Enough hanging around with the flock.
The season is changing. It’s autumn in Northland. It’s time to go.
The cyclone season is officially over and it’s time to head north again, to explore further the beautiful islands of Tonga and venture for the first time to Fiji. Some cruisers have already taken off, scattering in various directions but mostly flying northward. We’ll be following in a day or so..
We have enjoyed our time in Whangarei. The little that we’ve seen of New Zealand makes us really want to see more. But time is running out. More accurately, our visas are running out. We’ve not been able to cruise local waters, much less make the “land tour” we had promised ourselves. We may need to return next season. In fact – breaking news! – it’s currently our plan to do so.
We’ve gotten a lot of projects completed although, of course, not all of them. Some remain for “next time.” But those that are critical to boat operations and safety, and the ones that were just bugging us (not always the same; in fact, usually not) have been checked off the list.
We’ve met many wonderful people during our time here. And we’ve made some good friends that we hope to keep.
But, as I said, it’s time to go. We’ve filled the water tanks, filled the provision lockers, washed the last load of laundry, and said our farewells. As important, there is a very good weather “window” opening up at the end of this week. We will take advantage of it.
On Friday we will clear out of New Zealand at Marsden Point, near the mouth of the Hatea River. We’ve arranged to meet up with Customs early in the day to complete the paperwork for outbound yachts. Marsden Cove Marina sells duty-free fuel, and our last task once the official documents are complete will be to top up our diesel tank. It’s gusty, wet and grey today (Thursday). But by mid-day tomorrow this low should be well east of us as it moves out over the Pacific, and the strong winds accompanying the low should be easing up. It may stay “lumpy” for a bit while the sea state settles, but shouldn’t be too bad. We’d like an efficient, but unexciting, departure.
We hope to be offshore by mid-afternoon tomorrow, sailing on the back side of the current low pressure moving east across New Zealand. The back side of the low provides the south westerly winds that are favorable for our northeasterly course to Tonga.The plan is to continue sailing behind the low as it moves east across the Pacific. This will take us in a northeast direction for a few days. But we need to make some easting if we want landfall in Tonga. The high that is forecast to track in behind this low is expected to be well-formed and stable. When it moves into place behind us, we should be able to bend our course around to a more northerly direction on the counter-clockwise winds, following the usual “dog leg” route to Tonga. There’s a good probability of some unstable and/or light wind along the way, of course, especially between the low and high systems. The ideal voyage should take about two weeks. But, this IS an ocean passage, so it could easily take half again as long!
Our next post will most likely be made from Tonga. In early June.