Okay, okay, we know, we’ve been very lax, too lax in fact, in failing to wrap up our circumnavigation of the North Island of New Zealand with you which is likely leaving you asking the question, “Where did Dazzler go?” Please accept our sincerest apologies.
Our arrival back in Whangarei presented us with boat projects, wedding plans and a myriad of other things that have held our attention. No excuses here, just the facts. So, without further delay please allow us to wrap up the circumnavigation for you.
If my old gal memory serves me right we left you in the Colville Channel which runs between the Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island on the east coast of North Island. Initially we had planned to call in at Great Barrier for a few days on our way north but after the butt kicking we took at Tolaga Bay we were both ready to get back to the marina and enjoy a little “land time”. And, of course, I was chomping at the bit to get working on wedding plans. Namely finding a dress. You know us girls…we love to plan a good party and a wedding….even better.
Our trip north from the Great Barrier Island area was pretty non-eventful. The weather held out until a couple of hours before we reached the mouth of the Hatea River but even then, it wasn’t too bad. It was getting close to sunset as we neared the small island known as “Sail Rock”. Located just 13 NM south of the entrance to the Hatea River and less than 2 NM southwest of the Hen & Chickens Islands this towering rock formation is surely filled with tons of mana. From afar it looks like the sail of a ship. Up close you can see faces that remind us of the mana we see everywhere in the South Pacific.
A WONDERFUL WELCOME
We were maybe two miles away from Sail Rock when we looked off the starboard side and much to our delight we saw literally hundreds of dolphin. It was such a beautiful sight watching them jump out of the water and swim along side of Dazzler. Not since our time in the Sea of Cortez have we seen so many dolphin in one place. It was a truly wonderful way to end a day and our trip around North Island. And no, just in case you’re curious, we never tire of the sights and sounds of the wildlife on the ocean.
Just after dark we pulled into Urquharts Bay. If you know us you also know that it is the very rare occasion that we drop anchor or go into or out of a place in the dark. It’s not that we can’t do it, we just prefer to err on the side of caution because most places we visit we’ve never been to before or have only been to once or twice. But, we’ve spent enough time in this small bay that we decided it would be just fine and, as we predicted, all went well.
After a couple of days at sea we were truly ready to enjoy a few anchor down beers and relax. The skies were beginning to clear up and the bay was calm. One of my favorite things about this bay is the view across the river to Marsden Point and the refinery there. It is New Zealand’s only oil refinery and something about it just fascinates me.
On this particular night the view was simply spectacular. The clouds were beginning to move out of the area and the colors of light reflecting off of them from the refinery were simply stunning. It was even a bit eerie as it almost looked like the whole area was on fire. Thanks to my awesome Huawei phone I was able to capture some brilliant images of it too. And no, I don’t get paid by Huawei to say that either. Their camera on my P30 Pro is just so good that I can’t help spreading the word.
After a good night’s sleep we were up bright and early to finish the final leg of the circumnavigation. We needed to get up river and under the Hatea River Bridge while the tide was still high enough. Even though they recently dredged the area it still is a bit shallow during low tide. So, off and running at 0630 we made the final two hour trip. We were still going to be a bit later than we hoped but Dan was certain it would be okay.
I didn’t know until we were sipping our celebratory anchor down beers at Town Basin Marina (our Kiwi home away from home) that when we passed by Dockland 5 just before the bridge our depth finder showed zero feet under the keel! Thank goodness for the fluffy mud in the river. We must have just been sliding through it.
The sun was bright overhead and there was no wind to speak of as we made our way under the bridge, past Riverside Drive Marina and into the town basin. As always, I was on the bow taking in the sights and snapping a few photos. It felt a lot like coming home as we approached the marina. Of course we’ve been living here for the better part of two years now so it sort of is our home for the moment.
As I sat on top of the dingy on the foredeck I found myself reflecting back over the past few months and all that transpired. I am grateful and humbled by the people and places we’ve been so blessed experience in these three months.
We traveled just under 1580 NM in 86 days and visited 31 different anchorages and ports. During that time we experienced days at sea that were so calm it was hard to believe we were even on the water. On a few of those days the water so flat and mirror like it was hard to tell where the sea ended and the sky began. We also endured rough seas, rain, freezing cold and moments I would have much rather have been sitting on shore over being tossed like a cork in the ocean. But, that’s part of the adventure so there’s no use complaining about it.
We saw incredible wildlife I never thought I would see in my life like rafts of wild Blue Penguins in their natural environment and the nearly extinct Hector’s Dolphins of which they believe less than 70 are still in existence. We saw them three different times! We saw sea lions, seals and the incredibly large and magnificent Albatross as they flew ever so gracefully around Dazzler on several occasions during our trip.
I saw my first ever harbor seal in the marina at Nelson. Unfortunately I never got a photo because we were docking and the Captain was insisting that I tend to my duties, which at that moment, did not include photographing the wildlife. He can be such a killjoy sometimes.
There were the thousands and thousands of very odd yet interesting phallic shaped jellyfish that surrounded us for miles and the hundreds of dolphin that seemed to welcome us home as we approached the mouth of the Hatea River on our second to last day.
We saw simply stunning mountain and water views and went hiking in places so beautiful they absolutely defy description.
We met people whose kindness and generosity is so genuine it made us ponder what the world would be like if everyone was as kind as the Kiwis. If only….
We caught our first New Zealand Kingfish and almost crashed Sparkle onto the rocks in the meantime causing me to name the rock island in question, Death Rock. We also caught our first Kahuwai fish and learned that they are simply delicious whether you eat them sashimi style, grilled or put them in tacos!!!
We explored the world famous Bay of Islands and a place we thought was even more spectacular, Marlborough Sound.
We spent five weeks enjoying the company of our dear German family, Lutz & Gabi of SV SuAn as we traveled together throughout the sounds. We played dominoes, hiked, explored, laughed, joke and shared many meals and sundowners together. The memories we created with them will surely live on in our hearts and minds forever.
And…there were many other firsts as well. I endured a crazy skin infection for the first part of the trip that the doctors could not identify. With enough antiobiotics it eventually went away, but not before leaving numerous very ugly scars on my arms and legs thereby ensuring I will never win the Miss America title. Good thing I didn’t have my heart set on that.
I got seasick leaving Russell and found myself chumming over the side of Dazzler as we left the harbor. This was first for me but also for Dan as he’d never had someone get seasick on her. I certainly hope never to have happen again.
I experienced my first tsunami warning in the wee hours of the morning of 10 February when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake occurred just south of the Loyalty Islands in New Caledonia. Fortunately the effects in Kerikeri were mild and consisted only of swirling waters, stronger than usual currents and higher tides.
I wrote my first song ever that I now play regularly on my tin whistle. It’s called “Dolphin Song”. I named it as such because I was playing it in the cockpit when we were just outside of Nelson at the end of our four day passage from Doubtless Bay. I had been calling out to the ocean asking the gods to send us some wildlife for an hour or so. The moment I started playing this song we were surrounded by some of these gorgeous creatures. That happened more than once on our trip so there was no doubt what the name should be. No, I’m not Dr. Doolittle but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express once. LOL
We rafted Dazzler to SuAn in Stafford Bay. It wasn’t Dan’s first rafting experience with Dazzler but it was mine and I was a bit on edge as we brought her along side but as usual Dan was a pro. And, I did find it to be quite enjoyable having our dear friends right next door. It certainly made our afternoon happy hour very easy to attend.
For the first time in my 53 years on earth I was serenaded on my birthday by dear friends who actually practiced ahead of time. Lutz played the guitar, they sang and truly melted my old girl heart with their German accents singing the “Happy Birthday” song. You really haven’t lived until you’ve heard this song being sung with a thick German accent.
We spent eleven days in Windy Wellington, the World’s Windiest City where I learned that living in a super windy city is not all it’s cracked up to be. The weather changes at the drop of a hat, I was constantly dealing with dirt in my contacts and my hair always looked like I had just gotten out of bed even when I spent a half hour straightening it before leaving the boat.
On our way back north we experienced one of the worst storms we have ever experienced at anchor. It was a night that made being at sea during a storm feel like a peaceful experience and it’s also a night neither of us will ever forget.
And, oh yes….let’s not forget the most spectacular thing that happened during this trip…Dan & I got engaged! It is truly the most wonderful thing to ever happen to me and I’m so looking forward to October this year when we get married on the beach and I finally get to be Mrs. Dan Morrison a/k/a Mrs. Dazzler.
Looking back we certainly did pack a lot of fun and adventure into 86 days didn’t we? I guess that’s one of the things we love most about this life….we never know what’s coming next. Sometimes it’s scary or crazy but for the most part it’s truly extraordinary and makes each day feel like a blessing! The exhilaration of not knowing what will happen next keeps us feeling alive!
Now….it’s time to get on with the “business” of boat living. Don’t worry, we won’t wait so long to make our next post. Dan has lots of projects and we’re going to be doing a bit of traveling too so stand by to stand by. The Dazzler crew is back!
Until next time,
Click below to find out more about our trip around the North Island of New Zealand!