Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.
Ship traffic has been sporadic; we'll have 2-4 ships passing, headed N or S, every half hour or so, but none close enough to cause us to change course. We've been making good time to windward, and although we are sailing well south of the direct course line to North Cape, New Zealand, we are getting south which should put us on the favorable side of the ridge that is forming in the Tasman and very slowly moving eastward. On the south side of the ridge (where we are trying to get) NW winds are forecast which would be downwind for us, but on the N side (where a direct course line would put us) we would have SE headwinds for nearly a week!
If you'd like to check our current position, go to the Google Earth map on the bottom of our homepage, www.mahina.com.
Leg 8 - 2012, Update 2
November 9, 2012, 0530 hrs, 33.20 S, 163.10 E, Log: 161,254 miles
Clive checked with the sole policeman and reported back that since our last port was in Australia we wouldn't need to complete any formalities other than to pay the island administration for the use of the mooring ($40 per night, two nights minimum plus $30 admin fee) and our landing fees of $37.50 each.
We headed ashore quickly as we'd heard on the VHF it was Melbourne Cup Race Day therefore the bowling club was where most of the island's population of 350 was celebrating. What a wild bunch - girls and ladies wore fancy dress accessorized with fab hats & shoes while the guys were wearing outrageous tux with tails!
We met a local couple who had for many years worked 4-5 months per year picking kentia palm seeds, the island's famous export, while cruising around the world in various boats the rest of the time. They'd followed us through Patagonia in the late 90's and were soon flying to Tasmania to continue cruising on their current 34' S & S sloop.
As we walked by Wilson's Bike Rental and couldn't resist renting really good mountain bikes for just $8 per day. No bike locks required and with only a few cars on the island this is a cycler's dream!
Meanwhile our adventuresome crew, well-organized by Linda, an irrepressibly happy and inquisitive Kiwi nurse, met many of the local colourful characters as they hitchhiked and trekked from one end of the island to another frequenting all the notable vistas such as Transit Hill and Binky Beach
We decided on The Anchorage restaurant for dinner, situated in the village center not far from the wharf, and what a surprise! I had expected typical Aussie fish & and beer battered chips but instead we enjoyed truly local gourmet fare of fish and beef with decadent treats for desert.
When paying our mooring fee I'd forgotten to ask for the key to the free showers and laundry on the wharf moorage fee but little did I know Linda had already shamelessly flirted with the Lord Mayor and talked him out of his own set of keys so crew enjoyed delicious hot showers to wash away their surf tumbling at Blinky Beach before we headed back to MT.
Anytime going ashore for a run, cycle or explore is an option, Amanda and I always invite any of our crew to join us at first light. We were both so excited about getting on our rented bikes and exploring the island that we awoke at 4 am before first light. By 0500 we were in the dinghy, joined by Ian and Tom and headed off on adventures. We were back aboard at 0800 so I could make breakfast, then everyone headed ashore to rent bikes and explore more of the island.
At the excellent museum we'd learned that this exotic, sub-tropical island had been uninhabited when discovered in 1788 by the RN ship, SUPPLY when on a supply run between Port Jackson and the penal colony on Norfolk Island. A few decades later three British whalers and their NZ Maori wives and children were the first settlers. They had been chased from their NZ land-based whaling station and set up farms on Lord Howe, selling provisions to passing whaling ships.
We met at the island co-op at noon, and every one had tales of adventure including how not to loose your shorts while body-boarding. None of us wanted to leave! In fact Ian called his wife Debra in Brisbane saying, "We've got to sail here" only to be told, "I've been telling you for years we should visit Lord Howe!"
We each made plans to return, some by yacht, others by air as we returned to MT to enjoy lunch and a snorkel. I found that Tom hadn't been exaggerating when he'd remarked earlier that the snorkeling was amazing. Seconds after I'd dropped into the crystal-clear water a huge ray somehow managed to glide between MT's keel and the bottom, and parrot fish the size of truck tires inquisitively swam up to inspect us. It's obvious that declaring the lagoon a marine park in 1999 has really paid off. While we were on the mooring, several groups of kayakers and two glass-bottomed boats glided by. Total number of tourists at any time is limited to 400 and as there are only small guest cottages and luxury lodges the island won't be overrun by tourists any time soon. In fact, there is no mobile phone service, only old fashioned-card phones like we still see in Tahiti.
This morning the sun is out and ever so slowly the wind is coming around from NE to N, allowing us to ease sheets and our speed to pick up. With 492 miles to North Cape, we should be rounding it sometime Monday and hopefully arrive in Opua on Tuesday.
Upon departing Lord Howe, our winds very, very backed around to the N, then NW, allowing us to ease sheet for the first time and we were tickled to watch our noon-to-noon daily runs climb from 150 to 160, 162 and then 175.
For nearly a week we had been hearing of a low spinning up down near Sydney, which was supposed to trigger a fairly strong frontal passage just about the time we calculated we would be rounding the rugged northernmost tip of New Zealand.
Sure enough, just before sunset on Sunday, November 11th I looked astern at a fairly solid grey/black wall approaching and said, "There's our cold front!” I headed below to put on foulies and no sooner than I made it below to our aft cabin than there was a CABOOM! As an instant, 50 degree wind shift caused our helmsperson to gybe the mainsail. Fortunately the preventer was pulled tight and there was no damage. As quickly as possible we trimmed for our new tack, put in another reef and OFF WE SCOOTED!
It was dark by the time we passed Cape Reinga, the very NW tip of New Zealand, and we had to motorsail some across the top before making the turn at North Cape just after dawn on Monday and making a beeline for Opua, New Zealand's northernmost customs port of entry located in the Bay of Islands, 85 miles south. New Zealand Customs requires a 48 hour advance notification of arrival, and we'd done that by sending a fax before we left Brisbane. It was looking close as to whether or not we'd reach the customs wharf before they closed at 1630.
At 1400, just as we were entering the Bay of Islands, Hawk, the NZ Customs launch zoomed up alongside saying, "Welcome to New Zealand” and asking if we had made any stops or had any contact with vessels since making landfall.
Robert and Lesley, Amanda's parents whom we last saw in Noumea motored out in Gracias to welcome us to Opua with cat Tigger aboard. They moor Gracias, their Beneteau 432, on a mooring directly off Opua Marina.
We arrived at the customs/quarantine dock with 45 minutes to spare, thanks to a favorable current and within minutes an inflatable nudged up to the dock which is not attached to shore and customs and quarantine officers came aboard for a sleek and warm clearance. They told us they had cleared 60 incoming yachts in the past three days and were expecting over 100 more within the next three days, at least half with damage from an early tropical storm that had mowed right through the fleet of boats heading down from Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Cal. We learned that a couple, suffering from head injuries, had just been taken off a Beneteau 43 and that vessel was severely leaking after the forehatch was smashed by an adrift jerry jug.
As we knew Opua Marina must be busting at the seams with so many new arrivals we were delighted to learn they had a slip available for us, and moved in immediately, giving our crew access to the excellent showers, laundry and café directly ashore.
At Roberton we hiked to the top of the hill, three of our nutty crew went swimming (Yes you guessed right Linda, Jamie & Tom) and Robert and Lesley kept everyone entertained with sailing stories over dinner..
Wednesday dawned clear and crisp until the sun started disappearing behind a near-total eclipse. Stan was well prepared, having brought two welder's glass plates, allowing us to watch the sun hiding behind the moon.
Our sail south to Tutukaka was brilliant! We had good winds as we sailed past Cape Brett (hole in the rock) and with winds gusting to the mid-20's, we got some more reefing practice.
Part time anesthetist, part time businessman in international freight forwarding, born in Tasmania but I've lived in Brisbane for the last 20 years. I very recently purchased a 14.3 Schonning catamaran which I'm currently enjoying sailing on Moreton Bay. I'm looking forward to exploring further offshore soon!
Linda and Jamie, 54 & 51
We are from Northern Victoria, Australia and have had all types of adventures from running a large irrigated dairy farm for 11 straight years to owning printing business but what we're really keen on doing is purchasing a sailboat and cruising the Pacific, Med or Caribbean.
I live in North Vancouver with my wife Susan and sons Jason and Steve. We sail our Catalina 34 between the along the BC Coast and San Juan Islands. I've always looked forward to ocean passage making and crossing the Tasman Sea aboard Mahina Tiare was a fantastic experience.
I am outfitting my Pacific Seacraft 34 for extended cruising and wanted some offshore passage making experience before taking off in a while on my own adventures.
Kawau Island was our destination, and was where Linda had spent many summers with her family, sailing, boating, fishing and having great adventures. She pointed out their family home which they had just recently sold and places they had sailed to as a kid.
Islington Bay on Rangitoto Island is always a starting and ending place for us. This is where Amanda and I sailed on our first sailing date in 1994, always our first stop after relaunching Mahina Tiare each May, and our last anchorage of many seasons. Last night after everyone went aloft for rig inspection in a fairly stiff breeze the skies cleared and the winds died so we all enjoyed a hike around the well-preserved historic "bach's” (beach cottages).
November 20, 2012
The morning of the 17th Amanda and I had hoped to take crew on our traditional Rangi Ramble up to the summit but a howling gale put a damper on our plans. Instead we focused on the finer points of cruising with a detailed engine room briefing and braid splicing.
The skies cleared long enough for us to steam up the Waitemata Harbour with a ticky tour of maritime museum and the swanky viaduct basin home stuffed with visiting mega yachts. Thankfully Westhaven Marina found a berth for us and we all enjoyed a final crew meal out at the Turkish Café in Ponsonby before everyone headed off home or on explorations of NZ.
Now, another season, our 22nd is winding down. Even before we were done cleaning Mahina Tiare we'd shifted into repair and refit mode. So far we've replaced a genoa winch base that had cracked, purchased replacement rope clutches for our mainsheet, purchased filters and impellers for our Volvo engine, repaired a cranky bilge pump, found a Lofrans windlass specialist to show us how to rebuild our leaking anchor windlass and removed our Force 10 stove/oven and taken it to the Force 10 importer to replace the burners. When I saw the shiny new and improved model, I took the leap and put a deposit on a new stove.
We've been fortunate to have sunny, dry days without the normal Auckland spring time gales. Today on our return across the harbour bridge from the stove place we saw both Team NZ and Prada out very cautiously sea trialing their massive new 72' America's Cup catamarans.
Tomorrow we're hoping to get the main and genoa down and furled on the dock and rebuild the windlass. Friday we plan on sailing (oops, no sails - I mean motoring!) back to Rangitoto Island to work on varnish and decks before hauling out Monday morning. After a week in the boatyard working on the decks and general cleaning and sorting we hope to have even more projects completed. While we're beavering away over the next weeks we'll look forward to driving north to Whangarei to see Amanda's family, especially her 4 and 1 year old nieces, Mary Ann and Tessa. We've already been told we're got special tickets for a ballet performance of Snow White.
It's nearly Thanksgiving Day, and this is the time we express our gratitude to the special people in our lives; our families, the expedition members who join us, Tracy who runs our office so efficiently, Melonie and Chris who keep our website looking so smart, Carol Hasse - our sailmaker at Port Townsend Sails, and the dedicated crew at Hallberg-Rassy who built Mahina Tiare.
Last but not least, thanks to you, our readers who have followed our adventures, some of you since our first Antarctica update in 1996! Let's make a toast to a wonderful year, full of learning and adventures, and to next year when more adventures and islands await upon our completions of our voyages!
A Hui Hou!
John and Amanda,
November 21, 2012
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