At last I was about ready, jobs done sails and running rigging fitted, it was time to launch. Hoisted in slings overnight there was time to dab on some anti-foul on where she had been sitting all this time.
Then early next morning Sea Bear was lowered into the water, First thing to check for leaks and a little adjustment on the stern gland that I had repacked with stuffing and deliberately left a little loose. Adjusted too tight runs the risk of excessive wear on the propshaft and damaging the stuffing, a controlled drip is the thing to aim for. All well then a short motor to tie to a pontoon, time to get used to being afloat.
After a few days it was time to leave. A little shakedown cruise in order and to see a bit more of NZ by sea. The problem of the van was solved by Mark offering to store it on his land so looks like I will be heading back to NZ next cyclone season, and why not still plenty to explore there. It felt a little strange slipping away from Whangarei on the top of the tide and heading down the river. I have spent so much time there over the past year and a bit it almost feels like a second home to me.
The weather didn’t seem quite as forecast as I neared the river mouth. Much stronger winds than expected and my proposed anchorage at Urquharts bay not as sheltered as hoped for. Still I tucked in amongst the other boats at anchor and used the new windlass for the first time, out rattled the chain, the new anchor bit right away and there I was bobbing on the briny. I stayed there the next day to give a chance for wind and seas to moderate.
It was a longish haul to my next destination so with a scant 12 hours of daylight I was up at 3am hauled in the anchor and away. Motoring as no wind but the channel out to the clearway buoy is well lit. Some wind arrived with the dawn so all sails were set and being new they looked well. I was hard on the wind but could almost set the course I wanted south down the coast. I had to make a few tacks to round Cape Rodney though and then across Omaha bay to Takatu Point. Here the wind died but it was just a fairly short motor through North Channel then around the corner to enter Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island. My hunch proved correct and I spied Morpheus of London with friends Jan & Richard at anchor here. True to form they invited me to join them ashore at the Kawau boat club for drinks.
I stayed at anchor here for a few days, we had a high over NZ with very light winds and I dont like motoring much. I went for a couple of nice walks across to Mansion house bay and to the old copper mine.
It was quite and peaceful here with just a few boats but Easter arrived and with it the crowds, at quick count there was over a hundred boats at anchor here.
Rain and wind last night when that clears over next day I will move on. It’s getting close to time to head north to the Bay of Islands where I will wait for a suitable weather window to head off on passage to the Islands.