2nd November 2007
We took a little sail out a few miles to Roberton Island where we took the dinghy to a jetty ashore. The jetty had "Private" written on it and so we tied-up and wandered ashore to the little cottage there. A short muscular lady strode over as we walked up her lawn and said "You can't leave yer dinghy there!". We explained that we were just coming to check with her and that we did not want to get our feet wet running up the beach. She explained that, as soon as you get one dinghy, they start arriving in droves and that the beach and area around there were private property. We talked some more about the local birdlife etc etc, and she said that since she now knew us, it was ok to leave the dinghy where it was. We promised to drop-by when we returned from our explorations for a cup of tea. After a walk up to the peak of the island where there were superb views across the Bay of Islands, we walked back to the cottage and whistled for the dog that would announce our presence. The dog was asleep but Terry heard us from the corner of her garden where she was planting and we went inside for tea. She "Ran away" from home in England when she was young doing Oceanmaster training across the Atlantic and ended up in Dominica where she worked as a divemaster. Eventually, she worked on a number of square-riggers where she met her husband and landed in NZ where she has been for the last 13 years. Her husband is a master of a sqare rigger that is doing a Pacific curcuit to Easter Island and back. He is now in Vanuatu and due home within the month. As we were leaving, she asked if we wanted to see the boat they were building. The hull was in a home-built shed/tent and was about 30-35 ft long and make from kauri planking. They had built it from the ground-up. Having built the shed and the staging around which it was to be built, they then poured the lead keel and have made everything including the bolts and brass chainplates. Much of the boat has been locally felled timber that they have cut, towed behind their dinghy and hauled ashore. The boat is beautifully built and will be finished next year when they then have the problem of hauling it down to the shoreline to launch. We have been invited to return when hubby is home and we will take up the offer.
We took Naz to Deep Bay where the hulk of the HMNZS Canterbury was awaiting execution. Hundreds and hundreds of local boats arrived and formed a great semi-circle around the great steel warship and at 15:00, explosives were detonated and the beast slid quickly and silently under the waves. It was a sad moment but the atmosphere was very party-like with everyone having a great day out. The ship will attract sea-life and divers and will be a tourist attraction. After it had sunk we decided to find an anchorage for the night, after a short sail we ended up in Urupukapuka Island.
Today, we walked ashore on Urupukapuka island where we are now anchored. The scenery is a bit like a mix between the West coast and Dorset depending an which way you are looking. Very beautiful. It was nice to get the legs moving again even though the hills here are steep. We came across a couple of sheep that we thought would be a good foreground to a piccy of the boat and I made clucking noises to make one of them raise its head for the shot. In response, they wandered over and wanted petting! Back on Naz, it's raining again but the weather is set to improve tomorrow when we will go back to Russell to re-provision. We have to stay in NZ for 5 months to let the cyclone season abate before we move on. We have contacted Whangerei and had verbal confirmation of lift-out. We can re-confirm tomorrow when we are in a place that has mobile phone coverage.
Later today, we will probably brave the persistent rain and go back to Opua (only about 3 miles!!) where we can join the yacht club and then use their showers. Without hot water on the boat, and with the cold conditions, we are starting to really smell!!
9th November 2007
We are still waiting for decent weather to get to Whangerai. We went out to Russell again yesterday, anchored and went into town in the morning. We are still on a hunt for a mooring bouy since the last one we checked out would have only had a 1.8 metre depth at spring lows. We went to the information centre who told us to go to the Russell Radio building. Apparently, this is was the real Russell Radio that Des the 80-year-old used to work for. There is a certain animosity between the real Russell Radio and Des since Des went solo and pinched half their business - I have noticed that Des has started calling himself "Russell Radio Offshore Communications" following what has probably been some strong words. The chap at Russell Radio was very pleasant but moorings are like hens-teeth here and he couldn't help. Russell is pleasant and surrounded by ancient history since it was the first capital of NZ. Most of the history would have been remembered by your grandparents. There is a proud cannon displayed, but the sign said taht it was actually just a bit of ballast that was in a ship that arrived, there is a hand-operated crane proudly used in 1850 and other historical artefacts and tools that look like they have come from a corner of your garage. In the afternoon, we returned to Naz and scurried off to the other side of the bay where sensible people were going to avoid the 50 knot gusts that were forecast. We are looking the half-mile across to where we were and are glad we made the move, the water is nice and calm here compared to the white water over there. We have taken the engine off the dinghy which has spent some time acting as a pennant as the gusts find their way around the hillside behind which we are sheltered. Some mad fools were out in the bay earlier with sails up but they were quickly blown downwind out of sight.
Russell Yacht Club and Ferry To Pahia