I got away early in the evening on Thursday 19th waving goodbye to Dad and Di, and motored out to Yncya Bay in the mid Pelorus. My friend Sandra had visited earlier in the afternoon, and I had coaxed her kids into agreeing to be my crew – they quickly retracted the offer and I motored past Hopewell where they were staying to wave as I went past. The kids were already in bed out of fear that I might really take them with me!
About half an hour from the anchorage, the NW had completely died down and the SE picked up. I unfurled the headsail and motor sailed up the second half of Hikapu Reach, rounding into Yncya Bay and picking up the Pelorus Boating Club mooring by about 9.30pm. After stowing the remaining provisions and setting up my bunk, I turned in for the first night on Honey bound for the North Island.
I was up in good time the next morning to take advantage of the southerly and the outgoing tide, but the southerly had all blown through leaving conditions of variable 5-10 knots. With the mainsail up, I motored out through Pelorus Sound, with a good pace with the ebbing tide. By 10.30am I had stopped at one of my favourite fishing spots at the Chetwode Islands and caught my dinner of blue cod. I fished a little longer in glassy calm conditions at the turn of the tide, and then headed for Stephens Passage (the passage between Stephens Island and D'Urville Island). There was very little wind, about 5 knots northerly so I motored on past the Trios and Rangitoto Islands, with the flood tide now also in my favour, passing through the eddies of Stephens Passage. After I rounded Hells Gate and the Sisters, I cut the engine and put up the genoa, gently drifting into Port Hardy. The day breeze picked up once I had passed Victory Island, and I sailed into South Arm and picked up a mooring in Philante Bay. This looked to be a good place to hole up while the next weather bomb passed over and until there was a weather break to make for Taranaki.
The next day I was hoping to have a swim and a warm shower – I had put out my solar shower to heat up. But it was overcast and cool, but a calm day, so I opted to complete the remaining small jobs on my to-do list, and curl up with a good book, something I hadn't done for months. I started reading Graeme Kendall's “To the Ice and Beyond”, about his remarkable solo circumnavigation of the globe via the North West Passage. With the day passing I checked out the other moorings in South Arm to see where I wanted to be when the forecast storm blew up the next day. I opted for the 40 South mooring on the north side of Philante Bay, and another yacht shortly arrived and moored up in sight in Skeggs Bay. It was a relatively calm, albeit wet evening, and I put up the rain shelter that zipped between the bimini and dodger.
The next morning started wet but relatively calm, and the storm for Abel and Stephens areas was downgraded to a gale. But at about 11am the storm kicked in, sending willy-wars down South Arm and into the bay – it certainly was a good 45 knots plus, and Honey was heeling one way, then spinning around and heeling the other way. There was no sea in the bay, just gusty wind, and as Tim had reminded me before he left, it is the sea state that does the damage not the wind, but I still needed to ensure everything was securely stowed and tied down (as anything not secure was skidding across the cabin). When the 1333 weather came through on the VHF, it recorded 58 knots at Stephens Island, storm force, that figures! Shortly after I heard a tearing sound and berated myself for not taking down the bimini. The bimini was actually ok, it was the zip connecting the rain shelter that had pulled out of the dodger, a relatively easy fix for a fine day. I removed the rain shelter section and bimini and made sure everything else outside was secure.
The wind carried on blowing at storm force until about 4pm when it started to ease. I finished reading my book, and Graeme's escapade through the 65-70 knot Bering Sea after he had completed the North West Passage – madness! But also very awesome!
I kept an eye on the other yacht in Skeggs Bay which seemed to be moving around less than Honey, which surprised me as the bay is meant to have limited shelter in west to NW winds. With the forecast for winds easing overnight, it looked like there may be an opportunity to carry on my way the following morning, Monday 23rd January. I should be able to reach Port Taranaki within a day, my estimate 23 hours, so if I can leave in the morning I should be tucked up well before the NW of 30 knots forecast for late Tuesday.