A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Aucklands Miniscule Loop

.... the antonym of America's Great Loop.

70 Nautical miles around the island of Waiheke in New Zealand's Hauraki Gulf in some of the prettiest and safest cruising grounds in the world. In anticipation of the upcoming Labour weekend, Lois had taken time off work and she and Lyn came down early, so we got underway on Wednesday in mediocre weather, but with a an improving forecast. One great thing about this "little loop" is that Waiheke and its surrounding islands, plus their proximity to the mainland, provide for shelter somewhere no matter what the wind direction or speed is. There are myriads of deep bays available for anchoring and 3 hours after departure from the marina we were in Chamberlins Bay on Ponui Island. Being early in the season and mid week, we found ourselves alone the first night - very reminiscent of some of our anchorages on the Great Loop , but for different reasons.
The building on the foreshore is a shearing shed, and we were entertained in the morning by braying donkeys as well as bleating sheep and barking dogs - very pastoral!

We decided to try our luck fishing that day (Thursday) and toodled round to Hook Bay which has usually been profitable in this regard. Although it is still very early in the season, we managed to land 7 snapper and a red cod to provide us with enough fish for dinner that evening.
We spent that evening in Man O War Bay, at the "bottom end" of Waiheke,  with only a couple of yachts (sailboats) for company - although more and more traffic was evident as the weekend loomed closer. The following day was Friday and the weather forecast was such that it was obvious that MOW Bay was going to be very popular for the weekend. Although it is relatively isolated, the Bay has a boutique winery and we decided to take a trip ashore and sample the fare before the rush.

By the time we returned to the boat, the early escapees from the real world started rolling in and by mid afternoon the Bay had about 20 boats in it. A number were anchored nearby to us, under the shelter of the cliffs on  the NW shore, from where the brisk wind was blowing. A short time later, we noticed that the nearby boats were pulling up their anchors and moving further down the  bay. When they had all gone, we figured it might be pertinent to listen to the weather forecast and, sure enough, Metservice were now forecasting  a SW change with winds averaging 15 and gusting 20 knots. Having been anchored there more than 24 hours, we were well dug in but as the wind turned, we swung round into shallower water and the rocky shore began to look rather close by. Discretion being the better part of cowardice, I decided to move further down the bay with the others and, by the time we got the engines started and the anchor up, a SW squall with gusts to 45kts made the move a very sensible decision. The squall lasted about half an hour, after which the weather calmed down again for a very peaceful night.

The boats started arriving from around 9am  and we decided it was time to go. There was a gentle SW breeze and this was forecast to continue for the rest of the weekend, so we continued our circumnavigation of Waiheke by cruising up the Northern side of the island. We anchored Saturday night in Onetangi Bay, where conditions were ideal to break out the Weber for  barbie on the swim platform.
There were about 20 boats in that bay that night, and the next day we continued around the island to the next one, our favourite anchorage, Oneroa. The township of Oneroa is the largest on the island and, with a large sandy beach sheltered from winds North through West to South, is a popular anchorage for boaties. We dinghied ashore to the township up the hill to replenish our dwindling wine stocks and returned to Loopy Kiwi for another evening Barbie and a singalong.
Labour day Monday was time to reluctantly go home, as some folk (Lois anyway) had to go to work the next day. The return was uneventful, but we did pass this interesting looking vessel anchored near the city docks.

She is the 119 metre (394ft) superyacht "A" owned by Russian Billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, and is worth around  US300 million. It is also described as the most loved and loathed ship on the sea and personally I agree with the latter - it is butt ugly!
Well, that's the Miniscule Auckland Loop. Not the size of its US counterpart, but a lot of fun and a heck of a lot easier to get to.
 Till next time