Great Barrier Island and Auckland

keyGBI
Author:  Pete
Location: Great Barrier Island and Auckland, NZ

After a few rainy days in Kiarara Bay we sailed north, out of Port Fitzroy around a jutting headland to Katherine Bay.  Ashore, just inland of a quiet, sandy beach we found a parthenon of massive tree trunks arching out of the ground, thick branches full of air rooting plants.  A dozen rope swings fabricated from heavy ship line hung like .  Didn’t take much coercion to get us launching off branches, stretching climbing muscles that have been dormant for some time.

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Katherine Bay was beautiful but rolled all night, and not in the good way.  The next morning we sailed fast under twenty knots of wind back around the headland, returning to Kiarara.  The short, costal hops between bays and islands have been enjoyable.  Most sailors start their sailing careers in costal waters.  We missed that part and went straight offshore.  I’m seeing the error in our ways.   The next day we hiked Mt. Hobson, a six hundred meter peak, four hours uphill BOTH WAYS!  At least that’s how it felt to our coddled legs.  The trail was stunning, crossing rivers and gorgeous, and winding through rain forests where the few remaining Kauri behemoths strained to seed offspring and repopulate the area after the huge logging boom of the 1800’s.  The view from the top was breathtaking.  We could even see our little boat!  Sometimes that’s disconcerting; if you see it floating away there’s a four-hour downhill slog to go get it.

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Sailing south along Great Barrier Island, we staged for our jump back to Auckland and were escorted by a pod of dolphins.  Later, anchored in Bowling Alley Bay, another pod showed up, cavorting and jumping.  We donned wetsuits and joined them.  The cloudy water made for a spooky experience with our streamline mammalian cousins.  They were obscured in the occluding murk until they were close enough to almost touch, then they’d veer off, laughing at our aquatic immobility.  Let’s see who’s laughing when you’re on the beach, Flipper!

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Sailed eight hours back across the Hauraki Gulf.  Miranda and I wrestled a Kingfish aboard part way through the trip.  I already had some fillets in the refrigerator from spearfishing in Bowling Alley Bay, so we let him go.  

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Parked the boat in front of Auckland.  The anchorage is exposed and a little choppy from the ferry wakes, but it’s got the best view in town.  On the rainy days in Port Fitzroy, I designed a part for the engine control panels on SketchUp and 3D printed them at the public library.  They worked out so well and cost nothing to print that my brain has been constantly thinking up new things to design and build for the boat!  They created a monster!

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Found a safe spot up river to leave our baby for a couple days when we go to the job fair.  Had one last good sail to stretch her legs before a week of lounging on a mooring off the Beach Haven wharf.  Sit, stay, good Tayrona!  No parties while we’re away!

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Coromandel to Great Barrier Island, NZ

KeyCoromandel
Author: Pete
Location: Coromandel and Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

 

Coromandel is the rugged peninsula that forms the eastern side of the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland. We motor-sailed in scant wind heading east in calm seas and tucked in behind Whanganui Island just off Coromandel Town where Jessica would be leaving us the following day. We soaked up the rest of the afternoon on the boat and had a lovely farewell dinner watching the sunset.

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After dropping off our precious cargo and poking around town, we pulled anchor and sailed out of Coromandel Harbor in light breeze and raking summer sun. Swimming off the bow was an obvious choice on a slow sail, floating between the hulls, climbing up the transom and then hucking off the front again in a mismatched game of leapfrog with Tayrona. We did have the good sense to leave one person on the boat at all times. Once anchored off Rangipukea, we went ashore to stretch our legs, keeping a watchful eye on the ‘fully functional’ bulls that guarded the beach.

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The next day brought winds from the south, solidifying our tentative plans to go north. We put up the spinnaker and scooted happily along the Coromandel then across the Colville Channel to Great Barrier Island.

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Great Barrier Island has only a few roads and no electrical grid or internet connectivity. Despite the island’s isolated feel, she sure didn’t seem lonely as we settled into Whangaparapara Bay. Kiwis, the mammalian variety, had flocked from all over to spend New Years on the island. We tracked down the Kaitoke hot springs, hidden in the interior of the island, about two hours hiking from Whangaparapara. The headwaters of Kaitoke stream are fed by volcanically-heated upwellings so the whole stream is steaming hot. The Maoris used to bath in the river as a ceremonial cleansing to return to normal life after warfare. The stacked stones that created pools in the river were quite possibly as old as human habitation on the island. Even in the crowded ‘silly season’ around Christmas, Miranda and I had the pools to ourselves!

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We heard that there was a New Year’s to-do in Port Fitzroy, the next anchorage north so off we sailed in and out of the rocky islets along the coast. The day dawned clear with piled, poofy clouds on the horizon. Soon, high altitude cirrostratus clouds moved in; they’re almost invisible when looking aloft but show up as distinct halos around sun. I remembered that the halos are almost always harbingers of imminent inclement weather and my novice meteorological skills didn’t disappoint. The forecast for the next three days predicted thirty-knot winds with gusts to fifty. We pulled in close to shore just beyond a silty drop-off and laid double anchors out in chest deep water to make sure we weren’t going anywhere. Then the weathermen made good on their predictions and the winds howled in. It was more than a little unnerving to see the anchor chain pull almost horizontally out of the water when the gusts hit and we were sitting on a low tide.

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Dionysus must’ve had a word with Zeus about the night’s proceedings because the celestial levee held for a few hours into the new year before the deluge came down in buckets. We were back on the boat by then holding on with Tayrona through the gale. Welcome to 2016!

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