Jason Rose on Bohdran: A bit of cruising

Bodhran anchored in Mimiwhangata:
Bodhran anchored in Mimiwhangata

We were sitting in Tutukaka with the forecast calling for 40 knots of wind out of the east to southeast. The anchorage was pretty rolly and we had moved in to a pile mooring in the marina. So the question was do we stick around Tutukaka on a nice secure mooring, or do we sail north to find an anchorage to wait out the weather? We had already done the hike out to the lighthouse in Tutukaka and there wasn’t much else to do but spend money at the little store or the pub. Christian had also picked up two backpackers who didn’t much want to just in a marina, so we decided to sail north to Mimiwhangata with it’s long sandy beach and good 270 degree protection. There was even the chance that we’d be able to hike over the hill to a good surf beach on the other side of the spit. We had a great mellow sail with 10-15 knot easterlies pushing us along on our northeasterly course and anchored in 8 feet of water and blissful protection from the 6 foot swell running just outside the anchorage.

Fortunately we got up the gumption to go snorkeling and go ashore the first evening in the anchorage, as the weather came in hard about midnight. Torrential rain, 40+ knot winds and leaks I didn’t know about was the theme of my night and morning while we spent the rest of the next day hunkered down with the tempest roaring outside. A break in the monotony came when Paul on Surreal came into the anchorage just before sunset. He’d just singlehanded his 46′ catamaran down from the Bay of Islands in all that snotty weather that we’d been hiding from. There were a total of six of us having drinks on Irie when he came in and he called over to invite us all over to Surreal. Paul then continuously filled drinks late into the night from his copious liquor cabinet which he apparently wanted to empty before returning to Auckland. We, of course, were happy to oblige him.

Paul and Surreal leaving in the moring:
Paul and Surreal leaving in the moring

Tiffany helming through the big swell on the way up to Whangaruru:
Tiffany helming through the big swell on the way up to Whangaruru

We were all pretty tired of the swell and needed a change of scenery the next morning, so we decided to sail 6 miles north to Whangaruru. With big rolly seas coming across the shallow bay connecting Mimiwhangata and Whangarur, we played it safe and just flew the staysail but were able to quickly cover the distance and sail into one of my favorite anchorages in a long time. We turned the corner into the bay and the swell instantly turned off. We had our choice of 4 different little bays we could pull into, so we decided to drop the hook in an empty Puriri bay again in less than 10 feet of water. I love being able to put out 75′ of chain and be at nearly 10:1 scope. There’s a little Department of Conservation campground at the head of the bay with trails heading in two directions. We spent the next two days exploring the great trail system which took you across pasture land, up mountains, across the almost desert like windward side to a secluded little black sand beach and back again. On the second morning, we got up at low tide and skiffed across to a spit on a little island teeming with Pipis (small smooth shell clams). I’d never seen such a bountiful shellfish spot. We didn’t even need shovels, we just used our hands to dig through the loose sand at the water line and strain out the little bi-valves. Within 15 minutes, Christian, Tiffany and I easily had enough for 3 or 4 meals and set off on the long windward slog back to the boats.

Hiking through the pasture above Puriri Bay:
Hiking through the pasture above Puriri Bay

Myself, Christian, Julian and Carolina at the campground in Puriri Bay:
Myself, Christian, Julian and Carolina at the campground in Puriri  Bay

Christian with our bounty of Pipis:
Christian with our bounty of Pipis

After a couple of days of hiking and swimming, the weather forecast was calling for 3 days of 15 knot easterlies. It’d be a hard close hauled sail south, but we figured that we might be able to beat the 100 miles down the coast to Auckland in time to meet up with Tiffany’s mom. So we set off south while Irie headed east dead into the wind to try and make it out to Poor Knights Island. The wind was lighter than forecast the first day and we averaged 3.5 knots on the 40 mile passage down to Urquhart Bay just inside of Bream Head downriver from Whangarei. Urquhart was an pretty ideal anchorage, but we just spent the night and took off at 8am to make the 55 mile passage down to Gulf Harbour marina. With stronger winds out of the east southeast, we ended up motor sailing half the way to make sure we made it in before dark. This was the first real test of my new motor mounts and unfortunately either one of the mounts is faulty or I just did a poor job aligning the engine. I went into the engine compartment to check on the autopilot and saw that the whole motor was shaking from the prop spinning as we were sailing through the water. The stuffing box was probably deflecting ½ inch to either side with each revolution. I’m pretty sure that I cutlass bearing is shot. It was fine back in December when I hauled last, but it looks like it’s trashed now. Fortunately we were able to sail all the way to the mouth of Gulf Harbour and only motored the last little bit into a slip. There’s a haulout yard not 100 yard from Bodhran right now, so I’ll check with them on Monday and see if I can’t get a haulout. It looks like it’s time to pull the engine yet again. At least Tiffany is taking off to tour around NZ with her mom for a few weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to get everything done while she’s gone.

Sailing around Bream Head:
Sailing around Bream Head

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Thursday 28 Jan 2010


Sailing around Parua Bay:
Sailing around Parua Bay

Ahhhhhhhhhhh……can you feel that? Bodhran is actually a sailboat again. It’d been 14 months since Bodhran had last spread her wings. I wasn’t sure that she still remembered how. Well obviously I didn’t remember how to stow things properly. We didn’t break anything important on our inaugural sail, but the cabin sole looked like a yard sale and I did have a can of Boeshield T-9 explode leaving a nice sheen of oil over everything else that fell.

Bodhran back in her natural environs at Parua Bay:
Bodhran back in her natural environs at Parua Bay

Christian’s friend Michelle drove us out to a great secluded beach near Kauri Mountain:
Christian's friend Michelle drove us out to a great secluded beach  near Kauri Mountain

So the original plan was to work on the boat in Whangarei until January 28th and then spend a week out at Great Barrier Island before heading into Auckland on February 5th to meet up with Tiffany’s mom. Well the sun was out and all the current projects were done, so I woke up Monday moring, told the marina office that we were checking out and 4 hours later we were on our way down river to Parua Bay. The wind was out of the Southeast, so sailing was out of the question, and Parua Bay was a bit bumpy, but it was so nice being out of the marina. The new to me Autohelm 6000 did a fine job steering most of the way. It’s ridiculously powerful for my boat, but better that than the alternative. The main reason for heading to Parua Bay was to meet up with Christian on Irie. Christian is another local boy from back in Bellingham, who is now a singlehander. We’re hoping to do some buddy boating together before he has to fly back and replenish his cruising kitty in late March.

Tiffany rounding Bream Head, Tate and I nearly got knocked down here 14 months ago:
Tiffany rounding Bream Head, Tate and I nearly got knocked down  here 14 months ago

The mighty Irie sailing along side:
The  mighty Irie sailing along side

So we spent two days in Parua Bay being as lazy as humanly possible. There was much cooking, swimming and card playing and we even got a little sail in, but there were just too many shoals around and so we only sailed for about half an hour. Then this morning, Irie and Bodhran pulled up their hooks and motored the last hour and a half down river and got back out to the Pacific Ocean. The wind was still out of the East Southeast, so we turned north and got a proper 20 mile sail in up to Tutukaka. With light wind and sloppy seas, the autopilot still did a fine job steering and Bodhran performed admirably after her year long hiatus. Unfortunately the wind is supposed to blow strong out of the Southeast for the next 3 days, so we’ll probably be here in Tutukaka at least through Sunday. Hopefully we’ll still have time to make it down to Great Barrier by the time the predominant Southwesterlies fill in.

For more adventures of Bohdran and Jason visit

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