish wind outlook, we loaded 1,100 litres of diesel to make darn sure we have enough fuel to motor or motorsail through any light winds.

The first part of the passage is going to be a beat, sailing as high as we can stand, as we want to preserve decent downwind angles in the second half of the passage. If we slide off too far to the west, then we are likely to be sailing dead-downwind in less than 10kn.

Andrew and Ian overcame their seasickness the first couple of days with sheer determination. By the morning of 2 November the wind is down in the low teens, and the seas are down from 3 meters to 2 meters, so life aboard is more comfortable. Soon we will be fishing, enjoying moonlight silver seas, spotting the Wandering Albatross and meteorites burning up and a bit of playing with the dolphins.

By 4 November Ian is feeling eager to go to the top of the mast to investigate a rythmic squeak — diagnosed as the reacher halyard sheave (a bumpy trip in that seaway but fortunately no major bruises). Earlier on the 4th Ian had logged “All quite on the floating restaurant. Can recomend the banana cake.”

This will be a rare-for-ADAGIO full moon passage. The official full moon will be about the half-way point on 3 November. So long as the skies are clear we should have some glorious night watches!

October 31, 2009: After enjoying Ilot Maitre we had a reasonable weather outlook for the passage to New Zealand. We hoisted the mainsail at 0737 and began beating towards Amedee Light, which marks the primary reef pass into New Caledonia’s western lagoon.

Following are excerpts from the ADAGIO log.

0737 Depart for New Zealand. We hoisted our mainsail while still attached to the mooring buoy. Andrew, Ian and Steve pushed two of the three lower battens further into the sail to get rid of the wrinkles. Worked like a charm.

0930 Tacking to Amedee Light , Passe de Boulari. Sailing freeish at apparent wind angle (AWA) 42 tacking through bit less than 90 deg.

1049 DAY 1: Passage New Caledonia to New Zealand: Clear of Passe de Boulari (south) now off soundings. Impressive reef breaks both sides, especially to port.

1110 Wind has backed a LOT. We’re steering to apparent wind angle (AWA) 45 in 19kn true wind. Now bashing into head seas to Ricks AP1. First reef in main plus jib.

1147 Wind has eased slightly and veered 20 deg. Small squall ahead might be responsible for this. Seas over the windows which are wonderfully clear due to Rain-X treatment by crew. We saw a lone gannet circling the boat. We can see a catamaran ahead to leeward. Tried hailing MIND THE GAP, but no answer. The boat is bucking like a bronco. Ian freed the std jib tweaker line that was jammed under the machinery space hatch, at the hinge.

1245 After we passed through the small squall with a little rain, our true wind speed (TWS) picked up and veered more. Seas up the front windows and some down the steps into the cockpit. This might be the best wind we have the entire passage. It would be more cofortable if the seas would go down, as forecast for tomorrow.

1310 The sloop BRETON hailed us as we passed under them. Also enroute OPUA (French accent, good English). BRETON is 35-40ft sailing 5-10 deg higher than Adagio, but at least a knot slower. NOTE: we never saw or heard of BRETON in New Zealand. They may have been turned back by the bashing.

1443 Seas continue to build, ride is getting noticeably rougher. It’s tempting to crack off 5 or 10 degrees, which we will do if it gets much rougher. Our average course over ground (COG) for the past 2 hours is 188 deg. as header (veering) tendency seems to have stabilized around 120 deg magnetic.

1754 I came up 10 deg as the seas have eased a bit, and the course was going too far west. Ian trimmed the sails. This got us back on course. The sun is setting.

2104 Requesting new GFS model for 4 days, just for the immediate area. Seas still rough, but down a bit (to 2.5?) from 1600 hours.

2138 No ship targets on AIS nor radar targets within a range of 36 nm.

2245 Wind has backed a lot – around to 87 deg. Wind speed trend is down.

November 1, 2009

0040 DAY 2

0103 The moon is almost full. Lovely. We have been experiencing some big wave washes, and underwing slams earlier in the day. Calmer tonight.

0206 Wind is back up a bit as is boat speed.

0646 Around 0300 wind rose to 23 true wind speed (TWS) to 28 apparent wind speed (AWS) –> sea state built up until we were ocean walloping again. So we cracked off 10 deg to reduce banging.

0911 Speed over ground (SOG) is frequently 10 kts or more, but mostly around 9-9.5 kts. Seas are still up, and a beautiful dark blue. Sky looks like a Dutch sky, all types of clouds. We need to keep a close watch on the wet towels under the leaking front window portlight behind the Azimuth compass. Andrew said that water came down onto the nav station table top near the engine keys. He has been wringing out the white towel that is catching the drip. I added a couple more towels.

0930 193 nm from 0930 to 0930 (first day). I closed the back door because salt spray was coming in. Water was washing down the backs of the cockpit seats next to the winches, and out the scuppers to the floor of the cockpit. Water cascades down the cockpit stairs. SOG hits 11 kts from time to time. Occasional Very Big underwing slams.

1049 195 nm from 1049 to 1049 second day. Had to estimate log at 1049 from last entry at 0911.

1538 Set full main, retrimmed for best close hauled velocity made good (VMG). Got new wx model and did new optimal routings — We want to sail high and fast then tack on stbd when we are headed about 1102 afternoon.

1651 8kn SOG after full main wind increased to 14 kn range – thought it was just a cloud overhead but the lift and windspeed have persisted.

1731 TWS increases and decreases. More squalls ahead, so we might pick up some speed again soon. I put away our New Caledonia and Pacific islands charts, and got out our New Zealand charts. The nearly full moon is off to port, white against a powder blue sky.

November 2, 2009

0047 DAY 3 All quiet

0121 Beautiful moon-lit night. Baro is up again. Seas have decreased with the decreasing wind speed. 650 nm to the Bay of Islands

0501 Pilot 2 back to ECON. Wind down to TWS 10, seas down to mostly swell.

0602 Motorsailing on port engine at 2200 rpms.

0850 3 birds flew past. Rain cells about 9 nm.

1011 A gentler motion over the seas this morning, in bright sunshine. Ian and Andrew are setting up our fishing line. Yesterday a fish took the hooks. ETA Opua 5 Nov 2135 hrs.

1200 I tested sail only with no engine, trimmed main+jib to 40 deg – only managed about 4 ot 5kn or 50% of polar.

1248 Tacked onto STBD, furled jib. Strapped main in for about AWA 25 => pilot on AWA 26. Switch to STBD engine 2400 rpms to balance helm.

1652 Motoring. Seas going down.

1816 Sunset. No green flash, but very orange sky. Rick’s latest email message says to expect no wind for the remainder of the voyage. There are swells from the ESE.

2107 Stunning full moon to port about 45° altitude.

Adagio echart enroute NZ from Newcal

November 3, 2009

0059 DAY 4

0121 Change in TWD. We are into the westerlies. A silver night with moonlight shining on the clouds and water. 474 nm to North Cape, NZ.

0241 Occasional showers; gentle swells. Yesterday Andrew spotted several seabirds, and then we saw what might have been an albatross — very long wings and soaring above the wave tops.

0517 Wind up to 15 kn over the past 3 hours. Set reacher only.

0627 Trim reacher fro AWA 90 deg.

0655 Try steering to AWA 95 deg – seems to pay off adding 0.5 to 1kn in boat speed.

1148 Wind has veered again –>> about 5 to 6 deg off course. Will retrim for deeper angle.

1155 Retrimmed to AWA 110 as wind veers.

1429 Now through the squall line, wind dropped from 18 kn to 8 kn, backed 50 deg – so far. Furled reacher, tried jib, but had to steer 10 -15deg low of course. Probably made a little VMG as jib added about .5 to .9kn

1648 No more rain, quietly motoring.

1716 8.3kn boat speed. We unfurled the reacher and turned off the engine, then headed off 10 deg to port. Nice speed, and quiet. Beautiful clouds in a blue sky. An albatross just flew past our port side.

1810 Switched pilot to AWA 65 deg – seem to have about .7 to 1.0 kn foul current. Data trend indicates veering continues + increasing TWS.

1850 While Andrew on HF radio, we experienced another pilot glitch while steering to wind angle.

2033 Squeak at masthead. Stopped by unloading reacher by steering off.

2127 Just saw meteor burning out at about 1 o’clock or bearing 100 deg magnetic.

2241 Wind down to 6 kts speed down to 3 kts. Furled reacher.

November 4, 2009

0049 DAY 5 All quiet. No fish, no meteorites.

0108 Full moon off our port quarter — big and beautiful. Seas are down. Sky clouding up ahead. Easy going on this beautiful night, motoring along towards NZ . 319 nm to North Cape.

0405 All quite on the floating restaurant. Can recomend the banana cake.

0638 Changed pilot to 113 as currents change.

0851 Several albatross seen

0945 266 nm to North Cape, NZ. Light winds and swell just forward of our starboard beam. Blue sky with a mix of clouds. A quiet morning. Ian and Andrew are setting out several fishing lines, determined to catch something. Andrew was listining to Australian radio when I came on watch. He has prepared a list of frequencies for us to refer to. Higher frrequencies best in the morning. Lower frequencies at night. Last night Adrew tuned into Tas Coast Radio, and he gave our position report, and spoke to John Cerruty on ARIEL who are CYCT members. They are currently in Pittwater, having sailed from SE Asia, and are on theri way home to Hobart.

1045 Set reacher at AWA 60 deg. Halyard squeaks are back, of course.

1117 Ian going up the mast to inspect the reacher halyard and take photos.

1355 Furl reacher; back to port engine

1652 All quiet, no fish but a beautiful afternoon.

1841 Got a fish on port Shimano but lost it when drag increased.

1941 Current is setting our course to stbd.

November 5, 2009

0047 DAY 6 All quiet. Wind indicator doing 360s. Radio Australia on HF M Ch 59-79 incl.

0507 Wind has veered to dead downwind (DDW) , at 10 kts; now useless.

0854 Motor off, reacher and jib set. Our friends aboard Mind The Gap are 15 M astern, Southern Sky 30 M E.

0959 Getting ready to swap reacher for chute, spinnaker.

1041 Crew voted to keep with the reacher and jib. We gybed both, and are wing on wing with reacher on stb gybe. ETA for BOI is tomorrow 6 Nov., 1100 hours.

1226 Wind veered so furled jib and left reacher alone. Mind the gap 11 miles behind with full main and spinnaker doing 6.9kts in just 11 kts breeze.

1316 Set jib + reacher.

1700 Peaceful afternoon. Jib and reacher. Put VMC voice weather frequencies into Kenwood HF radio, ch 84-89.

1735 We were sailing about 5deg high of course – but after adjusting AWA too deep – try 111.

2105 35 nm from North Cape

November 6, 2009

0110 DAY 7: Wind refuses to back! Jib and reacher, dead down wind.

0125 Rain showers came up from astern. Misty. No need to rinse the salt off the sails when we are in port.

0154 The wind is backing steadily, allowing us to clear North Cape by 1-1/2 to 2 nm.

0226 I furled the jib and trimmed in the reacher, altering course to Taheke Roc waypoint. North Cape is 1 nm abeam to starboard. Wind continues to back.

0255 Wind backed suddenly about 90 degrees as we rounded North Cape. Furled the reacher and set the jib.

0316 Port engine at 1600 rpms. Needed to run the genset anyway. Need to hoist the main but will wait for Steve’s watch.

0517 After clearing North Cape the wind snapped down to SW 190 deg magnetic. We set main 2nd reef + jib steering AWA 50 deg. Ian and Andrew landed a nice Wahoo fish, and Ian filleted it. We ate all of it before making landfall.

0528 Cracked off to AWA 58 to lay Cavalli Islands on course of 128T – ride is much better now with main at 2nd reef

0827 Ship (bulk carrier?) at 4.4nm 74mg on AIS and radar.

0906 Main to full hoist.

1346 Cavalli Islands to starboard

1414 Turn for Ninepin – caught another barracuda but it got off taking the skirted lure Andrew bought for us

1613 Ninepin – furl the main

0752 DAY 7: Landfall New Zealand. We arrived at Opua Marina at 1800 hrs on Friday 6 Nov, just at the Twilight race was starting. The race boats sailed past going out as we were coming into the harbor. Great photos. The 18 ft skiff was leading. Customs and Immigration had closed. We were the only boat on the Customs Dock, but by morning there were 8 others. On Saturday morning we were processed with no dramas, and moved to an end tie on E dock. David Radtke came to wave hello on Friday, and deliver our mail to the marina office. Steve visited Alan and Pauline Legge while Dorothy shopped for food in Paihia with Lorna from Mind the Gap. We invited David and Susan aboard for dinner on Sunday night.

2022 We anchored in Waipiro Bay, just off the port quarter of MAGIC DRAGON. Jane and Shelly came aboard ADAGIO for coffee and bickies, then at 1800 hours we went aboard MAGIC DRAGON for champagne and nibbles. We caught up on a lot of news and stories.

Noumea: ADAGIO at Maitre Islet

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ADAGIO is on a mooring on the leeward side of Maitre Islet, just 3 nautical miles from Noumea. Our South African friends, James and Lorna on their cat MIND THE GAP are here as well. The island is a marine reserve with a small resort. Like other resorts we have visited in New Caledonia, the Coral Palms resort looks sort of empty, although there were occupants in several of the bungalows built over the water with a ladder going down into the water from each unit.

We went ashore yesterday to explore and walk on the beach. An osprey family had built a nest on the flattened top of a columnaris pine. One osprey was soaring, a second was in the nest, and a third osprey was perched on the top of another columnaris pine. There was much communication going on, and lovely soaring.

As we walked around the resort grounds, we found numerous petrel burrows. Like the shearwaters in Tasmania, which migrate 15,000 kilometers to the Arctic and 15,000 km back to Tasmania each year, these birds are fattening up for the breeding months. This morning we snorkeled over to the nearby reef which is between ADAGIO and the shore, and followed lots of big, colorful fish around. We saw a medium sized clam with leopard spotted lips, long-spined black sea urchins, and lovely coral. I’m looking forward to snorkeling again tomorrow. We built a dive flag float by attaching our flag to one of our dinghy fenders and hanging weights from the bottom of the fender. It worked great!

Rick Shema, ADAGIO’s weather router, emailed that November 1st or 2nd is shaping up for a possible departure to New Zealand. Steve has been studying the weather models and evaluating Maxsea routings. The 2nd looks the best right now.

There are several other boats here – some locals, some waiting to sail to New Zealand or Australia. A young family is aboard the sailing catamaran named TRAVELER that is moored next to us. We thought they were French, until the young man/owner dinghied over this morning to ask if we needed any groceries from town. He said that he was going to town to get some baguettes and croissants for his family. I said, yes, we would like some, too, as well as some eggs and bananas. He is one of the kite-boarders that sail every afternoon on the windward side of the island. It turns out that they are from Vancouver, Canada, and have been in NewCal for 18 months. Their little boy was born here. Small world.

All is well. We are having a relaxed time, with our crew learning how to load their digital photos into Lightroom on our computer, for cropping and editing. We have quite a gallery developing with our four cameras shooting…

Noumea: Noumea Aquarium

We had wonderful memories of our last visit in 2000 to L’aquarium des lagons. The aquarium has been significantly upgraded and remodeled – all to good effect. We have enjoyed several other saltwater aquaria – in New Zealand and Australia. This one remains our favorite.

Sea water is supplied directly from the adjacent Baie des Citrons, the location of Noumea’s very popular swimming beach. And where Adagio has happily anchored for a few nights when the wind was more in the east and north. There is really only room for one boat tucked up in the NE corner.

The exhibits are brilliantly designed and all lit by natural sunlight – except for those requiring special lighting, such as the ultraviolet light required to show off the fluorescent corals.

Do spend some time exploring the aquarium website – it is very informative.

Noumea: Sunsets at Baie de l'Orphelinat

Occasionally, a sunset will knock our socks off, and we had one like this while ADAGIO was at anchor in the Baie de l’Orphelinat. We became amazed at just how huge the sky is, and how many colors of light there are, as we found ourselves below a 360 degree hemisphere of changing marvel.

The fire began at the western horizon, and before long the largest, billowy clouds were aflame as well. Behind all of this splendor, the blue sky peeked boldly through. Invariably, at this moment, a group of Polynesian outrigger canoes glided silently across the water. Pretty soon the fire was licking the shiny windows of our boat, and the colors began to appear on the water as if the paint was melting down from the sky.

Towards the end, the highest clouds in the sky, that we had not previously noticed, became streaks of bright, glowing embers. The billowy clouds became vivid, three dimensional forms, silhouetted before the glowing coals. Because the surface of the sea was rippled, the sky colors blended together on its surface into a warm rose liquid, streaked with darker cloud reflections. .

The eastern horizon was showing off its enormous areas of glowing pink and gold and brilliant blue. In the east grey clouds were silhouetted before a golden sky, but the clouds in the west were rose colored shapes against the grey, blue, pink and golden sky. The lower clouds became billowy blobs while the high level clouds were intricacies of lace and ruffles. We were unable to predict what the sky would be like from minute to minute. The Grande Finale was a blood-red and golden sky and sea.