Cape Reinga

This post is a little out of sequence.  About a week ago we rented a car and did a “land tour” north of here to the north tip of New Zealand-Cape Reinga.  It’s about a three hour drive through lovely, unspoiled almost uninhabited country.  Here’s a few shots from the trip.

It's like this most of the way.

At the beginning of what's called "90 Mile Beach".

Part of the cape on the Tasman side facing Australia.

At the lighthouse on the tip of the cape.

Stunning view from the tip of New Zealand


Bay of Islands Beauty

This spot is just gorgeous!  We’ve anchored at two islands so far and due to weather (south winds), we’ll stay here until Monday when we’ll start to head down the coast.

We had an amazing 6 mile hike yesterday around Urupukapuka Island (also known as Baker Island) where we are now anchored in aptly named Paradise Bay.  At the end of the day, I went fishing in the dinghy and while I didn’t catch anything, a pod of huge bottlenose dolphins came over to say “hi”.  They jumped and danced and even swam under the dinghy.  Then Ann went out in her kayak and played with them.  Yay!

Looking northeast to the Pacific Ocean.

Someone likes this hike.

A really stunning day.

Ending the day with dolphins.


Cruising New Zealand!

Our private anchorage, the site of Captain Cook's anchorage.

Today we pulled ourselves away from Opua and have ventured out to the Bay of Islands. It is fun to be at the dock in Opua and watch the new boats arriving but it can be addicting and keep you from cruising New Zealand! That’s what happened last year and by the time we left the dock it was time to head to Whangarei and get Charisma taken care of before returning home for the holidays.

We promised not to do it the same way this year. And we have been keeping that promise by getting out and hiking around Opua. New Zealand does hiking extremely well.

Last weekend we rented a car and drove up to see the northern tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. It was a beautiful three hour trip culminating in a spectacular view. The Tasman Sea meeting the Pacific Ocean. You could see where the wave patterns from the two big bodies of water came together. It looks so diffent from a cliff looking down. It looked so peaceful, not as wild as it did when we were on the water getting buffeted by 35 knot winds and 10-12 foot waves while trying to get into the protection of the land mass.

After stopping at “The World’s Best Ice Cream” store for a treat we headed to Whangarei to help get Orcinius back in the water.

Ice Cream break!

Orcinius was hauled out eleven months earlier and structural issues were discovered. It was painful leaving for Fiji without Orcinius. So when John agreed to our offer to help get her back in the water after months of rebuilding we were thrilled! John sums the weekend best in his blog so I will leave it at that and encourage you all to follow the link at the bottom of the page to their blog. The good news is that it was a huge success! (and John, you do not owe us the additional car rental money!).

Orcinius in her parking spot "on the hard".

A trailer gets jacked up underneath her to roll her down to the ramp.

After 11 months, she's happy under sail again and better than new.



And now tonight we are sitting in our first anchorage in the Bay of Islands, Roberton Island (the site of Captain Cook’s anchorage). When we first dropped anchor (yes, we remember how!) there were two other boats here. One was on their private mooring and the other anchored. Inside of two hours there were seven other boats! They ranged from small fishing boats to catamarans to large house boats. The house boat pulled in and dumped eight yellow kayaks of people to go ashore. they looked like a fleet of rubber ducks! Wow, is this what cruising in New Zealand is like? Fortunately this must be a great day spot because as we sit here sipping Charismas in the setting sun only the boat on the private mooring remains. Yay! A private anchorage…this is cruising New Zealand!

Oh, and Bob deployed his hammock for the first time this season while I pumped up my kayak and paddled ashore.

Bob has finally deployed his hammock!

From Bob: Such a nice nap I had in my lovely hammock on such a warm day!

Hike to Russell

We had a great hike today with our friends from Blue Rodeo and Evergreen. From Opua we took a short ferry ride across the channel, then a six mile hike through some lovely country to Russell. Lunch and some goofin’, then a different ferry from Russell to Pahia. Another 4 miles hike along the water back to Opua. Whew! Long day. Left at 0900-back at 1800.

John, Mark, Anne, Ann and Heather on the Ferry across the channel.


Leg One: The path to Russell.

The path along the water from Pahia back to Opua.

View toward Opua.

Just Relaxing A Bit

We’re catching up on sleep now and finished cleaning up Charisma today. The usual after passage work-do four loads of laundry, clean the foul weather gear before tucking it away and put away all the crap that ends up thrown on the floor in the cabin during a passage. Plus…put away storm sails and sheets, properly folded sails and covered them, and, Bob’s favorite…repack the V-berth that was pulled apart for customs questions.

Ann also dragged the Sailrite sewing machine over to Cornelia to help Mark sew a tear in his mainsail. Saved him at least a few hundred bucks on sail repair. Should be worth a beer or two, eh Mark?

We also got a chance to catch up with our friends on Blue Rodeo and Evergreen who got in from New Caledonia yesterday. Haven’t seen them since June. And we’re looking forward to seeing others (Bright Angel on Friday) who will straggle in as the week goes by.

We’ll be here in Opua until a week from Monday, then we’re going to do some New Zealand cruising. Bay of Islands (it’s crab season and we’ll hope to catch a few), then down the coast toward Whangarei and if the weather cooperates, we’ll go out to Barrier Island for a few days before coming back in to Marsden and Whangarei where we’ll base Charisma during the Cyclone season (now until May).

We’ll go back to the Bay Area December/January to catch up with family and friends, then boat work and touring the South Island in Feb, March, April.

So…keep checking in. There’s more coming up between now and December 9th when we’ll fly home. Hopefully we’ll get a few pictures posted, but tomorrow, we’re taking the ferry across the bay and then a six mile hike through a nature reserve to the town of Russell. Lunch in Russell, ferry back to Pahia and then either walk (probably not) or take a taxi back to Charisma and collapse, er, MAKE, dinner.

Arrived Opua At 0800

Whew, we’re in!


The last 24 hours the weather abated to a leisurely 20-25 knots. We got the sails back up and close reached into Bay of Islands having sailed all the way. We didn’t even turn the engine on for the entire (1200 mile) trip being able to keep the batteries charged with the solar panels and hydro-gen that we towed.

Wow! What a great experience

Both of us agreed that the trip ended on a great note with beautiful sailing and gorgeous starry night followed by an almost ethereal arrival in the early morning fog-shrouded bay. Just when we thought it was going to be a radar guided entry, the fog thinned from the morning sun just enough to see a hundred yards ahead and we ghosted into the customs dock.

Making landfall at Bay of Islands early dawn.

Sunrise over Bay of Islands just a couple hours before completing this voyage.

Out of the fog and into Opua.

Heading toward the "Q-Dock" or quarantine dock where we'll wait to get cleared by customs and immigration

Happy to be back in New Zealand.
















Oh, yeah, that Champagne tasted good!


We’re now in a nice slip, showered and we’re going out for dinner before collapsing into bed.

More tomorrow.

Almost There

Position: 34 degrees, 30 minutes south; 174 degrees, 24 minutes east 107 miles yesterday

The distance traveled above has no context to the amazing varied speeds we have been doing the last two days. From 11.7 knots to 3 knots, we’ve run the gamut over the last two days.

It’s still a bit rough, so I’ll try and keep this short as it’s hard to type, but here’s the gist: For the last 40 hours (prior to 1400 this afternoon) it’s been blowing 30-35 knots with 9-12 foot seas, despite what the gribs show. Gusts in the squalls have been into the 40’s. It’s been a bit of a tough couple days. I have slept in my foul weather gear for two days straight now. Haven’t even taken off my boots! Ann has been helping out on deck and has now joined the club of sailors who have slipped and almost slid off the deck at sea (she had her harness and tether). Everyone does it one time or another and you should have seen her eyes go wide 😉 Seriously though, she has become one hell of a sailor (beyond the already obvious fantastic and spectacular partner she is). Certainly she is not having the fun I’m having, but she’s holding her own despite these challenging conditions.

So…about the modest distance-our boat speed has varied from 11.7 knots last night (I hit it four times) while I was hand steering through a squall to 3 knots while we had the storm sails up. A couple days ago, we were set up pretty well and going fast, but once we hit this low pressure zone it became very squally and as I noted, the gusts were into the 40’s. I can set Charisma up to sail with 35 knots of wind, or 20, or 40, but not when the wind is going through all three of the above in a short period for two straight days. Basically after a particularly vicious squall came through yesterday, I took the main down in the middle of it. Even though we had the third reef in we were on the edge of going out of control (we were sailing downwind). We went pretty nicely with just the jib up, but then last night the high winds had me hand steering as the wind vane was beyond its capacity as we were careening down the steep waves in the high wind and the gusts in the squall were 30 degrees off the standard wind direction. After hitting 11 plus knots four times, I decided to throw in the towel and furl the jib and go bare poles. Even with no sails up at all, we were doing 6 knots. Just not in the right direction. That’s when we decided to just put up the storm sails and accept that we were going to go slow, but more or less in the right direction. So…with the trysail and storm jib, we’ve been clunking along at 3 knots-still in the high winds but more under control and heading toward Opua instead of Antarctica.

Anyway, that’s a little view of the last two days. Now (as of 1800 Thursday NZ time) we are back to a reasonable 20-25 knots and 1.5 meter seas. We’re sailing 60 degrees to the wind with our regular sails-main double reefed and yankee jib, at 6.5 knots and have 37 miles into Opua. We expect to arrive at the Customs dock at about 0500 (bleah).

We are chilling the Champagne (thanks Chris and Kelly-this is our wedding Champagne you sent us that we’ve been saving for this day) and looking forward to seeing Opua again as well as all our good friends-some of whom are already in and many of whom will come in in the next week (and especially Orcinius John, who we haven’t seen in six month and is taking time out from re-commissioning Orcinius to come up from Whangarei to see us). Yay, yay and yay!

117 Miles To Go

Position: 33 degrees, 23 minutes south; 173 degrees, 40 minutes east

We only did 99 miles the previous 24 hours because of a very slow night/early morning, but the wind has really come in. We took the sails completely down several times today. This evening with just the yankee jib up, I hit 11 knots four times before we finally furled the jib out of concern for blowing it out.

We’re running “bare poles” right now in over 10 foot occasionally breaking waves and doing 3-5 knots.

I’ll write more later as it’s too rough right now, but suffice to say this is some kind of ride.

Welcome back to New Zealand!

“I Think It’s Getting Windier”

Position: 31 degrees, 24 minutes south; 172 degrees, 57 minutes east 130 mile day

Fortunately Ann sensed that we were about to get slammed by a squall and woke me out of a light sleep. I was off watch, but it was getting bumpier and the wind was starting to shriek, so more like a doze than a sleep.

So, I got up and we agreed we should shorten sail. We already had a double reefed main and were carrying the stays’l and jib, so I decided we would go to the triple reef. But, when I tried to do it, the sail got blown forward into the shrouds and wouldn’t come out. OK, we’ll drop the main-we’d been hitting 10 knots (which territory Charisma’s designers never dreamed Tayanas would go) so probably not a bad idea to slow down. Once down, it still kept getting windier, Wilson was working up a sweat steering and we were still going 7-9 knots. OK, down with the stays’l. Once on deck and tied down, now with just a little Yankee jib I checked course and speed. Still 6-8 knots, but at least Wilson had things under control. About this time the wind really started to shriek and the waves got very steep with some of the tops breaking and the white water being blown off. Mr Beaufort calls this condition a “Near Gale” characterized by 27-33 knot winds. Whatever it’s called, we called it windy. Oh and did I say it rained. Sheets and sheets came down. And the day had started so beautifully.

Here’s what I was planning to write today before getting blown away (it’s still windy, but more tolerable-we have a triple reef and the Yankee jib and are close reaching at around 5 knots in the residual bumpy conditions).

Starry night all around. The most prominent thing is that we’re heading directly toward the Southern Cross as we’re on course to New Zealand. I can imagine ancient civilizations setting forth with nothing but the knowledge to follow the Southern Cross until you get there. I think it would work.

Lots of shooting stars in all directions. Some very large with long, long tails glowing across the sky.

It’s nice to finally be “off” the wind. We have hit the slot that we were looking for and have a nice following breeze moving us through the night at 7 knots. Sweet!

An exuberant sunrise! Funny word to describe it, but that’s what it was. As I was waiting to see the sun, it just literally leapt out over some low clouds on the far horizon reaching up to grasp the day with its warm orange rays, in one brief moment snatching away the cold, gunmetal blue of the early morning dawn. This view in front is quite a contrast to the dark clouds forming behind us to the west. I’m guessing this is the frontal system of the low that’s lurking just to the south of us. (Boy, was I right!)

So there’s our day. At this point we’re about 240 miles from Opua, so are expecting to get in sometime Thursday the 7th-probably early evening.

Turning The Corner

Position: 29 degrees, 26 minutes south; 171 degrees, 40 minutes east

We only did 98 miles in the last 24 hours, but expect to speed up the next few days. Our current target arrival is probably sometime Wednesday evening, but we’ll update this in the next day or so as we get closer.

It’s getting cold now. We had a beautiful starry night last night. Light wind. Quiet. But cold.

Ann and I both doubled up on the fleece, wool caps and a wool blanket while on watch. Tomorrow the thermal underwear is coming out and sea boots with wool socks!

Perversely, light wind means a lot of extra work to keep the boat going. Wilson does an exemplary job steering down to about six knots of wind, but below that he can’t keep going. Also, changes in wind strength at the lower end of the spectrum-around 5-8 knots-require lots of sail trim adjustment whereas at higher wind strengths there is more tolerance. If the wind drops a couple knots and the sails are not eased a little, Charisma just “parks” herself. Kind of a tantrum. Sooo from my watch starting at 0300 all the way through this afternoon I had to hand steer and constantly adjust stuff. Ann has pitched in by doing all the other stuff including (YAY) cooking dinner tonight.

Fortunately around 1400 the easterly that we’ve been expecting filled in. This has allowed us to turn the corner toward New Zealand as well as ease sails a bit. We’re now reaching with the wind on our port beam instead of close hauled with the wind 45 degrees forward of the beam. The latter leaves no options, but now we can aim where we want to go.

We’re looking forward to a fine night of stars, and some sleep!