We’re delighted that Geoff and Scottie have been able to join us on the passage to Fiji. As many of you know, Geoff Sherman (aka ‘Sherm’, aka ‘The Pirate’) is very familiar to Toucan, having travelled with us from the Caribbean to the Marquesas last year. Last time we saw Scottie was in 2010 when we were crewing together on ‘Secret Men’s Business’, in the Sydney-Hobart. So it was wonderful to see them both step off the bus from Auckland last Wednesday ready for the next exciting chapter in Toucan’s travels.
Finding a weather window to leave New Zealand is a tricky business, due to the series of low pressure systems that relentlessly march across the Tasman Sea at this time of year. The first window cracked open on Friday last week, but it was too soon for us to take advantage of it. Having been out of the water for so long, and with new crew on board, we needed a ‘shake down’ sail to make sure everything was working OK before heading offshore. After a crew photo op at the dock, we said our farewells to all and sundry and motored out of the marina. Free at last!
There was the small matter of requesting a bridge opening, but then we were out in the channel and on our way.
There wasn’t much wind, but we didn’t care – we motorsailed to Tutukaka, a sheltered little fishing port 15NM north of Whangarei Heads, where we enjoyed our first night at anchor in many months.
The next day was a bit more challenging, with 20kts on the nose all the way to the Bay of Islands, but once there we tucked into a lovely sheltered anchorage at Urupukapuka Bay where we re-connected with our buddies Jack and Marce on “Escape Velocity”.
The next day we moved to beautiful Motuarohia Island, which is a popular summertime destination, but fairly quiet at this time of year. We took a walk ashore and climbed to the top of the hill for a stunning view of the bay, and the sight of our boats at anchor below made our hearts sing. It’s so very wonderful to be back on the water!
We were hoping to get on our way this week but the windows seem to be slamming shut almost as soon as they open – and who in their right mind wants to be caught out there when a 40kt frontal system catches up with you? So instead we’re practicing a zen-like state of mind, and cultivating patience. (yes, well, I did say practicing). Sherm and Scottie have taken the opportunity to do a few days of land-based exploring, and we’re now tucked up in the anchorage at Opua, taking advantage of the excellent café and facilities while the frontal systems continue to blow through. Tonight we’re congregating at the Opua Cruising Club with other yachties, and you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll be only one tune on the songsheet – “We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do”. We like you, New Zealand, we really do – but it’s time to let us go, pleeease!