Before we left Urquaharts anchorage, we had a reunion aboard Astarte with some old friends. We heard the sailboat "Option One" calling the nearby Marsden Cove saying they were coming in for fuel and water. We tried them on the radio but had no luck reaching them but luckily had their phone number from last year. We called and before long, they were anchored nearby and a potluck/barbeque was happening aboard Astarte. It was great to reconnect with Mike and Karen who we met three years ago in Fiji. We caught up and shared info on the comings and goings of our mutual friends from Superted, Victory, and Chapter Two. It was a great evening with the Gypsea Hearts also joining in the festivities.
The following morning (even after consuming the fine food and drink from the night before), we made our way towards Auckland from the Whangarei area leaving the Hatea River on Thursday morning before 0700. Mike and Karen on Option One were heading towards the Bay of Islands in the opposite direction. Our destination was Kawau Island about 45 miles away. There was little to no wind when we left under power but put the main up because of a good sized swell. The swell was the remnants of tropical cyclone Victor which was working its way down the New Zealand coast as a low pressure area. The swell was a big one but quite far apart so not too bad. We did have to motor the entire day but it was a good test for the engine after all the work.
We also retested our skill at catching fish- seeing we were motoring. We got one hit and Michael pulled in a rather small fish that looked like one we had gotten before in NZ waters. It wasn't that tasty and this was pretty small so we freed it. Then when Michael was below, the reel started to go and after a few yells below "fish on" she went back to the rod just before most of the line had spun out. Of course, Michael was below putting on rain gear because it started to rain...and then pour as Barbara is pulling in this rather large fish. We got it to the boat but didn't quite know what it was and because it was pouring (and we're weanies) we let it go. We later found out it was a nice yellowtail kingfish and quite good eating. Oh well – next time we'll know. We hate killing fish and then find out they aren't edible.
We did spot a few of the little blue penguins as we approached Kawau – and they are always a treat to see.
We worked our way into a cut to Bon Accord harbour. We were probably the 40th boat to drop anchor. After us, another 40 or so arrived. It was a three day weekend in NZ and some folks were obviously making it a five day one. Our friends on Gypsea Heart anchored nearby. It was nice to be out on the boat again and this is one of our favorite spots in the Hauraki Gulf. The next day it was fun just watching the boats come and go – the turnover is pretty dramatic. The bay gets filled up by late afternoon and starts to empty in early morning. Launches (power boats) and yachts (sailboats) of all styles and sizes come and go. Some are the pretty classic NZ launches – low profile, long bows and usually pretty wood work. It's fun to read the names and watch the anchor drills. NZ boaters like to anchor close to each other. Everyday we were here – the boats came and went.
Michael did some serious cleaning of Astarte's undersides. The water here was much clearer than in the river. He didn't spot the large bronze whaler shark that everyone talks about. The Gypsea Hearts also stopped here on their way to Auckland and we all went out to the Kawau Boating Club for a beer and a meal. The following night, they invited us and another boat, "Erie Spirit" aboard for a fun evening and a sausage sizzle. On Sunday night, Michael counted 133 boats and still thinks he missed some! We went on a dinghy explore to look at the boats and met the crew aboard one of the three New Zealand Royal Navy sailing boats. They took part in a race in the Bay of Islands – each boat was crewed by various "royal" navies – New Zealand on one, the Australian on another and the British on the third. They didn't want to discuss who won just saying, the Bristish sent a really good crew. The boats are 40 foot Chico (a NZ made boat) semi custom sail boats that sleep ten. They are used for team building, teaching and training. The captain and crew were fun to visit with and we wished them luck in the next day's race to Auckland.
We left Kawau around 0930 ahead of the boat race start at 1000. We had a great sail all the way to Auckland. The race boats, including the three royal Navy boats flew past us under spinnaker blazing the Royal Navy insignia. The waters were packed with boats. The long weekend, nice weather, good wind and Anniversary Regatta had boats out in masse. It was beautiful to see - some were small daysailers and others were super yacht racing machines.
We arrived at Pier 21 our Auckland home around 1530 and made our way into the tight fitting slip. There is a big multi-band concert nearby so we can hear the music from on board. We took a walk around and the city is packed because of this musical event and the other Anniversary Weekend events. We still have to figure out what it is the "anniversary" celebrating. Next weekend is another three day weekend celebrating Waitangi Day the signing of the "peace" agreement between the Maori indiginous peoples and the European settlers. .
We are now here – ready (or almost) and waiting for our first guest, Sue, to arrive.
At 1/27/2016 7:24 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°56.16'S 174°34.99'E
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