Pork Chop was purchased in February with expectations that we would sail her to Wellington within a couple of weeks. Cyclone Gabrielle put paid to that, with reports of rafts of slash floating around the coast of Gisborne and Napier.
However, this provided time to prep the boat for the trip, we undertook an extensive review of all the gear and systems and ensured we had spares, charts and good food. We finally got a weather window and set off on the 6th of May.
Karl Mabitt, Philip Taylor, Mark Waters and myself left Tauranga at 1.20pm on the Friday afternoon. The weather was ok: cool with fair winds, but the sea conditions were turbulent. We sailed two reefs in the main and number 4. We set off for the East Cape on a reach and it was not long until a couple of us were struggling to get our sea legs. Karl and I spent some time sharing a bucket below desks.
Fortunately with the assistance of some good drugs I was able to relieve Mark and Philip and took the 12am to 6am watch. I was determined I was not going to be a passenger on the delivery of my own boat. We were settling into the trip by early the next morning, Karl was coming right and some food was had by three of us. Sea conditions improved and we swapped the number 4 for a number 3 and debated which side of East Island we would go around. Decided to go around it, rather than through the pass. Rounded East Cape about 1.30pm on the Saturday, wind and tide behind us, it was time to turn on the auto tiller and cruise the East Coast. We went into cruise mode, catching up on a bit of sleep and having a few snacks. Pulled pork for dinner, with noodles and cup a soup. (yeah what else would you expect on a boat called Pork Chop).
We then took 2 hours on, 4 hours off shifts from 6pm to 6am, with Karl keeping us company for several of the shifts. One O’clock Sunday morning Karl and I witnessed the launch of Rocket Lab’s “Rocket like a Hurricane” launch. We were not sure what it was, initially thinking it was a comet, but we were fast enough to get a photo.
Sunday morning arrived and it was a day catching up on some eating, three squares and some sleep. Crew morale was good everybody was feeling fine, there was little adjustment to be made to the sails, occasional adjustments to our course and it was a matter sitting on the deck and telling stories. We had decided to keep well off shore, about 20 miles, this was done as we expected to get better winds and it worked in our favour. With the assistance of the motor we were cruising 8 Knots, max speed generated some time in the middle of the night of 13.4 knots, with Philip taking credit as he was on watch. That day we were accompanied by a large pod of dolphins who stayed with us for a while, and an albatross.
Monday morning we were north of Castlepoint and right on schedule to make it to Wellington early evening. The sun was up and it was warm. Sometime mid-morning we spotted a pod what we initially thought were possibly pilot whales, but now believe they may have been fake killer whales, a large species of dolphin. The reason for our concern is that something took a bite out our boat and left three teeth in it, and it definitely happened between Tauranga and Wellington as we had the boat on the dry prior to leaving Tauranga and there were no bites in it then.
The wind declined on Monday as we rounded Ngawi into Cape Palliser. The guys put another 20 litres into the fuel tank. I suggest that they put the remaining 20 litre container in as well, bu
t they were satisfied we had enough to get to Wellington, a decision they regretted.
The day meandered on and we enjoyed the quiet trip across Palliser bay, making good time in very light winds and being somewhat surprised by the performance of the boat in such light conditions.
Evening fell as were rounding Baring Head and entered the harbour. Night navigation is such fun as we made our way past landmarks familiar to us during the day, but difficult to make out in the dark.
Familiar territory as well sighted the White Lady and stated preparing to dock at Chaffers Marina. Then we ran out of gas – just as we were passing the fountain. Well that was memorable end to the journey as Philip sailed us around the harbour as I was reading the engine instruction manual to Mark as he was refitting fuel filters and bleeding the engine. Eventually it was sorted and we were underway. We were greeted at the marina by a number of locals that Mark had arranged to assist with berthing and mooring the boat.
We were home.
I would like to thank the crew for their support on this trip, Mark’s experience was invaluable as was Philip’s. Karl has not been put off by his first experience of blue water sailing and is insistent he will do the off-shores. In summary the trip went well, we had a good time and very few incidents. I would also like to thank Brent who initially volunteered to do the trip before injuring himself and the use of his life raft.
I’ll see you all on the water soon.