17 May 2018 | Gulf Harbour Marina, Whangaparaoa Peninsula, New Zealand
15 May 2018 | Westhaven Marina, Auckland, New Zealand
13 May 2018 | Islington Bay, between Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand
11 May 2018 | Home (Southwest) Bay, Rotoroa Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand
10 May 2018 | Deep Cove, Whanganui Island, just off east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
08 May 2018 | Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island, New Zealand
07 May 2018 | Urquhart’s Bay, North Island, New Zealand
05 May 2018 | Town Basin Marina, Whangarei, North Island, New Zealand
01 May 2018 | Anchored off Port Whangarei Boatyard, North Island, New Zealand
26 April 2018 | Port Whangarei Boatyard, North Island, New Zealand
09 April 2018 | We are back in the Town Basin Marina, North Island, New Zealand
27 March 2018 | We are in Denver, Colorado, while Tregoning is in the Town Basin Marina, North Island, New Zealand
20 March 2018 | We are back in Gainesville, Florida, while Tregoning is in the Town Basin Marina, North Island, New Zealand
12 March 2018 | We are in Gainesville, Florida, while Tregoning is in the Town Basin Marina, North Island, New Zealand
21 February 2018 | Town Basin Marina, North Island, New Zealand
08 February 2018 | Town Basin Marina, North Island, New Zealand
04 February 2018 | Marsden Cove Marina, North Island, New Zealand
01 February 2018 | Motuarohia (or Roberton) Island, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
31 January 2018 | Opua Marina, Opua, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
29 January 2018 | Mangahawea Bay, Moturua Island, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Putting the faces to Gulf Harbour Radio

17 May 2018 | Gulf Harbour Marina, Whangaparaoa Peninsula, New Zealand
Photo: David, Randall, and Patricia in the Gulf Harbour Radio room
With our social and equipment obligations in Auckland fulfilled, we left our slip at Westhaven Marina before 7 am on Tuesday (15th May), hoping to escape before the breeze increased. However, the side-on wind was just enough to make it difficult to back-out of the slip and turn into the wind to leave the fairway. A side-wind has a much greater effect on Tregoning's bow than her stern, so tended to force her to stay sideways rather than turning into the wind in the limited space to maneuver forward. Tregoning did not want to back straight out of the fairway since her direction when going in reverse for a short-distance is always a bit of a lottery. Luckily, the fairway was reasonably wide and Randall valiantly maneuvered back and forth until he had enough momentum to swing the bow into the wind and head out of the fairway going forward. At nerve-wracking times like this, a bow-thruster seems as though it might be a remarkably worthwhile investment.

Having dodged the many ferries that ply Auckland Harbour on a weekday morning, we finally motored northward for about three hours, towards the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. During this time, I was glad to see a small group of diving petrels which I could now remind myself were significantly smaller and more "rubber-duck"-shaped than the many fluttering shearwaters that we had been seeing throughout the Hauraki Gulf.

The increasing wind speed made Randall a bit nervous about getting into our assigned slip at Gulf Harbour Marina, our next destination. The good news was that we would enter the slip facing into the wind (always easier than downwind). The bad news was that as we approached the dock, I noticed an aluminum rowing dinghy in the way at the head of our slip. I called the dock-dudes on the VHF radio and they quickly came to move the dinghy and take our lines which was very helpful.

Gulf Harbour Marina has also cut-back on live-aboard boats but for just a night or two it did not seem to be a problem. After the complications at Westhaven, it seemed quite luxurious that simply making a reservation by phone was all the pre-planning that was needed at Gulf Harbour. The slip was a little more expensive than most (NZ$35 per night) but includes free water, showers, and electricity. Our New Zealand shore-power cable has to be certified annually and this had expired just a few days ago (so we did not use power at Westhaven). I asked the very helpful Gulf Harbour staff if anyone here could recertify our cable and, amazingly, they immediately put us in contact with an electrician, Clive. He was currently working his way through all of the boats in the marina and for NZ$20 he certified our cable that afternoon. Very helpful!

In the afternoon, we walked up the hill west of the marina and along the ridge to find the house of Patricia and David who run Gulf Harbour Radio. From May to November, they broadcast a network on the single side-band radio at 8752 KHz at 7:15 am New Zealand time (19:15 UTC). Patricia runs the network which allows boats underway and in the Pacific Islands to report-in with their position and conditions, while David, a qualified meteorologist, provides very detailed weather forecasts. They have a website and also stream their broadcasts on the internet which is useful if you cannot hear then on the SSB (especially if in a marina) at:

We have been listening to Gulf Harbour Radio for two years (we did not know about them before we reached New Zealand) and we were very intrigued to meet these energetic and knowledgeable sailors. They live in a fabulous split-level house on the north side of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula with an absolutely stunning view over Waiau Bay, where we had anchored for a few nights last year. We had seen their tall radio antenna as we approached the house and they showed us their small radio room with its tower of radio equipment and amazing labyrinth of wiring.

Part of Patricia and David's stunning northwesterly view over Waiau Bay

We also chatted at length about such commonalities as heart surgery (the men) and cruising. While we knew that they had cruised extensively in the South Pacific, I had not been aware that they had spent almost two years in the Mediterranean. Hearing their great enthusiasm about sailing around Italy and Greece was positively inspiring and very encouraging for our plans to get there eventually. While talking about fish- and bird-watching, David produced a book that I had not seen before, for identifying the world's seabirds. Randall was particularly impressed to see it as he had been trying to find it for me so, without a moment's hesitation, Patricia inscribed a message in the front pages and insisted that we take it with us as she was never likely to use it again.

It was an exceptionally kind thing for them to do and made me especially thankful that we had brought with us a bottle of wine, some raspberry-oatmeal bars (I wondered about the appropriateness of these after the heart-attack discussion but they were apparently much appreciated), and our annual donation for operating the radio. Even though Patricia and David are retired and voluntarily run the radio network, there are significant costs associated with their equipment, licenses, etc., so the donations that they receive are very important.

Patricia kindly drove us back down to the marina after stuffing into my hands several bunches of fresh herbs from her small but interesting garden. While our mental images of the people behind the Gulf Harbour voices were perhaps not too far from reality, it is now much more fun to have a clear mental picture of Patricia and David sitting in their radio room when we listen to them on the morning SSB network.

On Wednesday morning, I ran west to Army Bay which is just inside Shakespear Park. This conservation area covers the southern half of the tip of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. The northern half is part of a military installation that is closed to the public and which is the source of occasional shooting into the sea in a firing-range north of the Peninsula.

The rest of the day for me was spent doing laundry and writing blog entries while Randall had the unenviable task of fixing the aft toilet. It was no longer possible to pump fresh seawater into the bowl. After the particularly unpleasant experience of taking the hand-pump apart and not solving the problem, he was very thankful that there is a well-stocked Burnsco marine store at Gulf Harbour Marina. Buying a repair kit was not much cheaper than getting a new hand-pump so we went for the latter option, the installation of which was also less messy. Happier when dealing with electricity, Randall does not enjoy plumbing projects at the best of times, especially when there are mysterious leaks that have to be traced and fixed afterwards, but toilets that could not be flushed properly are by far the worst. Anyway, given that discussions of fixing boat heads (toilets) is not uncommon within random gatherings of cruisers, this may not be a tasteful subject but is one that is understood to be an integral part of the cruising experience.

Randall was rewarded for his tenacity in this unpleasant project by a long, hot shower, and dinner at the marina's Ripples Café. I enjoyed a good pizza while Randall indulged in a so-called "small" plate of deep-fried seafood. This left no doubt that his appetite, which had wavered around lunchtime when he was deep in his toilet project, had been fully restored!

A strenuous visit

15 May 2018 | Westhaven Marina, Auckland, New Zealand
Photo: Tony and Helen alongside Tregoning in Westhaven Marina
The forecast suggested that it would be windy all of Sunday morning (13th May) so we were in no rush to leave Islington Bay but, after some early wind and rain, conditions calmed right down. Thus, by mid-morning we were motoring into Auckland Harbour and looking for slip Y33 at Westhaven Marina. The Y-dock, which is the easternmost dock in the marina, is about a mile's (1.6 km) walk from the office but it does have an excellent view over the turning basin to the Sky Tower and city center.

Auckland city center and Sky Tower seen from Y-dock in the afternoon

It is also on the back side of the long fuel dock to which city ferries and tour-boats come on a fairly frequent basis. Despite their size, many of these catamaran boat arrive and leave surprisingly quietly and with relatively little wake. Looking at the pumps as I walked off the dock, I noticed one that had last registered a sale of NZ$6,500 for just over 4,600 L of diesel. That is more than 15 times what it takes to fill Tregoning's fuel tank and is a bill that we would not be happy to pay more than once in 6 years. Looking at our records of fuel-use, it has taken us since August 2012 when we were in Juneau, Alaska, to use that much fuel.

Although in the calm conditions it was agreeably easy to get into our narrow slip, it is not very easy to get a place to stay at Westhaven. Other than some people who have apparently been grandfathered-in, no one is allowed to live-aboard for more than one night a month without permission requested and granted by email beforehand, even for just a few nights. In addition to needing email to complete this request and to receive the various forms that have to be completed before a slip is assigned, it was necessary to print the forms, complete them, scan them, and email them back. It was also necessary to submit payment online in advance of arrival (none of which is refunded if you cannot get there in time). Thus, while we were anchored in remote coves of the Hauraki Gulf, we were very lucky to have internet coverage over our phone and the necessary office-equipment onboard.

The marina has also raised its requirements for liability (third-party) insurance to NZ$5 million although we cannot imagine why. We had raised our own US insurance last year to meet the Westhaven requirement then of NZ$1 million, but increasing it to NZ$5 million would be ridiculously expensive. According to our insurance agent, US companies will not supply such coverage for less than a year (or remains of the current year). According to the marina staff, New Zealand companies will increase the liability coverage for a day or two often without any increased in premium although I cannot imagine why.

Finally, when I was about to admit defeat and give-up the idea of staying at Westhaven, Rachel (my patient and tenacious contact in the marina office) suggested that we pay NZ$50 to buy separate liability insurance coverage for our brief stay. I must confess that the whole thing felt like a bit of a scam but having committed ourselves to meeting Helen and Tony and picking-up some equipment, we decided to cut our visit back to only two nights (about NZ$70) and pay for this this supplemental insurance.

The view from Y-dock in the twilight

Westhaven is such a convenient and impressively well-managed marina that it is a shame that most transient visitors will be dissuaded from staying there by these complex and expensive rules. Obviously, the marina stays full-enough with resident boats that this is a matter of little consequence to its well-being, but the transient cruiser cannot be blamed for feeling unwelcome in the big city. With so much good cruising in the Hauraki Gulf and especially with the America's Cup races coming to Auckland soon, such an impression of indifference to the visitors on transient boats is a shame.

The other notable feature of Y-dock is that it is a long walk (about 400 m or quarter-mile) to get to the shore. We had invited Helen and Tony to join us on Tregoning for lunch on Monday and I wondered if they would be able to cope with the long trek. In preparation for this meal, I continued walking out of the marina to the nearest supermarket, about a 3 km (2 mile) round-trip.

Later that evening, we were surprised by loud bangs that sounded like fireworks. We scurried up to the cockpit to find that we had a grandstand view of a huge firework display that appeared to emerge from the downtown waterfront. We had noticed a cruise-ship in the docks downtown so it was possible that this was part of the ship's entertainment (like the weekly fireworks for the hotels at Waikiki Beach that we enjoyed so much in Honolulu). We also noted that in New Zealand it was Mother's Day. There may be more useful ways to spend that much money, but I do like the idea of fireworks to celebrate Mothers.

The view from Y-dock at night

The following morning, I went for a 10 km (6 mile) run around the attractive and well-heeled district of Ponsonby, including going past Phil and Hiroshi's house in which we had spent such a fun and memorable Christmas Day. I then walked with Randall to a business near Silo Park to retrieve our EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) which was another 5 km (3 mile) round-trip. Vandy and Eric had kindly dropped-off the EPIRB for us a week ago and, in the meantime, it had been tested and a new battery installed. This is an expensive procedure (NZ$460) but, luckily, only has to be completed every 5 years. Since this is the most likely mechanism by which we would be found if the boat ever sank at sea, this seems like a fully worthwhile investment.

Auckland Harbour Bridge at night seen from the end of Y-dock

Not long after returning from that walk, I set-off in the opposite direction to walk to the marina office to check-in. As expected, there was nothing else that needed to be done but it was not a wasted trip as I was to meet Tony and Helen at the adjacent Buoy Café. We drove back to park near the head of Y-dock where Randall met us and we started the long hike towards Tregoning.

They were both very good sports about the trek but the more worrying maneuver was to get up from the dock onto the deck and then down into the cockpit. Helen has had both hips and a knee replaced and suffers from arthritis, so she was a bit uncertain about big steps up and down but she was determined. We helped as best we could and once she was in the cockpit she settled herself there and left Tony to explore the below-decks accommodation with me. He was suitably impressed with our living quarters and seemed most surprised by the amount of room, the use of small hammocks to store fruit, and how clean the seven-year-old engine was.

Although it was quite warm and sunny, I had expected cooler weather when I had planned this lunch so I had made corn chowder and a sweet-potato and black-bean soup but nobody seemed to mind. We ate in the cockpit and chatted for a while about our plans, Helen's race-horses, and the various activities of their offspring including the interesting lifestyle that His Excellency Phil and Hiroshi were living in the Embassy in South Korea.

Helen, Randall, and Tony in Tregoning's spacious cockpit

By the time we had walked them back to their car and said our good-byes, Randall and I were thankful that we had had the opportunity to see Helen and Tony again before we left New Zealand. We also hoped that we had not completely exhausted them with the hike out to, and onto, Tregoning. Since Francis had not been able to see Tregoning nor did any of our parents, it felt significant to me that Helen and Tony were the only members of my parent's generation who had actually visited our floating home.

After they left, I repeated the 5-km (3-mile) round-trip to a bank near Silo Park to exchange some left-over Tongan and Samoan money for Fijian dollars. Including my run and the various hikes over the last 24 hours, I had covered perhaps about 26 km (16 miles), so I felt well-exercised by the end of the day. In retrospect, I probably should have bothered to get my bicycle out...

Autumnal weather

13 May 2018 | Islington Bay, between Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand
Photo: Despite the bias of our photos, it is not always sunny when cruising. Passing Ponui Island on a drizzly morning.
Having enjoyed plenty of hiking and bird-watching on Rotoroa on Thursday (10th May) and Friday morning, we were not too disappointed when the weather became showery on Friday afternoon. We spent a second night in the Home Bay anchorage and awoke on Saturday to steady rain and a northerly breeze.

With little desire to go ashore in the rain, we raised the anchor at 8 am and, using only the jib, we sailed downwind between Ponui and Waiheke Islands. We then turned westward and sailed along the south coast of Waiheke.

I was a bit sorry that we had not had time to visit this attractive and popular island. Second only in size in the Hauraki Gulf to Great Barrier Island, Waiheke has its "own unique warm microclimate" which supports 18 of "New Zealand's award winning boutique wineries". With many sandy beaches, some good restaurants, ziplines, and several walking tracks, the island is a popular day-tour from Auckland.

On reaching the south side of Motuihe Island (owned by the Department of Conservation and open to the public), we furled the jib and motored north, crossing the paths of several fast-moving catamaran ferries, into Islington Bay. There were a dozen boats in the bay but it is so large that we could easily find a suitable spot to anchor. We only saw the top of Rangitoto volcano briefly between showers so we did not bother to launch the dinghy. It is a very convenient anchorage before heading into Auckland Harbour and, as at Urquhart's and Kawau, we had plenty of good memories of exploring Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands from our visits during the previous year.

A changing type of sanctuary

11 May 2018 | Home (Southwest) Bay, Rotoroa Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand
Photo: Sculpture at the south end of Rotoroa, overlooking Ponui Island
We left Deep Bay around 8 am on Thursday (10th May) and motored south to look into the mouth of the Coromandel Harbour. Having not actually anchored directly off the Coromandel, I wanted to take a look into the large bay and towards the mountains that run down the spine of the peninsula.

A pinnacle rock in the Coromandel Harbour with the mountains of the Peninsula beyond

We then headed west across the mouth of the Firth of Thames and past the Cow (predictably large) and Calf (predictably small) Islands. The southerly wind was not quite strong enough for us to sail at a respectable speed but we did motor-sail for a while. We were happy to see three little blue penguins swimming and chattering at the calm water surface.

Receding headlands in Coromandel Harbour

We rounded the north end of Rotoroa Island (between it and Pakatoa Island) but instead of stopping at Cable Bay at the north end of the island, we continued around to Home (or Southwest) Bay. The weather forecast indicated that the wind direction would soon swing around and be coming from the north from which we would be well-sheltered. Home Bay was a lovely wide anchorage with good anchor-holding in 13 feet (4 m) of water. We were the only anchored boat when arrived but we were joined by four more for the night.

Tregoning (left) in Home Bay seen from the southern half of Rotoroa Island

After a quick lunch, we launched the dinghy to row to the wharf where signs indicated that we should come ashore at the adjacent, small, sandy beach. After visiting the museum, we slowly walked over the south end of island while bird-watching. We recorded 19 species including 4 takahe (pukekos on steroids), several saddlebacks (easily tracked by their call that sounds like an engine turning-over), and a female and young brown teal. There were also many cheeky fantails, pukekos, and wekas. There had been not wekas on Rotoroa prior to 2002, when six of these flightless birds were introduced from the next island south, Ponui.

One of the many fantails along the trails...not fanning, of course!

During our hike we chatted with Toni, wife of the resident manager, who was checking rat traps. They were finding no rats now but last year they caught eight, which DNA evidence suggests had swum over from Ponui Island via the small, intermediate Ruthe Islands about 600 m (656 yards) away. She also mentioned that Ponui has its own variety of very pale-haired donkeys. This was the first place that donkeys were introduced into New Zealand, and their descendants were selected for their pale hair. She thought that we might see them on the shores of the other island or hear them braying at night but we did not.

There is a NZ$5 (US$3) landing fee which can be paid online or in cash at boxes on some of the beaches or at the museum/visitor center. The island has a very interesting history that is explained in great detail in the attractive museum. Rotoroa had initially been obtained from the Māori in exchange for nine guns and a barrel of gunpowder in 1826. The intended colony of Scottish emigrants did not stay, however, and the island was again sold by the Māori (for cash, blankets, cloth, and breeding sheep) to a farmer in 1841. When the island was next sold, in 1886, it was transformed into a "tourist, holiday and health resort".

Men's Bay on the east coast of Rotoroa Island

Meanwhile, a religious revival had been started by William and Catherine Booth in the East End of London in the 1860s. With a particular emphasis on temperance, their urban mission was named the Salvation Army in 1878, complete with military rank and regulation. Both a sect and a social mission, their nurses and rescue workers offered sustenance and shelter at prison gates, to drunkards, and to unmarried mothers and orphans. This social mission became popular and respected in England and, by 1883 when New Zealand was suffering a depression, officers were sent from London to establish the Salvation Army in Dunedin, New Zealand.

By the late 1900's, various laws had been enacted in New Zealand that required that chronic public drunks brought before the court by family, police, or voluntarily, be committed for six months to two years of compulsory reform. However, there was no suitable institution until the Salvation Army built a facility on Pakatoa Island in 1908. It soon became obvious that a larger facility would be needed so the neighboring, larger island of Rotoroa was purchased, and that facility was opened in 1911.

Rotoroa was a mixture of farm colony, retreat, and prison. The key factor was that the temptations of addiction were removed and many addicts were able to recover their health with the sea-air, physical labor, and simple diet. Some Salvation Army staff found the work inspiring while others were disheartened by the isolation and rigorous life. About a hundred men were packed into dormitories, had to rise early for work, and were required to attend church services at least twice a week. With hardened criminals, suicidal and sick inmates, as well as innocent victims of family committals, the island's population was often rife with discontent and the staff must have often felt that they were faced with a challenging, thankless task.

In the following decades, the fortunes of the Rotoroa facility rose and fell depending upon the availability of staff (difficult to find during WWII, for example) and the sources of funding. The large, two-story dormitory building burned-down (without injury) in 1973 and a new facility was soon erected. Isolation alone could not teach self-discipline in the face of temptation and many inmates returned to the island through choice or inability to cope when faced with the realities of life back in the mainstream. By 1982, the Rotoroa facility had incorporated the therapy aspects of addiction treatment, matching those of the new, urban residential treatment centers.

The center of the Rotoroa rehabilitation and recovery facilities with the large two-story dormitory on the far hill in the early-twentieth century (left) and today

By 2000, building upgrades and modern treatment services were looking prohibitively expensive on the island. So in 2005, the difficult decision was made to stop rehabilitative services on Rotoroa after 12,000 admissions over 94 years. Many members of the Salvation Army had fond memories of the sanctuary which had seen many births, weddings, holidays, and a few burials. Thus, sale of the island was not a preferred option.

Luckily, a philanthropist couple, Neal and Annette Plowman, wished to bequeath a special gift to the people of Auckland and they entered into two year's of negotiation with the Salvation Army which resulted in the development of the Rotoroa Island Trust. The Plowman's generous payment of the 99-year lease from the Salvation Army and the costs of all of the conservation and heritage restoration, has allowed the island to switch from being a sanctuary for addicts to becoming a sanctuary for wildlife and the general public. In respect for the wishes of the Salvation Army, no alcohol is sold on the island and the remaining enclave of buildings around the chapel will not be forested.

Between 2008 and 2011, the island saw a major transformation from dilapidated buildings and little native bush to a large-scale restoration project. Many buildings were removed, while others were restored and maintained for their historic value (e.g., two small detention cells, the butchery, and the chapel). There remains, or was built, a house for the caretakers, sheds for equipment, meeting rooms, an education center, a backpacker lodge, a few "boutique" holiday houses, and a well-designed museum. Ferries arrive from Auckland and Waiheke Island on most days during the summer.

Three takahe in front of a meeting room on Rotoroa

During the restoration program 20 buildings, 20,000 pine trees, and 2 barge-loads of scrap metal were removed from the island. More than 350,000 native trees and shrubs belonging to 25 species, plus 30,000 pohutukawa trees (New Zealand Christmas trees) have been planted. Accommodation has been provided for 44 people along with 400 nest and roosting boxes, and 2 skink shelters. Forty traps for tracking and capturing rodents have been dispersed around the island.

In 2012, a partnership of the Rotoroa Island Trust was established with the Auckland Zoo to create a sanctuary for some of New Zealand's endangered species, such as kiwi, brown teal, whiteheads, saddlebacks, takahe, stitchbird, rifleman, North Island robin, shore skink, tuatara, and giant weta. The island was declared pest-free in October 2015, after a major effort to eradicate a large population of mice. It is hoped that 15 endangered species will have been introduced by 2020.

On Friday morning, we rowed to shore again and Randall walked slowly up to the North Tower bird-watching, while I ran all of the trails around the north end and along some of the beaches. On one very steep path on the north side of North Tower, which I had to walk-up rather than run, a small flock of sparrow-like birds flew across in front of me and I realized that they were whiteheads which are quite rare. I had seen them on Tiritiri Matangi the previous year so I was confident of the identification. If seen from the back they are not easy to distinguish from house sparrows, but I had a good look at their white heads as they buzzed past. Sadly, it was too steep a trail for Randall to tackle comfortably so he has still not seen whiteheads. He was, however, particularly tickled by a sign that had been erected on one of the lawns that was frequented by many of the easy-to-spot, flightless wekas that defiantly states, "Flying is overrated".

Where the wind blows us

10 May 2018 | Deep Cove, Whanganui Island, just off east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Photo: Looking north at Tregoning anchored in Deep Cove with Waimate Island beyond
We left Mansion House Bay on Tuesday (May 8th) on another clear, sunny morning. The wind was still steadily from the southwest so we decided to let it us blow us across the Hauraki Gulf towards the Coromandel Peninsula. Although we had driven over much of that peninsula, we had not visited any of its anchorages.

As we sailed close-hauled across the Hauraki Gulf, Randall saw a bottlenose dolphin and we were periodically surrounded by flocks of fluttering shearwaters and pairs of Australasian gannets. Once we had passed between the northeast corner of Waiheke Island and Horuhoru (Gannet) Rock, we turned downwind to go due east towards the Coromandel Peninsula. We had a choice of several anchorages that would have protection from the southern winds and Randall selected Deep Cove on the north side of Whanganui Island.

Despite the name, we were able to anchor in 20 feet (6 m) of water, a comfortable distance from the shore, with good anchor-holding. Gusty winds whistled around the western headland and into the bay providing good power for our wind turbine, Wendy, but the water remained delightfully calm. Each of the two nights that we stayed there, we shared the bay with one other boat. The second of these was a small motor vessel called Mintaka which is the same name as Robyn and Mark's sailboat, which they are still working on in the boat-shed in Whangarei. I am sure that they are really looking forward to being anchored-out again in places like Deep Cove.

A rocky outcrop near the shore of Whanganui Island

On Wednesday afternoon, after we had inflated and launched the dinghy, I rowed around the bay. The water was just clear enough to explore the rocks and shallow spots that might have been good for snorkeling in warmer conditions. But with a water temperature of 66°F (19°C), the clarity would have had to have been much better to entice me to don my snorkeling gear. There were many small oysters on the rocks so I had to be very careful not to rub the rubber dinghy against them. The area is apparently very suitable for shellfish because we watched several large boats tending to a big shellfish farm to the north of us, off Waimate Island.

Looking northwest out of Deep Cove in the late afternoon

Whanganui Island is privately owned and a sign above the beach warns visitors not to trespass. As I was rowing, I watched a sport-fishing boat disgorge its passengers on the beach but they all carefully wandered around below the high-water mark. It was a little frustrating not to be able to explore the island, so as we planned our next destination, access ashore became an important consideration.

Better sailing conditions than expected

08 May 2018 | Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island, New Zealand
Photo: The Mansion House and associated shoreline as seen from the anchorage
We left Urquhart's Bay around 7 am on Monday morning (May 7th). After motoring out of the river and testing a few systems (e.g., both macerators) and setting-up the lines on Susie (the self-steering wind-vane), we raised the sails and, within an hour of raising the anchor, we were sailing southward. We had expected the wind to be fairly light and possibly swinging around to be on the nose. Instead, the west-southwest wind was steady and at the perfect angle for us to sail close-hauled all the way to Cape Rodney (about 30 nm). It was gloriously sunny and with the breeze coming from off the shore, there were only very small waves. This resulted in four hours of thoroughly enjoyable, comfortable sailing. It was good to be back at sea and seeing three common dolphins leaping in the distance provided the icing on the cake.

While we were in the Florida Keys, Dan had introduced Randall to the concept of the "Buff" (a particular brand-name I think). Originally targeted at professional sport-fishers, these are neck-coverings made of thin elasticated cloth that help protect the wearer's neck and lower face from sun exposure. When we were in Cedar Key, Susan reiterated their value when kayaking, and gave Randall one of hers. Back in Gainesville I found a Buff that was a full head-covering (like a balaclava) and Randall was keen to try this out. Because they only reduce sun exposure by about 50%, Randall still wore his floppy, wide-brimmed New Zealand hat and sunglasses. The resulting look takes a little getting used-to. The hat helped to reduce the "Blue-Man"/terrorist appearance but not much...

Randall in his full-head "Buff"...hmmm...

We crossed Bream Bay, followed the coast to Cape Rodney, and continued south to Takatu Point. We then dropped the sails and motored into the wind through the channel north of Kawau Island. This channel looks as though it is wide enough to sail into the wind by tacking back and forth, but it is littered with shallow areas and partially exposed rocks. Thus, without good local knowledge, the useful channel is actually quite narrow and, hence, our decision to drop the sails.

When we arrived at our destination, Mansion House Bay, there was one other boat already anchored there, a catamaran. Luckily, there remained plenty of room in the small bay that was still in the lee of the western headland. Two more boats arrived soon after us but we were all well-spaced and able to enjoy the calm conditions. Again, we did not inflate the dinghy and try to go to shore as this was just an overnight stop. However, as at Urquhart's, it was lovely to enjoy the views from Tregoning and fondly remember when we had explored the Mansion House and various parts of Kawau Island in 2017.
Vessel Name: Tregoning
Vessel Make/Model: Morgan Classic 41
Hailing Port: Gainesville, FL
Crew: Alison and Randall
About: We cast-off from Fernandina Beach in north Florida on 1st June 2008 and we have been cruising on Tregoning ever since. Before buying Tregoning, both of us had been sailing on smaller boats for many years and had worked around boats and water throughout our careers.
Extra: “Tregoning” (rhymes with “belonging”) and is a Cornish word (meaning “homestead of Cohnan” or “farm by the ash trees”) and was Alison's mother’s middle name. Cornwall is in southwest England and is where Alison grew-up.
Tregoning's Photos - Tuamotu Atolls, French Polynesia
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Motus on the horizon in Ahe & Atoll June 2015
A narrow passage, or hoa, between motus on Ahe Atoll June 2015
Coconut plantation on Viameho motu Ahe Atoll June 2015
Clouds over a pearl farm Ahe Atoll June 2015
Simple window design Ahe Atoll June 2015
Tropical flowers Ahe Atoll June 2015
Kids in water when a camera is pointed Ahe Atoll June 2015
Wandering or grey-tailed tattler Ahe Atoll June 2015
Great crested terns Ahe Atoll June 2015
Unusual spinnaker in north Fakarava Atoll June 2015
Race for Water trimaran tilted mast south Fakarava Atoll June 2015
Main St Rotoava N Fakarava June 2015
Braided pandanas walls in Rotoava N Fakarava June 2015
Church in Rotoava N Fakarava June 2015
Tawny nurse sharks in N Fakarava June 2015
Hugo empties an oyster net at Havaiki Resort Fakarava June 2015
R to L Seed - natural pearl - cut pearl with seed inside Fakarava June 2015
Quiet luxury at Havaiki Resort Fakarava June 2015
Rather exciting entry into Tahanea pass June 2015
Tregoning seen across the motu by Tahanea pass June 2015
Coral rubble along the shore of Tahanea pass June 2015
hallow coral-heads in SE Tahanea June 2015
Bright colors of a Tridacna clam SE Tahanea June 2015
Bridge in the old coral SE Tahanea June 2015
White tern Atoll Tahanea June 2015
Alison approaches the outer reef edge SE Tahanea June 2015
L to R Steve, Lili, Rasta-style Sherman, Judy on music night Tahanea June 2015
Randall dinghies ashore SE Tahanea, Tregoning beyond his bow June 2015
Extent of reef by Pass into Ahe Atoll June 2015
Reef inside Ahe lagoon with rim motu beyond May 2015
 Tenukupara motu from Ahe anchorage May 2015
Motus on the horizon in Ahe & Atoll June 2015