In Whangarei

We’re now “upriver” in Whangarei where Charisma will wait out the tropical cyclone months until April or so.  In the mean time we’ll be traveling home for the holidays, then back for some South Island land touring again, then boat work and the “biggie”, sailing Charisma back across the Pacific to the U.S. starting in May.

So stay tuned for more adventure.  We’ll be back occasionally until February when we start traveling again and will post pictures of our travels.

(Also, I updated stories with pictures back to “Urupukupuku”)

Orcas! Amazing.

And it’s not where you’d think we would see them.

We’re comfortably anchored in Whangamumu Bay. It’s really more like a little cove, but a really nice spot, surrounded by beautiful, hiking country. That’s what we were doing when we saw the orcas (Killer Whales).

Anchored at Whangamumu Bay.

Today we decided to hike out toward Cape Brett. I say “toward” because it’s too far to go in one day. As it was we hiked a six hour round trip from the Whangamumu whaling station to the Cape Brett trail and then out the trail a ways. Major UP and DOWN and some stunning views along the coastline (that we’ll post in a couple days when we’re back to internet-land).

Beautiful coastal views through the ferns.

Expansive coastal views.

One of the views on the "down" part of the hike.


So…we were on the coastal part of the walk when Ann said, “Look, there’s some whales over by that beach”. I looked over and seeing something surfing in on a wave and not believing that could be whales, said; “No, those aren’t whales, they are surfers”. A moment later, we both saw the giant vertical dorsal fin that is the signature of a male orca (it can get as tall as six feet – and one of them looked all of that). Wow! You don’t see these guys every day, but it got better.

Over the next ten minutes we watched them work their way along the rocks and kelp from the beach to a little inlet where we were standing on a cliff about 100 feet above. As they came around the edge of the cove they headed right into the inlet we were standing over. We were looking right down at them as two of them worked their way, very methodically, into the tiny inlet – exploring every nook and cranny. As they rolled sideways in the clear, shallow water we could see their signature white “saddle” under their belly. Spectacular! They were in water barely deep enough to support them poking at the kelp and all the little rock crevices. That’s when it hit us! They were looking for stingrays, penguins and/or seals.

There were about five whales (maybe a sixth young one, we couldn’t quite see) and they were working in two groups. It was fascinating to watch how carefully and thoroughly they were working. My previous encounters with these fantastic creatures have been similar. They are just plain smart. It’s spectacular to watch.

The only clear picture we got, then they were right below us and the camera wouldn't focus through the tree branches. This is a male (tall fin). A female is barely visible under water behind him.

We both agreed that it the chance encounter of a lifetime that we rounded the corner and had a view over the bay at exactly the same time the orcas were “working” that part of the coast. Amazing!

The rest of the hike was less spectacular, but no less beautiful. Coastal views of breathtaking mountainous terrain constantly showing itself.

Today we feel truly blessed by the beauty if not entirely exhausted by the six hour hike.

And we ended the day watching the fog roll in with a Charisma in hand.

If It Is A Secret, Don’t Tell!

(by Ann) AKA “Kaila Vosa spills the beans!”

We are happily tucked into Whangamumu, about 15 miles down the coast from Bay of Islands. On our way to Whangarei. We stop here for several reasons: it is a quick trip here from the Bay of Islands and breaks up the trip down the east coast; there is fabulous hiking with views looking over the bay (more about this tomorrow); there might be fish to be caught; and most importantly- it is fun to say!

Of course none of this has to do with telling secrets so I will “spill the beans” again. The last morning that we were in Opua I spotted a couple walking down our dock. The guy was wearing a SF Giants hat. I almost ignored it but after passing them I turned around and asked if it was a souvenir or if he was really from San Francisco. Turns out he was really from the Bay Area. Or more accurately, from Concord! Wow the world is so small! As we talked (you see Kaila Vosa warming up here) we found out that we had lots in common based on the Bay Area. I mentioned that the cute young girl working at the Marina Café was also from the Bay Area. Turns out….this cute young girl is their daughter!

I had gone through the same line of “where are you from; really, I am from SF too; well, really the Bay Area….etc, with the young girl. In further conversations I asked how she ended up in Opua and she shared that she had come to New Zealand with a friend and now had met the man of her dreams and was engaged to a Kiwi! How exciting. So I innocently ask, “So are you here for the wedding then?” And I was greeted by stunned expressions. The man removed his hat and let out a long, slow breath. The woman’s eyes filled with tears. She knew something was up, but not what. Apparently Kaila Vosa had just spilled the beans! The cute young girl was engaged but had not shared the exciting news with her parents yet. The woman knew that her daughter was afraid to share the news for fear of hurting her parents, who she is very close to. How nice that I could cross that bridge for her, right? Wow! Who would have thought that the world could get so small that I could uncover secrets half a world away. The mom assured me that all would be fine. I wish them all joy.

So we left and headed out to the Bay of Islands. Fishing, hoping to catch, and lots of hiking. Love it. Look out Whangarei – we are getting close!

From Bob: The little bay at Whangamumu is only ¼ mile across and has a very narrow channel inside, so it’s the perfect “quiet little bay” even when it’s windy and rough outside. Tonight, the fog rolled in for a while and it was fun to be snugged in our little spot. But now the stars are coming out. I think it’s going to be a glorious night. I just taught Ann a new trick. Writing her name in the water. The phosphorescence in this bay is really bright. When you splash the water, it glows. I can now hear her on the deck waving the boathook in the water endless writing; “A”, “N”, “N”. Swishing the boathook back and forth in the water. Giggling. Fun.


OK, I just like to say that.

We’re in the Bay of Islands, out of Paihia at Urapukapuka Island, anchored in about 13 feet of water depending on the tide. It’s just beautiful here. We literally spent the whole day today hiking the island. We probably walked nine miles on the various loops here. It’s a nature reserve so there’s no development and at the windward end of the island, high up on the cliffs is the remains of an ancient Maori settlement. Not much to see except for some level areas where they built their huts and some indentations in the ground where they stored kumara (a NZ version of our sweet potato).

Charisma tucked into a cove at Urapukupuku island.

My new anchoring technique - just drop her in!

Anchored in about 13 feet, you can see where the grassy part turns to sand.

Rugged island coastline.

A little post-hike snooze in the deep grass.

We had a most amazing sunset. It started raining a little and then a full rainbow came out right at sunset that went from one side of the bay to the other. It lasted for over a half an hour. Just amazing! Can’t wait to get some internet to post pictures.


So that’s our day. Tomorrow, we’re going to try and dive for scallops. At the very least I’m going to change the zinc on the prop shaft. The water is pretty clear here – although quite cold. I’m definitely going to use my wetsuit. I remember doing it last year and freezing my butt off! But last year I did not think I needed the wetsuit. This year I am prepared!

So, we’re using the shortwave to post this. Out of internet range until probably Thursday or Friday. It’s nice and peaceful that way although we do miss being “in touch”. Ann especially misses watching the updates on YIT.CO.NZ showing the progress of our friends still on passage. Sometimes we can hear them check in with NZ Maritime as they get close! Yay! Love it when a safe passage is completed.

Go Take a Hike! (By Ann)

Seriously, that’s what Bob told me this morning. Really? I did not dare ask twice. Instead I got my gear together and had Bob drop me off about 20 minutes into a beautiful forest area near Opua for a hike. Bob needed me off of Charisma so he could replace the cockpit remote radio mike. And I was willing to do my part!

The hike was a 3 mile hike that traversed the ridge line into Paihia. It was stunning. I hiked up and down, up and down through a tunnel created by a combination of young Kauri trees, pine trees and others I can not identify. And as I dipped low on the ridge I was treated to fern umbrellas to keep cool.

The Happy Hiker!
















The ridge became quite narrow at times and I realized that if I looked to my right I was looking down a cliff and when I looked left I had the same perspective. Once when I moved my jitoko ( Fijian for walking stick) to my right hand from the left I found no place to put it on that side either! And just when I thought I could hear a waterfall or river I realized it was the wind buffeting the top of the ridge. Very fun.

Good signage here.

Nice view from the ridge.

And the hike continued out to a lookout that treated me to a perfect view of the bay we had entered as we arrived. I sat and enjoyed a quick lunch wishing I could pull our friends that are still out there into the bay by sheer willpower. It looked lovely out there and hopefully it was as nice as it looked.

We've done the Pahia to Opua bit several times, but hard to get tired of the views.

I stopped in Paihia to kill more time and catch the 4 mile trail back to Opua, arriving at the perfect time…Bob had completed his job about a half hour earlier and was enjoying a beer and the boat was back in order! Yay!

(From Bob)  The project was kinda ugly.  Good that Ann wasn’t on board as I had to tear up most of the boat to get into the wiring to replace the remote mike.  There was stuff everywhere and no where to sit down.  I was very happy to finish the project before she got back and saw the mess.    😉


A Little Hike

Ann tricked me into a hike today.

Not that I exactly didn’t WANT to do one.  I had planned to install a new radio remote in the cockpit.  Our fancy ICOM “waterproof” VHF remote failed due to water incursion and corrosion.  The new radio came up from Auckland by courier but it didn’t have all the parts in the box, so I couldn’t install it.  So, tomorrow…sigh.

In the mean time we decided to go into Kerikeri to stock up.  We’re leaving tomorrow mid-day.  First out to the Bay of Islands, then down the coast.  We’ll probably be about a week to get down to Whangarei.  Anyway, as we got into Kerikeri Ann says, “Let’s just go down to Rewa and The Stone House, I’ve heard there are blue penguins there”.  OK, I’m game.  We headed a couple miles past town and Ann said, “Turn in here”.  We turn into a parking lot, parked and got out of the car.  She walked directly over to a trail head and said, “Oh look, there’s a nice little hike up to a waterfall!”


Ann said a little birdie told her where we should go...

Anyway, it was a nice hike and we DID need to get off the boat and out hiking.  So a nice 2 hour round trip, a couple waterfalls and we were back to the car.  Then shopping for food.

Not a bad day.

The first waterfall on the hike.

This is the named waterfall on the hike. Rainbow Falls. Actually both were quite beautiful.

What We Were Avoiding

Here’s a photo of a boat that pulled in here the other day who didn’t get south fast enough to miss that tropical depression we were racing to stay well in front of.  We understand they experienced 65 knot gusts.  Torn sail, engine knocked out and the boat is soaked down below.  Yup, we’re glad we avoided that.

It looks like the jib was partially furled when it blew. It's been like this a couple days so I guess the halyard is also jammed.

Some Misc Passage Photos

Here’s a few photos to go along with the passage from Fiji to NZ

Anchored at Momi Bay enjoying a Charisma the night before we left.

We sailed within VHF range (20 miles) of Buena Vista for the first four or five days...

...these pictures were taken mid-day on day three... was blowing 20-25 knots and six to nine foot seas.

Further south the wind died down and turned southerly forcing us to the southwest.

Lighter winds allow the squalls to form. We dodged most of them using the radar to "see" which ones had heavy rain. Of course you could see this one did without the radar.

The one nice sunrise out of eight - this trip was pretty cloudy most of the way.

Land Ho. New Zealand after 8 days 10 hours, our fastest yet.

Preparing to enter the bay at Opua.

The marina at Opua

The Ancient Kauri Forest

Thanks to our wonderful friends Carol and Jon from S/V Arnamentia who loaned us their car while they are back in Great Britain, we went on a north island road trip today. We drove over to the west side of the island (about 1 1/2 hour drive) to see the famous old growth kauri forest.

We drove from the east coast to the west coast in about 1 1/2 hours. Here's the Tasman Sea on the west coast.

The drive was pleasant along the ubiquitous two lane country roads that ARE New Zealand (there are almost no multi-lane roads here – such a pleasure) and it was wonderful to see the beautiful countryside again.

BUT, nothing could have prepared us for the breathtaking sight of 2000 year old kauri trees (think about it)! As we walked through a forest of giant trees, we came upon the oldest and largest kauri tree in NZ. It was something like 20 feet or more across! And it wasn’t just this one, we saw others that were almost that size. Words just won’t do to describe the trees, so I’ll leave you with a feeling that both Ann and I shared, but we didn’t realize it until we were back on Charisma and she said; “..I felt a presence about them…a power, they were so strong!” I felt exactly the same thing. I might add that I was humbled as well. So small and insignificant…

One of the "named" kauri trees.

The immensity of these trees is hard to capture, but this photo gives a small idea of how huge they are.

You can feel the power of this 2000 year old tree...

































From Ann – my favorite trees were the Four Sisters. Four incredibly large, tall trees from one root. How could I not think of the strength that sisters possess? We are women, hear us roar… And stand tall and strong, united. It made me miss my sisters and think of my beloved Denver neighbors, the Hutchinson girls. Strength, beauty, formidable spirit. What a day!

The Russell, Paihia, Opua Circuit

Yup, we went for a very long walk today. It’s sort of a tradition now that we’ve been here the last three years. It starts with a ferry boat ride across the way, then a six or so mile walk into Russell where we have lunch. Then another ferry over to Paihia and another six miles back to Opua. Then back on Charisma and three aspirin and a nap!

The highlight this year was when we were a mile or two out of Russell, on a section of the hike along the road, the boring part, when it started raining really hard. Just as the deluge started a car pulled over and beeped its horn. We ran over and they threw the door open. We looked in and just when it seemed like there couldn’t be enough room the folks inside crammed themselves over and made room for us. A bunch of young 20 something’s that just took pity on us. They were of Maori descent and so very nice. There’s only one small road so we didn’t even have to negotiate about where we were going. We just went and within a mile or two we were in Russell and got dropped at our favorite craft pizza place for lunch. How wonderful that people are so kind and genuine! Definitely the highlight of a wonderful day.

Nice to be out hiking again!