On Saturday, November 28 at 1340 local NZ time, we safely moored to the Customs/ Quarantine dock in Marsden Cove, Whangarie, New Zealand. The 945 mile trip only took us seven days and three hours. That's was the single best long passage we've had since we started cruising in 2009! Surprisingly, it was on the dreaded passage from the islands to NZ – which is usually a very tough trip. We were not alone out there to enjoy the passage as many boats took this particular weather window from either Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu or Tonga. It was just in time as well, because a storm is brewing just north of Fiji and Tonga and at last look, was heading for Samoa. So it was good to be gone before the official cyclone season starts on December 1. This particular weather window has been rated by "David and Patricia" of Gulf Harbour Radio – the weather gurus, the best window of the season – and many boats beat their own records. Some didn't have as much nice wind as we did – but we were lucky enough to have really nice and relatively comfortable sailing for almost the entire passage. The entire week was sunny with clear skies and even a full moon to light our way through the nights. Just as we were nearing our final destination, did we get our first rain and it was a doozy! But as we moored to the dock – the skies cleared enough and the wind settled so tying up wasn't too traumatic. MPI (Ministries of Primary Industries) – the biosecurity folks were first aboard and our agent was a pleasant women from Auckland who was very thorough but fair. Then the customs guy came aboard and it was like having an old friend on the boat. He cleared us out of NZ last May, as well as into the country this time. He is firm and fair with a good personality if you do everything right. We were pretty well prepared with the paperwork completed prior to his arrival so we didn't waste too much of his Saturday. He had already cleared in nine other boats!
So now we are back in NZ, all legally cleared in with the officials and received our TIE (Temporary Import Exemption) which allows us to buy bits and parts for the boat GST (tax) free. That helps! It is also a reason to keep returning to NZ with a boat! That, plus this really is a lovely country with some of the friendliest "first world" country folks around.
Monday morning, we will head up the Hatea River to the Town Basin Marina where we will settle for a bit to re-provision and get the engine really checked out by an expert. Then we hope to have the opportunity to so some cruising around the area and maybe even make it further afield than in the past years. We also hope at some point, we can make it for a trip to the South Island – though not by boat. We still have to figure that out. The six months will fly by and we know we'll have at least one visitor this coming February and perhaps even two this season.
We always fear this one passage – but this one was all you can wish for. Well that and perhaps a fish on board. We didn't fish the first four days - and we did hook five fish – but two came off the hook and we released the other three as we thought they were too small tuna (should have kept one!).
Special thanks to David and Patricia from Gulf Harbour Radio for all the great weather forecasts and lesson during the whole season as well as for their YIT (yachts in transit) site. Also thanks to the men manning the radios on Tony's Maritime net for keeping track of our passage and being "on watch."
Now its time for a sausage sizzle and a meat pie!
At 11/28/2015 8:36 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°50.22'S 174°28.12'E
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