Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.
When running various scenarios on PredictWind, I noticed that if we stopped at Norfolk to avoid the heavy winds and seas earlier predicted, we’d end up with headwinds for the first half of our passage to NZ. I ran a second forecast for a direct passage to North Cape, NZ and was surprised to see it no longer showed 35 kts and 4 meter seas.
Oddly enough, we’ve seen this frequently with multiple forecast models in different areas of the world - a forecast of strong winds and seas in 3-5 days yime, but when the time arrives, the wind and seas have substantially diminished. With this in mind I decided to change course to a direct rumbline for New Zealand’s North Cape, now 750 miles away. Several forecast models suggest we’ll have a six-hour period of winds touching the low 30’s in a couple days, but the sea heights have dropped from 4 meters to 2.6 meters.
November 11, 2019, 2019, 0510 hrs, 28.56 S, 167.52 E, Log: 29,951 miles
Before departing Brisbane, we didn’t have an opportunity to scrub the antifouling, (too many cautionary shark stories) so we’ve asked our crew to help with that task at Norfolk. Both Australia’s and New Zealand’s BioSecurity are vigilant in trying to prevent the introduction of new invasive aquatic species. They request that you have proof that your antifouling was applied within the last 6 months and they can request you to haul out for a pressure wash if they consider your bottom is foul.
The winds and seas seriously intensified with our Norfolk landfall on Monday with squalls bringing gusts to 41 kts and steep, breaking seas. Crew certainly experienced some exhilarating surfing conditions as we rounded the western tip of the island. We set a course for Cascade Bay on the NE corner as I figured it would offer the best protection from the 3-4-meter SW swell. In fact, we found excellent shelter with surprisingly little swell wrapping around into the bay. We noticed was that the concrete pier had recently been substantially upgraded plus lengthened and now sports a huge new crane while ashore we spied four shiny aluminum cruise ship shuttle boats on trailers and later learned they’d been used for the first time last week.
After anchoring in 40’ off the pier, I zipped ashore with the RIB and chatted with some guys in the process of launching their fishing boat with the crane. They said that as our dinghy had a bridle, they’d be happy to hoist it out onto the pier while we went ashore.
Upon my return to MT, a large ocean-going tug and barge appeared around the southern headland and began entering the bay. Concerned they might be unloading and that MT would be in their way, I returned to the pier. I was told that the barge had already unloaded airport upgrade supplies (one of five trips) in Balls Bay and that they were stopping to drop off crew.
Getting the few miles to Burnt Pine township was a cinch – by first car we kindly asked to give us a ride, they were Australians and were killing time before their airplane ride home. They had a hundred questions about our voyage but also informed us that at home bush fires were now encroaching on their suburb and that everyone was on evacuation notice.
Norfolk Island has a fascinating history. Polynesian settlers had been and gone when Captain Cook “discovered” the island, and the Brits used it as a penal colony from 1788 to 1814, building substantial stone buildings that have been restored. Following the prison period, in 1856 the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives were resettled on the then uninhabited island as tiny Pitcairn Island (only 1 by 2 miles) had become overpopulated with over 200 inhabitants. A handful of Pitcairners so missed their isolated island that they returned a short time later and today they number about 50 on Pitcairn.
Returning to the pier, we discovered the tug PT Fortitude (https://pacifictug.com/portfolio-item/pt-fortitude) and its large barge had anchored quite close to us. We’d chatted to the crew on the pier and after dark upon seeing the tug crew shining spotlights on the barge to ensure it wasn’t too close to us, I called the skipper on the radio, mentioning we’d be standing anchor watch all night and asking if he wanted us to put additional deck lights besides our anchor light. He replied that due to the currents the barge was being very difficult and that they’d shortly be re-anchoring further offshore. The skipper mentioned that they, also, were waiting for the winds and seas to diminish in order to return to Brisbane so I offered to download a share a PredictWind forecast for them.
We’re through what should be our third and final frontal passage of the expedition. This one had thunder, lightning and as I served up pancakes to our hungry crew in the cockpit, massive rainfall! Peak winds were in the mid 30’s and seas were closely spaced and breaking impressively.
The frontal passage was heralded by a 180-degree wind shift before lunch, then the wind dropped off for an hour or so and are we’re now zooming along on a broad reach with surprisingly smooth seas. We have only 210 miles to the customs berth in Whangarei’s Marsden Cove Marina. With challenging conditions below and at the helm we’ve decided to take a break from classes and catch up on sleep.
Land Ho! At Cape Brett’s iconic “Hole in the Rock with our Leg 8 crew: AKA “Knotty Kiwi’s”
Andy, 70 - I’m a scientist, entrepreneur and sailor. My wife Sophia and I own a 43’ Hallberg-Rassy which we enjoy sailing in the New England area.
Sophia, 68 - I’m a visual artist, a keen skier and a very good grandmother. My website is: www.sophiaogielska.com.
Gunnar, 58 - I’m from Denmark, where I have my own company and expect to sail around the world in 2-3 years’ time. I and my wife own a 19-year-old Malo 45, a wonderful boat. I have sailed since I was five years old when I got an Optimist. My goal with this expedition was to taste real offshore sailing and to learn the most possible in these 18 days. A lot has been learned, thanks!
Val, 67 - I’m a retired dentist and a fearful sailor and I’m looking forward to sailing north into Canada in 2020 with my husband Mike.
Mike, 69 - I’m a semi-retired veterinary surgeon living on Orcas Island of Washington state. Val and I have a Westsail 32 which we will probably sell and upgrade. We’re looking forward to sailing Desolation Sound and SE Alaska next summer.
Pam, 70 - Amanda calls me Mighty Mouse. I like to believe because I’m agile, strong for my petite size and determined, I can do anything! I love to sail. I sail in the New York City area. We just sold our Pearson 30 and bought a Tartan 41. I race mostly an Ideal 18 and I’ll sail anywhere with the right crew. Have foulies, will sail!
Great conditions meant that we had to move our ETA for the customs dock at Marsden Cove Marina forward three times. In the end we had a nearly full moon and very moderate conditions as we followed the well-marked shipping channel past Whangarei’s Mardsen Point Refinery and then into the narrow channel into the nearby marina.
The customs wharf was empty, and we celebrated with tea and bikkies before instantly falling asleep. We awoke to a brilliantly sunny Saturday morning and by 0900, Bruce, Whangarei’s notoriously efficient and friendly customs inspector was aboard, followed by an equally efficient Bio-Security inspector.
After topping up fuel we welcomed Mary-Ann and Tessa, Amanda’s nieces, aboard for the 10-mile voyage up the river to the Whangarei town basin. Our crew delighted in the charm of this very famous cruisers town while Amanda and I visiting with her brother, David, his wife Karen and our favorite nieces!
Before heading downriver Sunday noon, Amanda went aloft as it appeared we’d somehow maypoled the halyards.
We anchored Sunday afternoon at Urquhart’s Bay inside Whangarei Heads and were delighted to head ashore for a hike through the cows and around the headland to the WWII gun emplacements.
A brilliant 40-mile broad reach south to Kawau Island was our reward on Monday and once anchored Amanda pulled out our trusty Sailrite machine to teach sail repair plus return aloft to change out the spinnaker block. This also proved an excellent time to cover engine room orientation and show how to biocide our watermaker.
Maharangi was a new anchorage for us, as was Tiritiri Matangi, a famous bird sanctuary island that we’ve been waiting years for mellow enough conditions to anchor off the semi-exposed landing. Everything aligned this time, and Wednesday morning under the command of Val, our Captain of the Day we raised anchor at Maharangi early, making a ten-mile beeline to find relatively calm conditions off the wharf. We anchored in 20’ of water then I ran everyone ashore and managed a brief peek at the nesting Little Blue Penguins before returning to anchor watch.
Amanda: Tiri is a twitchers (bird watchers) dream. Unfortunately for me most of the birds were new to my repertoire so next time I need to take a better look at the DOC’s web site so I’ll be able to identify a few more species. It also didn’t help that I was so keen to wander as many trails a possible that I found myself at the far north end of the island with only an hour to spare to return to our lighthouse rendezvous…until I chatted with some twitchers who informed me that it was already nearing 11am not 10am...oh no!...I then had to sprint the entire length of the island on the service road...phew! I made it in time.
Friday morning, we were all up and in the dinghy by 0600 or so, and excited about our annual traditional “Rangi Ramble” - an hour hike to the top of a fairly recent volcanic cone where we sunshine, breakfast and stunning view of Auckland Harbour entrance await.
It’s amazing to think that the next America’s Cup race will be held right here in March 2021 and we as we motored up the harbour into stiff headwinds we hoped to see the first of the new foiling monohull AC boats, due to launch any day now, but had to be happy with crossing courses with an older Kiwi AC boat loaded with tourists and seriously over canvassed in the gusty westerly winds.
Before we knew it we were moored on D pier at Westhaven Marina. While Amanda and I checked in with the marina and picked up a rental car, our capable crew cleaned MT from stem to stern. We all delight in a tasty and fun graduation dinner at The Turkish Café in Ponsonby - a long-time favorite of ours which Amanda introduced me to when we first met in 1994.
Friday morning Amanda demo’d relashing our top mainsail slider and then with everyone lent a hand to lower the genoa, then main, to the finger pier where Mike, Gunnar and I inspected, folded, then lashed them, ready for off-season storage in MT’s forward shower while Val removed the battens and Pam prepared to go aloft to spray the new squeaking spinnaker block and seize the shackle.
And then – it was over. The final expedition of our 30th season. Amanda and I are now cleaning, repairing, and organizing Mahina Tiare and all her supplies and spares as we’ll be hopping on a big bird home to San Juan Island December 4th.
What a cracker season we’ve had – Thanks to the so many keen expedition members who sailed with us from many countries and walks of life, the several new exciting islands that welcomed us and the ever growing circle of old friends who graciously share their anchorages, islands, homes, meals, garden produce, music and dance with us.
Also a big Mahalo to all the support crew for Mahina Expeditions and those of you who follow us and share our adventures.
Seattle Boat Show – January 24-26
We’ve been invited to present eight free one-hour seminars Jan 24-26 and are inviting anyone interested in joining us for an expedition (or Boat Purchase Consultation) to join us at Jimmy’s on First, adjacent to the main boat show entrance for drinks and/or dinner at 6 pm on Sat, Jan 25.
Vancouver Boat Show, Canada: February 6 & 7
We’re very honored to have been asked to present both free one-hour seminars February 6 & 7, plus for the first time ever, our Offshore Cruising Seminar Feb 8 at the Vancouver Boat Show. Previous EM’s Tom Hawkins and Margy & Monty have offered us places to stay at Whistler Mountain, so it won’t be all work on this trip!
Anacortes, WA Two-Day Hands-On Cruising Workshop, March 21 & 22
The first offering of this workshop quickly sold out last year, and no wonder? Where else can you find hands-on diesel engine instruction in a tech college facility, sail repair with Sailrite machines, marine electrical lab and rigging and ropework sessions combined with our Offshore Seminar? Don’t forget, there’s pizza, beer and live music at Village Pizza, just down the street from the Marine Tech Center.
Pacific Boat Show in Richmond, CA (SF Bay), April 16-19
What a great program! Nigel Calder will be presenting his new two-day Marine Electrical Systems seminar Friday and Saturday, then will join us Sunday for our Offshore Cruising Seminar. We’re also participating in Sarah Curry’s high-energy Offshore Cruising Forum on Saturday and will be present several additional free seminars Friday and Saturday.
Annapolis Boat Show, April 24 & 25
On Friday we’ll be presenting several 90-minute fee seminars, followed by Amanda introducing the new Sony Pictures documentary, MAIDEN, Friday night, free for all Cruisers University attendees!
Saturday, April 25 we’re honored to be presenting our Offshore Cruising Seminar as part of the Cruisers University program.
We hope to see you at one of these events! Any questions – you’re always welcome to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheers for now,
John & Amanda
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