It’s the first coldish day we’ve had here for a while, a south westerly is blowing , doing its south pacific thing and bringing cold air up from the Antarctic. I’m at home , ill, and thinking of better recent days.
After we split from our cruising friends over the later part of the Christmas cruise, we took our time gunkholing back down the coast from the Bay of Islands to Auckland. One beautiful place we visited is called Whale bay and its just north of Tutakaka harbour. Now the norm is to go to a secure harbour like Tutakaka at night but we prefer to be a little adventurous with our anchorages. Not radically so, but we are prepared to take our lumps as it were. The reward for this is staying in locations where there are few or no other boats and this was the case with Whale bay. We arrived after bashing our way into a nasty sea and a fair breeze to find that the conditions had kept other boats away. We sat there until evening .As forecasted, the weather had settled and the near onshore swell had dropped and was masked by a short reef we tucked in beside. A beautiful night and morning and we found it hard to leave. This is where I spotted the John Dory( fish) that had grounded itself and sent the boy ashore to grab . (a previous story). and 2 fish pics..
Now the plan had been to stop there overnight and then shoot out 15 miles off shore to the Poor Knights Islands and return in a narrow triangle course to Tutakaka.15 miles out ,15 miles back, 5 miles across the base of the triangle. But it was so beautiful and peaceful( apart from the fish catching adventure) that we still hadn’t left by 10.30.
Whale bay in the Morning.
“ Do we stick to the plan or flag it?” ……. “ do it”.
So off we sailed the 3 hours or so out to these protected islands. A lovely sail.. only 8 or 10 knots breeze and a nice easterly( onshore) swell to ride over.
Soren Larsen at the Knights
We had never been there before and it is a striking place. The islands are in deep water and what bottom you can find is typically 50 metres and rocky. We don’t have grapnel anchor so we just pottered around
First we went to look at the Arch. This arch is 90ft high and with a lot of water in it. But its funny when you look at features like this. They seem smaller, you wonder about your motor reliability( even though its never missed a beat) you think about fuel. You know there are no rock hazards but you wonder. So we gaped at this hole in the rock as we struggled to get the main down. Honestly, we had more trouble getting that sail down in little wind and the 1.2 metre( or so) swell that was running than we’d had all season to date. The boat was bucketing all over the place because of the direction of the swell and the backwash off the island.
The Arch from the south.
Anyway we got settled down and we went to the inside ( northern side) of the Arch to look and possibly go through . I decided not but had a good look at the aspect of the rocks on that side. Easy, stay in middle. So then we motored back around to the southern side( the seaward side) and bucketed and rolled our way around . As we came up to the Arch from our approach it appeared very narrow and we weren’t comfortable with the rolling. as we crossed it though , it appeared larger and to the horror of the family, I decided we were on and turned the boat, giving it some throttle to drive us with the swell.
The looks on their faces were priceless. The slightly maniacal grin on mine must have been comforting.
What a buzz. Of course the reality is that it wasn’t dangerous at all but like going under a bridge, you just can’t help but think your mast won’t make it. For the kids.. well , they just couldn’t believe it.
We rocked on in there and travelled the 100 ft or so under the arch and spat out the other side into the sun with yells and screams of exhilaration.
Out the Northern side yeehaw.
[ 03-03-2005, 07:13 PM: Message edited by: John B ]