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

Monday, 16 June 2014

Yep - she's our queen too!

On the first monday of June, we celebrate the birthday of our sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, and this usually signals the end of out "boating season". This year it was June 2nd and also was the first anniversary of Loopy Kiwi's return home and trip up the coast from Tauranga -doesn't time fly when you're having fun! The weather can still be good enough to go boating and many see this as a last opportunity before winter really sets in and the "season" starts again at Labour Day in late October (although there are many nice days in winter that you can still use a boat, particularly if it has heating aboard).

We decided to head out and invited our marina friends, Hugh and Pam, to join us. Pam was otherwise committed but Hugh was keen, so the Admiral suggested she remain ashore and visit Pauline in Kerikeri while Charlie came down from there to join us in a "Boy's Weekend". And so it came to pass that Charlie and I loaded up on Thursday and when Hugh arrived Friday afternoon, we were off. Not a great forecast - Gale warning for the outer gulf, but reasonable inshore and coming from the S quarter (SE to SW).

Our first anchorage was at Owhanaki (pronounced as it is spelled except the 'wh" is pronounced "f"). This is a pleasant bay at the NW corner of Waiheke Island and has room for 25 - 30 boats (50 at a pinch) sheltered from most winds except N - NW. It has a disused power cable running right through the middle of the bay, sometimes visible in clear water at low tide, as it has been torn up by many anchors over the years. However in the many times I had anchored there over the past 30 years,  I had never managed to run foul of it. Once a superb quite anchorage, the bay's main problem today is the amount of traffic that goes by at speed, particularly large launches (motor yachts) that put up tremendous wakes. It can be a pleasant overnight anchorage after dark, but get up early in the morning and depart, or be prepared to be rocked about.

After a quiet night, that is what we encountered by 0900 the following morning. By 1000 it was getting annoying, so we decided to head down to Hook Bay to try for a bit of fishing. So...up with the anchor and off, right?? Remember that cable I had never run foul of? There it was - over the anchor chain and across the prong of the anchor. Fortunately there was no wind and in the calm conditions we were able to get free with a minimum of blood, sweat and tears, but a reasonable amount of cussing. The wind was blowing a cool SE 10 to 15 knots, so we were well sheltered going down tn N side of the island, but round the corner into the Firth of Thames it was a little more willing, as the Firth provides plenty of reach for waves to build. We tried our drift fishing tactic across Hooks Bay, but there was a fair amount of slop coming from the Firth, so it was not particularly comfortable. While the weather can be reasonable around Queens Birthday, the fishing is usually lousy, and we were not to be disappointed in that fact on that day. We got quite a mixed bag,,,,snapper, red cod, a gurnard, several mackerel and even a large squid, but only 2 snapper over the new size limit of 30cm (although we caught about 10 that would have been legal 3 months ago!) Anyway I took the time to take a few pics of the bay and Firth with my new camera, so those who have been waiting for more pix of NZ scenery.....here you go. BTW the weather is ALWAYS like this over here (yeah, right!)

The next 4 are Hook Bay

Looking across the Firth to Coromandel

The Moehau ranges at the tip of Coromandel Peninsular

And here's the squid

After several hours of disappointment, we took some steak out of the freezer to thaw while we travelled back up the coat to Pie Melon Bay to anchor for the night. Although the weekend had seemed get off to a slow start, probably due to the weather forecast, it was becoming obvious that there were many boats out enjoying a better-than- expected weekend, as most of the bays on the N side of Waiheke were well populated with boats.

The next day was spent out at D'Urville Rocks, a rock outcrop rising above water from a depth of 100ft, about 3NM offshore N of Waiheke. The weather improved as the day went on, but the fishing didn't, despite our using the squid for bait - something that we were roundly criticised for later as it would have made marvellous eating! We caught a lot of fish and many would have been legal under the old 270mm regime but, alas, only 2 were under the new one. In the end we figured we had at least caught the value of the bait in snapper fillets (at $37 per kilo we only had to catch enough to give us 900gm of skinned and boned fillets) and kept ourselves occupied for 2 days.

We spent our last night at a crowded Oneroa and the next day had a pleasant trip back to the marina on which Charlie and I spent another night aboard LK before going up to Kerikeri to collect the Admiral. Some interesting statistics came out of this weekend: Water usage was 14 litres per person per day instead of the usual 25; the overnight battery capacity remained higher each morning and we used the genset about an hour less each day.

Well I said I would try to do better - Till next time

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