Sailing around New Zealand

Emily is sailing solo around New Zealand on her 32 foot yacht Honey, from Lyttelton south down the east coast, around the bottom of Stewart Island, up the west coast of the South and North Islands and down the east coast back to Lyttelton. The whole adventure is expected to take 3 months. This blog will provide updates as I travel (when I have mobile reception to upload).

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Abel Tasman, with Mum! (1-3 March)

I slept well for the rest of the night, until 4am when I woke up hungry and got up to heat the remains of the stew that I didn't finish yesterday. With a full belly, I went back to bed and slept until about 8am. Then it was up, a shower on the deck and on my way to Marahau in Sandy Bay to meet Mum and Kai. It was another stunning morning, warm and calm with wall to wall blue skies. I motored south towards Sandy Bay, calling Mum on the way. Unfortunately Kai was not coming, he had got tied up with work, so it was just Mum – she was passing through Richmond and we decided it would be easier to meet up in Kaiteriteri. Mum had just pulled into Kaiteri when I motored into the bay and dropped anchor. She sat on the beach while I pumped up the inflatable dinghy to go and pick her up. There was entertainment on the water while she waited – a rather strange looking contraption – a person was being propelled out of the sea to a height of quite a few metres via jets of water from below their feet and hands, powered by a jet-ski/wet-bike! I presume a new product of Kiwi ingenuity that neither of us had seen before! I got a massive hug from Mum when I got to shore, a hug from her and several others that had asked to pass on a hug. Then we made our way out in the dinghy back to Honey, with a big load of mostly food for the weekend. This included a large and very heavy chillibin, which proved to be a little challenge to get on board – we used the pulley for the dinghy outboard to hoist it aboard. A light lunch and we headed out with a plan to anchor at Adele Island, a close distance in case Kai was able to join us tomorrow. We headed out of Kaiteri and were met by a nice sea breeze, blowing 15-20 knots, perfect for a sail up to Adele Island. We hoisted the main and unfurled the headsail and headed out on a port tack to almost 5 miles into Tasman Bay. The wind picked up a little and Mum was slightly alarmed when I suggested she take control while I go down for a little sleep in the cabin! Mum wasn't sure what it meant to hove to when I took a sleep on the way up the west coast, so we hove to in the middle of Tasman Bay. We tacked back towards Adele Island and it was a fast beam reach to between Adele Island and Fisherman Island, where we turned up into the wind and dropped the pick in the anchorage tucked beside Adele Island. It proved to be a very popular spot, later on that evening it was a little town of anchor lights, with about 15 yachts anchored in the bay – it was a lovely sheltered spot with a sandy beach, and probably easy to access for those who had taken to their boats for the weekend from Nelson.

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.

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