How right were NIWA late last year when they forecast the 2021/22 North Island summer would be dominated by easterlies with more gales, thunderstorms and wet weather than normally expected. We’ve lain at home in bed during quite a few nights in the last few weeks listening to wind and rain thankful to be ashore. There’s certainly been some nice sunny days, but on the water we’ve rarely had the settled predominantly south-west conditions we normally expect, the exceptions being a settled period in January before Cyclone Cody arrived and some nice periods in April. In fact we can rarely remember a period of such sustained south to north-easterlies occasionally tipping over into north-westerlies.
This significantly changes summer cruising dynamics, firstly because the east coast becomes exposed rather than sheltered and secondly because we’re all mainly used to anchoring for settled south-westerly conditions rather than for strong easterlies.
Of course this has also opened some opportunities for cruising the normally exposed west coasts of Great Barrier Island, Kawau Island and Coromandel Peninsula, but you do have to get there and back safely and easterlies often bring large ocean swells and larger than usual wind-generated waves.
We last got out for 6 nights in mid-May anchoring around Onetangi including very pleasant Piemelon Bay on the east side of Onetangi when the wind went south-east.
Fortunately it’s nearly always possible to safely return home from the inner Hauraki Gulf islands, nearly all of which provide some secure anchorages during easterlies. Some of our favorites during E to NE winds are Rakino Island’s West Bay, Waiheke Island’s Putiki Bay, Ponui Island’s Shark Bay and Rotoroa Island’s South-west Bay.
Anyway our Winter solstice is now only about three weeks away on 21 June and from there our dark mornings and evenings will very gradually lengthen out. Roll on settled SW conditions.