Almost 7months to the day since we arrive, we hauled our anchor up out of Opua’s sticky mud and pointed the bows out to sea. We got hit by a squall almost immediately but it soon passed and we were sailing NE towards Minerva reef. We had a bit of fun with the gennaker but as the wind piped up we furled it and went back to genoa. Then we caught a lovely skipjack tuna.
We loved our time in New Zealand. There are many highlights but meeting up with Colleen, hearing her stories and getting to know more about my dad’s cousin, Stuart Slater was right up there. It was also wonderful to spend 6 weeks driving around both north and south Island. It’s definitely a hard place to leave.
In fact, the weather has made it hard to leave. We thought we’d found the perfect window only to have an engine issue scupper our chance to leave. That is all sorted now, but our friends who did leave then ended up motoring for 6 days. Ugh.
Our present weather window has been accompanied by gloomy forecasts of strong winds and dire seas. It was claimed we’d see 30knots, 40knots north of the Bay of Islands with very rough seas. The trick to leaving New Zealand is to get out on the back of a weather system as this gives you the push up into the trades. So whilst we had expected a bumpy first night, it has been rather pleasantly surprising. The sea state has been fine, winds gusting to 28knots at times but mostly a lot less. Amanda and I fell back into our nightwatch routines very nicely, managing to get some proper sleep in our off watches (which isn’t always the case on the first few nights).
We have a few more nights before we get to the reefs at Minerva. There are a whole flotilla of boats heading this way, so it’s unlikely we’ll have them to ourselves. There are 34boats in the ICA rally to Tonga who left with us or will leave today. Plus those of us heading to Fiji. Could be crowded and a nice remote party and maybe some nice Diving too.