Posted by: catamarantwooceans | January 22, 2011

The Bay of Islands

16.1.11 – Sunday – At 0630, before the wind will come up and make it difficult to leave the dock, I slipped the lines and motored out, with only the starboard trampoline installed and the mainsail not fully connected. I’ll have to do it all in the bay. I first stopped at lovely Roberton island and installed the port trampoline. Boats kept coming in all the time and when I counted 25 of them and saw more coming I went another 3 miles to the east to Omakiwi cove. On the way I saw a familiar silluette –  A Maxim 380. It was “Savannah Safari”, Dave Potts’ yacht. He visited “Two Oceans” in November.

Omakiwi is a delightful bay but I did not have time to enjoy! I had to work on the mainsail! At 5 pm I was so tired I decided to finish the work the next day. omawiki4

As evening came the number of boats in the bay rose to about twenty but there was was space for all, nobody played loud music or roared around with high power dinghies. The bay remained peaceful and quiet.

17.1.11 – Monday – Dreary, grey morning greeted me as I woke up. I didn’t mind. Went for a walk on shore amid big pines and ferns, no house in sight, the only evidence of human presence was an old cemetery on the hill.

The next project was fishing. I moved the boat to the southern tip of the cove, a spot the Opua cruising guide (given as part of a welcome package to every cruiser) remarked was good for snappers. I watched a man on a motor boat, who had the same idea, wrestle with something  that turned out to be a big ray that he had to let go. I caught my dinner and at mid-day was back inside the cove.

At 5 pm it occurred to me that I did not do the new auto-pilot calibration procedure. That’s a funny one, involving turning slowly 720 degrees. I went and did it in misty, drizzly, low visibility conditions and am quite sure some of the guys in the bay thought I was losing my marbles.

I lost two more games to my formidable chess opponent and had a satisfying dinner: Tzatziki for starters and then grilled snapper. It merited a “Perfectly cooked, that fish” as Gordon Ramsey says in his “Hell’s kitchen” TV program.

Later some music using the newly installed loud-speakers and I’m ready to call it a day.

18.1.11 – Tuesday – Yesterday the forecast for today was “North Easterlies 25 knots”. When I got up there was light wind so I figured I can go fishing again. Out at the “Fishing grounds” it blew 15-17 knots, nothing to worry about. But then the new forecast was aired at 0800: “NE 20 – 25 gusting 35 in the evening 35 gusting 45”. I better forget about fishing and arrange a safe anchorage. The funny thing was that as I came back into the cove there was almost no wind at all! I noticed that none of the local boats put out a second anchor which was what I had in mind to do. Some boats even left the anchorage and I could see some sailing or motoring outside. Later the forecast was amended to “NE 40 gusting 50” and some heavy rain started falling. The moment it stopped I went on deck and put a second anchor in tandem with the main one. And yet the higher wind value I saw was 15 knots. It seems the wind is deflected upwards by the hills surrounding the cove.

I was perplexed by my barometer reading showing 1014 milibars, I thought it should be lower. This was confirmed by Russel radio (a volunteer local radio station, giving weather and other assistance) saying that the actual pressure was 999 mb! I knocked lightly on my instrument and, surprise! surprise! It promptly fell to the correct value.

Around noon the tide was low and I saw two guys collecting something between the rocks that were revealed when the water receded. I went over to investigate. “What are you gathering there?” “Oysters” was the answer. Oh well! I can take some too! So I had six oysters added to my planned menu of tuna salad. The guide said that one could find scallops in 7 meter depth near the rock at the cove’s entrance. When the weather improves I’ll try and get some.


The wind did come up some in the cove but never went over 22 knots for a short time.

19.1.11 – Wednesday – Omakiwi is, a very nice and protected bay but since yours truly is not a very patient man and finds it difficult to stay put in one place for long, I decided to move to a new spot. Everything is so close here! I chose Opunga cove, which turned out to be an attractive, though a bit crowded place.

opungaI keep playing computer chess every day but instead of me getting better with practice it seems that the machine is improving it’s game! A few days ago I won two matches against level 6 (out of ten) and now I’m losing continuously to level 5!

20.1.11 – Thursday – Today is my birthday. Sixty nine! The years go by like clicking numbers in the petrol station’s meter. In my airline days, when we flew long haul, I had a saying I immodestly named “The Barzam Paradox”. This is how it went:”Flights go by slowly, but life passes ever so quickly”. The chronology is undeniable and yet I feel like a boy in a man’s body (not badly kept, I might add). I wonder if I’ll ever grow up…

I’ll celebrate the way I like best – spending time in nature on the water as well as on land. It could have been perfect had Gili been here today! At least we talked on the phone.

The forecast at 0800 was for SW 15 changing in the evening to SE 25 gusting 35 knots. I was looking for a bay that will give me good protection but also the possibility of catching a fish for dinner. Urupukapuka island has nice, secure bays and good walking trails but no fish! Inspecting the guide closely I found that there was a recommended fishing spot with snapper and John dory less than a mile from my position. Not an overnight stop – just fish and go on. I motored over and 15 minutes later continued on my way with two snappers in the bucket.

Otaio bay in Urupukapuka is shaped like a horseshoe, surrounded by green, wooded hills. I dropped my anchor in 3.4 meters, allowing for a possible tidal range of 2 meters and lowered the dinghy to go ashore. On shore I saw a couple of trees on which a large number of Cormorants perched. I approached rowing, so as not to scare the birds and got quite close. Those are the black and white ones and have a better flying performance than their Mediterranean counterparts.  c-tree3

The trails are well marked by poles painted yellow on top. I found myself walking around the island, going up and down hills several times. But it wasn’t just the workout that made me huff and puff – the views were also breathtaking. On the east and north sides of the island there are some high, impressive vertical cliffs and gorges. Regretfully the pictures do not really express their real immensity and beauty.



The channel between Uropukapuka and the smaller island Waewaetorea was also a gem.



And I wasn’t the only “Old one” walking there. I met a woman who looked at least my age, who said this was her favorite walk.

Back in the bay after one hour and forty five minutes, the tide was running out, revealing some oyster covered rocks. Oysters for lunch, just like in Paris…

By the way – the weather was perfect all day long. Blue skies and not a lot of wind.

21.1.11 – Friday – Bad weather is here. Low clouds, rain, wind and bad visibility. It is supposed to be that way up to Monday, when there will still be rain but the wind will be 15 knots. So I’ll just have to wait and see.

22.1.11 – Saturday – Got up in the morning and decided I was fed up with this bay. I found a secure bay close to the marina and motored there. Uruti bay is south of the town of Russel. It’s green all around and as I could tuck close to the hill on the south I had almost no wind at all. Just as I was starting to enjoy the place and the idea of staying there for two more days, the marina called. My place has been vacated, I can come back. I did it, mostly because my food supply is running too low.

23.1.11 – Sunday – I was lucky to come back because the weather deteriorated, strong winds and “King Tides” hit the area. A man on a catamaran came in and tied next to me. He explained he was in a hurry because his sea side home was invaded by the tide!

24.1.11 – The rest of the week will be dedicated to maintenance. I am going to do a lot of things I planned to do in Thailand: New mainsail, new dinghy etc. I may put in a “Technical” report at a later date.

Next week i’ll go on a land tour of NZ, using a bus company called “Kiwi Experience”. Should be interesting.


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