We had promised ourselves that we would leave the marina at the beginning of September. A Capella has been based in Marsden Cove marina since March, an incredible six months, and in fact we have been in New Zealand so long now we have had to get New Zealand driving licences.
Marinas are very convenient and it has been a sensible place to stay for the winter, but there does come a time when the boat and us really do need to become mobile once more. We will remember Marsden Cove fondly as our safe haven though lockdown and the New Zealand winter. We were sad to leave the many friends we had made, our favourite walking routes and those fabulous spoonbills. I have finally finished the spoonbill drawing.
The weather is beginning to get warmer, the days are lengthening and the swallows have returned. Having left the marina we are back to worrying about water, electricity, batteries, the wind direction and strength, and wet beach landings. We are also seeing more great parts of the New Zealand coast, and it is good to be on the move once more.
At Marsden Cove we frequently walked up to the Mangroves for some exercise and sat on some rather rickety chairs to admire the view. We felt as our contribution, before we left the marina, we should do our bit and improve these chairs for others to enjoy. So with Ian and Manuela from s/y Mr X we set off with wood, drills and screws and did this little job.
Our plan was to head north as it should be a little warmer and there are many good, safe anchorages on this part of the coast. So it has proved and we really have had some lovely weather for the last few weeks. We have had some very quick sails and even saw 10 knots of boat speed on the instruments. The boat is in really good order. There is no doubt if you want remote, great scenery and walking this is a fabulous part of the world.
At this point we met up with Bill and Zoe from s/y Into the Blue at Whangoroa harbour who had plans to go up to the very north of New Zealand to Parengarenga. Parengarenga has a very tricky entrance but they had been there before, so that was our local knowledge and the weather conditions were excellent.
Julian has taken up fishing with much help from Bill. Unfortunately the trip up north was not particularly successful despite our pilot book suggesting that this was where the biggest snappers hang out. Finally all the practise delivered, and some fine snapper was caught in the Bay of Islands.
Next stop was Mangonui Harbour. This is a busy fishing harbour and apparently has the best fish and chip shop in New Zealand. Slightly bizarrely we were recommended to try the local hotel! I cannot comment on the best fish and chip shop but we enjoyed the hotel and the company of the resident parrot.
We now set sail to nearly the top of New Zealand to Parengarenga Harbour. This has a sand bar on the entrance, a narrow passage and breaking waves either side. With a little trepidation we followed Into the Blue at a safe distance.
Parengarenga is very remote and has the most amazing sand dunes. Really unique and the most silky soft sand. Well worth the slightly scary entrance.
We have now returned to the Bay of Islands and are sitting out a blow. We are so sad to read about the return of CV restrictions in the UK and are thinking of home very much. Borders restrictions remain very tight here and boats in the Pacific are not allowed into either New Zealand or Australia for the cyclone season. This is undoubtedly a difficult situation for these boats to find themselves in. We remain so grateful to be here.