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Sailing in New Zealand 2007

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Introduction

Before we start on the details of our 8 days afloat I should add a bit about sailing in general in New Zealand and the Hauraki Gulf in particular for those newcomers to the newsletter - there is also a web page on Sailing in New Zealand which provides more background. The yacht "Largesse" is a Raven 31 that we chartered for the fourth time from Charterlink, who mainly operate in the Hauraki Gulf, but also have boats in the Bay of Islands. We have used them 8 previous times in the Gulf, twice with a Carpenter 29 and the remaining times with Raven 31s - they are all written up and can be accessed via our New Zealand Sailing page. Charterlink's boats are mostly New Zealand designed and built - boats that sail well and are matched to the local conditions and are affordable. Charterlink is owned by Rob Threxton, who is not only a very experienced sailor himself but also brings considerable business skills and enthusiasm.

The Raven 31 is a local design and, not surprisingly is 31 foot. The Ravens sail very well and can be handled safely by two people as most of the controls come back to the cockpit and she is fitted with an anchor winch. The Raven can in theory sleep 7 (who need to be very good friends) and has plenty of space for the two of us with the part time addition of a relation or two Largesse is an excellent example and carefully maintained - three years ago she had a new engine that we ran in carefully as it only had 1.5 hours on the clock when we picked her up. Looking at the log book entries we have been quite a major user of Largesse and have probably done 20% of the sailing in her over the last few years. A couple of years ago she had a complete new set of interior furnishings in rich maroon suede complementing the sail covers and spray guards outside. They still look pristine although the sail and spray dodger are now badly in need of work to match the standard. We have also been trying to persuade Rob to add a quick mainsail stowing system, called a sailstack - at present she does not even have lazy jacks making it more difficult to neatly flake the sails with only one person forwards, or that's Pete's story anyway.

Coming back to the actual sailing:

This year we were short of time in New Zealand and only had an 8 day charter. We hoped to get good enough weather to get out to Great Barrier but anywhere further afield such as the Mercury Islands or up the coast to Bay of Islands was virtually ruled out. We also wanted to come back to Waiheke to join up with Jenny and Kev who had just bought a Piver Lodestar 35 Trimaran and David Bott, who taught us to sail, and also has Piver Lodestar. We hoped it would make for some interesting sailing - the only time we have sailed against David with the Raven it was close but he was single handed whilst this time he would have Christine as crew.

Day by Day

25 February - Charterlink kindly let us arrive one day early to load the boat. Not so much stuff this year because only sailing for 8 days. The fridge and freezer were warm, so we ran the engine for an hour to get it cold for the following morning when we would be bringing the fresh food.

26 February. Rental Car Village opened at 0800 and we were there waiting at 0750 with the van. Then we walked round the corner to Ponsonby Road to catch the Link bus. It was supposed to be the cheapest option to go to the Britomart area from where the ferry left to go to Bayswater. Unfortunately we had to wait 15 minutes, and it was very slow. Next time it is better to catch the 045 or similar from Great North Road, and go directly. We found that the Link cost $1.80 whereas one stage on the 045 is $1.60. If we had walked to the K-Overbridge it would only have cost $0.50. After some confusion trying to find the 0925 Bayswater ferry, because it came into the wrong berth at the pier, we reached Largesse, loaded our remaining food, and were on our way at 10.20. This coincided with the departure of the next ferry, which left Bayswater just behind us. The ferry ticket cost $9 each for a return ticket.

Our routing was standard out of Auckland: along the edge of the shipping lane past Devonport and the turning left towards the Whangaparoa peninsula and Tiritiri. Our target for today was to moor in Bon Accord harbour, in Kawau. We ran the engine for the first hour to complete cooling down the fridge and freezer, then sailed. We arrived at 16.10, having run the engine for a few minutes approaching our preferred anchorage spot in Harris Bay. The GPS confirmed we had done 30.8 nautical miles. It was time to get out all our fishing gear, and set ourselves up. We had bought some goat chops for supper, and were delighted when we managed to catch a pan sized snapper at anchor. It went into the freezer for the following day.

27 February. The weather forecast was for winds from the SouthWest, of 15 knots rising to 20 in the early afternoon. So it was perfect for going to Great Barrier Island. We left at 0720. The nowcasting as Channel Island, between Great Barrier and the Coromandel, reported maximum wind of 26 knots with average 22 knots. We left Kawau hoping for some wind but were disappointed, although we did get some sailing, and finally opted for goose-winged. It was probably 20 knots by early afternoon. We moored in Wairahi Bay, Port Fitzroy at 14.20. The engine reading was 832.5. We had completed 33.4 nautical miles. The remaining goat chops made a light meal, which was perfect with the snapper caught yesterday.

28 February. Today we explored Port Fitroy. We raised the anchor at 10.00 and started trolling our line, hoping to catch fish. The forecast today was for wind from the East, gusting up to 35 knots, but in the shelter of Port Fitzroy there was nothing. We started the engine. We had no luck fishing in Wairahi Bay, but then turned into the first bay on the right, taking care to pass the warning markers on the entry, and there saw a flock of seabirds diving into a boiling mass of water. We had found the kahawai. After a series of passes through the heaving mass of fish, our little troll managed to provide us with a nice 35 cm kahawai, as well as several small kahawai some of which we put back. When we had enough fish we left and continued to explore. There was no luck with snapper by the mussel farms, and we explored Port Abercrombie, with still no success. Returning through Port Fitzroy we went to look at Bush's Beach, but there was too much chop on the water due to the NE wind and at 1430 it was back to Wairahi Bay for overnight. Our total distance for the day was 15.8 nautical miles.

1 March Pete had been thinking how to arrange reefing more easily, and this morning we left at 0850 under engine but the one reef in the main, with a loop of rope trough the reefing eye down to the normal 'hooks'. This method had been recommended by Dave, the Charterlink agent at the Bay of Islands as a way of avoiding having to take the attachments out of the slides but at the expense of a less good sail shape - it worked well for us and will making reefing in rough seas much safer.

Our destination was Tryphena, and we hoped to catch more fish; in previous years we had done well just outside the entry to Whangaparapara Harbour. It was good weather and we wished we had the time to continue to the Mercury Islands and Whitianga. We recorded a maximum speed of 8.1 knots, and that was with one reef. We followed the ferry into Tryphena, and then looked around to see where best to moor. The advice in our books was to go to Shoal Bay, which was nicely sheltered against the NE wind. There were lots of local moorings but we managed to find a good spot between the orange mooring buoys and well away from the ferry terminal. We recorded 18.3 nautical miles. We caught two snapper and then a large John Dory which we almost got it into the net when it escaped.

2 March Tryphena is our preferred departure point for going from Great Barrier to the Coromandel. We did not know what winds to expected during the day so departed at 0700 to give plenty of time for sailing in light winds. Our first aiming point was Channel Island. As we approached, Pete noticed that the surface of the ocean had some smooth patches, with an oily surface. Our immediate thought was whales, and then we saw a fin and then a long black slug passed in front of us. Pauline rushed inside to get the camera. We saw it several times, and were able to follow its route towards Great Barrier by the water spouts. Looking north we saw other spouts of water in the distance although those whales did not get close to us. Two dolphins passed across our bow and another pod came close.

Whenever we pass Channel Island the wind always seems to disappear, and we approached Port Jackson very slowly under sail. We had the waypoints for camping on the GPS so could identify Fantail Bay, which was almost empty of tents. Looking for a mooring for lunch we turned towards Elephant Cove, but there were already two cruisers moored there, and no room for us. So we didn't get to stop until we reached Waimate Island at 1515. We were hopeful of fishing because we were moored next to a large mussel farm. Pete caught a nice snapper and we left at 1700, sailing on to Te Kouma and Squadron Bay where we moored at 1820. We traveled 36.9 nautical miles, and recorded 7 engine hours. At anchor Pete caught a nice 40cm kahawai. It had been an excellent day for his birthday.

3 March Today we were supposed to meet David Bott and Christine, and then go sailing with them in Pengwen and with Jenny and Kev in their new trimaran. We needed to be moored in the Tamaki Strait tonight, so that meant we raised the anchor at 0845. The wind was SW10, and we decided to sail along the north coast of Waiheke Island, instead of going directly to Kennedy Point. We stopped to anchor in Carey Bay for lunch at 1300 but the boat was rolling too much and we moved on at 1340. We passed Matiatia and hugged the coast of Waiheke Island, goose winged. Jenny and Kev's boat was on a mooring buoy at the end of the wharf wall at Kennedy Point, and we anchored just outside it at 1730, then rowed our dinghy over. We recorded 32.2 nautical miles, with 2 hours of engine. Pauline noticed Pengwen in the distance, and we joined them to go around to Rocky Bay. Kevin and his crew Andrew came with us on his trimaran. Two different vehicle ferries come into Kennedy Point and inevitably there is some wash. Largesse tends to roll more than most yachts and overnight mooring next to the ferry wharf was not a good option. Although ours was the smallest boat, we suggested everyone join us for drinks and supper. We don't like rowing our dinghy and we had enough venison, rice and salad to feed everyone. After a celebratory glass of bubbles to toast Kev's new boat, we settled down for a nice evening. Our final mileage for the day was 35.1 nautical miles.

4 March We were to meet up with everyone at 0930, so at 0915 we all raised our anchors. While the two trimarans moored we anchored off Kennedy Bay, fishing. By 1030 it was time to go, and we were told that the idea was to find a beach for a picnic. This was a pity because we had hoped to do some sailing to see how Kev's boat performed. His crew, Andrew, couldn't stay so Kev wouldn't use his main sail. The chosen destination was Calypso Bay on neighbouring Motuihe Island. We followed them under sail and although it subsequently turned out they were motor sailing which is why we failed to keep up. When we arrived we understood why it was called Calypso Bay, because Largesse tossed and turned, in spite of no obvious wash. Pete swam over to have a look at Almarge, Kev and Jenny's Piver Lodestar 35 foot trimaran which was much more stable in the swell. He swam back and collected Pauline in the Dingy. The swell made it almost impossible for Pauline to get in with oars etc by herself - it was difficult enough with two, and she does not row very well.

We eventually left at about 1500 and had a lovely sail down to Ponui Island where we moored at Apuapu Bay just opposite to Passage Rock which has the telemetry station for nowcasting for the Tamaki Straight. We had not moored there before and it seems a perfect place when the winds are from the NW quadrant. The total mileage was only 16.4 nm but at least we had some sailing at the end of the day.

5 March. We were somewhat at a loss as what to do on the last full day when there was no wind at all so we left at 0835 and motored down and out through the Ruthe passage with a troll out in the hope of at least catching a fish. The wind started to pick up at about 1000 as on the previous days and we slowly sailed north until we saw some boil ups of fish. We pulled in the jib and did a number of passes through the fish before we realised that the troll had disappeared, the second one we have lost this year. With a new troll we picked up a small kahawai from about the last of the fish. We then motor sailed on round Waiheke until eventually the wind picked up and we had a good sail on and round the island. We crossed yesterdays track in just under the 24 hours and by now the wind was up to 15 knots so we ran at speeds up to 7.5 knots down the Tamaki Straight to complete a circumnavigation at 1700 when we moored back at Apuapu Bay rather than Rocky Bay which we had originally intended. The circumnavigation logged as 32.9 on the GPS but we had taken the outside route past Rotorua Island and also messed around fishing so the direct distance is probably just under 30 nm.

6th March It was time to take Largesse back and we intended an early start as we had over 20 nm to run and we knew we would have to motor the first part which would be slower than under sail. In the event we did not leave till 0715 as the engine sounded slightly different when we started it and a quick look showed we had shed a belt driving the compressor for the fridge. There were two but it seemed better not to run the fridge/freezer and load the remaining belt. By complete coincidence Pete had found the same belt had failed on Kev's engine when he had been looking over it the previous day - the engines were both Yanmar sail-drive units of the same type. We eventually picked up some wind and sailed goose winged down past Kennedy point and on past Motuihe and Rangitoto before gybing across the shipping channel and on down past Davenport.

 

At that point the wind swung and really picked up and we stormed past the marina at 8 knots on a broad reach before passing under the Harbour Bridge, something Pete had always wanted to do but we had never found time for. After a brief period in the Waitemata Harbour we returned under the bridge, this time with Pauline on the tiller so Pete could get more photos. We passed the Ted Ashby, a historic scow based at the Maritime Museum, before motoring into the Marina, tying up quickly and setting off on the ferry to pick up wheels. The total for the day was 23.2 nm giving an overall total for the 8 days of 242.9 nm.

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