A nice and relaxing start to the day, unfortunately Kai was still tied up with work and unable to join us, so we decided to head further north into the Abel Tasman, up to Bark Bay about 4 miles north. It was another lovely day, sunny with just a few clouds and calm – we motored up to Bark Bay and unfurled the headsail as the day breeze kicked in as we rounded into Bark Bay. We dropped anchor in the middle of the bay, very idyllic with only one other boat there when we arrived and a number of kayakers sitting on the long white sandy beach. Tiredness from my trip up the west coast was catching up on me, so I had an afternoon snooze and Mum sat in the cockpit reading her book. We rowed ashore for a walk. DOC have created a rather flash campsite at Bark Bay – a shelter with sinks and running water, flush toilets and camping and BBQ spots (although there is a fire ban so no BBQs could be lit), plus a small solar array across the lagoon presumably for water pumping. Mum and I walked a section of the Abel Tasman track, to Tonga Bay, a lovely walk over the hill. When we were there I pointed out to Mum where I had anchored two nights previously, the evening I had arrived into Tasman Bay, and we briefly chatted to a Belguim couple – they had 3 young children, one who was still a baby, and had been travelling around New Zealand as a family on a tandem bike for the last few months – how awesome is that! With the day drawing in, we headed back to Bark Bay and Honey and a yummy steak dinner.
Sunday was another relaxed start and another lovely day with just a few more clouds. I had been buzzing from my trip up the coast over the weekend, and although the lack of sleep was still catching up on me, I was dead keen to carry on around the North Island. I had decided that I would wait until I had safely arrived in Tasman Bay and until after the weekend, to determine whether I would now head further north or return to Lyttelton via the Marlborough Sounds. I plotted the route from Tasman Bay to New Plymouth and then from New Plymouth to Houhora Harbour, which is the first main harbour after rounding North Cape. The longest stretch from New Plymouth to Houhora was 320 miles, about 40 miles less than the stretch I had just completed from Milford Sound to Tasman Bay. With good weather, it was certainly doable! Although there were a few issues with Honey – the main autohelm was still not working properly, the wind turbine was not working, my one house battery was on its last legs, the “bath” in the cockpit continually filled with water weighing down the stern, but most troubling was an oil leak from the gear box that I had discovered the morning after I had arrived in Tasman Bay. Putting aside the passage planning, we had a stretch of our legs in Bark Bay and decided with it now being early afternoon it was time to head back to Kaiteri. Mum was keen to see what it was like to pull up the anchor, and got it half way up before she needed a rest and asked me to pull up the remainder – she was impressed that I had done this day in and day out, and said no wonder I had developed strong arms! With the day breeze picking up, we cruised down under the headsail at 4-5 knots. Mum cooked up a yummy late lunch of lamb, and getting a little concerned at the speed that the tide was heading out and not wanting to get stranded, I hurriedly dropped her off into the beach in the dinghy. We had quick good-byes after a lovely and relaxing weekend, with lots of catch up time, and I headed out in Honey back to Adele Island. Being a Sunday evening, there were only a few boats in the anchorage. I had a long discussion with Tim on Honey and the work that would be required to sail her safely around the North Island. Our biggest concern was the gear box (we think my mishap with wrapping the mooring line around the prop in George Sound was the cause of the oil leak). As Tim had led the work on Honey's engine I knew he would know what needed to be be done. There was a chance that the gearbox would hold out for my circuit of the North Island if I kept an eye on the oil levels and topped it up when needed, but there was also a chance of the seal giving way completely and being stuck in Auckland with major and expensive repairs, or worse still on the west coast in worsening weather and no engine. It was clear that a new gearbox seal would be required if I was to continue around the North Island, which meant removing the engine to access the gearbox, potentially an expensive exercise up in Nelson, particularly if we found other problems when the gearbox was out. I made the difficult decision, or perhaps more the reluctant decision, that a circuit around the North Island was probably not going to happen on this trip, and went to sleep a little despondent as I had been so excited about completing my New Zealand circumference.