Saturday, January 21, 2017

Tutukaka and Beyond

After a night in Puriri Bay, we decided to move on to Tutukaka – a place we had not stopped at previously. We enjoyed a slow, leisurely sail there – turning the engine on after the wind died and the sails started to hang limp and bang. But it was easier than the previous day's run to Whangaruru.

We snuck into a good anchorage spot in Tutukaka. Getting into the cut is a bit tricky, but range markers (or leading marks as they are called here) keep you centered. There is a lovely marina here beyond a breakwater and a small island (Phillip's Island) in the cut. We chose to anchor though (trying to keep the zero dollar days going) and found a home near Phillip's Island in about 3 meters of water (10 feet). It got pretty shallow under the keel at low tide! But we were protected from most directions and the bay is a "gale force" anchorage with good holding and little swell.

The name Tutukaka is interesting. According to Dillon, the man at the marina, it means Snare the Kaka. The Kaka is a native parrot and on the endangered list so the snaring was obviously quite successful. There are few Kakas left in Tutukaka.

We went into the marina and the above mentioned man Dillon, was very, very friendly and helpful with information. He directed us to the walk we wanted to take to the Tutukaka Lighthouse at the entrance to the cut. It was described as a two hour leisurely walk. We have learned that the kiwis are much more fit than us. Leisurely to them is difficult for us! Or at least part of it was! It was actually a very nice walk – up to the ridge, along the ridge road, than down 180 plus steps to a beach (best walked at low tide) and then up the other side to the lighthouse. This "up" was more difficult but you are rewarded with a magnificent view. Of course a young boy and his dad ran past us as we were coming down (and then passed us again and ran up the stairs (twice!).

It was a good hike and we rewarded ourselves with lunch out, a beer and an ice cream cone! So much for the weight loss from the walk and the zero-dollar days!

Tutukaka is where many dive boats go out from to the Poor Knights Island group – a nature reserve that is supposedly one of the best dive spots in NZ. There are also many fishing charter boats out of the marina and they go for marlin and bigger game fish here. There is a large "Game Fishing Club" on shore. The board outside tells the story of many big catches of various fish (most tagged and released). There is also a good display of stuffed fish inside the club on the walls. Some giant blue marlin, plus just the heads and tails. Impressive creatures. There were also other fish from grunard to ocean sunfish and dorado on the walls. We wished they were open for lunch as they supposedly have the best fish and chips along with great fish stories. Some other time.

The lift at Docklands Five is repaired and we are now scheduled for a Tuesday haulout. It was Friday and the weather was about to turn sour so we decided to get out if Tutukaka while we could. We left bright and early to go the 25 miles to "the Nook" on the Hatea River. This would get us close to Docklands and in a protected spot with good holding. The predictions were for NE, then SW winds 20 to 45 knots!

We were surprised that the Nook was relatively empty with just a few boats and most of those were on permanent moorings. We snuck in quite a way and dropped 100 feet (30 meters) of chain in about 4.5 meters of water. At low we are seeing about 3 meters. We got in just in time as the wind started to pick up soon after we were in the river. We saw 20 knots regularly and it kept up throughout the night. We saw sustained winds at 25-30 for a long period from the N/NW (we had better protection from N/NE) and there were a few higher gusts. It wasn't a very restful night, but we held. By morning the wind shifted to W/SW which is the worst direction in here, but still better than most other places on the river. It is supposed to last until Tuesday – so we will just ride it out here. Hopefully the winds will settle a bit and the forecast is for offshore and not inland! There is a bit of a fetch here when the winds are in the westerly quadrant.

For now we'll just enjoy the last few days (as best we can in the windy conditions) before we head to the haul-out and non-stop work.

Sunday, January 22. 2017
The Nook: Lat: 35 47.44s
Lon: 174 27.76e
At 1/21/2017 10:55 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°47.44'S 174°27.76'E

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