Immediately following the Christmas festivities with Rob & Ruth & assorted ex-pats, we ventured out from Opua to explore a little of the Bay of Islands and other popular cruising areas on the North Island. Our first stop was Waiwhapuku Bay, off the NE coast of Moturua Island. We enjoyed a peaceful couple of days there, included a slippery hike around the island (due to rain) and a brief visit with Rob & Ruth who arrived on their Saint Francis catamaran, Albatross 111. From Moturua we moved over to Urupukapuka Island where we enjoyed some stunning coastal hiking. After two days we sailed on to Oke Bay on the mainland, just around the corner from Cape Brett. It was there, during what had up until then been a wonderful paddleboard trip, that a member of our party came to grief. Due to a slight miscalculation concerning the tidal surge between the narrow chute that she was attempting to pass through, Susan parted company with her paddleboard, and engaged the local oyster community in a no holds brawl. You might think from the picture
that she got the worst of it ......but then we ate those oysters, so we got the last laugh huh?! Two weeks later those wounds are still healing up but definitely looking much better. We celebrated New Year's Eve by doing an overnight passage to Great Barrier Island, arriving in the early hours of 2014. It was quite odd seeing fireworks go off 10 miles to our west. Due to Susan's recently sustained injuries, Colin enjoyed a solo hike to one of the few remaining Kauri dams in New Zealand. Both the reusable dam itself, by which loggers were able to create a head of water for flushing logs downstream, and the recently constructed trail to it, which included 13 bridges ( 3 of them suspension ) an elevated boardwalk, and 680 steps (yes, I did count) are testaments to Kiwi ingenuity. From GBI we headed down to Auckland to meet up with Friends Jim & Jane, who were completing a cruise from Sydney Australia. Rather than take TabbyCat into the heart of the city, we elected to anchor off Waiheke Island and take the local ferry from there. It proved to be an excellent decision, as not only did we avoid the hassles of anchoring in the harbor itself, but the ferry boat docked right next to their cruise ship! In no time at all we had met them off the ship, determined where they needed to catch the airport bus on their return, and were headed back to Waiheke. Even though they only had a couple of days, it was wonderful to see the two of them, and share a little bit of our cruising lifestyle with them. They were also good enough to bring our repaired binoculars, new underwater camera, & much needed additions to our 5 0'clock sundowner's stock. After seeing them off, we spent a few days circumnavigating Waiheke Island, enjoying the hiking, paddleboarding, & company of fellow cruisers. From Waiheke, we had intended to sail to Kawau Island, which Susan had visited 10 years previously, but the wind direction told us otherwise. Instead, we enjoyed a wonderful reach (downwind sail) to Coramandel Harbour, where we took shelter from the 30-40 knots winds behind Whanganui Island. After a few days there, we moved around to Te Kauma Harbour, the most protected anchorage on the Coramandel peninsula. It would have been nice to have been there the previous evening during the big blow! We had a memorable paddleboard trip around the perimeter of the bay, where in the shallows we spotted numerous skates (like sting rays, but not as dangerous). While paddle boarding is not as efficient usage of musculature energy as kayaking, one of the advantages it has is the view provided of the underwater scenery; in addition, it is actually drier than kayaking. Heading once more for Kawau Island, we again diverted due to the wind direction. Bashing into waves with 25 knot headwinds wasn't much fun; as soon as we altered course onto a beam reach for Great Barrier Island, things improved dramatically. The boat speed went up to 10 knots, the apparent wind dropped to 15 knots ...... and the ride was a lot smoother. We covered the extra 10 miles in less time than if we'd maintained our original course. We'd also heard reports of severe weather from the West for that evening, which did not bode well for the west facing anchorage at Kawau. Sheltering in Wairahi Bay, Great Barrier Island with numerous other craft, we were unaffected by the nasty weather that passed through. Now anchored just around the corner in Kiwiriki Bay, we are recovering from 5 hours of hiking yesterday, and a paddleboard trip up the nearby river in the rain. Sore muscles & blisters ..... being a permanent tourist is not for sissies!
PS: a number of folks have been asking us about RSS feeds. If you click on the RSS Feed button
on the right hand side of the main page, under maps & tracking you will be taken to a page with a variety of options down the right hand side. Under "actions" is one entitled "subscribe in mail" which should download any new entries into a folder in your e-mail program. That way you don't have to wonder when we post a new entry, it will come to you automatically.
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