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Code Blue – Poor Knight Islands and Our Trip South from Opua December 17, 2016

Posted by steveandjudy in Code Blue 2016.


We had a really good time with the All Points rally in Opua, in the Bay of
Islands, but it was time to move on down the coast and back to Whangarei.
It’s hard to believe that it’s our third time to New Zealand. We left Opua on Tues, Nov 29 and got to Whangarei on Sat, Dec 3. Had mostly good
weather, but not much wind. It’s still quite a change from the weather in
Fiji. We have the flannel sheets on our bunk with a blanket and a
comforter. The days get into the 70’s but down to the low 60’s at night
and that’s cold to us!

Stopped for the day at an anchorage at Roberton Island (not recommended for
overnight) and did a short hike up the hill to the viewpoint. Great view,
then went on to Urupukapuka Bay on Urupukapuka Island for the night.
Finally can say the name! Next day went to Whangaruru, no wind, motored all
the way. Had another problem with our Torqeedo outboard. Steve wanted to
check out the small grocery store at Oakura Bay, about 1.5 miles across on
the other side. It looks like a definite summer settlement and was
practically deserted. He found one guy working on a house at one end of
the bay and got directions to the store. I waited with the dinghy and by
the time Steve got back, the wind had really picked up and was getting much
cooler. There was more surf by this time and one complication was that
Steve forgot the dinghy oars. We got the dinghy launched but it wasn’t !
going anywhere. The propeller problem again! It’s held by a nut that
loosens when it hits sand. Of course we didn’t have any tools. We blew
back into shore and he took the outboard up to the store. He hadn’t been
optimistic since the woman in the store was even older than us, but
fortunately she had a husband with tools in the garage. So we were back in
business. It was a slow trip back to the boat with increased chop and
plenty of wind on the nose. We were cold and wet by the time we got back
to Code Blue. We need a checklist before we leave in the dinghy, including

Next day was a sunny, calm day so we crossed to the Poor Knights Islands so
Steve could dive. Did four dives. These rugged islands have created a
spectacular landscape, above and below water, with steep cliffs, caves,
arches and fissures. There are sixteen known caves around the islands, with
Rikoriko believed to be the largest sea cave in the world. It is large
enough to accommodate several boats. The islands isolation from the
mainland and lack of human habitation for over 140 years, has contributed
to the incredible diversity of life. In 1981, the islands were declared a
nature and marine reserve. Steve dove here in 1985 for several dives on a
liveaboard from Whangarei. He promised himself he’d come back here with
his own boat sometime in the future if possible. Finally fulfilled that

Spectacular water clarity and warm sub-tropical currents provide a rich,
varied and abundant sea life. Divers, including snorkellers, can expect to
see kelp forests, sponge gardens and coral fields inhabited by fish, eels,
corals and many other plants and animals.

The complex underwater landscape is a unique environment. Subtropical and
temperate marine life coexist with extraordinary diversity, beauty and
density. Over 125 species of fish share this environment with soft corals,
encrusting sponges, vibrant anemones, kelp forests, mating sting rays,
visiting pelagic manta rays, gorgonian fans and myriad other life forms.
Throughout the year, visitors can include manta ray, humpback whales and

Having been a Marine Reserve for over 20 years the fish have little fear of
humans and interact quite happily with snorkellers, divers and swimmers.
(When Steve was here in 1985 you could not spear fish but people could fish
from their boats in certain areas. Now no one is allowed to fish, spear or

Global explorer and diver Jacques Cousteau rated the Poor Knights Marine
Reserve as providing some of the best diving in our world.

We had heard Whangarei Maritime Radio calling another boat the day before
to move away from the islands, so we called on the VHF before heading
over. Didn’t want to go all the way over and have to turn back. They
asked us several questions about the boat and our plans, went over the
regulations and said ok. It was an ideal day, sunny and calm, for going
there since the cruising guides lists all the anchorages as fair weather.
We motored all the way around the two main islands and anchored on the
southern island. Very rocky and deep. Had to get quite close to find a
spot to drop the anchor. Soon after a dive boat came in from Tutukaka. I
followed Steve around in the dinghy most of the time. We went into the
largest sea cave with the dinghy and started a dive. 50 foot dive boats
come into this cave but our mast is too tall for the sailboat. The
islands have some spectacular scenery, very rocky with lots of caves. Lots
of pohutukawa trees growing all over the cliffs. Those are the trees they
call the NZ Christmas trees with their bright red blossoms. They weren’t
in full bloom yet, but beautiful! Took lots of pictures. The wind was
picking up and it didn’t seem like a good spot for the night. Steve took
underwater pictures of the anchor and it was just sort of laying on the
rocks! Decided to go the 12 miles across to Tutukaka and arrived just
about sunset. Next day sailed down as far as the entrance to the river
toward Whangarei and motored into Urquarts for the night. Not good timing
for the tides. High tide was at 11 am on Sat so left about 8 am the next
morning. It’s very busy at Whangarei, almost full.

Sat night 3rd went to dinner with Jan and Carl from Sequoia, Dave from Rewa
(he’s now at Marsden Cove, not enough room at the dock in the Town Basin)
and he brought Mark and Susan from Erie Spirit. They had just checked in
from New Caladonia that morning. Had a fun dinner, catching up with
everyone. Went to a Mongolian restaurant, Gengy’s, that Dave recommended.
We had never eaten there before. It’s a must! Can’t believe we’ve missed
it. It’s a buffet and obviously a good bargain for Steve. They also have
a senior rate so it was about $25, one set price. For the main part of the
meal, you fill a bowl with several choices of meat and seafood, stir fry
type veggies, noodles etc with a variety of sauces. Then you watch them
cook it for you on a large circular grill. You can even go back as many
times as you want. They also have a salad bar, soups, and a variety of
sides, like fried rice, potatoes, etc. For dessert, they have an ice cream
bar, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and sauces and you can get it on
a fresh hot pancake! Didn’t have room for the pancake! The stir fry was
great. I know we’ll be back again!

We’re on the end of B dock so it’s a great spot to look across the river.
These are brand new docks this year with real cleats, no rings, concrete
and recently dredged too. Erie Spirit is back on C dock. Haven’t seen
them yet, but Mintaka’s back. It feels like being back home! We went to
the Meet and Greet on Tues night. Had a big surprise there. We were
sitting at a different table from Jan and Carl so I went over to visit. I
did a double-take when I saw the fellow sitting next to Carl. You know how
it is when you see someone out of context, someone who just doesn’t fit
where you are. I just stared at this guy, then said “David?” The
last time we saw him was in Seattle at their going away party in 2011!! His
partner is an Australian woman he met online originally for crew before he
left Seattle and they’ve been together since. Last time we heard, they
were in Australia so it was a total surprise to see them at the table. We
originally met David Content of s/v Barefoot at the Puget Sound Cruising
Club. I remember how envious we were that they were leaving and we just
weren’t ready! We’re looking forward to seeing them again this Saturday.
They’re at Marsden Cove and will be flying to Australia for the holidays.

I guess that’s about all for now. We’re trying to get the boat a little
more organized. When Steve went diving he went all the way to the bottom
of the shower to get his dry suit out. Temperatures at Poor Knights were
in the low 60s F. He hasn’t used that since we left the US! What a mess
that created! All put away now. Have been doing laundry and still trading
out tropical clothes for those for NZ weather.

Steve and Judy
s/v Code Blue
Whangarei, Town Basin, NZ
Blog – svcodeblue.wordpress.com


 – s / j –



1. Carol - December 17, 2016

Hi Judy & Steve,
You think it is cold in NZ, it is minus 10 C here at night and plus 2 during the day!!. Sunny and beautiful but…brrr. supposed to snow again tonight.
Having Christmas here, M, D, O & S plus Char, Brian and neighbours from across the street, Ken and Michelle.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy 2017.
We arr in NZ Feb 6 and go straight to Wang. Up in Akl end of Feb for about 10 days.
Carol & David

2. Marie & Greg - December 18, 2016

Hey….sounds like Judy did the blog this time! AZ has been nice…just turning chilly (well for us!) 70/40 with mostly sun. Marsha sent me the photo of MHMH 50th? Looks like only 5 made it. I will scan it to your email if not. Staysafe, have fun. and thanks for the updates….Looks like Steve lost some facial hair? Marie & Greg.

3. Martha Schroeder - December 18, 2016

Glad to hear of your adventures Judy. Sounds like you are having fantastic times. I love getting your reports. I am now retired but not totally. Still working one day a week for a couple months. I love not working.
Happy Holidays and bless you both.

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