Tayrona’s Return to Opua, NZ

KeyDolphin
Author: Pete
Location: Northeast coast of New Zealand

 

Before shoving off north, Miranda and I took our favorite mooring for a few days to get some work done on the boat.  We ended up blowing off our to-do list to spend time with our Kiwi friends Bruce, Linda, Mel, and Nico, locals of Beach Haven.  Bruce and Linda have an amazing house overlooking the water, complete with a boathouse and dock.  We met them in our last couple of months around Auckland and have gotten together here and there when we’re in the neighborhood (read: moored out in front of their house).  They took us out to a burgeoning taproom with local beer, we met up at a weekend farmers market, and went out to lunch.  One night they even had us stay in their gorgeous house when we miscalculated the tides and Dinghy was stuck in the mud.  It’s been fun to be around long enough to connect with interesting people.  The flip side is that it’s sad to start saying goodbye to said interesting friends.  On our last eventing in Beach Haven, we took Dinghy over to their boat shed for “an afternoon glass of wine and some snacks on the wharf,” turned into many glasses of wine, turned into delivery pizza, turned into trading our sailboat for Bruce’s country home in north New Zealand.  Yup, these are those kind of good buddies and a perfect day was had by all.  In the early morning we rode the tide one last time under the Harbor Bride and out of Auckland with heavy hearts and and slightly aching heads.

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The winds were light as we left the city astern.  We motorsailed to Omaha Bay our first day, then made for Whangarei the next. Miranda and I anchored Tayrona off Marsden Cove and went out to dinner with our friends on Georgia.  We were all so involved in catching up from the last couple of months’ activity that we didn’t realize that we’d likely not be seeing them again after that evening.  Back aboard Tayrona later in the evening I stood on the transom and watched the birds play in the flood lights of the shipyard.  Their feathers lit up in orange under the sodium lamps as they caught insects, but they disappeared from view as they flew outside the light’s beam.  The birds disappearing and quickly reappearing was an oddly comforting sight after saying goodbye to good friends.

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The next morning we rounded Whangarei Heads and continued on our journey north, this time with much more favorable winds.  It was a long sail up to Whangamumu Harbor, but in twenty knots of wind with full canvas up we scooted right along.  It felt great to be stretching our sails after several weeks in Auckland.  

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When the sun was high overhead, a pod of dolphins swooped in to ride Tayrona’s bow wake.  They ended up staying around the boat for two hours, jumping, cavorting, and carrying on.  They’d take off for a few minutes, then chase the boat down, surfing along in the following seas.  When they’d approach from the starboard, their spray caught the sunlight and lit up in rainbows.  It was like an eight year old girl’s dream- dolphins and rainbows.  I kept looking around for a boy band to show up riding unicorns.   

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Over the past two years I’ve developed a special technique to capture underwater images.

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Sometimes the dolphins would zoom by the boat in a silver streak.  They’re blowing bubbles out of the top of their head as they swim, leaving a trail like smoke off a stunt plane.  I thought it might be dolphin flatulence.

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After a night in secluded Whangamumu, we ran again under accommodating winds up to Cape Brett.  We squeezed between the headlands and Motukokaku Island, the seas tumultuous from waves reflecting off the sheer bluffs.  It can be difficult to see the sides of the pass with the sails eased out on a run.  Sort of like driving your car with newspapers stuck to the windshield.  We came around the point and jibed the mainsail, fighting some current to make it through the pass and feeling like real sailors with our fancy maneuvering.  Then we were back in the sheltered waters of the Bay of Islands.  The wind was still ripping at twenty knots as we raced into Opua- the place where our whole New Zealand adventure started and will soon come to an end.

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Beach Haven Work Week

KeyBH
Author:  Pete
Location:  Beach Haven, New Zealand

 

With the job fair over and great teaching positions in our pockets, we had much to put us in the celebratory spirit.  Our wedding anniversary had also sprung up, so it was decided that a fancy dinner adventure was in order.  Some local friends told us about a neat restaurant accessible by boat up one of the tributaries inland of Beach Haven.  Apparently it once was a seriously seedy tavern but has recently been gentrified.  We zoomed up in faithful dinghy and found the place tucked into the trees overlooking the channel.  Miranda donned her high heels on the dock and we waltzed up the stairs and gorged ourselves on ribs!  Ripped back in the moonless night, navigating by iPad.

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With the fun taken care of it was back to work!  As always, there were a few tiny projects to do before heading back to sea.  For starters, Tayrona’s coach deck got gussied up with new Lagoon stickers.  The original ones had suffered fifteen years of sun and were as baked and faded as old hippies at a Woodstock reunion.  We peeled them off with the help of a twelve-volt hair drier then smoothed the flashy new logos on either side of the coach deck.  Bling!

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Continuing the glamor work, we decided to polish up Tayrona’s shoes.  After a couple weeks of hanging on a mooring in the muddy tributary her undersides took on the complexion of a clinical acne patient.  Sailing with a hull full of barnacles and seaweed is such a drag.  Instead of jumping into the the murky current with snorkel gear we took advantage of the significant tides and dried Tayrona out on the beach next to our mooring.

In a year and a half of sailing across the world it’s been our entire focus not  to run the boat into things like land.  It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new life for me.  We woke just before four in the morning to catch the high tide and put ourselves as far up the beach as possible when the tide was full ebb.  Not a ripple marred the water as we dropped our mooring lines and with bleary eyes drove the boat smack into the shore.  Okay, it was much gentler than that.  The previous day I had found the flattest, firmest piece of beach (does that sound inappropriate to you?) upon which to land, and as the wee hours of the morning unfurled we slowly inched Tayrona into the shallows.  I asked Miranda to stand up at the bow with a light.  I’m not sure why… what’s she going to say?  “Beach!  Yup, that’s the beach!”  I watched the depth gauge drop to 0.7 meters before we came to a barely perceivable stop in the still and silence…  “LAND HO!”

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Lagoons are theoretically designed to sit balanced on their keels but we’ve never actually seen proof of this.  We held our breath for the four hours it took for the tide to cede its buoyant support of her mass to the structural fin keels.  Tayrona swayed a bit to find just the right spot and settled a few inches into the sand, but did refrain from rolling over to have her belly scratched.  I dug pits under the rudders to make sure they weren’t taking weight, and then we started scraping barnacles!  

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We also took advantage of the exposed sail drives to replace the zinc anodes.  Zincs are sacrificial metal pieces that are designed to corrode in the nauseatingly harsh marine environment so the rest of your boat doesn’t.  You do have to replace them as they erode, however.  For some reason, these zincs were engineered to sit behind the propellers, so I had to remove both in the replacement process.  New zincs and clean props for Tay-Tay! P1160685

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In our day of bottom-side buffing we were cheered along by local friends Rebecca, Angela, and Tanya, who lived around Beach Haven and were kind enough to share their beach with us!

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Great Barrier Island and Auckland

keyGBI
Author:  Pete
Location: Great Barrier Island and Auckland, NZ

After a few rainy days in Kiarara Bay we sailed north, out of Port Fitzroy around a jutting headland to Katherine Bay.  Ashore, just inland of a quiet, sandy beach we found a parthenon of massive tree trunks arching out of the ground, thick branches full of air rooting plants.  A dozen rope swings fabricated from heavy ship line hung like .  Didn’t take much coercion to get us launching off branches, stretching climbing muscles that have been dormant for some time.

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Katherine Bay was beautiful but rolled all night, and not in the good way.  The next morning we sailed fast under twenty knots of wind back around the headland, returning to Kiarara.  The short, costal hops between bays and islands have been enjoyable.  Most sailors start their sailing careers in costal waters.  We missed that part and went straight offshore.  I’m seeing the error in our ways.   The next day we hiked Mt. Hobson, a six hundred meter peak, four hours uphill BOTH WAYS!  At least that’s how it felt to our coddled legs.  The trail was stunning, crossing rivers and gorgeous, and winding through rain forests where the few remaining Kauri behemoths strained to seed offspring and repopulate the area after the huge logging boom of the 1800’s.  The view from the top was breathtaking.  We could even see our little boat!  Sometimes that’s disconcerting; if you see it floating away there’s a four-hour downhill slog to go get it.

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Sailing south along Great Barrier Island, we staged for our jump back to Auckland and were escorted by a pod of dolphins.  Later, anchored in Bowling Alley Bay, another pod showed up, cavorting and jumping.  We donned wetsuits and joined them.  The cloudy water made for a spooky experience with our streamline mammalian cousins.  They were obscured in the occluding murk until they were close enough to almost touch, then they’d veer off, laughing at our aquatic immobility.  Let’s see who’s laughing when you’re on the beach, Flipper!

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Sailed eight hours back across the Hauraki Gulf.  Miranda and I wrestled a Kingfish aboard part way through the trip.  I already had some fillets in the refrigerator from spearfishing in Bowling Alley Bay, so we let him go.  

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Parked the boat in front of Auckland.  The anchorage is exposed and a little choppy from the ferry wakes, but it’s got the best view in town.  On the rainy days in Port Fitzroy, I designed a part for the engine control panels on SketchUp and 3D printed them at the public library.  They worked out so well and cost nothing to print that my brain has been constantly thinking up new things to design and build for the boat!  They created a monster!

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3D Printing Faceplate Model

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Found a safe spot up river to leave our baby for a couple days when we go to the job fair.  Had one last good sail to stretch her legs before a week of lounging on a mooring off the Beach Haven wharf.  Sit, stay, good Tayrona!  No parties while we’re away!

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