Crossing the Ditch

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There were plenty of sail changes and sail tweaking on the crossing. Some at one a.m..

Our unexpected crossing of the Tasman Sea has resulted in a new and exciting adventure. Relieved to be returning to our nomadic lifestyle, both Thomas and I have fallen effortlessly back into the luxurious rhythm of cruising. Wondering once again at the thrill of landfall, new horizons and the social interactions with our wandering peers, where prioritising the day’s events becomes uncomplicated; we are once again officially ‘cruisers’.

My big brother, Alec, joined us for the crossing and his enthusiasm for his first ocean voyage added a different aspect to the journey. Every detail of passage life was of interest to him and he adapted quickly to the challenges that he was bombarded with. He enjoyed each sail change, the meal preparation and learning how to sleep whilst been rocked at various levels of compassion by the ocean.

A relatively calm sea and lively wind sent us briskly on our way from Southport, Australia. Eventually, the wind died down and on the third day we were motoring over a glassy lake, affectionately referred to as ‘the ditch’ by Aussies and Kiwis alike. Renowned throughout the world for being a challenging and temperamental body of water, the Tasman Sea isn’t ideally crossed during the Southern Hemisphere’s cyclone season. Finding a weather window had been a challenge in itself. Delighted with the calm conditions, Alec was keen to paddle board in the deepest waters he could find and he urged the Captain to stop the engine. Thomas willingly obliged and we were all soon swimming and paddle boarding around the boat. Having viewed Dead Calm, the Captain cautiously lowered the swim ladder first.

Alec going for a ski behind Qi on the paddle board. There were a lot of 'firsts' happening out there.

Alec going for a ski behind Qi on the paddle board. There were a lot of ‘firsts’ happening out there.

Finding the loose end of the running back stay, Alec secured it onto the back of Qi and skied on the paddle board for quite a distance once we got moving again. Refreshed and ready to continue, Thomas found on the navigation charts that we’d actually only been in 2000 metres of water because we’d been on an unnamed seamount. Fitting the occasion, we proclaimed it to be christened, “The Qi Ski and Recreational Sporting Seamount”.

Alec tried his hand at deep sea fishing but each attempt saw the equipment sadly lacking the task. Firstly, we saw a big mahi mahi angrily leaping as it took off with the first reel and gear. Each of the next three endeavours saw the fish as the winners. I was relieved about dissolving fish hooks and glad that the lack of equipment saw the end of the challenge. We remained a vegetarian boat throughout the passage. Taunted by a large school of tuna, flaunting their rainbow colours, travelling swiftly in unison with the boat for about six hours, Alec planned his revenge once he was near a tackle shop.

A school of tuna swam with us for over six hours.

A school of tuna swam with us for over six hours.

After a calm beginning, our weather guru advised us that we had a front approaching and this front had ripped out trees in Sydney. Thomas responded swiftly to the advice of the intensity of the approaching weather with, “That’s okay. There aren’t any trees out here.” The swell and seas whipped up and we had a small shower of rain. Otherwise it was uneventful. Alec got to experience some big seas and he announced that he was relieved it wasn’t like that when we first left Australia – he might have had time to have second thoughts about the crossing.

Nine days after setting out, we arrived at the Bay of Islands in Northland, New Zealand. Quarantine and immigration was a painless ordeal and we happily went about replenishing our provisions before heading back out in amongst the islands. A brief meeting with my second cousin, Marilyn and her husband, Don, put us on the right track for discovering the beauty that the bay had to offer. They chartered their boat out in the bay and their magnificent catamaran was often in the scenery as we frequented the various anchorages.

Some people may have a sea change or a tree change but our cousins have a "Cool Change" - a magnificent boat self-designed and built. She's a common feature on the horizon in the bay.

Some people may have a sea change or a tree change but our cousins have a “Cool Change” – a magnificent boat self-designed and built. She’s a common feature on the horizon in the bay.

The tranquil beauty of the small islands enticed us to hike and explore. We’d arrived at the beginning of the regions race week and we were given the added bonus of the beauty of colourful spinnakers throughout the bay. We quickly feel in love with the area and vowed we’d return.

After enjoying the spoils of a cruising life for a couple of weeks, Alec decided that it was time to head home. I caught a bus with him to Auckland, leaving the Captain to explore on his own. We caught up with good family friends and I went to visit my son and his family on the western side of Auckland.

Amazing campgrounds on some of the islands give locals a great way to experience the bay.

Amazing campgrounds on some of the islands give locals a great way to experience the bay.

We are now doing the hard yards of cruising with the boat on the hardstand while we are fortunate enough to be housesitting for my aunty. There were lots of maintenance jobs that the Captain hadn’t had a chance to tackle and these are being done to ensure our beautiful home continues to sail safely – into the sunset. more pics below…

Bruddas from a different mudda. Thomas and Alec have so many similar interests. They are good buddies.

Bruddas from a different mudda. Thomas and Alec have so many similar interests. They are good buddies.

And the beautiful destinations continue...

And the beautiful destinations continue…

Loving our lunchtime view

Loving our lunchtime view

Desperate to catch a wave, brother Alec found a small break between some rocks around one of the islands.

Desperate to catch a wave, brother Alec found a small break between some rocks around one of the islands.

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Our hikes have taken us to some historical sites. An old pa site – the traditional Maori fort once stood on these cliffs.

Amazing views on all the hikes keep us gob-smacked at New Zealand's beauty.

Amazing views on all the hikes keep us gob-smacked at New Zealand’s beauty.

 

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