Rounding North CapeDated: 15/01/08
January 10, 2008
Rounding the Capes
The 15knot easterlies were steady and we reveled in the comfortable broad reach up the final stretch of coastline towards the top of New Zealand. As planned, we rounded North Cape at 1300 hrs. North Cape is the first of three Capes along a 20mile stretch of coastline with bays and white sandy beaches. Once past Cape Reinga and its famous lighthouse we headed for Cape Maria van Diemen and at 1900hrs we were finally able to set our course southwards.
This part of the ocean is notorious for being very treacherous as it is the meeting place of two great bodies of water, the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea rolling up from the roaring 40s. But the weather had been settled for some time and looked like it would remain so for the next few days.
The wind died completely and after two days of motoring, we decided to stop in Port Taranaki, the only deep water port on New Zealand's west coast. Taranaki is New Zealand's oil and natural gas-producing region, both on-shore and off-shore, and the port services this major industry. The nearby township of New Plymouth turned out to be a lot of fun as we met some great people and were able to top up with some fresh supplies.
However, the weather was changing with Cyclone Funa, ravaging the north of the country, was also bringing 50knot winds and heavy seas rolling straight into our anchorage!! We were moved to a secure mooring behind the sea wall and watched, in relative comfort, the Tasman Sea beat its fury against the breakwater and rolling in through the entrance in breaking waves! We were pleased to have waited it out here.
The passage of water between Cape Egmont and the north- west tip of the South Island would be our next challenge. This can be a very nasty stretch of water as a result of the winds and sea that funnel through Cook Strait, and collide with the Tasman Sea on the other side.
We watched the weather pattern closely over the next few days, and soon, we were able to set sail for Milford Sound, 420 miles away.