Auckland, Waiheke and Coromandel

Friday we did a provisioning run to the large Countdown in Takapuna. We took one of our big roller suitcases with us to help carry it all as we went by bus but, again, too much to carry so we treated ourselves to a taxi back.

We got everything stowed away onboard and then got ready to go into Auckland to meet Paul. We met him at 5.30 pm and enjoyed a beer. However, the DJ was setting up for the night and it was really loud so we decided to move on as it was difficult to hold a conversation. Paul knew this great little Vietnamese restaurant so we walked there and managed to get a table…..the food was interesting and very flavoursome….so much so that Richard and I had three courses! Was a lovely evening and we were very grateful to Paul as he turned up with a brand new 1TB hard drive for us complete with films and TV shows. That’ll keep us entertained, particularly now that Autumn has started to set in here in New Zealand.

After Paul had left we went to Shuckers for a pontoonie while we waited for the ferry to take us across the bay back to Morphie.

Saturday morning we got the early ferry into Auckland in the pouring rain – as I had a hair appointment and Richard needed to visit some chandlers to get some materials. We have decided, in the next few weeks, to take some time out to varnish our capping rail and eyebrows, as the wood deteriorated significantly whilst we were home in the UK for such a long period of time. So I went for my hair cut and Richard went off – rejoining me a few hours later. Whilst I was in the hairdressers the fire alarms went off and we had to evacuate the building, so a bit of excitement watching the firemen turn up, check the little mall was safe, before we could go back in. Sadly the skills of the hairdresser was not as high as her price – never mind.

Richard returned to pick me up and we had a few hours before the next ferry back across to Bayswater. So, in the rain, we headed to The Viaduct….and enjoyed a couple of beers in Headquarters. It was good to see genuine Aucklanders out enjoying their Saturday afternoon which they celebrated with a few drinks. We were having such a good time we decided to go on an afternoon pub crawl. The next hostelry was Dr Rudi’s where we met an English couple from Bristol.

then onto White & Wongs (where we also had a bite to eat)

and ended the afternoon at the Crab Shack. We got the 8.20 pm ferry so we didn’t stay out late but had been a great last fun day in Auckland.

Sunday morning we continued to get the boat ready to go back to sea. I did online stuff like banking, bills and downloading updated charts. Richard ordered some new batteries for Morpheus. We have five house plus one engine Lifeline ATM batteries on board and they were new in 2012, so a seven year lifespan isn’t too bad. They would still be OK if we were rock hopping and could pop into a marina and plug in every now and again or run the generator at anchor, but with long sea passages ahead, this is as good a time to replace them as any. He also ordered a new battery monitor to go with them. There are other spare parts we need too so we are looking through our lists while we have access to internet here in the marina. By ordering them now they should be ready and waiting in Opua for when we return in early May.

Another thing we did, while in organisational mode, was to book ourselves onto a rally into Australia from New Caledonia. We can be as actively involved with other participants as we want and we probably won’t buddy boat, but the cost of joining is largely offset by all the discounts that we get for customs wood inspections, boat yard haul outs etc. And they supply all the information we need for checking into Australia, cruising guides for New Caledonia, welcome events/seminars etc so we thought it was a worthwhile thing to do. Not to mention the party week on arrival in Bundaburg which we quite fancy LOL. We have also been putting feelers out with a couple of boat yards in Australia to haul Morpheus out of the water for when we return back to the UK for a few months. And that was about it for the day.

Monday morning Richard did engine checks whilst I did all the laundry. We then received our final invoices from the marina and, OMG, they were so wrong it was laughable. We had already pointed out discrepancies in February’s and March’s invoices (which had been charged in full to us despite this) so we had some credits in the bank, but it was still far from accurate. So we spent a few happy hours going through everything and recalculating what we thought was the correct amount. We sent this email to the office and said I would be in later to discuss and guess what, the administrator was not going to be there. How convenient!!! Never mind, 8.30 in the morning it is then.

The rest of the day we checked out various anchorages and downloaded weather forecasts. We were surprised to see light south winds coming through on Tuesday which would mean a stop in Oneroa Bay, Waiheke Island, was possible for a night. Yay we really fancied going there.

Tuesday morning early I was at the office while Richard unplugged our power cables etc and got the ropes ready to slip. Well, of course, the woman was in late and wasn’t ready to talk although did say that she thought our list of discrepancies was a bit much. So I explained, tactfully and politely, how I had come to my conclusions and went away for 15 minutes while she tried to get her head around it. When I returned she agreed some, disputed others, but the bottom line was that she thought I owed less than I thought I did (seriously!) so I just accepted her position and got our security bond refunded all in the same transaction. That was seriously hard work.

Glad to finally escape I skipped back to Morphie, we slipped from the dock, and by 9.45 am we were underway. We enjoyed our last glimpse of Auckland on our way through the channel and were impressed by the training ship Spirit of New Zealand sailing under the bridge and eventually passing alongside us.

We sailed all the way to Waiheke in light airs dodging ferries. By 1.30pm we were on anchor in Oneroa Bay having travelled a mere 15.54 miles.

We got a great set in sand and straight away we got busy dropping dink off the davits and getting the outboard on the stern. Once we were happy and settled, we headed over in dink to say hi to fellow Island Packeteers Steve and Jo, on Tamanu, who were anchored nearby. This isn’t something we normally do but it is so unusual to see an Island Packet in these waters we thought we would say hello.

When we got over to them, they already knew we were Richard and Jan from Morpheus as they had checked on the IP Yacht Owners’ Association. We were a little flabbergasted by that LOL. We spent a while chatting with them and realised that our plans may be similar for the coming few months. They were trying to lead us astray by offering us beer and, in the heat of the sun, we were sorely tempted. But we managed to resist as we had to go into town to get some more supplies (things we had missed or used since the last big provisioning run). So we said farewell and headed to the beach. By now the tide had gone out and even though we have OAP wheels installed on our new dinghy, it was still quite a drag.

Eventually we managed it and walked up the very steep hill into town. We got our provisions in the little supermarket and went to a rooftop bar overlooking the bay for a few cold ones. Was lovely.

Before the sun went down we headed back to dink, pushed him back into the water (not so far now as the tide had started to come back in) and returned to Morpheus and had a nice evening in the cockpit. It was pretty warm in the sun but we still needed fleeces once the sun went down.

During the evening we ran the weather again to see if we could stay another day or whether we had to move on. At this point we found that a gale warning had been issued for Thursday. Great….so we looked at the wind direction and found an area over on the Western Coromandel coast which would be a good place to shelter while the blow went through. Squadron Bay (in Te Kouma Harbour) would give us protection from N/NW winds (the first wind direction) and if, indeed it switched (timing was indecisive on this) we could go across the way to Name Bay (also in Te Kouma Harbour) to get protection from S/SW winds. So our decision was made before we went to bed.

Wednesday morning we were up early and ran the weather again. The position had worsened if anything, gale warnings in most places for Thursday, and torrential rain all day too. Never mind….we had a plan.

So at 9.30am we picked up anchor – said goodbye to Steve and Jo – and headed out on a beautiful sunny day with light NW winds. We attempted to sail downwind on genoa alone but the wind completely died on us so we ended up motoring slowly virtually the whole 23 miles.

There was lots of bird life on the water and, at one point, Richard could hear this squeaking and it was a little blue penguin who had surfaced beside us giving us a fleeting glance. Made us very happy. By 3pm we were on anchor in beautiful Squadron Bay surrounded by stunning scenery and the only boat around, but lots of cows on the hill and even one wandering along the scrubby beach. We even had a duck welcoming party so we gave them a cornflake treat.

We had a nice afternoon and evening in the cockpit. Just before the sun went down another boat came and anchored over in Name Bay which has no protection from northerly winds – so we double checked the weather again just to make sure we were in the right position and, yes, no change. The winds were NW up to 40 knot gusts.

This morning, Thursday, and the weather was quite pleasant first thing. The forecast remained the same and was supposed to kick in at 10 am so we had breakfast in the cockpit first. At 10 am the clouds rolled in and the wind picked up, Morpheus moved head to wind (NW as predicted) and we prepared to sit it out.

By 10.40 the heavens had opened and it poured with rain. So I’m sitting down below blogging and Richard is reading. I guess that will be it for the rest of the day.

Friday we had hoped to move around the corner into Coromandel Harbour as there is a town a couple of kilometres up the river, so could be fun to go exploring the river in dink. We have also decided to return to Kawau (which is pretty protected) to do the varnishing as at least there is a yacht club to get off the boat now and again after a hard day’s work, so we will probably be there for Easter. But we are totally weather dependent as we are back on the hook and this front could linger, so we’ll make our decisions on a daily basis.

Bye for now