Seaforth - The Holiday of a Lifetime

A pair of Kiwis who realised that life isn't a dress rehearsal and its time to go see the world.

22 April 2014
22 December 2013 | Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island, NZ
21 December 2013 | Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island, NZ
20 December 2013 | Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island
16 December 2013 | Waimate Island, Coromandel, NZ
15 December 2013 | Huse Bay, Waiheke Island, NZ
14 December 2013 | Kauakarau Bay, Waiheke Island, NZ
13 December 2013 | Westhaven Marina
01 November 2013 | Auckland, New Zealand
18 October 2013 | Westhaven, Auckland
18 October 2013 | Pier 21, Auckland
01 October 2013 | Auckland
13 August 2013 | Auckland
27 July 2013 | Auckland
10 July 2013 | Auckland
21 June 2013 | Auckland
31 May 2013 | Auckland
29 May 2013 | Auckland, New Zealand
24 May 2013 | Auckland
24 May 2013 | Auckland

Good times :)

22 April 2014
Ok, so it's been about "mumble" months since our last blog - but there is good reason! After our last post, we were feeling a bit down in the dumps about cruising with Twink and Pip. Things were proving more difficult than we had thought. So, as always, we changed our plans slightly and have put down roots in a new marina. We reason that we'll have plenty of time for cruising later, and are just enjoying being able to spend quality time with our fur-kids while they are still with us. We are also having an absolute blast here. We've meet some fantastic new friends, have been enjoying time with relatives, socialising heaps, racing 25ft keelboats and having a blast doing it, volunteering for coastguard and enjoying it, and generally spending time with people who are similarly minded and special to us. Plus, we have the bonus of not having 9-5 jobs and that awful Auckland traffic to deal with. With Steve out on his own and being flexible in hours and not actually having to work much at all to cover our very low living costs means we basically get to do whatever we want every day. That, my dear blog readers, is what's important in life.

Too much of a good thing?

22 December 2013 | Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island, NZ
Was a bit drizzly this morning, so lazed around inside reading books (there's a theme developing here ... ;). Starting to get 'cabin fever' though I think. We've been away for over a week now, and I just want to pull into a marina somewhere, and take the dogs for a long walk and a play in a park with a large grassy area to run around in that won't leave them covered in ticks or sand. The irony is, maybe I need a holiday from the boat? I've been on it, and working on it, almost constantly for the last 11 months. Everywhere I look I see things that still need doing - not major things, just little rats and mice that are easy to put off. I want to get out and do something different, something else, have a break, go for a drive, do something land based. It's like trying to have a holiday at your workplace. Yes, I know you're all thinking "Geesh girl, you're away on your boat - you ARE on holiday!". It reminds me of when we had the lifestyle block, and after work, weekends and holidays were spent working on it, mowing the lawns, doing the gardens, looking after the paddocks, working on or looking after cars etc. Sometimes we just needed to get away from it for a while so that we could return and appreciate it again.

It's evening now and we managed to get ashore and have a couple of good walks along the beaches with the dogs, and even a swim, so feeling a bit better on that front :). Steve went for a kayak and I stayed on board with the dogs - got hooked on a great book and now can't put it down. Our batteries are needing 3 charges a day, so that sucks. Am guessing trying to get new ones this time of year will be laughable. I've spent quite a bit on time on the internet trying to find dog friendly places on Barrier, but they are all elsewhere on the island - not in Fitzroy Harbour. We're gonna walk the dogs tomorrow morning and then up anchor and have a tour around the rest of the bays and see if we can find any better beaches or grassy areas. If we have no luck, we might bugger off to Waiheke where there's a few more options. We'll stop for a dive and/or fish first though - would be rude not to ;)

The highs and lows of cruising

21 December 2013 | Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island, NZ
Every cruising book you read talks about the great highs, and miserable lows of cruising - it can't be fantastic all the time, otherwise everyone would be doing it! We had a few great days, then some crap days, and are back to the good again - nice calm bay, dog friendly (ish - more on that soon) beach, sunny, etc. After chatting with another boatie ashore, we're coming to realise that NZ government departments (ie DOC) really don't like dogs, and that while in the marina there was awesome dog walking parks within easy reach where you could walk and play to your hearts content, while cruising, there's stuff all places you can go with your dogs who want more than just a 5 minute beach visit to do their toileting (which we've noticed is all some other dogs get). Even though Twink and Pip are getting on, and Twink has arthritis, he still loves to go out for walks 2-3-4-5-(as many as he can get) times a day, for 30-60 mins each, and chase sticks, tennis balls, swim, or just mooch around exploring. It's also great for his general well being to keep fit and healthy, and we enjoy spending quality time with them. A 10 min walk up and down a small beach, and then maybe a short walk up a tick infested track thru the bush just isn't going to cut it. Plus, we miss the walking too.

Back onboard now and other than the disappointing dog walking, sitting in the sun with a good book is a great way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon :). I've just put some beers in the fridge to cool down for later, and there's a nice breeze blowing to keep things from getting too hot. We had fish all round the boat last night and they were nibbling on Steve's toes, so we might put a line out. Our engine is running to charge the batteries (which we think are on their last legs - they are about 4 years old), and life is good :). Steve was talking about going for a paddle in the kayaks later, so maybe we'll experiment taking the dogs on them with us and see what other little bays we can find.

Later the same day ....
Never got to the kayaking today - maybe tomorrow. Spent the avo chilling, reading, having a beer or two or ..., playing guitar and picking the odd tick off the dogs (oh joy!). We are adamant that we will try kayaking with the dogs tomorrow (honest! ;). Saw dolphins jumping further out in the bay (did I mention we had two zoom in alongside the boat on the trip over from coromandel?) but they didn't come any closer. Bay is filling up and some boats have all sorts of coloured flashy lights onboard ... not sure what that's all about - maybe some sort of festive season that we don't know about? ;) (or are studiously avoiding ;)

Internet again! :)

20 December 2013 | Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island
Now that we have internet again, here's the posts from the last few days :)

No fish played the game last night, although we did see some rat kingies mooching around the boat the next day. In order to try to bring in at least some income, Steve went off and did some work on an aquaculture farm in the Coromandel Harbour. After a long walk and run around on shore, me and the dogs met back up with him and we headed back out of the harbour. It was blowing a bit, so we made a short run back to Waimate Island. We did our usual anchoring method, which is coming to a complete stop, slowly reversing while lowering the anchor and chain, then straightening the chain and giving it a good burst in reverse to make sure it's dug in well, usually with a 5-1 scope. After getting ourselves settled, we watched in amusement as some other plonker stormed in, dropped his anchor while still going forward, then disappeared below very quickly. As he started getting closer and closer, we kept an eye on him and he finally noticed and came to ask us if we'd finished dragging. A few choice words and advising him how much anchor and chain we had out, he said we needed more training back on land and implied he'd sailed around the world. Luckily he eventually decided to move. After lifting a surprisingly small amount of chain, his anchor came out and he drifted around aimlessly. We then proceeded to watch him try to re-anchor 3 times before he was successful - all of which was quite amusing. I guess for the land lubbers benefit, it's a bit like someone running a red light, cutting you off, parking on a slope and leaving their handbrake off, then moving to another park and taking 3 goes to get into a simple angle parking, then claiming they are some sort of driving god, taught Schumacher everything he knows, and that you shouldn't have a licence :) ;)

After an early morning run on the beach (past Schumacher's mentor on the way and heard his halyard clanging against his mast - another rookie mistake), we pulled up our well dug in anchor and headed north. It was blowing about 15 knots, so we had a nice motor sail up the eastern coromandel coast, although the swell was a bit of a pain. Unfortunately Twink wasn't that happy about the swell either, and we've always known this may be a problem as he's not happy when things get rough and the boat gets a bit rollie pollie (that's not a technical term, but maybe it should be ;). Pip on the other hand just goes to sleep - go figure :\

We stopped in at Port Jackson for a walk on the beach, and found a nice little stream for the dogs to have a swim in. The forecast was to get a bit blowy in the avo (25 knots), so we decided to make a run for either Stony Bay or Port Charles. We're now anchored up in Port Charles, which is nice enough, although the gradual slope means we're a little way off shore, and there's a bit of a roll here. No cell phone coverage means I'm writing these blogs to upload at a later date when we get back to civilisation. The forecast is not sounding great for tomorrow, Friday will be ok, but then another blow coming through on Sat and Sun, so we might not make it down to Tga for Monday (and my mother's 70th) at this rate . I guess it can't be all plain sailing, and sitting in a bit of a rollie bay is payback for the last 4 days of great cruising.

Thursday - it's a dogs life
We always knew cruising with dogs would be a pain at times - and today is the day. If it's fine, it's no big deal to go shore 3-4 times a day for them to go to the toilet and have a run around and explore. If fact, it's actually good to have an excuse to get off the boat, otherwise I'm sure we'd just lie around all day doing nothing ;). But when it's a bit blowie, rough or raining, it's not so much fun. We have managed to get Twink to pee on deck and he'll do that quite happily if he needs to, but Pip is stubborn and still refuses to follow suit. Then there's the issue of them getting salty and sandy - both of which are things we try to avoid getting down below. We seem to be managing well with those and have developed ways of either keeping those things to a minimum, and using a wash-down hose of fresh water to clean them before going back inside the boat. After good run around, they don't seem to mind having a snooze in the sun in the cockpit or on deck while drying off ;)

It does raise the question of what we'll do when it does get really nasty, and the easiest answer is to find a marina and stay put for a while. The wind is suppose to be up again this afternoon, but dropping tomorrow, so we'll high tail it outta here and head to Whitianga where we can hopefully stay in the marina for a few days as the next lot of crap comes thru, and maybe just hire a car to get down to Tauranga. In the mean time, it'll be another night in rollie bay. Oh, we also saw a pod of dolphins frolicking and jumping out of the water further out of the bay :)

It's official - cruising with dogs sucks. Actually, no, let me rephrase that - cruising with dogs you care about sucks. If it was just us, it's uncomfortable to be stuck in a rollie bay, or have to make a dash in less than ideal conditions to find better shelter, but we wouldn't have to go ashore and we know what's going on and know that it's not forever. The dogs don't know that and their obvious distress is distressing to us. We have a fairly good system worked out for getting them into the dingy, but when the boat is rocking and rolling up and down, it can get a bit hairy. The dogs have harnesses on for easy retrieval if they did ever go over, but still ..... The added complication of Twink's arthritis and sometimes lack of strength in his hind legs and ability to jump is a problem as well. We always knew we might have to move back to land when they got older and were struggling to get around on the boat, but we thought that wouldn't be for a while yet. Add to that the problem that there's so many places where we are not allowed to take them ashore cos DOC (Department of Conservation) think all dogs are kiwi killers, and once you do get to a beach, there's no nearby parks to have a good run around :( All up, we've feeling pretty bad about the whole situation we have put them in.

To top it off, we managed to get hold of Whitianga marina and they have no berths available for us - just as well we hadn't set off for there before checking! That really does put paid to plans for going to Tauranga for my mother's 70th. The option we're now looking at is to wait for the wind to ease later today to a forecast 15 knots and make a dash to great barrier where there's lots of good anchorages and protection in Port Fitzroy. Of course, every other man and his dog will be there too - oh well. Having an internet connection would be nice so we could check the long term forecasts, and let people know where we are, but I guess we can hang out there until all this shit blows through.

Its a long way to the shops if you want a sausage roll

16 December 2013 | Waimate Island, Coromandel, NZ
It was flatter than the proverbial plate of piss for the trip over to Coromandel. We went into Coromandel Harbour for a look, then headed around to Long Bay so we could walk into Coromandel town for some things that Steve needed for his job in Coromandel Harbour tomorrow. It was stinking hot so we had several stops along the way so both us and the dogs could have a rest in the shade and a drink of water. One such stop was by the local netball and skateboard park. Soon after we arrived, two young guys turned up with their skate boards to have a go on the half pipe. We settled in to watch, but soon got tired of it as they were obviously beginners. Next thing, one of them asses over and cries out "I just broke my wrist". I thought he was being silly at first, but a quick glance at the wrist confirmed that it was bent at a sickening angle. We called the ambulance for him, then his mate phoned his mum, who came and waited, and then decided to drive him to the ambulance station herself. They all left, but we saw her later in town and said he was on some good pain killers, and would need an operation to put things right. Poor guy, 17 years old, and broke his wrist at the beginning of summer - now that would suck. The only saving grace was that it was his left wrist.

After all the excitement, it was well past lunch time, so we stopped and had some of the local mussels (there are mussel farms dotted all round this area), washed down with a cold brew or two. The walk back to Long Bay wasn't anywhere near as exciting, and we're now anchored off Waimate Island with a line out hoping to top last nights fresh pacific oysters off the rocks, and a freshly caught kahiwai. We already have more oysters (via the farm on the way back from town), so just need some willing fish to help us out. The chicken in the fridge is on standby :)

PS I forgot to mention yesterday that we could see the clouds over Auckland and could hear the rumbling thunder, while in Huse bay, where it was bright and sunny - it was very odd!

The Quest(a) for Quiet

15 December 2013 | Huse Bay, Waiheke Island, NZ
It's funny when you live on a boat - what time it is just doesn't seem to matter. You wake up when the sun is rising, and feel refreshed. We'd been ashore for a walk over to the next bay, had breakfast, done about an hours work on the watermaker, and then looked at the clock and it was only 9am. It was just starting to warm up so we're having a lazy lie down in the cockpit when it started - the boat next door had 4 children on board who decided to spend the next 5 hours buzzing around the bay (& us) in their dingy, yelling and screaming at each other, and their parents back on the boat. We could see where the kids got their skill of yelling from as the parents did their fair share of yelling back at the kids. Of course, sound travels very well across water, so before too long, most boats in the bay had obviously had enough and left. They may well have continued their destruction of the peace and quiet for another 5 hours, but we weren't sticking around to find out. So if you ever see a blue Benetau by the name of Questa - you have been warned :)

Of course, not all boaties have a complete lack of consideration for anyone else around them, and we found a quiet little anchorage with three of us in it, just to the east of Man O War bay. The Spririt of New Zealand was also anchored further out.

After a morning visit to the beach for the doggies, we are now motoring in flat calm seas across the Firth of Thames. We've never been this far, so from here on this is all new cruising grounds and hopefully a bit more remote and quiet :)
Vessel Name: Seaforth
Vessel Make/Model: Davidson 47
Hailing Port: Auckland, New Zealand
Crew: Steve & Ade
About: So we're a couple in our 40s and we've decided to abandon a responsible life with careers and stuff, sell the farm and the cars and go sailing instead. Stuff it, I might die before I get to retire so let's have fun now .... there might be time to work later.
Extra: Oh yeah ... we've got 2 dogs as well .... border collies (cute!). That's gonna make life interesting on a boat isn't it? Oh and in case you were wondering, that isn't a photo of either of us in the string vest ... or anyone we know either.
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