Opua, Bay of Islands

Lots of cruisers were now assembled in Opua looking for a window for sailing north to the tropics or west to Australia. A few informal meetings were scheduled to discuss cruising plans for the season and exchange boat and crew names and email addresses. A well-attended weather seminar was also held to promote PredictWind, Sail South Pacific apps as well as Fiji, Vuda Pt and Copra Shed Marinas.

The Opua Cruising Club was open nightly and a focal point for some gatherings.

Diego and Marina from Meccetroy
Kim and Zim enjoying a last lunch at the Marina Cafe before setting sail.
Kim and Zim on Someday leaving for Tonga.
Solo sailor, Jeffrey, on his Island Packet, Flying Fish, heading to Fiji n what he thought was a great window. He ended up getting knocked down in a squall. He rerouted to New Cal to make some repairs. He was stuck in horrendous conditions the whole way.
Scott on Muskoka, a Victoria, BC registered boat. Turns out we had met him and toured the boat in the Vancouver Boat Show in 2015! That was the moment when Monty decided he wanted to buy a catamaran!
Seismic Wave, a Calgary registered boat, leaving Opua for Fiji. We had a nice visit with Teresa and Brett, a geological engineer.
Charlie and Jenny on Lady, heading off to Vanuatu and then to the Indonesian Rally.

Ron, the crew we took on our first trip to Fiji, lives in Opua. He had his grandkids visiting and brought them around for a tour of the boat.

Steve and Michelle from Citrus Tart shared their anniversary dinner with us at Charlotte’s Kitchen in Paihia.
A speciality at Charlotte’s Kitchen is the Pork Knuckle. The crackling is to die for!

After the standing rigging replacement had commenced, a weekend was upon us. We wanted to get the boat out of the marina to discourage any Opua barnacles from attaching to our fresh antifouling. With the diamonds removed, the mast was a bit unstable. We certainly wouldn’t be able to sail but it wasn’t supposed to be very windy, so it should be okay to motor around the Bay a bit.

Scene from a day anchorage looking south at Urupukapuka Island
Opunga Cove, with Windflower and Avante on the left.
Opunga Cove at sunrise
Honeymoon Cove, visited on another weekend when testing our rig, autopilot and radar.

We met up with Bill and Sue on Avante and had a few enjoyable nights with them Omakiwi Cove in the Bay of Islands. One night we were over playing Kings Cribbage on their boat. When we went to leave around 930, Monty said, “our dinghy is gone!” Oh dear! He and Bill got in their dinghy and had a look around the cove. With the darkness, the search would have to wait till morning.

At first light, Bill dinghy around the cove again but didn’t see it. He came over and picked Monty up and they went all over the area, but no sign of it. Monty and I then pulled up our anchor and started searching with Whistler. We were trying to figure out where the wind and currents might have taken the dinghy.

We were thinking about all the things we liked about that dinghy and what an ordeal it would be to get a new one (and an outboard engine) and kit it out like the old one. In recent years, we had spent a fair amount fixing leaks, replacing all the handles and bought new dinghy chaps (cover). We had done that because we had had difficulty finding a good quality dinghy that fit our boat’s arch, suited our needs and could withstand the harsh cruising environment. It was depressing!

We were about 5 miles out the bay, on our way to the Hole in the Rock, when we got a call from Sue on Avante. Bill had found our dinghy! In fact, it was still in the cove, behind where we had been anchored, tucked in a little nook hidden by low-lying branches of a tree. A little cosmetic damage to the prop, but it was fine. What a relief! Thanks to Bill for hanging around and searching for it again.

Monty has since replaced the painter with a longer one that can be double-triple tied and put some reflective tape on the front and sides of the dinghy chaps (cover).

Dinghy (in Tonga). Notice the reflective tape on the bow.

With temperatures dropping overnight, foggy mornings and frequent heavy showers, it was time to get back to the tropics! With our boat jobs pretty well completed and boat provisioned, we were now focusing on weather forecasts.

Temperature inside the cabin!
“Fat rain” as one Kiwi labelled this downpour!
Foggy start to the day with Muskoka (a Lagoon Cat) on the right and Whistler in the middle.
The long Quarantine Dock in the mist.

Monty really wanted to get to Minerva Reefs. We had been trying to stop there a few times, but never got the right conditions. Would we get suitable weather to go to Minerva this year? Please stay tuned!