Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

South Seas Adventure Leg 8-1998 Log 17

Nov 19, 1998 1730
35.47S, 174.25E Log 19,720 Baro 1008 falling rapidly, Air 76F, Water 62
Beam reaching up Whangarei River at 9 knots!

We never planned to sail to Whangarei, 12 miles up a river from the ocean but after getting a forecast for gale force headwinds it seems like an interesting diversion to a safe harbor. It is also providing excellent navigation practice as we surf past channel markers pushed by a 3 knot flood tide, dodging oil tankers and trying not to stray out of the narrow dredged channel. The surprising part are the rugged jagged mountains on the north side of the channel that Carl insists are a spitting image of Moorea!


Tania capturing the head land entering Whangarei.

Our first offshore leg with our Leg 8 crew was a real basher! For 40 miles we tacked into 25-30 knot headwinds and 12' seas to the hole-in-the-wall harbor entrance of Tutukaka, a sportfishing marina. Here we surfed into the narrow, rock-bordered channel with a substantial following sea and spent a restful night.

The normal warm spring weather with SW winds has been replaced this last week with gale to storm force easterly and southeasterly winds. The yachts coming down from Fiji and Noumea have taken a battering. One yacht has been dismasted, lost their radio and is being driven toward Australia by gale force easterlies reaching 50 knots. Another is limping along with a damaged rudder and still another yacht is taking water after a halyard broke and wrapped around the prop.

Two days ago an English couple on a 45' ketch, Woody Goose were so exhausted from handsteering after their autopilot failed that they anchored on a lee shore north of the Bay of Islands to get some sleep. When they awoke their anchor had drug and they were in the surf. Anita Dean died trying to get ashore through the surf but her husband, Roger survived. Yesterdays paper had photos of the boat on the beach and said a local maori chief had declared a tapu on the shipwreck, after looters started ransacing the yacht. Local fisherman have organized the donation of heavy equipment and labor to drag Woody Goose out of the surf.

Yet another intensifying low, this one 989 millibars is bearing down on New Zealand with gale force SE winds forecast, so we have delayed our plan of sailing overnight out to Great Barrier Island, decided this morning to check out Whangarei, let the storm pass, and hopefully in three days ride the normal SW winds offshore to the Barrier.

Once again we have a first-class crew!

Tania Hens, 43 from Muscat, Oman is a geologist for Shell who has lived all over the world and is originally from Delft, Holland. She met her husband

Marcel Zeestraten, 37 in Venezuela where they both worked for Shell and just got married a year ago. They love sailing and skiing and are saving for a cruising boat, possibly a Hallberg-Rassy 39 and dream of sailing to
countries where they can sail and ski. They think New Zealand really fits
that bill!

Tania and Marcel.

Carl Nielsen, 63 now has tied the record of Al Maher and Elliot Finkle as this is his fourth passage aboard Mahina Tiare. This guy loves adventure, as now that he's retired his idea of a good time is help as delivery crew to exotic places aboard a Hatteras 63. He brought his lovely wife

Ellen Nielsen, 62 with him for the first time. Ellen, a self-described dilettante just retired as a speech pathologist in the Portland School District and Carl and Ellen enjoy sailing their Orion 27 out of Rose City YC on the Columbia River.


Carl and Ellen.

Sandy Anderson, 58 is a financial analyst from Seattle. She and her architect husband

Dorm Anderson, 59 are from Seattle where they sail their J-35C and dream of retiring and spending more time sailing, possibly on an H-R 39.

Nov. 28, 1998 0800
36.50S 174.44E, Log 19,836, Baro 1005, Air 68F, Water 61 (Brrr!!) Westhaven Marina, Auckland, New Zealand

Webster defines synergy as "combined action or energy greater in total effect than the sum of their effect". That is an accurate description for our Leg 8 crew!

The gales kept us in Whangarei two nights, before setting out on an overnight sail down the coast, only to turn back after a joint crew decision. Something about prudence and comfort regarding tacking into headseas left by the gale.

The waiting was worth it, though! On Tuesday the wind shifted to SW, blowing off the land at 15-25 knots, so we had a fast reach and exciting conditions for deploying the Galerider drogue and towing warps off the stern.

The Galerider really works! It is quick to deploy and you can feel the boat slow by 3-4 knots soon after it stretches the 350' of 3/4" NER MegaBraid. We have gotten quick at retrieving it, even with sails up in rough conditions.

 


Carl standing by to deploy the galerider.

This time Amanda luffed up while Dorm, Carl and Marcel pulled like crazy, without ever stopping the boat. If we were short-handed we would furl the headsail and even temporarily drop the main to make it easier to retrieve.


Galerider drogue in action.

Besides the Galerider, we hoisted the storm staysail on it's removable inner stay, set the running backs and furled the genoa.

As we approached Waiheke Island, Carl spotted two enormous sloops on the horizon, speeding toward us. Young America and Spirit of Rhode Island, New York Yacht Club's America's Cup trial horse boats looked sharp as they crossed our bows.


Young America out training in Auckland.

We anchored for a couple of hours off Waiheke Island, got an outrageous Maori guy named "Black Mac" to show us around, where vineyards and olive groves have replaced dairy farming, then motored five miles to Rangitoto Island, a safer anchorage for the forecast 35 knot winds.

Wednesday morning dawned brightly, so after our final class session on programming and use of the Furuno weatherfax, the crew all made the 2.5 hr roundtrip climb to the caldera of the extinct volcano.

The crew approaching Kawau Island.

When the anchor was up it was spitting and gusting, and on entering Auckland Harbour it was reached 35 knots with rain so hard we couldn't see across the harbor.

Our last night fun dinner was at a local Indian restaurant. I love hearing our crew make plans to meet and sail with each other once they get home. Carl and Ellen were excited to be off to exploring N.Z followed by five sunny days on Rarotonga. Dorm and Sandy are winging their way to visit their daughter and her family near Brisbane and Marcel and Tania have to return to the corporate life in Oman. We will miss them all. It seems like every year we just get better and more focused crews!

Amanda and I are headed for the beach and up north to visit her grandmother. It's a great day to leave the boat as the winds are 45 knots here in Westhaven Marina, and gusting to 81 knots just outside the harbor entrance. Sadly, our INMARSAT alarm just went off for the second time this morning, asking any boats within 200 miles of the US Yacht Freya who just triggered a 406 EPIRB alarm to divert to lend assistance. The position given, east of Whangarei puts them in what looks like 60-70 knot NE winds on the weatherfax. Another INMARSAT alarm was for a Mayday received over VHF for a yacht also in distress off Whangarei. No doubt these are both cruising boats planning to clear customs in Whangarei.

The newspaper also has had stories this week of the rollover, dismasting and loss of two crew through the pilothouse windows of Janamarie, friends of Amanda's who were returning to NZ from Australia. La Nina weather has not been kind to yachties this year.

On Monday we leave on Leg 9. Yes, I know it's not in the brochure, but when I was in Sweden, a lovely young Swedish family convinced me to add a separate leg, just for them. It will be fun to see how Ellinor, age 6 and Daniel, age 5 adjust to cruising and to see how much Swedish we can learn as neither of the kids speak English. Let's just hope the storm force winds ease off!

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures in the South Pacific aboard Mahina Tiare.

To the next log entry Leg 9:
One day away from Auckland and the end of our tour.



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