Weekend Sail

It had been way too long since we last took Tahina for a sail. We arrived in Whangarei, New Zealand in mid-November after sailing from Tonga. After arriving, we spent a couple of weeks getting settled, but then immediately left to go to the US for the holidays. We came back to Tahina in Whangarei in mid-January, but immediately started preparing for our land-based travel to see the sights in New Zealand. Many sailors do the same, travel around new Zealand by land rather than sailing around. There is so much to see in the interior of this sizeable country!

Anyway, we just got back a week earlier, and we were itching to be back on the boat. Tahina has a fantastic system for making fresh water out of salt water. But, it has a delicate reverse-osmosis membrane that has to be kept in good shape when sitting idle as it has for the past 5 months. We have a device that runs very pure fresh water (that it produced earlier) back through the system to keep the membrane fresh. But, it uses up some of the water in the process (a few liters every 4 days). After five months, it had used up most of the tank. We can’t put shore water in there because it has chlorine in it. So, we needed to go out to sea to get to clean water to make some more.

Before we could go, I had a nasty job to perform. Apparently the river, where Tahina has been sitting for the past five months, was particularly warm during the summer months. Many of the boats staying here have had so much marine growth on their bottoms and props that they couldn’t maneuver properly. So, I had to dive in the yucky river water with scuba gear on and clean our props and rudders. There were pounds and pounds of barnacles and slime all over everything.

After that nasty job was complete, we were basically ready to take Tahina out. The weekend weather was pretty nice, so on Saturday morning we dropped the lines and headed down river. A few other sailboats were headed out as well since they were going to have a race to the next town north of Whanagarei called, of all things, Tutukaka. As we were headed down the wider part of the river, a cargo vessel came screaming up the ship channel. Sailboats were tacking as fast as they could out of the channel, but one of the boats wasn’t fast enough for the ship. He blared his horn with a warning signal (five blasts), and swerved slightly to avoid hitting the sailboat (that was really poor tactics – the guy was going way too fast – about 20 kts – considering there were so many sailboats in the river).

Anyway, we stopped at the marina called Marsden Cove – which is the only place with diesel fuel for boats. We had trouble with finding a credit card that would work with their system, but eventually got that sorted. Then finally, a few hundred dollars poorer – but, with fuel, we headed out the mouth of Whanagrei and were able to raise our sails! As you can see from the pictures, it was a beautiful sunny day. The only thing lacking was enough wind. It was pretty light – less than 10 knots most of the time. But, we were just there for the experience, and to make the water. So, we didn’t mind.

Later, I saw a bunch of fish swimming around and thought about tossing out a fishing line. However, I forgot about fishing though, because I spotted a school of dolphin coming our way. They swam over to check us out and danced off our bows for a moment or two, before leaving to chase after the fish. See this pictures of that below as well.

Finally, we got more than half a tank of clean fresh water made (after nearly 4 hours). We then headed back into the mouth of the river and went aside to a place called Urquharts Bay. It’s surrounded by some pretty mountains, with cow pastures, and a few houses along the way. A very nice place to anchor. It was SO nice anchoring again after 5 months! We didn’t even bother taking out the dinghy. We just sat and enjoyed the peaceful qualities of our home, and watched other boats, birds and the setting sun.

The next day, after a relaxing morning, the winds started to pick up. We decided to head back up river back to our marina. We had a nice brisk sail. Apparently that river slime doesn’t like the salt water. A lot of the slime fell off while we were out there. We were making much better speeds through the water and, with the wind, were making 8+ knots. Although, our actual speed was a bit reduced because the tide was heading out. In fact, we had to be careful during the final stretches of the river because it was near low tide. When we pulled into our berth, we actually touched bottom with Tahina a bit crooked. But, since the tide just hit its low, we only waited 15 minutes before floating into position.

It’s too bad we have to work all week on boat projects. Tahina is getting hauled out of the water on Thursday. Then the real work will begin. Tahina will be on the hard probably for two weeks (hopefully not longer). But, she should be looking pretty by the time we get her back in the water, with freshly maintained engines, shiny waxed hulls, and maybe some new decals.

Here are a few photos from the weekend:

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1 Response to Weekend Sail

  1. Patti F says:

    Hi, Frank and Karen! It is so nice to hear that you are back with your baby, Tahina. It must feel good coming home (but, Yikes! that repair bill!). What a wonderful sojourn you’ve had in NZ. The pics of your trip out with Tahina brought back memories – I could almost feel the fresh air, and the dolphins must have shared your ‘vibe’ – they seemed so happy! Gerard is in France right now with Claire, everything else is ok for now – take care, thinking of you!

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