Island time

Written by David Townsend

23, March 2008

Position 35°18’746S 174°45’895E

At anchor off Auckland, North Island, New Zealand, South Pacific Ocean.

Hi dear friends, thank you for following my journey. Here is this week’s update.

As usual by now, weekly updates are intermittent when sailing due to having no email onboard still.

Life Onboard:
Our sailing trip continues, finding me at anchor once again off Auckland. Sunday, up with the sun, woke my crew, Caitlin and Dave then we departed Maunganui Bay on route for Tutukaka, bacon sandwich’s in hand.

Although the forecasters are saying the winds should be from the South at 25, gusting 30kn it should be a good sail. I motored the five miles or so to, and around Cape Brett, taking a closer look at the ‘hole in the wall’, a local tourist sight, then hard a Starboard, heading due South for Tutukaka. With a stiff breeze Pinta was off, lee shrouds loose (as they should be), sails full and with that shape sailors love, waves breaking over her bow, Pinta sailed ‘full and by’ along the coast and around a mile or so offshore.

Although Caitlin was suffering she was not sea sick, which can often be a worry for any captain. She remained happy and smiling so no need to worry there. David on the other hand, like me was enjoying the stiff breeze, with banter flying around and smiles upon our faces, hot chocolate (or tea / coffee) in one hand, wheel in the other we had a cracking days sailing.

19:00hrs (local) we arrived at Tutukaka, a rolly anchorage protected by a large rock formation, unfortunately this added to the rolly waves being forced through the small channel. Once inside we dropped the hook, and once settled, beer and food followed, as indeed it should lol.. I cooked up some nice steaks, although a little on the hot side (spices and herbs wise) they went down nicely.

04:30hrs I awoke as the wind changed direction, I found Pinta a little too close to the yacht behind. The yacht behind me was a visitor to these islands and had not adopted the local anchoring procedures.. I always speak to the locals wherever I may be as to what they recommend. Here its a minimum of 8:1, so for example, with a depth of 10 metres you would payout 80 metres.

As for me I just chuck out all my chain, so I had 70 metres out in 5 metres of water, this obviously meant Pinta had a bigger turning circle than the boat behind, that’s one reason why I always try and anchor alongside local boats I quickly pulled in some chain, started the engine then woke my crew. Sending Dave forward to work the windless leaving Caitlin to relay instructions (she could still be a little drowsy so best leave any dangerous work to myself and Dave). After only a few fathoms, whoops went back a few years there, after only a few metres..

No that dose not sound so good, back to the original text lol.. after several fathoms the windless packed up, Dave would have to winch in by hand. With strong gusts being driven around the bay it was a had job with Pinta swinging sideways with the wind, I had difficulty in keeping her away from the other boats in the anchorage. An hour later the anchor was recovered, redeployed, kettle brewed and cups of tea made…

Early Monday morning, after a nice bacon sandwich David and I launched the dinghy while Caitlin, who is working as a director for the BBC here set-up office in the cockpit. Caitlin is here to film the sinking of the ‘Essex’ a whaler which sank off here during the 18oo’s. Many of my fellow sailors who have made the voyage across the Pacific have been involved as extras, for the BBC who required sailors to be under twenty five and who looked like they were starving. Obviously, myself and Dave were far too experienced, and well, to be honest as one tries to be, we were way too fit with many years of training going into obtaining our current state of health to participate in this venture so we were promoted to being BBC roadies on this voyage lol.

After dropping Caitlin ashore we set about off loading the BBC props from Pinta to Wilson (my dinghy), one of the props, a half barrel proved to be far to heavy so with the use of some rope, a few half hitches, a bowline and the main halyard. The barrel was loaded with all the other props then the barrel itself was lowered into Wilson. Once full and I mean full we motored into the marina and unloaded at the boat yard, later we assisted in launching the whaler (which the BBC has ac- quired for the shoot), then towed her on to her mooring. After saying our goodbyes we went back onboard for our evening meal and a few beers before turning in.

Early and bright as the sun warmed the sea we departed Tutu- kaka on route for Great Barrier Island, however as the wind changed direction so did our plans. As the wind backed we ended up sailing to the only peace of land near bye, the Pour Knights, an island, well a lump of rock really sticking up some 10Nm ESE from Tutukaka. After finding a place to anchor, which to be honest was not easy for all around the island it was a shear drop to around 80 metres, after finding a ledge with a depth of 27 metres we deployed the anchor and all its chain, plus around 10 metres of rope and settled in for the night.

Awaking at dawn, the sun beaming down upon the the flat Pacific Ocean, bacon sandwich in hand. What a beautiful way to start your day. Shortly after 10hrs the silence was broken by the sound of a helicopter flying overhead, the BBC had arrived for the filming of the final scene, that of a whaler adrift, starving crew laying around waiting for death to take them away from there suffering.

As we departed Dave found one of Caitlin’s shoes, I motored Pinta over to the BBC support vessel, bow too, Pinta stopped 5cm off the vessels starboard side, shoe passed over we departed, once again our intended destination would be Great Barrier Island, once again however the wind had other ideas and so we ended up spending the night at anchor in ‘Ur- quhart’s Bay’ near Whangarei, some 30Nm SSW off Pour Knights Island.

A nice tranquil anchorage which I have favoured many times during my sailing along this coastline, green views, well if you ignore the oil refinery behind you. The following morning we departed and yes, we finally arrived at Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island, an oldie worldie place where the most exciting thing to happen is the arrival of the daily fresh bread flown in from Auckland, a place where Island time really means what it says.

For those who are not familiar with Island time, it means things will be done, work completed but at there own pace, if you ask for someone to do some work for you they will say for example, 09hrs, yep great but that could mean 09hrs Monday, Tuesday etc… they will be there on time but it could be any day.. Island time is the only time.

Later that day we departed Great Barrier Island for Auckland, in Port Fitzroy we found out that beer would not bee on sale as it was good Friday, with beer supplies running low we decided to move on. A night sail over the 53Nm to Auckland, the full moon lighting the Pacific Ocean, dolphins swimming by, stopping for a while to say hello before continuing there journey.

Arriving at sunrise as I often tend to do we proceeded along the fairway passing the City and working port of Auckland, lit by the sun, the beautiful golden hour of light that I have enjoyed the world over.

The Boat:
During out anchor shuffle in Tutukaka a winch handle broke, this has been stripped down for spares. We fitted a swivel to the anchor to try and reduce ‘break out’, I will let you no the out coming of this in later updates.

To reduce power waste onboard I purchased some solar powered garden drive way lantern’s several weeks ago. I have been testing them and they seem to work fine so I set about making a rope holder for one, then attaching it above my anchor ball. I now have a solar powered anchor light, okay so it is not visible for required the distance but in a tight anchorage it works fine.

Fair winds, calm seas.