Day 393, Year 1: Arrival in Opua, New Zealand
Date: Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Weather: Overcast, Windy, and Rainy, But Warmer Than Expected
Air Temperature: 64 degrees F
Water Temperature at Surface: 62 degrees F
Latitude: 35 degrees 19 minutes S
Longitude: 174 degrees 08 minutes E
Miles Traveled: 13,011.1 Miles from Boston to New Zealand

As our daughter Heather would say, “Woohoo!” We made it to New Zealand-all 13,011.1 miles from Boston. Our passage from Tonga took us about seven and a half days. Seven of those days were sunny and beautiful, but last night New Zealand decided to greet us with a little taste of what her weather can be like. She certainly didn’t throw us her worst, but it was bad enough that we couldn’t see land when we arrived. Thank goodness for electronic charting! The charts are not always accurate, but they were right on for Opua and it was comforting to be able to see on the computer screen exactly where the boat was at any moment. What could Captain Cook have accomplished if he had had modern technology?

During the night we had winds from 20 knots to the low 30’s, clouds and fog, and some rain. In the very early hours, we called into Taupo Marine Radio to alert them of our arrival. Shortly after, Felix and Monica of Makani, called us on the VHF. They are a German couple that we first met via radio on the long passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. We were in the middle of nowhere when we saw a sail on the horizon behind us. By midday they were beside us, and by evening they sailed into the sunset. We met in person in Fatu Hiva and then again in Bora Bora, but we haven’t heard from them since. Felix called because he thought it was interesting that we once again find ourselves on passage together. We left from Tonga and they left from Fiji, but we arrived at the same time. We talked with them once we arrived on the Q Dock (Q stands for Quarantine) and hope to have dinner with them tomorrow night. But back to the weather saga . . . everything intensified just as we approached the coast and stayed that way until we went up the river to Opua. I have a much greater appreciation for those Polynesians who sailed here in double-hulled canoes. If I ever have a death wish, I’ll try that. At exactly 0830, we tied up to the Q Dock to wait for Customs and Immigration to check us in. We looked for Windcastle, but they were no where in sight. Mark walked down the dock and inquired about their location. He found out that they had reached the entrance late last night but decided that a nighttime entry look too dangerous, so they went back out to sea to wait for daylight. They arrived mid-morning.

Our boat is considerably lighter after Customs went through our food supply. They took all of the dried beans, among those my precious pinto beans which I have not seen out here, all fresh fruits and veggies, all non-New Zealand dairy products, all meats, and on and on. We filled two good-sized trash bags. But I must say, the officials here are very professional and helpful. We knew to expect the purging of some foods, but otherwise, we entered unscathed.

Most boats that arrive go into the Opua Marina and take a slip, but we decided that we are not quite ready for life dockside. We did take a marina mooring and will have to travel to and from shore by dinghy. It is hilly and green and lovely here. After getting settled, we went into the marina to check in with them and found a most impressive operation. The marina is clean and well-maintained, and the staff are very helpful and friendly. There is a real laundromat that I will take advantage of and not far away there is the Opua Yacht Club and a little store with basic provisions. Every morning at 10 am a van takes people into Paihia, a nearby town where there are grocery stores and few other amenities. It was described to us as a very tiny little town, but we shall see.

Tonight Mark and I are staying here aboard Windbird. The Yacht Club is having a race and a “barbie”, but I finally succumbed to whatever it is that hit Mark a few days ago. If you know me, you know I don’t feel good when I pass up a Yacht Club barbeque and a chance to celebrate our arrival with fellow cruisers. That will just have to wait a day or two until both of us have recovered. I think this feels more like the flu than just a common cold, but whatever, I just hope we are both better after a good night’s sleep.

As I started writing this log, we saw all sorts of boats gathering in the harbor. The Yacht Club must be sponsoring a race this evening. It was so exciting to see the boats jockeying for their place for the start of the race. They have all sailed down river, but I’m sure they will be returning soon. We haven’t seen this sort of thing on this level since Boston, but then New Zealand is known as the sailing capitol of the world. We look forward to enjoying the NZ sailing life while we are here. One of the kings of New Zealand sailing is the late Peter Blake. His boat, Lion of New Zealand is here. We also saw it last month in Tonga. Quite a boat!

061115 Day 393 New Zealand–Arrival in Opua
Day 394, Year 1: 3 R’s--Reorganizing, Repairing, and Recovering
Day 392, Year 1: Passage to New Zealand, Day 5—Weather Change