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

Friday, 16 October 2015

Looking Back

........I see that I haven't been a good blogger lately. Its one of those things - the longer you put off doing something, the harder it is to do, so its easier just to keep procrastinating! To try and make up for it, I can either do a long "catch-up" post, or several in quick succession. I'll start now anyway and see how it goes later on which route we take.

In the post of December 1st 2014 (3 posts ago), I said that we were planning to go to the Bay of Islands again for our summer cruise- and this we did. One of the reasons that I didn't post anything at the time was that we basically visited all the same places, so any pix and maps would have been much the same as the year before. The weather, however, was significantly nicer and we ended up staying 56 days away. There were a few changes from the previous years expedition: we left home prior to Christmas and arrived in the Bay at peak holiday time, and we took our van up as well so we would have a vehicle to get around in and not be a burden to others for transport. Both were a mistake, and we would not do either again in a hurry.

Northland can be a funny place. It is one of the poorer areas of New Zealand and it relies heavily on tourism for income. For some reason though, many Northlanders have an antipathy bordering on dislike for visitors over the peak summer period, and particularly if they come from Auckland. They seem to like us to come and spend money, but would rather we didn't hang around and use THEIR facilities. This impression of being unwanted seems to persist from late December through to early February (coinciding with most people's annual holidays) and seems prevalent throughout the community. After then, when everyone (ie from Auckland) has gone home, they get much more affable and co-operative. Perhaps its because many Northlanders are ex-pat Aucklanders that escaped "the rat race" and want to keep their new found paradise to themselves....I dunno, but I sure will avoid going there that time of year in future. In the same vein, taking a vehicle was a waste of time as there is nowhere handy to park it unless you stay in a marina all the time (you can buy parking while you're not there, but it costs as much as the parking at Auckland International Airport). As a result we ended up leaving it with Charlie and Pauline, and they had to ferry us to and from it, which kind of defeated the purpose. Next year we will do the Hauraki Gulf and south to Mercury Bay and see if the folk down there are more accommodating....and we will leave the van at home

Enough bitching.......Here's a quick precis of the occasion, with a few pix thrown in for impact. Starting with a map of the route (much the same as last years, but a few minor differences:

The return was pretty much a repeat of the trip up

22nd Dec..Charlie and I left Hobsonville Marina at 0600 heading North with the intention of anchoring one night en route to Marsden Cove Marina, with the girls to drive up with the van the following day. Halfway up, at Cape Rodney, the weather was great the tomorrow's forecast wasn't, so we went all the way, anchoring at Urqharts Bay, opposite the marina, for the night.
The "Hen and Chickens" Islands and Sail Rock in Bream Bay

Urquarts Bay

Sunset over Marsden Point 

23rd Dec - 3rd January

Moved across to Marsden Cove marina and met up with the girls. Had Christmas day aboard with Charlie and Pauline, was visited by Lois and did a trip up harbour to the Whangarei Town Basin, and drove down to the family farm a few days later for our traditional New Years day picnic and Hangi. I have already written about Hangi in a posting back in 2012, but there are a few more pix this time, including ones that show we do actually bury it to cook.

Marsden Cove lock in use

Heating the hangi"stones"

Digging the hangi hole

Preparing the Hangi baskets
Nearly ready

Ready to go

Waiting for the final heat-up

Loading the stones

Fire in the hole

in goes the tucker

Covering it up

Burying the food and.....

...digging it up 4 1/2 hours later....

to eat it
As usual, we over-catered for the number of people, and the contents of one basket were sufficient to feed them all. Rather than waste the second, we covered it back up again and left it in the ground until the following morning, when we dug it up and ate it. For any germophobes amongst you readers, the heat remaining in the stones keeps the food sterile but without cooking it any further - we have done this a number of times and no-one has died yet!

2nd January - 2nd Feb

After a sumptuous hangi breakfast, we returned to Marsden Cove Marina, and the following day Charlie and I departed for the Bay in LK while the girls (again) drove up. We stopped at Whangamumu Harbour on the way, as I had been promising to do for many years, and found it as stunning as everyone says it is. Well sheltered and inaccessible by road, it used to be a whaling station and is just gorgeous. Although we did have a run-in with a whining yachtie who complained we were anchored too close to him, even though he had to row over to tell us to move!!!! But it was easier to move than argue.
Whnagmumu Harbour

The next month was spent tutuing around the Bay of Islands, interspersed with visits from family members and Charlie and Pauline retrieving us and/or our van. Here's a bunch of pretty pictures that show pretty much what it was like weatherwise over that time

Charlies mate, Norm. I had just swapped him a feed of scallops for a sample of Noflex Digestor

Nephew and Family and a pod of dolphins

2nd - 15th Feb

The Admiral and I departed the Bay leaving the van parked at the Opua marina (out on the street to avoid the horrendous parking fees) for Charlie to collect later and bring to us at Marsden Cove marina. Before we left, we saw a bunch of tenders filling up with provisions which turned out to be going out to "Hemisphere", the largest sailing catamaran in the world (44.2 metres -145ft), which was anchored off Russel.
One of Hemisphere's tenders BTW That is a "Cruisers" 4450  alongside it - 45ft long

It doesn't look very big, until you realise the "dinghy" behind it is the tender in the pic above

We went right around Piercy Island and got a good look at the famous "hole in the rock", but there were big swells and waves leftover from an Easterly blow a few days before so we didn't even consider going though - not that we would anyway, since the local Iwi now charges for the privilege, apparently.

Piercy Is looking South

Looking North
We stopped for a night at Whangamumu on the way down (no tosspot yachtie this time) and had a good ride down, staying overnight again in Urquharts Bay, before crossing to Marsden Cove the next day. There C & P bought the van  the day after, and stayed with us for another couple. We drove back home for 1 night (only 1 1/2 hours by road) for a couple of appointments, and then returned to Marsden Cove, departing in the evening of  13th. We stayed in Urquharts again that night, and the following day we headed for Kawau Island, the wind picking up as we arrived in Bon Accord harbour.

Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island

Heading for home the next day was the worst voyage of the whole trip. The wind was 15 -20 knot E which combined with the swell gave a 2-3 metre (6 - 9ft) beam sea all the way across Kawau Bay. Our first attempt got us about 5NM out, but the complaints from the Admiral and Woody had us turning W and running for shelter behind Moturekareka Island, where we stayed until the wind "moderated" as it was supposed to do in around midday. It did slightly but was still big seas when we decided to run for it at 1500. Further out, the waves were as big, or bigger than they were earlier, but we took a heading that gave us a more bow-on sea, even though we were heading at 90 degrees to where we were wanting to go. After about 40 minutes, we were abeam the entrance to Tiri Passage (where we had to go), so we spun round to run with the following sea and cranked Loopy Kiwi up up 18 knots for the 5NM run to the entrance. And she fair flew - I once looked round at the Admiral - she was grinning from ear to ear and said "this is more like it". 9 knots is OK for fuel economy, but it's good to have the grunt there when you need it! Once through the Passage, everything calmed down and the rest of the trip was a doddle, arriving home on the evening of the 15th. We stayed aboard another couple of nights before going up to Whangarei and retrieving the van from Marsden Cove marina and going home.

And that's about it - last summers major voyage in a nutshell. 

The rest of the summer consisted mainly of weekend trips to Waiheke, sometimes with guests aboard.  Easter was pretty much of a repeat of last year, with an extension of the holiday to 8 days, and a visit to Coromandel, so not a lot of point in dialogue and we didn't take many pix. Queens Birthday weekend, considered the end of the boating season, was spent on Great Barrier Island where I had a gig at a fundraising "Degustation Dinner" in support of their St John's Ambulance station there. We went over on the vehicular ferry and stayed with our son at Tryphena, so still a boating holiday, of sorts.

This post has gone on long enough, so I will do further updates separately - and I promise to be a better Blogger in future.

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