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).

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Short Hop from Gisborne to Napier, and the weather wait (27th - 31st March)

The next morning I walked past the Cook Monument to a look out in the Titirangi Domain to see what the weather was doing outside of the harbour – very calm in Poverty Bay but there looked to be a light wind outside. Readying Honey I planned to leave about midday which would have me arrive into Napier soon after first light the next day. When I called the Napier Sailing Club to enquire about a berth, they advised I could tie up behind another yacht that a couple had recently sailed down from Tauranga, I figured it would likely be Owen and Emma on Dulcinea. I cast off shortly after midday and we motored out down the channel and across Poverty Bay past Young Nicks Head, named after the surgeon's boy who had first sighted the New Zealand coastline from the mast of the Endeavour. It was a light 10 knots that slowly built up to 15 knots as we approached Table Cape and I switched off Honey's engine. Looking across towards Mahia Peninsula there was the occasional lightning flash, and the weather appeared dark and ominous to the south, although the forecast was for light variable winds through the night. I expected that once the north east died out I would need to motor across Hawke Bay into Napier.

View from Titirangi Domain across Poverty Bay
Sailing past Table Cape
The winds died out before we rounded Portland Island, the clouds lifted and I could make out the glow of Napier on the horizon as we started across Hawke Bay in the late evening. Before midnight the winds blew up to over 15 knots from the south – this was unexpected and made for a good sail across the bay. The visibility reduced although the rain stayed away, as Honey crossed the bay under full sail and well heeled over. As we approached Napier, there were several ships at anchor in the bay, which I kept an eye on via the radar until it was light enough to make them out in the gloom. Sailing north of the Pania Reef, I then turned Honey south towards Napier Harbour and we motored into the Inner Harbour, tying up behind a steel yacht at the visitors berth at Napier Sailing Club shortly before 9am.

Honey, tied up outside the Napier Sailing Club
When I had left Gisborne it had looked like there may be a weather window to carry on south to Wellington, but this weather window had closed up so after I signed into the club I relaxed and curled up on Honey for a good snooze. Popping my head out of the cabin in the early afternoon, I met Matt and Laurie from King Billy I, the yacht that was moored in front of Honey. They had sailed King Billy I from Tasmania up the eastern coast of Australia and across the Tasman Sea to Northland, and like me were now heading south. They had been in Napier for a few days already, waiting for a weather window to open for the passage down the Wairarapa Coast, and had hoped to leave today. With the weather window now gone they resigned themselves to stay put and invited me to join them for dinner aboard King Billy I. It was lovely to meet Matt and Laurie and we had a fantastic evening aboard talking about the sailing adventures we had had.

The next morning, 29th March, I was up early and saw Ashleigh, one of the club members, who was heading off to work and asked if I'd like to borrow her car for the day – I jumped at the offer, knowing that Matt and Laurie were starting to get a little stir crazy and would be keen to join me for a ticky tour around the Napier area. It was a drizzly day and we drove along the road towards Cape Kidnappers, parking outside the motor camp at Clifton. The rain had lifted around the cape and we wandered along the beach towards the gannet colony, stopping for a picnic lunch in the sunshine. With an incoming tide we didn't get too far before we turned back enjoying a swim in the surf before we drove back to Napier.

We were on weather watch, checking the weather several times each day, looking at various forecasting models and weather maps, to see if we could find an opening to sail south. John, a fellow solo sailor who worked at the club, was a valuable source of information, happily passing on his local knowledge and assessment of the forecast. His advice was to use the isobars and not to pay too much attention to the Metservice forecasts. There was a possible small gap in the weather in a few days time, and his assessment was that he would take it if he had a boat that needed delivering but would think twice if he was cruising. It looked like we could be here for another week or so.

Thursday was spent in and around the yacht club, sorting out Honey, fuel, my washing and going for a wander through Ahuriri, the area of Napier around the Inner Harbour. Matt, Laurie and I invited Ashleigh to join us for a BBQ in the evening, and after dinner we sat outside the club enjoying the last of the summer evening's rays while Ashleigh raced off to her Boat Masters course.

View from Ahuriri across to the yacht club with Honey and King Billy I
Ashleigh offered her car to us to use again on Friday, and after Matt had dropped Ashleigh off at work we headed out of Napier inland in search of some hot springs that Laurie had spotted in a visitor pamphlet. The springs were in Kaweka Forest Park, and we got to within 10km of them when we came upon a ford in flood. A couple of French tourists braved the ford in their 4WD but we decided we didn't want to risk getting stuck in Ashleigh's car, instead turning around and opting for a short walk through Balls Clearing Reserve before heading back towards Napier stopping for lunch on the way.

We checked the weather again once we were back from our road trip and it looked like a weather window had appeared, provided we left that evening! We reviewed our respective passage plans and the various models and concluded that yes, it did look like we had an opening, although we were a little concerned about what would be in store for us when we entered the Cook sea area. Laurie was keen to get underway and I was too, although Matt was hesitant. There was a flurry of activity as we readied our boats to go – Matt and Laurie to Wellington, and I would head straight to Tory Channel and the Sounds. Before we left, I wavered after checking the forecast again and looking at the long crossing from Cape Palliser to Tory Channel in what was expected to be rough weather. When Matt and Laurie suggested I go in convoy with them to Wellington, I decided that would be the better plan. All sorted – Honey and I would leave this evening!

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