Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Wiakawa Bay - Marlborough Sounds (Tasman Bay Side)

[Kyle]Indeed, Waikawa was a nice place to tool around in a kayak. There are sea caves and arches and we even got to see a few rays in the shallows. At one point a young Fur Seal accompanied us for a while.

Well, that was a short one!

Breaking out the kayak and exploring in the sunshine - Hours of fun just soaking up that beauty!

Monday, January 28, 2019

To Tasman Bay

[Kyle]For the trip to Tasman Bay, we had a lot of headwinds, although at a manageable strength. The seas were kept down by all of the surrounding land, so tacking wasn’t uncomfortable. It was actually nice to have an excuse to zigzag around having a good look at things. The trip into adjacent Admiralty Bay was very pretty.

When we got to our intended anchorage at Kapowai Bay, we found it too full of moorings to leave room for us. I was heading around the corner to the next bay when Maryanne suggested we continue on and just go through French Pass.

A gentle sail through French Pass

French Pass is quite notorious for being horrible. Our plan was to go through the next morning at slack water, just before the current changed in our favor. Tacking had taken so long that we were almost at the afternoon slack by now. It looked pretty smooth from where we were, so we decided to give it a go and deal with a little bit of adverse current before the nearest anchorage.

It worked out fine, with no drama. In less than an hour, we were tucked into a one-boat anchorage behind a mussel farm in the northeast corner of Waikawa Bay. The view here is stunning, with cliffs and lots of tree topped pinnacles. Now we were a day ahead of schedule with a day of calm winds as extra. It looks like the perfect place to break out the new kayak.

Waihinau Bay (Pelorus Sound)

[Kyle]At Waihinau, we were finally able to inflate Maryanne’s new kayak and have a paddle around all of the nooks and crannies of the whole bay. It IS pretty nice to have, although getting into it elegantly is a bit of a challenge (we may need some practice).

Calm, peaceful, remote, fantastic!

We also did the usual fixing stuff, although this time we were unsuccessful. Our electronic wind indicator has been becoming increasingly unreliable. After much testing, I determined the problem was most likely the control head. We ordered a new one, but it didn’t fix the problem. Next, I climbed the mast to have a look at the transducer and found the ground pin to be loose. With help from Maryanne I managed to solder it back into place, which was a tremendously fiddly job. I didn’t think our chances were good, but we had to try something. After I reinstalled it, we still had no wind indication. Maryanne ordered a new transducer. We’ll try that next, when we get it.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Cook Strait

[Kyle]At 1am, the wind eased for five minutes and then started to blow the other way. That was the wind we had been waiting for. Now we could cross the Cook Strait with wind, sea and us all going the same way. Maryanne was not so impressed with the early departure!

A wild ride from New Zealands North Island to South Island.

It seemed crazy to be out there. Wellington Harbour Radio was making regular broadcasts about gale warnings for the strait. South winds cause the most dangerous conditions there and we had LOTS of south wind.

Once we got out into the strait, the wind had eased a bit and it wasn’t too bad. That said, the waves were the biggest we have ever seen on Begonia (but thankfully not also with a terribly short period - so they were smooth big waves!). Most were four meters, but a few topped six. We heard reports of seven, but never saw any of those. Fortunately, the current was from the wind’s direction, so it was better than it could have been. The wind helped us move fast enough to be out of there before it reversed.

We ended up picking up a mooring ball in a protected cove in Pelorus Sound, where we would have to spend a few days hiding from the wind further out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Windy Wellington

[Kyle]When we woke up from our post-arrival nap, it was howling! We needed more lines and more fenders and spent the rest of the day just trying to hold on.

The next day, we took the funicular to the top of the big hill overlooking the town and had a leisurely walk down through all of the beautiful gardens along the way. Once we reached the city, we took a guided tour of Parliament. It was cool to be inside the actual Beehive and all that, but the best part of our tour was our tour guide. She WAS the Fat Fighters lady from the TV Comedy Little Britain. It was SO hard to keep a straight face through the tour. Maryanne and I kept having to elbow each other to stop the impersonations.

New Zealand's Parliament Buildings

We managed to find time to stop at the Te Papa Museum and have a look at their exhibits. They do a great job, but the thing that really impressed me was a little side display they had of a Blue Whale’s heart. I had heard how big they were, but had never seen it. I could crawl through the aorta! It blew my mind!

We actually did a lot in Wellington – we even squeezed in a trip to the local cinema to both watch a movie and enjoy the teashop and bar there…
Next, Maryanne booked us two tours at Weta, a place that does special effects for film and television, Their most notable thing is ALL of the special effects for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was pretty cool to see so many of the original set pieces for those movies.

Fun tour of the Weta Digital - the company that did the special effects for Avitar, The Lord of the Rings, etc AND that make the 'new' Thunderbirds Are Go.

We walked the long way home from there, which inspired us to take the long walk to the top of Mt. Victoria and back the next day. What a great space! Wellington seems like such a nice place.

Except that it’s not. It’s a great city, but the winds are crazy! One of the signboards at the top of Mt Victoria said that Wellington gets 173 days per year of winds above 32 knots – gale force! That signboard was surely attached by long bolts into the bedrock, because it was blowing like hell up there.

We loved Wellington (just not the wind so much!)

Our next day was scary. Maryanne made a heroic trip to the store for provisions, while I tried my best to watch over Begonia and not freak out. The winds picked up and were actually frightening us a little. She arrived home from the store and it was a real ordeal just to get everything aboard without having our cart blow away in the wind. It was scary to think that we would be leaving in only a few hours.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Passage to Wellington

[Kyle]A lot of people kept asking us why we would want to go to Wellington. I don’t know. It’s the capital. It’s on the way. Why do they keep saying that?

Our trip from Napier began at 4am. The weather window for the trip south was about 36 hours long, but the sail would take fifty, so we had to leave in headwinds and arrive in headwinds, but we got a decent run in the middle.

Sort of. Since we were racing a gale, we had to motor SOOO much. I hates motorin’!! Anyway, it was good we did, because we arrived in Wellington at 4am, just before it got bad.

We had mixed weather on the passage but were very happy to arrive at the marina before the crazy winds started!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Napier & Rotorua

[Kyle]The next wind shift arrived with a lot of rain. That’s okay, we got to spend the day doing what boating is all about: fixing things.

I neglected to mention that our autopilot was acting funny the last few miles in. The problem turned out to be the rudder position sensor, which had finally given up. It’s a simple part, but getting it sent to us was a little difficult and replacing the damn thing was an all-day job, mostly because the wires have to be run through places where no human can go.

First sights - Napier - and the aquarium Little (blue) Penguins

The next morning, Maryanne was determined to have some actual fun. We walked across town to the National Aquarium, which was rather a disappointment. They were covered in Christmas themed decor for the kids, ostensibly to try to draw in some traffic. {Maryanne: I don’t mind a bit of Christmas cheer and decoration, but this is now way past Christmas! }. What they did was make the actual aquarium secondary to all of this nonsense. Many of the displays were blocked by annoying projected Santas. The lights for many of the signboards were off so they could plug in some twinkling lights. It was really bad. The penguins were cute, though. The Little Blues are actually a dark turquoise and they are adorable and curious, so at least there was that.

We followed up the Aquarium with a long, meandering walk through Napier’s Art Deco district, which made up for the disappointment of the aquarium. They had a devistating earthquake in 1931, which pretty much leveled the town. When they rebuilt, they decided to do a LOT of Art Deco, since that was the style of the time. Now they have more of it then New York and Santa Monica combined {Maryanne: According to the local tourist office, I’m not so sure!}.

Napier's Art Deco, gardens, and sculptures

We rented a car for day three, which we drove all of the way to the volcanic areas of Rotorua and Taupo. The highlight was probably Wai-o-tapu (Thermal wonderland). On the way we stopped at ‘Craters of the Moon’ in Taupo. For the record, they look nothing like the moon. There is foliage everywhere and the craters are all emitting gas. Neither of those things is happening on the moon. Still, the signs got us to stop. However Wai-o-tapu was like a mini Yellowstone, which is to say that it was pretty cool.

Visiting Huka Falls, Taupo, meant sharing the view with the crowds!

Craters of the Moon site - Taupo

Wai-O-Tapu/Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotoroua

Rotoroua town has a free thermal park also - complete with thermal foot baths

After anther day of installing our new rudder angle sensor, Maryanne was keen to go for a long walk into town and then return over the bluff that separates Napier and Uhuriri. The problem was that it was chucking it down with rain. Undeterred, we left anyway. {Maryanne: We’ve learned that if we wait for the rain to stop we may never do anything}.

Exploring Napier - wineries, trails and gardens (and other fun!)

It cleared up shortly thereafter and we actually had a rather pleasant day strolling through Napier’s nicer areas, including their beautiful botanic gardens. We were glad we had gone out after all.