Thursday, June 13, 2019

Goodbye New Zealand...for now

We were among about 8 boats waiting at Town Basin Marina for a good weather window to leave for the tropics.

The last group of cruisers departing Whangarei for the islands.

We had our final Wednesday get-together.  It's now so chilly that we moved it indoors.  We have all been eagerly watching the weather, buying food and supplies, and finishing boat projects. It is almost Winter here in New Zealand as you can see by the way we are dressed in the photo above.  It's been cold and rainy most of the last week so everyone is ready to go somewhere warm!  Tomorrow at high tide, about 1 pm, most of us will leave Town Basin and head to Marsden (15 NM away) to check out of New Zealand.

And we had to say goodbye to the dock ducks!
Here comes the gang!  I'll miss these guys.
Now back at Marsden Cove Marina to check out of the country and we sail away tomorrow!  Which is good since our visas expire in one day!
Poo dock!
On arrival at Marsden they put us on poo dock!  Actually it's the "A" dock.  "A" dock is the most remote and shags and sea gulls have claimed it.  Quite a few shags use it to warm up in the sun.  I was tip-toeing around trying not to step in it while tying the dock lines but it was impossible to miss.  See photo.  We went to refuel and requested a different location.  That afternoon the staff hosed it off.
What are you looking at?

Pied Shag warming in the sun on poo dock.
Pull up, pull up!
There were about 12 other boats here departing with us the next day.  Only 1 other boat was headed to Tonga.  Most of the others were going to Fiji or Vanuatu.  We all got together for dinner on our last night and we had a great time meeting new people.  Our friend Vandy recommended homemade chicken pot pies sold at the onsite bakery.  Rich bought one and we loved it!  So we ordered 8 to take with us on passage.  It was such a treat to have those for a no-cook passage meal - just heat in the microwave.  Thanks Vandy!
Gone with the Wind - Annie on the bow is the one who took care of the baby duck at Town Basin Marina
We woke up on departure day to find an awesome sunrise.  New Zealand was sending us off in style.  The temp fell down to near 40 DegF at night - which means we definitely need to get to the tropics.  Its cold and damp on the boat.  My hands and feet never seem to dry and they always feel clammy.
The sky was a brilliant orange
Fog rolling over the Whangarei Heads at sunrise
That looks like frost on the lines!  Time to go!
The sun takes so long to rise and set in the Winter
It took 6 days to get to South Minerva Reef.   We stayed there for a week enjoying the healthy coral and waiting for settled weather.  There were just a few days where we could do some snorkling since the winds hardly fell below 20 knots.

We then sailed 20 NM to North Minerva reef for another 2 weeks waiting on a good weather window to go to Tonga.  It is a 2 day sail to Tonga - which puts us there just in time for the arrival of the migrating humpback whales in July.

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