Arrived at Tauranga at about 2300 hours on Friday 19th after sailing (motoring) past the actively volcanic White (Whakaari) Island, about 50 miles east of Tauranga and picked our way against a very strong tide into the visitors berth of the Tauranga Yacht Club.
After overnighting we decided to move to the Bridge Marina which was closer to the city centre and more convenient for a couple of blokes without wheels.
Spent sometime at the local Jazz Festival which has been an annual event for 30 plus years, walked to and climbed Mount Maunganui for some spectacular views and had a meal out with Libby’s cousin Christine and her husband, Andy.
Monday spent most of the day sheltering from rain below decks but later moved out to anchor near the harbour entrance, ready for an early departure for Whitianga today where we plan to meet up with Libby on Wednesday.
We arrived at Napier at 13.30 hours on the 17th in plenty of time to offload Fred who had a flight to catch to Queenstown to meet old friends.
Our berth at the Napier Yacht Club was extremely well located, right in front of the club rooms and less than 50 metres from their facilities and a short walk to shops, bars and restaurants. The staff were very hospitable and welcoming and it would have been great to stay a day or so longer.
Given the forecast, however, decided to move on and currently making our way to Tauranga where we anticipate waiting for a few days and also to meet Libby.
Had a great sail under spinnaker yesterday morning but had to motor for about 12 hours after rounding Portland Island. (Jim) And now the sun has ushered in Good Friday and it?s bathing our windward coast. Sailing along under its lee we have a glorious view of thrusting sunlit peaks and shadowed plunging valleys that fan out to short, verdant coastal slopes - dropping at last in low rocky cliffs to the sea. This is the prominence at the eastern end of the Bay of Plenty. We are twenty four hours sailing from Napier and happily the wind returned this morning as we rounded East Cape so we are now sailing again - real sailing, with sails! Eighty something miles to go to Tauranga and the wind is forecast to take its leave of the Bay of Plenty so our current circumstance, as ever in this sailing lark, may change! (Graham)
We spent our first night as legally entered aliens in the Waikawa marina, toward the southern end of Queen Charlotte Sound. The skipper had his first night off from cooking duties as we made a bee line to the local tavern, the ?Jolly Roger?. A memorable and adequately lubricated night ensued followed by our first gloriously uninterrupted nights sleep since departing Tasmanian shores. The following morning after rising at a respectable hour, we ambled a little further up the Sound to Picton.
Picton offered a supermarket for revictualing, cafes with wifi for eating, coffee drinking and a frenzy phone messaging, email checking and the like. Picton also saw the piping off of Bill ( the Commander and scribe). Bill boarded a small plane to Wellington, being the first leg of his travel back to Australia. We three remaining cast off the warps after lunch to proceed north and east out of the Sound to an anchorage within the Tory Channel. This channel provides an alternative route back into Cook Strait, exiting from a point much closer to Wellington. Our night was spent in a glorious little inlet close to the channel?s northern opening into Cook Strait. We slipped the mooring at about 0415 to re enter the Tory channel and out into the Strait on a course to the south eastern corner of New Zealand?s north island. The wind, being fresh SSE had us rollicking along through seas that were being thrust into steep peaks by the tidal flow. We made good, albeit wet progress out of Cook Strait in the conditions but reflected on how treacherous this waterway must be with southerly gales and tidal flows working in opposition. The following days ( Tuesday 16th) sail north was steady progress against the spectacular western backdrop of thrusting peaks and verdant plunging valleys. Steady progress continued through the night with the breaking out of our big green and gold gennaker at daybreak and as I write this update we are closing with Cape Kidnapper at seven knots - bellies full of breakfast, mild sea and sky, life aboard Ambler is grand! We are making for Napier where will stop for at least a night. Fred will leave the team here to fly south to visit old mates hiding in the SW fjord lands. Jim, Fred and Graham (scribe)
Rounded Cape Palliser en route to Napier
Update 4 from Ambler II Sunday 14 April 19
Hello Sports fans,
We have completed the final stage of the inaugural Trans Tasman race for Island Packet yachts and we are now in the beautiful Picton Marina.
Thursday 11 April was a beautiful sailing day with a following southerly sea and a pleasant 15 kt breeze with sunny skies.
Late in the afternoon the breeze picked up and we managed to surf a couple of swells and achieve 15.8 kts. The yacht handled the conditions superbly.
One great feature of Ambler is the dropdown side curtains which keep the cockpit dry and warm.
During the early hours of Friday 12 April we encountered the last of our significant low pressure events and again Ambler excelled and produced a new top speed of 17.7 knots speed over the ground. Had it not been dark we could have wake surfed!
Friday was again a beautiful sail; hardly changing the set and just cruising/surfing along.
With conditions easing in the early afternoon it was time for the spinnaker with the South Island now clearly visible. What a beautiful sight: Ambler II with main sail and spinnaker and NZ in the background. The image that makes the effort worthwhile.
Well, we thought we were home and hosed; thinking Picton in the early afternoon, but not to be!
A late afternoon headwind, followed by a veering wind that went from northerly to south easterly with an opposing Cook Strait current delayed our arrival until 4:30 pm. Might I say, still a record for Ambler II.
Customs and Quarantine??? No sweat, easy going - four honest men. Done deal!
Regards to all ,
James(skipper and cook),Graham(poet),Frederick (counsellor)and William(scribe).
A sailors job upon a boat
‘S to keep the bloody thing afloat
And to cast an eye upon the seas
To check for any signs of breeze
To hoist the sails and swab the deck
To plot a course and hope like heck
Not to be a sunken wreck
Notes from Ambler II, Thursday 11 April 2019 Hi folks, Our forecasts continue to be quite accurate and Tuesday unfolded much as was expected with winds and swell gradually increasing in velocity and size from the west south west. During the afternoon the weather and the associated sail configuration changed little and the evening shift work started with smooth sailing. We had anticipated the ?worst ? weather to hit us about midnight but, no problem - easy going. That was until 4:30 am Wednesday morning, on the Skipper?s shift, when the wind rapidly increased to a sustained 30 knots with gusts observed to 38 Kts. Of course the sea state changed just as quickly to a mass of white caps which developed further into rollers. The worst aspect of the ?change? was the accompanying heavy, continuous, rain. ?Water, water everywhere....? In an instant our sleepy warm evening with one watch keeper changed, and would stay that way for almost 12 hours until about 3:30 pm Wednesday afternoon. But, with excellent seamanship, management and leadership the Captain and crew sailed Ambler II into a glorious sunny late afternoon complete with a colourful pink sunset.
Today, Thursday 12 April: quite good conditions - some sun, some cloud, some light sprinkles of rain but generally pleasant. Twenty knot winds with a moderate south west swell of about two and a half metres producing 7 kts over the ground (plus or minus two knots depending on.....).
*****Newsflash, the original estimate of nine to ten days sailing is likely to be slashed with Ambler II now predicted to cross the finish line in a record breaking eight days. Experts predict Ambler will be in Picton by early Saturday afternoon. The inaugural Shedantucjoh cup is likely to be presented to the owner and crew at the quarantine holding station. In fact several cups are likely to be presented to this otherwise abstaining crew. Cheers?? In the meantime as we approach the coast of NZ we leave with this simple poem: Weere out upon the Tasman sea Sex days now afloat Weere hudding for New Zealand In our funcy sailing boat Weeve had fair winds Weere sailing fast Weere very nearly theere You meebe can teel that From the inflection in this note All for now from Ambler II, Jim, Graham (poet),Fred and Bill (scribe)
Notes from Ambler II, Tuesday 09 April 2019.
Today we find ourselves approaching the halfway point mid Tasman Sea.
Since our last message on Sunday morning 07 April we have had a mixed bag of sailing conditions but overall we must say Huey has been kind to us.
For much of Sunday we generally had winds from the north quarter but with an unpleasant north easterly swell giving quite a lot of rocking and rolling.
A highlight of the day was a near miss with a Sunfish, a very unusually shaped large fish which often basks on the surface of the open ocean. (google sunfish).
Monday 10 April saw us with an early period of head winds from the north east which necessitated the use of the engine for a couple of hours. However, the day settled down to ideal sailing conditions with the wind slightly forward of the port beam and Ambler sporting three sails: jib, staysail and main. This pretty configuration produced 8 knots speed over the ground with only a 12 knot breeze. With the sun out - picture perfect! To complete the picture, late in the day we were visited for a long time by a very large pod of dolphins; many of them being juveniles.
Those pleasant conditions stayed with us through the night (two sails, jib and main) until about 4:30 am when abating conditions called for use of the engine.
Today, Tuesday, we await the passing of our most likely significant weather. At about 9:30 am we encountered the first of the pre-frontal cloud-banks which rapidly increased to 25 knots from the north. We expect that from about noon, though to just after midnight, we will encounter a wind shift through north to south west. The wind velocity is likely to be up to 30 knots.These conditions will be accompanied by a rising south west swell of about three metres.
After the cold front passes we settle into a beautiful sustained period of moderate south west winds and swell; all heading in the right direction.
All for now from Ambler II, mid morning Tuesday 09 April 2019.
Regards to all, Jim, Graham, Fred and Bill (scribe)
At 3:00 pm on Friday 05 March Ambler II and her crew were cleared by the Hobart Border Force officials to leave Australia (much like the airport really, checked faces to passports). However, the clearance was issued on the assumption that we would not be leaving the yacht; if we had an unforeseen need to get off the boat we would need to advise Border Force of the circumstances.
Ambler sailed south down the Derwent River and turned at the ?iron pot? to head north east toward a safe overnight anchorage in the vicinity of Dunally. We settled for a restful evening at Primrose Bay.
Saturday 06 April at 7:55 am Ambler sailed for Dunalley and the Dennison Canal; a very interesting narrow canal with a swing bridge to allow us through. On exiting the canal and sailing through another bay we were at the entrance to the ocean where we negotiated the channel and the surf to begin the real journey. The highlights of the trip to this point were undoubtably the Dennison Canal with all the traffic at the swing bridge watching our passage, and the surfer on a surf-foil cruising past us on a wave, with his jet skiing photographer in close pursuit.
The afternoon and evening of Saturday 06 morphed into the morning of Sunday 07 April as we all took our turns on shift through an uncomfortable night of mixed wind conditions, rocking and rolling through various sail configurations supplemented by the engine.
However, at about 2:00 am (Sunday morning) the wind shifted in our favour and since then we have had pleasant sailing with the wind abeam and the foresail up and producing a reliable 7.5 knots heading in the right direction. Albeit still with a lumpy sea.
Having changed our clocks from daylight saving time and having eaten breakfast we thought it timely to let you folks know of our progress, which is about 1000 nm to go. All good on board Ambler II.
Regards to all, Jim, Graham, Fred and Bill.
We have just finished antifouling the boat after two days in the Cleanlift yard and are now back in a berth at the RYCT in Hobart ready to have the engine serviced and to attend to providoring prior to our planned departure on Friday afternoon. Destination Picton NZ.
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