7/02/2015 – Back to Opua.

Once we had relaunched we set off to return to Opua for more repairs. Our trip down to Whangarei had been rushed, with only one overnight stop, because the weather was expected to deteriorate, so we decided to head back up more slowly. Having been relaunched at midday, it took a while to get the water flowing through the engine (again) and we finally left soon after 1300. It is quite a distance to Whangarei Heads so we decided to anchor in Parua Bay, about 5nM from the entrance, inside Whangarei Harbour. The anchorage was almost deserted, very sheltered and very quiet. Next day we headed off towards Tutukaka Harbour, not far by road but quite a long way by sea. Tutukaka is a popular holiday area though I'm not sure why. There is little infrastructure except a marina, a launching ramp and a very good bar/restaurant called Schnapper Rock. As we approached the harbour Coast Radio called for anyone who could tow a yacht into the marina. John volunteered! We entered through Tutukaka Heads then had to find Legionnaire in the anchorage, made somewhat easier by being told the yacht was anchored between two much bigger yachts but didn't have a working VHF. There would be no-one at the marina to take over to put Legionnaire on its berth so John decided to undertake an alongside tow. Fortunately a chap on a moored boat called out, saying his dinghy was in the water and did we want him to help? Yes please! We dropped the tow when we reached a turning area close to the allocated berth and handed over responsibility to the chap in the dinghy then went back towards the harbour entrance to anchor. The main anchorage was very busy so we anchored in an unnamed bay on the northern side of the harbour. It was very peaceful, we stayed there two nights. Moving further north, we spent two nights in a wonderfully secluded (no road access), well protected harbour called Whangamumu Harbour. This was the site of an old whaling station, there were a few remains and some interesting pictures and information. From the site we followed a path to a small waterfall but the pool beneath it was very small and the water rather cold so we weren't tempted to take a dip. Whangamumu is the last sheltered bay south of Cape Brett, our next stop was In the Bay of Islands, just a few hours away. We decided to anchor in Paradise Bay on Urukupakupa Island. We went ashore and followed a walking track around a headland to the next bay then we found the track to a bird watching area. The valley was dammed and flooded about 20 years ago, I think, to provide a habitat for an endangered species of duck whose English name is Brown Teal. They were obviously hiding, as were all the other birds in the vicinity! We had returned to the Bay of Islands during Regatta Week. Our trip to Opua on the Thursday morning was challenging as we kept finding ourselves approaching one racing mark or another! There were ten classes racing on at least 4 different courses, we think, but the most worrying were the huge maxi yachts who had a start line just off where the main channel up to Opua starts. At least they seemed to have a staggered start so only one huge beast was manoeuvring at a time. Back in the marina space was hard to come by but the office found us a works berth in the boatyard, which is where Starblazer is now. The following Monday was Aukland Day, a public holiday so the mast was unstepped on Tuesday, we then returned Starblazer to her berth and removed the fuel tank again. Wednesday morning Matt was due to start work so we moved off the boat and went camping. I can put up with the inconvenience of the fuel tank strung up sideways in the saloon but the inevitable mess from grinding out fibreglass and rotten infill was too much to contemplate! Joyce

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