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Adventures and Misadventures

Stormy Seas and a Friday 13th departure.

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 12 July 2007 | Views [1032] | Comments [4]

The end is in sight, we leave New Zealand tomorrow morning at 10am, customs booked for 9am. Today is a busy day of stowing away provisions, cleaning the boat, filling up with fuel and water, returning the car, fixing final things on deck and just generally getting the boat ready for what promises to be a seven day passage to Noumea.

The weather is ok, not good but ok. The stable high all sailors here are waiting for to bring south west winds has not arrived but we have fairly light winds and a few stable weak lows passing through which bring generally the wrong wind direction but can at least be relied upon. The first few days might be a bit turbulent due to the high swell kicked up by the storm that passed through earlier this week.

Last weekend we ventured out into a sunny saturday morning as the rain departed for a short period. We headed over on the car ferry to the other side of the estuary to Russell which is a quaint seaside village with lots of old houses and cafes. The inaugural Russell birdman festival was being held and so the beach was packed with locals and visitors of all ages. The kids were satisfied with free helium balloons and we wandered out to the end of the pier to soak up some sun and watch the kayak races, BBQ cook off and spaghetti eating competition. A nice lunch in a nearby cafe was just the answer after smelling all the yummy combinations whipped up on the BBQ followed by a beachside seat for the Birdman competition. Around 20 people had concoted costumes and theatre and individually ran off the ramp at the end of the pier aiming to go furthest into the water or at least win the prize for the most imaginative! We headed back to the boat about 3pm and just missed the first shower which heralded the arrival of the next low.

On Sunday we braved the overcast skies to escape the marina for a while and we sailed over to Roberton Island in the Bay of Islands for the night. We arrived early afternoon and celebrated our trip with a nice lunch and a beer (aka chips and coke for the kids) then headed ashore in the dinghy for a walk along the beach. The icy cold winds didnt stop us heading up the short hill on the island to the lookout for a great view of the Bay of Islands. I can imagine in summer that this place would be beautiful. A calm night followed and we headed back into the harbour on Monday morning before a predicted gale force storm hit.

Gale force just so happened to be an understatement. We woke up tuesday morning to what felt like cyclonic winds. Consistently blowing 45 knots outside we enjoyed the relative warmth felt inside and contemplated how to amuse ourselves for the day. By 10am as the winds increased the action began, a singlehander on a big (probably 60ft) sloop appeared to drag out in the bay but was holding his position off the main wharf when a call for help came over the VHF for a boat that had dragged and was hitting the dinghy dock. I looked at Alfred and said I think we should help and we jumped in the car to drive around to the main marina. At this stage I was pitifully underdressed in my rain jacket and jeans and Alfred was the same. The vessel in trouble had moored at the Q dock by the time we arrived but we called in at the Opua cruising club where the singlehander had called for assistance. A small ducky was intending to venture out so I volunteed Alfred to go with and a few of us jumped in the car and headed out to the main wharf to watch them try to pull the anchor up as the winds increased to 50 to 55 knots consistently. Standing on the edge of the wharf in the pouring rain we watched the guys struggle to pull in the anchor in the strong winds but they did an amazing job and before long she was headed into safety. It was a little too late before we realised that safety was in fact the berth on the other side of the pontoon to Verena and we ran down the wharf to grab lines and try to fend her off. A few cracks in the hull later and she was tied up on the windward side but as the winds increased she began to buck like a bull in Pamplona during the tomato festival. At this stage I dropped a carload back to the cruising club before another emergency started where a boat in the bay which was occupied only by a young woman had another boat dragging down on top of her and so the day and the action continued. The winds increased and increased and blew consistently at around 60 knots by early afternoon and peaked at 70 knots. The waves were incredible. Two Pan Pans were issued along with two Maydays throughout the course of the day and I donned Steffies Musto dry pants and we ran up and down the pier helping boats and trying to assist where possible. Late afternoon the winds calmed down and we were able to thank our lucky stars that our lines had held and we were protected from the worst of it by the Navy frigate on the other side of the wharf. Only damage we sustained was a broken cleat which had not been fixed properly during the refit in Opua and the pressure on the lines pulled the cleat right out through the deck, teak and all.

So that was an active day! Thankfully nobody was too badly hurt and most of the boats that sheltered within the marina were safe. Unfortunately the high seas kicked up by the winds will cause us a bit of turbulence during our first few days at sea but it will give me a chance to check if the seasickness tablets really do help!!

So in 7 days we should be in the relative warmth of Noumea and I will be able to update everyone on my first big ocean passage (but not my last I hope!)

Wish me luck xxxx 

Tags: On the Road



Good to hear...the first passage is about to start!

Really stroked.

Good luck getting your sea legs...Remember a nice 'up and under' is all part of the fun. Probably should have mention this before but soda water is also meant to be a good remedy to settle your tummy.

So the adventure begins..........


  Jacko Jul 12, 2007 2:41 PM


Good luck you courageous girl. We can't begin to imagine 70 knts no doubt adrenaline kept you warm. Have booked our flights to visit the folks and ME mid Sept in the Whitsundays.

  Barb and Bruce - Bribie Is Jul 13, 2007 11:17 AM



You'll be fine - sending positive energy - "no sea sickness" - don't forget the ginger though. Thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us. I get so excited when there is an update to read and just loved the "how much toilet paper is enough". Everytime I go to the supermarket these days I have a little giggle to myself about what MIGHT BE in a different circumstance.

Haven't spoke to G&D or Nan for a while but will do so soon - few things happening on the family front and boy is it cold in Hobart at present - tomorrow 2 to 9.

The NZ big storm experience sounds scary but exhilarating - you obviously stepped up to the mark - WELL DONE kiddo.

Look forward to the next update and know that Friday 13th has been good to you all.

love Alexis.

  Alexis Jul 13, 2007 7:29 PM


Hello Anna

Thinking about you still - will send an email with all the news - hang loose and hang on!!

Love Ange & Roddy

  Ange Jackman Jul 17, 2007 10:37 AM

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