We have untied the mooring lines from the pile moorings to make our way down the river and out into the Hauraki Gulf towards Auckland to meet our incoming guests Kathryn and Mark. We made it off the pile moorings without any loss of limbs and made it through the bridge. The bridge has some issues in hot weather. It seems the civil engineer must have missed the class on expansion of various materials in heat and this beautiful, award winning bridge cannot be opened during really hot weather. The poor bridge tender has to take hourly measurements of the "gap" to make sure it is wide enough to open. If not, boats just have to wait until the cool of the evening sets in. We got out in the morning after "rush hour" when the bridge also cannot be opened. We had a good trip down the river putting the engine to a good test after all the work Michael has done. This was a better trip than coming up river as we had the tide going out with us – giving us a good knot push, plus we had more water under the keel. Some spots on the river near town are quite shallow.
We anchored for the night at Urquharts Bay – a spot we spent some days at during our previous trip to NZ. We had planned to stay a few nights here and get some cleaning aboard completed. The weather however looked like it would get a little ugly towards the end of the week – so we decided to spend only one night here and move on towards Auckland.
On Tuesday, we left the anchorage at 0700 and put up the main sail which had just been re-cut because round one was measured incorrectly. But oh-oh – there was a jam at the top – a crease that wouldn't shake free. So back and forth in the channel we went trying to undo the jam. We brought it in then out, then in and out...no luck. We dropped the sail and then un-jammed it manually. Meanwhile, still going back in forth in a narrow channel avoiding markers, we got the sail back up in the furler and it came out smoothly.
After 45 minutes of that effort, we were on our way under full head sail and main. It was a fabulous sail with a steady 12 knots just ahead of the beam and we saw 7.2 knots several times – but averaged close to 6 knots. There were a few dead spots where we drifted along, but we made the 41 mile trip in good time. We anchored off a place called Schoolhouse Bay on the island of Kawau. Mansion Bay where we had hoped to drop the hook was packed. It is still "silly" season here and New Zealanders are all out and about using their boats. It is a pretty island with lots of pretty bird sounds and enough traffic to enjoy the "bay movies." We will watch the weather and decide when we will take the next step towards Auckland. It is suppose to blow 20-35 knots late Thursday/Friday so we may try to leave here Thursday morning or wait it out until Saturday morning. We only have another 35 miles or so to go before Sunday – when we have a berth in the "Pier 21" marina booked.
The smell of disinfectant soap and Murphy's wood soap is pretty strong aboard right now after a full morning of scrubbing down the headliners, walls and heads. Guests are great for the serious spring cleaning effort. Plus we have to make room for two more people aboard and all the stuff they are bringing for us! Before we left Whangarei, we found a laundromat with super sized washers and dryers so we could get all the blankets, duvets and mattress covers laundered. Astarte will be spic and span to welcome our visitors.
Also, before leaving Whangarei, we took delivery of our new dinghy. We bought a 2.8 Southern Pacific inflatable with an aluminum hard bottom. We had the old dinghy "Air Mary" since our first cruise in 2001. Though it was in the garage for a good 7 years, it served us well the last six that we've been out cruising. We'll use it as another excuse for some champagne with Kathryn and Mark and have a christening celebration.
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