We still have our guest Tom aboard. After surviving some rough weather in Auckland, we finally escaped the dock and headed out – along with most of Auckland. This is the land of boaties – people who own and use their boats – both sail and power. It was a parade of boats that had been waiting for the bad weather to pass and then head out for their last "hurrah" of the season. Easter weekend is the second biggest boating weekend of the year for kiwis. Autumn has started and this weekend is their farewell to cruising for the year – now starts racing season. As one NZ friend told us, "After this weekend, the stoves come off, all the weekend gear comes off and the racing begins." When we left the marina on Friday morning, their was a traffic jam on the water, you actually had to wait for boats to so you could edge out into the traffic pattern. Everyone seemed to be leaving Auckland and heading to the islands. Some to Great Barrier, others to Kawau and some to the Mercury Islands. And a whole bunch were heading to Waiheke where there is a jazz festival and lots of good anchorages.
That was our destination as well. We decided to explore a new place and headed to "Rocky Bay." It was a beautiful crescent bay with good holding in a sandy/muddy bottom about 4 meters. We took a great hike on shore to an ancient Pa site with great views and along a nice track. We saw the endangered New Zealand dotteral bird which has only 1800 left and only on this island. They are having great success with a breeding program here and lots of fencing and signage points out the nesting spots.
After two pleasant nights there, we moved around the island to the other side and "Man of War" Bay. We sailed the entire 12 miles or so...slow but very pleasant. Upon arrival we joined the other 100-plus boats already anchored and enjoyed the bay movies of boats coming and going. The beautiful three masted "Spirit of New Zealand" training ship came in as did the Whitbread winning "Steinlager" racing machine.
We dinghied out to the "Spirit of NZ" to see if our friend Simon was aboard. He was not on this trip – buy had a great chat with one of the crew aboard.
We went ashore to check out the winery right on the beach. Here's another great example of the warmth and friendliness of the kiwis. As we're walking towards the winery, some folks at a nearby table asked if we liked chardonnay. We said yes and they bragged that this was the best chardonnay in NZ...."here try a sip" handing over her glass. They turned out to be really nice and fun people to chat with and we had some good laughs with them. We love this country!
Tonight, we'll go ashore and kill our "zero dollar days" record of three! We'll go in and enjoy a glass of that lovely chardonnay and a sunset.
Happy Easter to all – don't eat your chocolate bunny all at once.
At 3/11/2016 8:24 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 36°25.51'S 174°50.35'E
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