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Crossing to New Zealand September 25- October 4, 2006 by Bart
On October 4th around 4:00pm we arrived in New Zealand after a fast but rough crossing... Aeotearoa..the land of the big white cloud...
We didn't plan to cross this early, but wanted to cruise for another week and go to the next group Ha'apai in Tonga and cross from there. But there was a big high pressure between Tonga and New Zealand ; it was just the right time to go since this is one of the more difficult crossings where you are very likely to encounter a storm on the way. So after fueling up, buying the last groceries and clearing out with immigration and customs, we sailed off. Just before dark we passed the last reefs of Tonga and we where already in the middle of some big, dark clouds. The wind was a little more than forecasted and with 25-35 knots we sailed along the island chain of Tonga. We had to be careful to avoid all the reefs and small islands on the way. After 2 rough days and lots of wind, it became a little calmer and I was able to eat a little more. The sun came through and it became a rather pleasant voyage.
The next day we were all feeling strong again and I though about fishing again. In the beginning of our trip around we always started fishing on the first day. Big mistake. Often the first few days we don't feel like eating because we are still getting used to the movements of the boat ( Read seasick). Off course we caught a fish and I didn't feel like cleaning and for sure not eating it. So now we wait with fishing until we want a fish. Mostly you catch one within a day, big enough for the next 3-4 days. So it was time to fish again. At that moment Dagmar saw some yellow fin tunas jumping around the boat. I threw out the fishing line and before I was halfway rolling out there was already one on the hook. After a little struggle holding on to the line we managed to get the tuna aboard. Just as we wanted, nice size, good for the next few days. I always throw the line back out to roll it up nicely which was hard this time because, before I could start rolling in there was another tuna on the hook. So I took it in, took of the hook and threw it back in the water. Now I though I will just do it a little faster. I didn't even get in 4 meters before there was another one on the line. Next time I put the hook wrong way around but even that didn't help. So finally after 5 times a fish on the hook I just rolled it in with knots and all. Later we realized that the tunas were swimming with us. For 6 hours they were right on our side surfing the waves.
Everything went well until we got closer to New Zealand. Ernst, my father was watching the weather for us and mailing a forecast everyday, so we knew what to expect. But now suddenly the weather changed very fast, the wind came back up to 25 knots and it looked like more was coming. We decided to reef (make smaller) the mainsail. I went on the foredeck, Dagmar did the ropes from the cabin. But I soon found out the sail was stuck up in the mast top and didn't wanted to come down. The only thing we could do is go up in the mast. On deck the boat was moving considerably but the movement on the top of the mast was immense. But still Dagmar secured me and I climbed up the mast, found the problem and came down as soon as possible. Although the view up there was great.
One big moment for us when we crossed the date line and we arrived in the East. We went from 179'59 West to 179'59 East, so we were halfway around the World.
The next 2 days we had lots of wind, up to 40 knots and big seas, but we made good speed and early Wednesday morning New Zealand was in sight and the wind dropped to almost nothing. We motored the last 8 hours and just got in time to Whangarei commercial harbor, were we were welcomed by an immigration and a quarantine officer, both very friendly and efficient. We had to stay here alongside a barge to wait for the incoming tide the next morning very early because Whangarei town is 15 miles up stream and very shallow. We could only get in around high tide. So the next morning at 4:30am we motored to Whangarei helped by the lights and full moon, but it was still very difficult to stay in the narrow lane, which was just deep enough.
Around 7:00 o' clock we came into the little harbor in the middle of town. We had been daydreaming for 9 days about all the nice thing we were going to eat here in NZ. So we were the first ones to enter at 8:00am the giant supermarket just across the street. And what a delight. Soleil was going from one ooohh to the next aaahh. Loaded with bags of just goodies we came back to the boat and made us the best breakfast we have had in a year. English muffins, eggs and bacon, fruit salad, smoked salmon and lots more. Sharron and Brian, the friendly and helpful staff from the Town Basin Marina gave us a berth for the boat and showed us our way around the Marina and town.
Last modified: September 02, 2008