Nightshift — North Island Burger King Tour

May 12, 2018 | Passages

We are grateful to Stephen and Rachel Hopkinson for sharing their recent voyage experiences aboard the H28 “Nightshift” with us.

For those who don’t know us, my wife Rachel and I had not sailed before we purchased our H28, Nightshift about two years ago. Rachel said she wanted to travel overseas, I thought that travelling by plane sounded a bit mundane so I suggested we get a yacht and sail there.

We looked at about a dozen H28’s and settled on Nightshift as she used to be owned by a marine engineer who fitted her out. She had sturdy fittings all backed by blocks and metal plates and heavy glass, she had long range diesel and water capacity and stainless steel tanks with reinforced rubber mounts. The marine surveyor i used later commented that she was the strongest built H28 he had seen in 20 years of surveying. We thought she wouldn’t take much to get her up to “Category One”.

Ian Syme taught us to sail and over the last two years we have lived on board and spent copious amounts of time trying to improve our sailing skills, attending eoastguard courses and working the boat up to “Category One’.

We cruised around Tasman and Golden Bays, the Sounds and had been to Mana, so we decided it was time for a bigger trip as a shake down for the yacht and us. We are both from the South Island so we thought we would circumnavigate the North Island to see a few new places. After much organising with work we got two months off, had a windvane steering unit fitted (nicknamed George) and left on 1 February 2001.

We got to French Pass as the tide was at peak flow but in the right direction. We normally wait for slack water but I was feeling keen and was rewarded with a bouncy, twisty ride as we were flushed through the narrows and into Admiralty Bay. We stopped for the night on the club mooring in Chenytree Bay. The next day Cook Strait had a boisterous forecast so we went along to Jacksons and went through Queen Charlotte Sound into Ton’ Channel. We had fun trying to get the anchor to dig in heavy weed on the bottom until I read a tip in the cruising guide that said to jerk it in rather than gently drag it to stop it getting fouled with weed before it could dig.

This worked and a peaceful night was spent in one of the bays near the head of Tory Channel. The next day the forecast for Cook was N/W 3Oknots and Castle Point N/w 25 knots, this sounded OK as I wanted a bit of wind to help us around Cape Palliser, where I had heard yachts sometimes struggle with strong currents. We left Tory Channel in the morning into a southerly 1 metre swell and very light N/W wind. After half an hour we were sailing in 15 knots N/W which continued until Cape Terawhiti when the wind in typical Cook Strait style suddenly increased. We turned into the wind to reef and I put in two reefs in the main, Rach tried falling off the wind to continue sailing but the wind had picked up further, lying Nightshift over and holding her there. I was standing on the leeward deck knee deep in Cook Strait and was less than pleased but Rachel appeared unconcerned and I found myself (for the first of many times on this trip) having to put on a brave face. If the first mate was taking it all in her stride it would not do for the skipper to show any doubt. Rachel casually stated that perhaps I should tie in the reef (no kidding), she then turned me back into wind and I tied it in. So with a P class sized mainsail and a handkerchief headsail we continued with about 40knots of N/W broad reaching at 8.5 knots. This was the fastest we had ever sailed in Nightshift, (funnily enough our previous fastest was also in Cook Strait.) All was well for a while the sea had about two metres of N/W swell, hitting 1 metre of southerly swell. I had timed the passage to have a favourable tide through the strait, but it’s too far to sail to Palliser in 6 hours, even at our faster than normal speed. Just as I was getting comfortable the tide turned and ran against the N/W swell producing sea conditions that could best he described as spectacular. To her credit Nightshift reacted little to waves breaking on her from various directions, cockpit drains coped well and with everything battened down and us harnessed on everything went well.

As we drew abeam of the Cape Palliser light, about 7nm off, it was like someone threw a switch and we found ourselves with no wind in a lumpy sea. Using the main as a dampner we motored for a couple of hours. Heading east as 1 had been advised by sailors, whose opinions I valued, that sea conditions were generally better further out to sea rather than coasting, besides this was supposed to be a shake down for offshore cruising. So with a worsening forecast, which was now predicting N/W 40 knots for Castle Point, we moved off the coast. After a white we got about 15 knots of N/W and continued east until 35nm off the coast where we then started paralleling the coast. The advice I received turned out to be right on the money, we had a lumpy sea with the swell pushing up from stronger winds inshore. Apparently the N/W wind forms a wave action over the mountains on the lower North Island. It hits the sea near the coast and bounces up again with the wind calmer some distance out. This appeared to he what was happening as we never got wind above 20 knots of N/W yet the weather reports to shipping gave the wind speed at Castle Point as 37 knots N/W, when we were 38nm east of there with only I5knots.

After two nights at sea we were approaching Cape Kidnappers and a front was catching up with us so we put into Napier to let it pass. Berthing in Napier was fun with gale force N/W in the marina blowing us away from our berth. Fortunately some friendly fishermen were berthed behind us and with four burly fishermen on the bow and stern lines they pulled us in and made us fast. The new yacht club and facilities are excellent and the locals friendly. One local who owns a wooden 1-128 ketch was most apologetic when he discovered that an H28 had come into his port and he hadn’t been at the dockside to give us a suitable welcome. After a few days without junk food I was in withdrawal so we quickly got a taxi into town and found my favourite restaurant BURGER KING. The next few days were spent sightseeing, eating at Burger King and seeing movies at the local cinema.

The weather wasn’t so flash, the N/W wind stopped and light N/F and rain started and didn’t stop. After 3or 4 days we wanted to be moving on but the weather was still N/F and squalls. (little were we to know that due to the La Nina conditions this was going to set the tone for the rest of the trip). Keen to get to sea again we left Napier in the morning with a forecast of N/E I 5knots with poor visibility and showers. We sailed in about what was forecast until we got seaward of Portland Island. Off Mahia Peninsula. The wind gradually increased and it was time to put away the roller furler and get out the hank on working jib, which is much better going to windward above 2sknots. We carried this for another couple of hours then the wind backed to the North and strengthened. By nightfall we were sailing under triple reefed main and the working jib was replaced with the storm jib, the wind was steady about 35knots Nth. This was the first gale we had ever had to deal with at night, which took a bit of getting used to. Its one thing to play in Tasman Bay gales when I can run into a sheltered anchorage after I have had enough fun, but psychologically this was different. Later that night I realised we weren’t making any progress North and I was wasting our effort beating back and forth going no where. I could either hove too (but I would eventually drift south of Kidnappers again), put into Mahia (which would be sheltered) or return to Napier. I decided to return to Napier as we had blown the tricolour light and using 3 lights to do the job was a bit of a drain on the battery and I wouldn’t get a spare in Mahia. So we turned around and sailed back through the night under storm jib and triple reefed main but making good speed. We only had one bit of excitement. Rach woke me about O200hrs as a large freighter was on a collision course with us. I gibed the yacht as trying to tack with the big seas breaking on the bow is difficult and with such a small main it is flat and can be gibed gently even in high winds. I left the storm jib sheeted where it was so after the gibe it was backed. I secured the helm to leeward and the difference was nothing short of amazing. Despite the gale hoved to like this was almost comfortable. I would have spent the night like this in a much more comfortable manner sailing but I didn’t want to get downwind of Napier. So with reluctance after the freighter slid about 300metres away we resumed sailing and eventually got back to Napier about 100hrs. We had sailed about 115 nm in 25 hours and were back where we started the only consolation was there was plenty of wind and it didn’t cost me anything. George the windvane steered faultlessly through the whole thing with his little storm vane fitted.

I felt a bit better after another local Napier yachtie told me he had once battled for 3 days to get up to East Cape, only to have to come back to Napier. I took another taxi straight back to Burger King to make me feel better.

After 4 or 5 days of rain and N/E winds I decided it was time to try again. Two months was slipping away fast and I wanted to have time up my sleeve at the top end of the island in case [had to wait for a suitable forecast to go down the West Coast. We left with an identical forecast to the previous time. N/E 15 knots poor visibility and showers, but this time it really was N/E 15 knots, The sea was about two metres of E swell but smooth as the wind was right on the nose. So I decided it was time to use some of Nightshift’s long range diesel capacity. We motored into the wind using the main as a dampner. Once again we went out 35nm from Portland Island and paralleled the coast. The weather got worse and the rain heavier. A pattern of squalls with increased winds for 15 minutes then heavy rain for 20-30 minutes continued to sweep over us. Visibility at times was down to 100m but as we were outside the shipping lanes it wasn’t too bad, just the odd trawler during the nights.

After a couple of days we were approaching East Cape. I had planned to stay outside the Ranfurly Bank, but as we were turning the corner we could cut half a day off the passage by going inside, normally I wouldn’t have been in any hurry but the rain was starting to make things unpleasant.

We went inside the bank about 8nm off East Cape. We couldn’t see the cape in driving rain but the sea was very lumpy on this corner, The swells became steep and bigger for the next 50 miles or so until we were well into the Bay of Plenty when the sea settled down to the regular 2 metre easterly swell. Coming closer in to shore had problems other than rougher seas, we were back amongst the big ships. Just on dusk on our third night at sea somewhere north of Cape Runaway had an unpleasant moment. I was on watch and I was not looking forward to the night, the sheets of driving rain made visibility anywhere from a few miles down to l00metres. I was doing mental calculations on how much time I would have to react if a ship came out of the gloom 500m away doing 20 knots, Right on cue a squall lifted briefly and a large white passenger liner appeared directly abeam of me about 300metres away heading in the opposite direction at about 20 knots. I consoled myself that he had probably seen my radar ret1ector and could see me even if I couldn’t see him. Not long after this the rain cleared briefly and I saw the first land since Portland Island. White Island was spectacular shrouded by cloud and producing its own billowing white smoke. I was just about to wake Rachel up to have a look when the rain closed in again and it disappeared. I was very pleased to hand over the watch to Rachel and get out of the rain. It was her turn to look for big ships and my turn to hide under the blankets. About this time I was starting to ask myself what I was doing here. Everything was damp after days of rain, (Nightshift doesn’t leak at all but water came in on wet weather gear, etc.) We were exhausted with sleeping and cooking difficulties in the easterly swell. The stress of not being able to see large ships didn’t add much to the enjoyment of the voyage.

When I next came on watch about O200hrs the rain had got harder and my second hand Musto jacket had decided that 4 days of rain was about its limit and the water started to come through in a variety of places. At least it wasn’t cold. Rachel informed me that she had also had a large ship appear about 500m off her beam going the opposite way. About 0300hrs we arrived about 5nm off Tauranga, the prospect of entering a new port cheered me up considerably, the previous days of discomfort and hard work were instantly forgotten and I hardly even noticed the driving rain. I hoved to at this point as I did not want to enter a strange port at night. Rachel came on watch at O500hrs and I collapsed into bed until she woke me about O700hrs, as there was enough light to enter Tauranga. Interestingly when I checked the GPS, hoved to in this manner, Nightshift had only moved 2 cables in all that time.

Tauranga was a spectacular harbour even in the driving rain. We called up the new Tauranga Bridge Marina on the VHF and got a berth. The office girl warned that it was a tidal marina. I had visions of Nightshift lying on her side in the mud at low tide until she explained that a current flowed through the marina. As it was near slack water, berthing was no problem. Then it was into a taxi and off to find Burger King We were told that it had been pouring for 10 days straight in Tauranga when we arrived. We had to go to six shops to find a golf umbrella and most had already been sold.

Tauranga was great fun even in the rain. The marina is well placed close to both Tauranga amd Mt Manganui. We soaked in the hot pools and ate at restaurants etc. We caught up with two friends in Tauranga who previously owned Nightshift. They are interesting people. Both are experienced sailors and also big ship skippers. Ken is currently working on a cable laying vessel and his partner Jennifer now has a shore job certifying ships are loaded safely (or something like that). Ken used to drive the Spirit of NZ and had a photo of Nightshift rafted up next to her, looking a bit like a tender. It was interesting to talk radar reflectors and visibility. Both advised us that in heavy rain the rain gives a radar return and large ships turn down the sensitivity, which would likely filter out our small reflector. They said that add to that the fact that most vessels run with a minimum crew and the radar may not be looked at that often, it is unlikely we would be seen in those conditions. Ken said that he regularly has to make evasive manoeuvres to avoid ships that haven’t seen the large ship he works in. He advised that unless going overseas the coastal ones can be avoided as they all run a computerised navigation software designed to reduce time and fuel. Basically they draw a straight line 5nni of coastal hazards and follow these lines so exactly that they have to keep avoiding other ships on the identical course.

We stayed in Tauranga about 5 days. On the one fine day we had I decided to do a little maintenance on the boat. I was working on deck fixing the seal in the hatch when I slipped with a stanley knife resulting in a huge gash in my thigh. So it was off to hospital to get stitchedup. This was particularly embarrassing, as I had given Rachel a speech before we left about being extra careful to avoid accidents. At least I went to hospital in style as Ken and Jennifer had loaned us their Mercedes as transport. Eventually I got stitched up by a Pakistani trainee doctor, suffice to say that next time I’m going to take a suture kit and do it myself.

Eventually we got a forecast other than N/E and rain, (it was E and rain), but at least this was a better direction. We left in weather similar to what we arrived in, squalls and a lumpy E swell. We had good wind on the beam and made a quick passage, under working job and double reefed main, to slipper Island in the Bay of Plenty in about 20knots of E wind. This was to be our sail combination for 80% of the trip.

The Slipper Island anchorage gave protection from wind but not sea so out with the flopper stopper, which worked superbly and a good nights sleep was had. The next day was one of the five or so fine days we had. It was a beautiful sail with wind aft of the beam getting up to 30 knots through the Colville Channel, but lovely and sunny. Once through the Colville channel the wind dropped and we had a quiet night in the very attractive cove at the N/W end of Mercury Island, with about 10 other boats. The next day was a bit cloudier but still no rain. Once again the wind was favourable for a quick passage to Whangaparapara on Great Barrier Island. This was a sheltered anchorage in all but SSE, as the forecast was 25knot N/W turning S/W. I set two anchors which turned out to be just as well. The night was quiet and the next morning the water was like a millpond, but the rain was back, We crossed the harbour in the dinghy to the road on the other side and went for an all day bush walk to some natural hot pools. The pools were lovely in spite of the muddy tramp into them because of all the rain. We were lucky to meet some other yachties who had walked in from the other side, which was closer, and they kindly offered us a lift back to Whangaparapara in their hire car, which saved us a two hour return hike in the pouring rain.

On our return Whangaparapara was a very different scene. The wind had changed to SSE and was funneling straight up the fiord like harbour at 30-35knots. Nightshift was proposing around in a steep 1-2 metre breaking wind chop. I was not looking forward to the ride in the inflatable, we eventually arrived at the yacht very wet and we were lucky not to be flipped on several occasions.

We eventually found shelter from the sea but not the wind in a small bay up near the entrance to the harbour. The met service had apparently been taken by surprise and a low had formed right on top of Great Barrier Island and deepened further than expected. It was forecast to hang around for at least another 3 days providing more rain and strong winds. We had planned to stay a few more days on the island but didn’t fancy bouncing at anchor in driving rain for 3 days. One bright spot was that the S/F wind was a good direction to sail down to Auckland so the next day once again under double reefed main and working jib we sailed for Auckland. I called Westhaven Marina on the cell phone from near Channel Island, off the top of the Coromandel Peninsular, to book a berth. This was no problem and I was told by the woman on the phone, that she needed our time of arrival. At this stage we were hard on the wind in the Colville Channel in 2-3 metre swells and rain. I tried to explain that we were a yacht and if the wind freed me up a bit I might be there tonight — if not maybe in the morning. She seemed to feel I was being deliberately evasive and got quite upset, obviously not a sailor. I told her a time which turned out to be about 10 hours out but she was happy and gave us a berth number albeit with a veiled threat that if we were early it would probably not be available. As we got into the Hauraki Gulf the wind moderated and the Genoa actually got unfurled for a time as the clouds disappeared and the sun shone and Auckland welcomed us with gentle winds and sunshine. As we approached Rangitoto we noticed that there where more boats than I had ever seen in one place.

Westhaven Marina was very handy to the city, being right under the harbour bridge, it has 1800 boats. I was surprised by the price of just $10.50 per night for a walk on marina with power and water. Auckland was great fun and the weather wasn’t even too bad with just occasional showers. We caught up with Ian Syme who had just finished a delivery up that way, which sounded like a very entertaining trip. I found several Burger Kings in Auckland and saw several movies.

After a week in Auckland Tropical Cyclone Paula was looming north of NZ. If it did strike us it would be in about 3 or 4 days time. We had been in Auckland long enough but if the cyclone did come ashore I wanted to be in a marina. As we had friends in Opua Marina we decided to head straight for there. I rang from Auckland and booked the last 10m berth in the new marina there. We had a great sail from Auckland to Bay of Islands. Once we got up to Kawerau Island the strong easterly and squalls returned. The wind was directly on the beam, constantly 25 knots rising to gale force in the squalls, but only for a few minutes then easing back to about 25 again.

The swell was 2m F and building with the bottom of Cyclone Paula pushing up an ever growing easterly swell, although the troughs were a long way apart and not too uncomfortable. In the late afternoon a big plastic NZ customs launch appeared out of the misty rain, looked us over and then disappeared back into the murk, they probably decided that drug smugglers would have a flasher yacht. We continued to sail fast for us, under double reefed main and working jib as usual, and dawn saw us off Cape Brett at the entrance to the Bay of Islands. I got something of a surprise when Rachel woke me at 0800hrs. The swell that had only been about 2 metres the previous night had now risen to at least 4 metres, which looked impressive but was actually very comfortable, as the troughs were a long way apart and very rounded. The wind kept bending with us as we sailed into Bay of Islands and then up to Opua and we started the motor for the first time off the end of the Opua whart when we dropped the sails to motor into the marina. When we arrived, as usual for us the heavens opened and it poured. Opua Marina is very nice, only one year old. It is already full and they are trying to get consent to double its size. Many of the overseas yachts that previously stayed in Whangarei now stay in Opua. As luck would have it an old school friend of mine, whom we were hoping to catch up with, had just taken a Skippers job on a millionaires yacht, which was berthed two berths down from us. So we spent most evenings on their yacht with him and his wife (she is the first mate). The vessel is an unusual yacht, a 58 ft long sloop with a carbon fibre mast and booms (plural, being that the boom extended out as far as the pulpit), and no rigging. It has a fixed boom for the mainsail and another fixed boom the headsail is mounted on. The whole mast pivots on a big bearing enabling reefing to be done by simply spinning the main boom down wind — reefing then turning the whole assembly around again, it looked a little weird with no rigging to hold it all up.

We stayed in Opua longer than we expected, the weather ranged between not very flash and lousy. We had now been officially told that due to La Nina, it was a bad year to sail around the North Island. Tropical Cyclone Paula slid off a few hundred miles east of NZ and got downgraded, but not before giving us lots of strong easterly winds and rain. Since it was not good cruising weather we hired a car and drove around Northland. I was somewhat at a loss with no local Burger King restaurant, but not being the sort that is easily deterred, I drove all the way to Whangarei and located both a Burger King and a movie theatre. Time was now getting shorter and there had been no good weather windows to get around Cape Reinga since we had been there, so we decided that the next suitable forecast we would go. The first time we planned to go with a forecast of S/E winds a sub tropical low formed on North Cape. The second time the forecast was Ok we awoke to black skies, driving rain and 30 knots of easterly in the marina. The third attempt the forecast looked Ok for a couple of days, but we would run into a fairly nasty looking front about two/three days out. As 48 hours would wee me with plenty of sea room off the West Coast I wasn’t too concerned. We left at 0800hrs under grey threatening skies, after clearing Bay of Islands we were back with our familiar combination of working jib and double reefed main sailing fast with the StE wind aft of the beam. The constant passage of squalls continued the by now familiar pattern of gust fronts and rain. 24 hours later we were off Noah Cape and right on cue. The wind backed to N/E but died between North Cape and Cape Reinga. We had to motor for an hour or two but got the wind back at Cape Reinga. We passed 8nm off Cape Reinga to avoid the tidal overfalls marked on the chart. The sea was the calmest we had on the entire trip and the weeks of easterly winds had set up a strong west going current across the top which gave us a 2 to 3 knot boost.

Once clear of the top I set a course to take me welt to seaward of Pandoras Bank. I then ruled a straight line down to the South Island that would take us over I00 miles offshore of the west coast (at the mid point), which I didn’t want to be close to as the only port I considered good to enter in rough weather was New Plymouth. Half a day later the wind stopped and we were motoring on a glassy calm sea. I couldn’t check on progress of the front that was supposed to have a strong northwesterly flow preceding it, as both the VHF and the cell phone were out of range. 1 decided it didn’t really matter anyway as if the forecast said something I didn’t like there wasn’t much I could do about it and the boat was rigged for heavy weather. After motoring for about 10 hours, (the calm before the storm), the wind started gently from the north and we were sailing again. Over the next few hours it steadily built and backed to the N/W. As darkness fell we were back to the second reef with a building sea.

Late in the evening the wind quickly built to gale force and I dropped the main altogether. I had been advised that it could be bad to let a H28 run too quickly in front of a gale, so I set just the storm jib. This gave us an average speed of about 6 knots as I didn’t really want to find out what BAD was. (I must ask Charles to elaborate on BAD next time I see him). I don’t think I could say we enjoyed this gale but by this stage it was no longer an unknown quantity, we knew Nightshift coped with these conditions with ease with minimal input from us. We were l00nm or more from the nearest land, so nothing to bump into and in spite of rain visibility was quite good. George the windvane with his little storm vane fitted was steering like a trooper so the only problems were trying to sleep and eat. My efforts to wedge myself in my berth to sleep resulted in quite a good imitation of an epileptic break-dancer.

The wind blew about 35-40 knots from the N/W for about 25hours, by dawn the seas were big and breaking. The wind was still blowing a gale on the tops but considerably less in the troughs, being sheltered by the wave behind it.

Later that day, during Rachel’s watch, I was again trying unsuccessfully to sleep. I suddenly heard the clattering of winches and Rach shouted down that the wind had changed to 51W in a matter of seconds. I had been expecting it to do this like most fronts, but not that fast. I had already decided to go into New Plymouth to rest up a bit and I had resisted the temptation to head for New Plymouth as I mew this would put me too far to the east to lay New Plymouth when the wind turned S/W. I had been staying to the west making as much progress South as possible. When the wind turned, a quick check of the chart revealed that we could lay New Plymouth with the wind forward of the beam but not by too much. I put up the main on the 3rd reef and we continued like this for a few hours with the storm jib. The wind eased a bit and I shook out a reef and changed up to the working jib. The sea was getting messy with the S/W wind producing a confused sea with large N/W swell.

I had confidently told Rach that the wind should further reduce now the front was past, (a lot I knew). About 15 miles out from New Plymouth the wind started to increase, at first I couldn’t figure out why but I think it was compressing against Mount Egmont as it flowed across New Plymouth. I had to tuck in the third reef again but we were still sailing fast. As we got closer to land the sea conditions kept getting worse and the wind increased. A 2 metre breaking wind chop was coming from the S/W the tops of the N/W swells were getting blown to pieces. The surface of the sea was all white and foamy and the air was full of spray. Nightshift had solid waves breaking on her regularly and Rach, who was on the helm, was having waves regularly break on her head. (I didn’t really trust George under these conditions). At 10 miles out the surface of the sea was almost smoking with the strongest wind I had ever seen. Nightshift was overpowered, we were still sailing fast but the leeward rail had disappeared some time ago and hadn’t been seen since.

It was time either for the trisail sail and storm jib, which I didn’t fancy rigging just for a couple of hours, or to try sailing with just the main on its 3rd reef. Normally Nightshift won’t sail in wind forward to the beam with just the mainsail but it wasn’t a normal day.

As I struggled forward to douse the headsail the wind gusted and laid nightshift further over. I was trying to stand on deck with water thigh deep flowing past, but the current was too strong. I managed to hand onto the boom with my legs trailing until Rachel got Nightshift higher into wind and the deck resurfaced under me. I got the headsail off and we continued with just the triple reefed main alone. Surprisingly we were still sailing at 5.5 knots in spite of the sea conditions. About this time I went inside to give Ian Syme a call for directions on where the marina was in New Plymouth as I knew he had been in there recently on a delivery. Ian gave me directions. I also called the Port Authority, who told me to give them a shout when I was safely inside the breaking waters and advised me I didn’t have to worry about bumping into anything going out.

The last 5 miles were very entertaining. The wind consistently pushed nightshift over on her side even with the small triple reefed main. Rach got really good at bouncing nightshift upright to clear water that collected between the cockpit coaming and the seats and covered the instruments. At one point a larger than average wave broke on us and for the first time we felt the keel loose its grip on the swell face. Nightshift slid down into the trough on her side, when we got to the bottom the top lifelines were well under the water. This turned out to be not as bigger problem as I first thought. The hatch was closed, we were harnessed on and even before we had untangled ourselves, Nightshift sprang back up, almost shook herself like a dog, and carried on sailing none the worse for wear with water pouring off her everywhere and a cockpit full of water. Fortunately, this was the only time this happened.

When we were getting close to the breakwaters I started the motor, I didn’t want to start it earlier as I wasn’t sure how well it would run on its side. We went between the breakwaters, which looked spectacular with waves exploding into spray on them. Being very careful not to get down wind, as I doubt we would have been able to make progress back up even with motor and sail.

Berthing was entertaining, once again a couple of helpers appeared. I was pleased to be safely tied up and almost felt like doing the Popes trick and kissing the ground but the marina was still moving a fair bit and 1 probably would have got a blood nose. The main walkway of the marina had been broken by the N/W swell and had to be secured by big chains. My only problem then was a disagreement with the first mate over what was more important, having a shower or going to Burger King before it closed. Eventually we had dinner at Burger King and then went and saw a movie smelling like hobo’s.

After a few days of R & R and “FINE” weather we left for the South Island. The last leg was uneventful apart from Rach catching a really big Tuna off Cape Egmont. 24 hours later we arrived in Port Hardy and spent the next few days sailing around Durville Island with the best fishing and definitely the best weather of the entire trip.

The conclusion the trip was supposed to be a shakedown cruise for us and the yacht, prior to going offshore. The yacht performed faultlessly with only a split in the rarely used Genoa, caused by flopping against the spreader in light winds and lumpy seas, and a blown bulb in the Tricolour. Rach and I had our illusions of light winds and fine weather cruising shattered, but we probably learned a lot more than if the weather had been good.

At times I found myself asking what I was doing out there but sailors have short memories and there is something addictive about cruising, as after three days in port I can’t wait to get to sea again. Since we have been back Rach has been searching the Internet trying to find a job that pays us to go sailing but reality has sent us both back to our regular jobs.

One thing I am sure of once we have saved up some more leave we will be off somewhere else. I have discovered that the worst days sailing in pouring rain with the wind on the nose is better than being at work.

By Steve Hopkinson