Rounding Cape Brett and South We Go!

The morning of December 16 woke up to the same glassy sea we had left when turning in the previous night. Breakfast came early since there was an urge to get under way. While nibbling away at the now all of a sudden very costly fruits we had the pleasure to adore a self-invited guest aboard, who had been very generous with the application of his lipstick, so much so that he got it all over his feet! I’m saying he, because by messing things up so badly he could not possibly have been a reputable member of the delicate sex!

The calmness of our overnight refuge was treacherous at the very least. As soon as we had cleared the last corner of Roberton Island a stiff breeze out of the North blew at us through the interisland channels. There were a couple of quite tricky passages to be navigated while making our way out of the labyrinth of islands in the bay, and once we had mastered that successfully the going was really getting wet. We were practically beating into a Northerly and just to make things a bit more fun big rainsqualls came sailing in from across the sea and threatened to drench us while hopping over the swells. The ragged cliffs in our lee made for interesting sights.

We knew, of course, that the suffering was all going to be over soon. Cape Brett was inching closer and after less than an hour we squeezed Aluna through the quarter mile gap between Tiheru Island and Otuwhanga Island. What a change! Now with the wind behind us the going was swift and smooth. The white caps were wandering joyfully alongside us instead of angrily slapping our hull sides. A plethora of sculpted cliffs passed by to starboard and we sped by possible refuges, indentations in the coastline that provide shelter from the weather. Whangamumu Harbour, Bland Bay, Whangaruru Harbour, Mimiwhangata Bay, Whananaki Inlet and many more exotic sounding locations gingerly wandered astern. Towards mid afternoon we were approaching Tutukaka Head, which stuck out majestically in front of the gently sloping mountain ranges further inland. The next possibility to tuck in would have been Urquharts Bay at the entrance to the Whangarei Harbour, at least a couple sailing hours away. We decided to turn in for the night.

The entrance to Tutukaka Harbour is blocked off by a broad rock, which makes its basin free of most ocean swells, but also restricts the entrance to a small passage that needs to be navigated with caution. The northerly wind was wrapping around 80 meter high Tutukaka Head and provided some moments of suspense, but once inside the flat waters of the Bay everything seemed at peace, the battles won and forgotten and any wound healed. We dropped Aluna’s anchor just South of picturesque Phillip Island, which looks like waiting to model for a master Japanese black ink brush painter with its gnarled trees growing out of its steep walls on all sides.

There was ample time for some exploring our temporary home. Alunita splashed into the waters and we paddled her over to the gravel beach. A small stretch of public land allowed access to a road, which lead towards the village center along neatly manicured gardens behind impeccable fences. A sign informed us in a red circle about all the forbidden things in this land of plenty. We walked up the hill dodging oncoming cars and learning that there is not much room for pedestrians here. People with worried faces stared at us through glaring windscreens and a hint of suspicion emanated from the shiny metal cages the sped past us. We pretended not to be intimidated and ventured up on the ridge from where we overlooked the little harbor. Further up on the top of a rocky hill a cell phone tower iced the natural landscape with a jagged exclamation point. Many properties were being offered to affluent buyers while others warned of dire consequences for careless trespassers. A pair of brown horses grazed lazily against the setting sun at the bottom of a lush green valley. The setting sun? O yes! It was time to turn around and head for home!

The next morning we slid out through the needles eye at the harbor entrance and where soon bobbing along happily to a wind that had slightly backed to the West. The forecast had warned that it would continue to do so over the course of the day and turn towards the Southwest in the evening, which would put it on our nose. We therefore wanted to make as much way as possible early in the day. Mighty Bream Head with its little devil’s horns soon was sliding by on starboard, while the Hen and her Chicken, a picturesque island group just offshore, did the same on port. Mysterious sail rock showed its many faces as we slowly crept past this peculiar landmark. It’s amazing how our mind is wired to look for faces and human figures in patterns where there is all but the slightest configuration to conjure up such an interpretation!

As it always happens when your sailing time went by too fast and progress was painfully slow. The coast line had gone distant after passing Bream head, which sticks out like a fish hook to the North of the Whangarei Harbour entrance. Now there were two long crescent beaches of bright white sand stretched out vast and long below a thin strip of rolling hills. Gigantic dark grey rain bands rolled off those hills and came towards us, dragging thick curtains of rain along them out onto the water pushed before angry white cap raising gusts. By some heavenly magic those curtains parted, like struck by some invisible magic wand, just before reaching us. At the most two or three of them baptized us with a couple minutes of drizzle.

Cape Rodney started to emerge at the Southern end of the coastline and the dramatic weather overhead continued its crescendo of ever darkening clouds. The timing of our trip at the end of the day turned out to be just as perfect as we could have ever wished. No noticeable change had happened with the wind and after literally passing under a very brightly colored rainbow we pulled into Whangateau Harbour just when the setting sun was terminally swallowed by en all encompassing grey wall rolling down from the hills. The yellow mooring ball just inside the harbor entrance was safely attached to our spare anchor line and brought Aluna’s restlessness to a subtle standstill in the tidal current streaming off the vast mudflats. And then finally we did get our due dowsing of the day. But all it managed to do was sweeten the slumber of the tired travelers enough to nurture the desire to soon pitch a flimsy dwelling somewhere on terra firma in the land of the long white cloud and give some merited rest the wobbly limbs.

2 Responses to “Rounding Cape Brett and South We Go!”

  1. Thomas Nance Says:

    Hello Aluna and her crew, I just happened to come across your blog and being a Wharram lover myself, recoganised the boat straight away. I saw you when you were leaving The Bay of Islands in December and we were sailing in the same wet weather as you. We sailed near you out to the Hole in the Rock and once around the cape we were very impressed at your speed downwind. I was on the boat Manawanui and can just be seen in one of your panoranic pictures of Cape Brett. Aluna is a very lovely boat and it made my day to see her with her crab claw sails. All the best, Thomas.

  2. Holed Up In Tutukaka | Aluna's Travel the World Blog Says:

    […] entrance to Tutukaka Harbour by seven in the evening. I remembered having spent a night in there on our very first sail down this coast a good five years ago. The two meter swell crashing in from the Northeast makes the […]

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