In New Zealand
We arrived in Opua just before darkness fell on Thursday the 8th October. The Quarantine Dock was empty except for one other vessel, and the evening breeze blowing gently down from the surrounding hills was perfumed by a honey-sweet scent of mimosa from trees covered in pale yellow clouds of blossoms.
Although we had intended to stay in New Caledonia for another week or two, Steve and Dorothy made an abrupt decision to leave Ile des Pins when a weather system coming from the direction of Vanuatu threatened to put us into a squash zone between it and a system coming up from the southern Tasman Sea. In the event, we slipped between the two and arrived here the day before a boat making the passage between Tonga and New Zealand was disabled in 75 knot winds and 10 meter seas and abandoned when the skipper and his passenger were rescued.
After two days spent motoring over calm seas the passage had been bumpy. For a while it seemed as if the catamaran were trying to take flight, like a bottom-heavy Canada Goose, as we rose up and over 5 meter seas and then plowed down again into vertiginous troughs. My cabin, at the front of the port hull, received the full force of the wind and waves; a heavy ‘whump’ would lead into a sloshing, churning, gurgling cacophony underlain by the deep hum of the engine and vibration transferred down from the sails, followed by a loud rumble – and an occasional crash which shook the whole vessel – as each wave passed along and between the twin hulls.
Oddly, in spite of the considerable vertical movement of that part of the boat, I didn’t even need a lee cloth, which says something about the sea-kindliness of this particular vessel and the consideration shown by Steve, who did everything in his power to make the ride as comfortable for us as possible. It may also have had something to do with my bunk, which is sprung Nordic-style, with narrow, bowed wooden slats. The result was like sleeping in a children’s bouncy castle: a huge wave would smack the hull, the mattress would sink slightly then propel me upwards, and I would reach my apogee just as the greatest force passed through the vessel. Only once, for 24 hours, did the cabin become so noisy and the vessel’s movement so violent that it was more comfortable to doze in the salon bunk.
Nevertheless, it had been as civilized an experience as is possible considering we were beating into the wind for 8 days non-stop. I hadn’t expected to escape seasickness entirely, and didn’t, but the whimpering ghosts of previous passages have been laid to rest – a kind of victory!
We’re leaving Opua today to sail to Kerikeri and then up the river there, to moor near The Stone Store. Photos will have to wait, as will the description of Ile des Pins!