Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Leaving Opua for Tonga

Well after nearly 2 weeks of anxiously waiting for a weather window, we are off! We are all stocked up with enough provisions to last us more than a month of sailing until we get to some decent shops in Nadi, Fiji. Our fuel tanks are full along with our water tanks even though we have a water maker. We updated our Google Earth maps of Tonga and Fiji because the charts cannot be relied on in these areas. We have visited and revisited all the boat systems, on a boat that is well found and Steve is a very competent captain with a lot of experience. There has never been a boat more prepared to meet the challenges of the often treacherous passage from NZ to the islands.

Let's hope it all goes smoothly.

Opua day 12

Seven boats left yesterday and about a dozen left today, a few of them in a nasty squall that came in about lunchtime.
Friends next to us on Victory left later in the day because they had 3 children to organize. Interesting in that the kids used to get seasick until they started wearing wristbands with plastic buttons at the acupuncture points. Not sure if it was psychological or not but it did the trick. For myself, we will be leaving here tomorrow morning in quite light conditions so I don't think I will need anything. I do have some crystallized ginger just in case but I don't usually need anything. It's more the case that I lose my appetite and can't sleep for the first couple of days on a long voyage. I did get some scopaline patches that go behind your ear just in case but you have to put them on 24 hours before you leave. After a couple of days of sailing all will be well.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Opua day 11

The waiting is finally over because tomorrow we are leaving for Tonga. Wahoo! Not a great forecast by any means but at this time of year you have to take the best that you can get. Already there are strong northerlies here stirring up the sea so we will be leaving on the back side of a front passing through quite quickly going from west to east. Then we will be motoring in light head winds on our way NE for a couple of days,which we must do at full speed because of the next cold front hopefully passing below us as we get close to the Kermadec islands on the weekend. Friday will give us the most boisterous conditions of the voyage from the NW so we may have to run more easterly to get comfortable. Then it will be full steam ahead for our run up to Tongatapu or Paingi in the Hai'pai group. Hopefully we will take no more than 7 days arriving there Wednesday of next week. Check out our trip at my.yb.tl/Alora on the web.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Opua day 10

This Catamaran left a few days ago headed for Tonga and got beat up badly, breaking a main halyard. Now this is a Catana boat and very well built but it just goes to show you that you need to respect mother nature.
Here is an old double ender on our dock that caught my eyes.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Opua day 9

NZ customs have a new boat on our dock here in Opua. Hawk V is an 18 metre catamaran that was built to combat drugs being smuggled into New Zealand. Capable of travelling faster than 70km/h it is largely tasked with patrolling the north island's east coast.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Opua day 8

The boat yard here in Opua is a hive of activity with marine expertise second to none.
I have friends with a 2001 Morris Icebear having lots of work done on their boat here and they are very happy with the quality and the price of their refit.
Finally, this is the place to pick up crew or advertise for crewing positions. There are many boats waiting here to make the jump to the tropics and the many notice boards are full of advertisements.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Opua day 7

There are many small towns near Opua but the largest is just North of here called Kerikeri.
They had an interesting exhibit at the domain.
And the football season has just started here with winter just around the corner so the soccer players were out practicing.
It's looking more and more like a Tuesday departure to Tonga.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Opua day 6

While we are waiting for a weather window here in Opua, we have been settling into a routine. After breakfast we we first exercise, then we do boat chores, then we do the tourist thing before making dinner. Today we cleaned all the teak on the boat using a mixture of saltwater, bleach, dishwashing detergent and some fresh water. They came out looking like new. This afternoon we walked up to Paihia, a distance of about 7km.
They had a historic Anglican Church.
Persimmons are in season here and the trees are a common sight.
Weather forecast is getting worse between here and Tonga so we are so glad we waited. It may be another week before there is another weather window.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Opua day 5

Today we made the decision not to leave NZ for Tonga because of the weather. Here is the passage weather forecast for next Saturday.
As you can see, we would be caught out in some quite nasty winds and waves.

So anyway we are making the most of the great temperatures here in Opua while we wait and today we walked a lot! First up the coast to Paihia, then across on the ferry to Russell.
Russell used to be called the hell hole of the Pacific with all the whalers, traders and ex-convicts so it has some colorful history. The local graveyard contains many of them.
We had lunch at a beautiful hotel called the Duke of Marlborough.
We walked another 11kms back to another ferry to get us back just after dark and on the way I got to see a kiwi. This was only the second kiwi I had ever seen in the wild so I was quite thrilled.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Opua day 4

Today we rented bikes and biked the coast to coast old rail trail.
We headed to a town called Kawakawa that has public toilet with ceramics.
The train goes up the main Street on the weekend.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Opua day3

Today we visited the Treaty grounds in Waitangi where the Maori chiefs signed a treaty in 1840.
Weather is still a concern but we will make up our minds when we look at the weather tomorrow on whether or not to go on Tuesday.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Opua day 2

Today I walked with Linda and Carol on a bike trail next to the marina called the Twin Coast bike Trail.
The tunnel is actually closed for repairs but we walked through it anyway. The old railway tracks run about 100km from here to the other side of the island to the Tasman Sea.

We spent the morning doing boat chores, getting ready to leave on Tuesday. Weather wise, there is a potential tropical storm labelled 95l developing near Fiji that we are keeping a close eye on. It is supposed to fade away but if not, we will be here another week. Also we were hoping to stop off on the way at Minerva Reef but it looks like it will be too difficult to sail into the trade winds at that point so we might just sail straight to Tongatapu.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Opua day 1

This place is a Mecca for cruising boats.
A lot of the boats here are preparing to leave for the islands because it's the end of the cyclone season. Every day they have activities for the cruisers provided by the local council who own the marina. Tonight they had a get-together for everyone and it was good to share information and talk weather to the other crews making the same voyage. I listened to the local Burnsco rep about fishing from the stern of the boat by dragging lures and he had a table full of products for sale.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Bland Bay to Moturua Island


You can track our boat on the Internet at the link above. What a gorgeous sunrise to start the day.
Today we actually got to sail. We had a nice sail for a few hours without the motor and the boat performed beautifully despite her 35 gross tonnage.
We passed the hole in the rock which from far away doesn't look very big but if you look closely at the photo, you can see a big tourist boat in the hole.
We trolled a fishing lure again today without luck so we tried fishing at our anchorage and managed to hook some “pannies” for dinner.
Tomorrow we are heading into Opua to the marina there to get ready to push off for the islands early next week. So far all the systems on board have worked well on this shakedown cruise and everyone is happy and doing well. We had a little glich today when we forgot to wind in the fishing line when anchoring so the lure got caught around the prop. I ended up donning my shorty wetsuit and dived into the water to cut it off. Brrr! I can't wait to get to the tropics.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Marsden Cove to Bland Bay

Today we were up before sunrise and got petrol at the fuel dock before casting off.
Then it was a motoring day up the coast for 6 hours in light breezes. Linda made us a delicious lunch using basil from a plant growing in the cockpit.
We ended up in Bland Bay about 4pm and dropped the hook in the most delightful place you could imagine.
It is so quiet here that the waves crashing on the Sandy Beach nearby is about all I can hear

Monday, May 13, 2019

Through hull fittings

One of the biggest differences between Onapua and the new boat I am on is the number of through hull fittings on board. To me the fewer the better but whereas my boat has 5, this new one has 16. Mind you they are all top quality bronze Groco fittings and they have an easy map to locate them.
Tomorrow we set sail for Bland Bay, about 40 miles north of here in Whangarei. Weather is going to be nice but with light winds, we may have to motor most of the way.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Comparing boats

It's hard not to compare this beautiful boat with Onapua. My sleeping quarters in the vberth here are nothing short of luxurious.
On my Westsail 32 I have to climb up into the vberth and it is more like a cave than anything. Here on Alora, I have a regular bed with sheets and pillows. Mind you that is in Port. It might be a different situation once we start sailing. More than once on my boat, I have slept on the sole or the floor where there is less of a chance of being thrown about and I am sure that this will be the same here.

Friday, May 10, 2019


Seeing we will be gone for so long, I decided to freeze 10 meals before we set off and store them in the freezer onboard. There is a kitchen not far from here in Snell’s Beach that agreed to make them and freeze them in aluminum trays. At first I was going to try and make them myself, but I don’t really have the expertise to do a good job and they gave me such a good price I couldn’t say no. The chef who prepared them used to make meals for the oil rigs fellows offshore so he knew just what I wanted. I was initially going to get all vegetarian meals but ended up compromising on the following.

Beef Ragout
Lamb Tagine
Ham & Cheese Quiche
Beef Lasagne
Vegetable Linguine Pasta
Mushroom Risotto
Seafood Kedgeree
Shepherds Pie
Apple & Feijoa crumble 

They are 1 kilogram each, enough for a hearty meal for the 3 of us or perhaps to split in half for later.


Ok so I know it is not my boat Onapua but for a wee while, I plan on sailing aboard Alora, a Hylas 56 up to the islands from here in NZ.
I am going to be sailing with Linda and Steve who have sailed Alora from the USA through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific on the Coconut Milk Run, putting into New Zealand to avoid the cyclone season.

I'll post to my blog whenever I get a chance. Initially we will be leaving Whangarei to sail up to Opua, both in the North Island and waiting there for a weather window to sail up to Tonga via Minerva reef.

I've had a great 6 months here in Kiwi country working on my bush clad bay in the Marlborough Sounds and managed to build a shed on it to collect water in a water tank.
But with the approach of winter it is time to move on to a warmer climate.