Whangaroa, For Real This Time

The wind turned southeast and the rain died down, so we left Opua and headed straight out of the bay. Villa loves going downwind, so once we turned the corner past Tikitiki rock and got out of the bay, it was a very comfortable trip, wing and wing with the downwind pole out. Our destination for the first leg was the Cavalli islands, so we headed through the somewhat dicey-looking Tarawara Island Passage. We thought the northwest of Cavalli island would be protected, but when we got there we saw wrap-around swell entering the bay from every direction, and we decided to move on.

So instead, we went up to Waiti bay, which had a little roll but was still pretty comfortable. Captain tried to keep the birds off the boat, while we took Dinkus to shore for a short hike. Somewhere on Motokawanui island there’s supposed to be a hiking trail, but our useless guidebook doesn’t say where, and we didn’t see anything that looked like a trailhead all along the beach. So instead, we hiked up an informal-looking trail to the hillock overlooking Horseshoe Bay to the south. The grass was thick and fierce, and Jazz regretted wearing shorts.

Captain spent the day, as usual, alternately chilling and hunting ghosts.

He always reminds us to get outside in time for sunset.

After a day in Waiti, we continued along the rocky coast and tucked into Whangaroa Bay. Our first stop was right inside the entrance, at Ranfurly bay.

Once again, we looked for a trailhead that our book had mentioned but that did not appear to exist. So instead of a walk, we had a dinghy ride along the shore.

The rain came and went that day, so while it was there, we whipped out our Sherlock game. Captain was very helpful, as always: he loves writing and always wants to take the pen and take over.

It looked clear before dinner time, and we got ambitious and lit the grill, but then the rain started again and Andrew ended up tending the chicken with a very smoky umbrella.

Captain was a little disappointed that we didn’t have a direct view of the sunset, but he still made it outside to hold the ceremonial vigil.

He continued to be a boat cat the next day. We noticed that he was looking fully recovered from his quarantine weight loss, and we decided to take a measurement: 15.3 pounds of cat. Side note, the last picture is our last jar of Panamanian pepperoncinis. Some things are worth having glass on board, but we feel more comfortable about it when it’s heavily padded and ziplocked.

That night we had a proper sunset.

Captain will wander the deck if we’re there, but he prefers to watch sunset from the top of the sail bag.

We moved a little west to Te Rere bay, and Captain was feeling extra poky so we took him on a short paddleboard ride. We dropped him off and went way up the Wairakau stream, which was pretty and peaceful. Though it was more peaceful going upstream than back out, as the tide was coming in.

The next day looked like a good day for a hike, so we brought Dinkus in and headed up the Duke’s Nose. A couple of notes: check out all the reflective signs, both along the sides of the bay and along the trail. They’re everywhere here! Also note that Dinkus is floating; when we came back, that whole area was dry, and we had to carry him back to the water line, getting our shoes super muddy. Tides!

The sign warned that the trail “requires a high degree of fitness”, and while that’s maybe a strong way to put it, it definitely had some dicey bits. There are two places where, in order to progress, you have to climb rock faces with metal pipes solidly set in as hand rails. It’s not that you couldn’t get up without the railings, but you might think a little more carefully about how good your health insurance is. You might also worry about your ears, because the cicadas are out and they are loud, bordering on physically painful at times.

The view from the top is definitely worth the risk of grievous bodily harm.

A couple other things from the top: apparently the hard-packed clay ground is good for long-term engraving. There’s also a good view of the waterfall on the other side of the stream. Last image, the Duke’s Nose as we passed it from the water, headed towards the town anchorage at the end of the day.

We anchored outside the Whangaroa Marina, and brought Captain in for a walk. (He wasn’t allowed to come up the Duke’s Nose, or we absolutely would have brought him.) At the dock-side fish and game club, we found the end of a fishing competition, with one of the biggest prizes we’ve ever seen in person. Captain was super popular, to the point where we had to basically walk away from three attempted conversations at once to get him out of the overwhelming crowd of children and other well-wishers. As we walked along the somewhat calmer road, we passed a longboat coming the other way on a trailer. Apparently we just missed them in the water. The driver meowed at the cat, and was not the first or the last literal cat-caller.

The next day we had mixed rain again, so we stayed inside and cleaned one of the water tanks. It cleared in the afternoon, and we took the cat for another walk, then made it back to the boat in time for a zoom call with our much-missed friends on Acushnet.

The next morning had clear-ish, blue-ish skies, so we took a morning walk up to St Paul’s Rock. Once again we had a section with some extra climbing supports, although we found these a little sillier.

The views from the top were once again very pretty. The grid in the water is one of many oyster farms in the area. Jazz was also super amused to find yet another sign at the top of the hill, though it’s a little harder to make fun of a survey marker than the orange reflectors around the bay. Her phone is out because Andrew caught her in the act of dialing her parents for a mid-mountain call. Contact was unsuccessful, but she always tries.

Along the walk down, we found lots of Queen Anne’s Lace, and an oystercatcher living its best life.

Sunset was stunning. However, once the sun went down, we realized we had a problem: one of the super-loud cidacas had flown onto our boat and lodged itself… where? Andrew searched. Captain searched. Even Jazz came out and hunted a little. But between the high pitched whine bouncing off all the flat surfaces, and the little guy shutting up when we got within a few feet, we were unable to find it. Fortunately it did eventually go to sleep, so we could as well.

We had some weather coming our way, so we moved the boat again, this time to Pumanaway bay in the northeast. At high tide, we took the cat for another paddleboard ride, thinking he’d enjoy it more if he got to check out the mangrove trees. He did not, but he did relax a little, and even crossed from board to board for the first time. The pollen made patterns in the water, and we saw eels!

We dropped Captain off after a reasonably short “exposure therapy session”, and continued on for a “short trip around the island”, Andrew said. Despite looking at the map and having motored along the whole length just that morning, he didn’t really grasp the scale of the commitment that this would be. As the wind started to pick up in the right-in-the-face, good-luck-getting-home direction, this rapidly went from type 1 to type 3 fun. We made it back to the boat, but neither Captain nor Jazz was super interested in talking to Andrew for a little while after that.

Somehow we managed to get back on the paddleboards the next day, and went back to the mangroves (like Jazz had wanted from the beginning!) to paddle around under the trees. It’s a pretty magical place. On the way back, we were briefly tailed by a stingray, which was super cool.

We got back to the boat, and took a look out at the oyster farm and the growing collection of boats, before settling in for two days of hard rain and intense gusts. We whipped around a little as the wind eddied around the bay, but we stayed inside and so were warm and dry.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.