Just floating around: 36:50.3S, 174:45E
We spent the first week of 2020 listening to the wind at Great Barrier Island as a gale force south westerly airflow set in across the north of New Zealand. We were protected from the worst of it but our anchorage in Kiwiriki Bay was still subject to strong gusts from all directions and Serenity sailed all over the place around her anchor. The anchor seemed to be rock solid, but we downloaded and used an app that gives an alarm if you move more than a certain distance from where you put the anchor down.
In less windy periods we managed to have a couple of walks ashore, and on one day we moved anchor temporarily to visit the general store in Port Fitzroy where we managed to buy a few supplies, but at eye-watering prices. Everything has to be brought to the island by ship and they are charged by weight so you expect higher prices.
Port Fitzroy General Store
We walked through the Glenfern Sanctury to this Kauri Tree, which is 600 years old
Looking out over Port Fitzroy from Sunset Rock at the top of the Glenfern trail
The best anchorage in the conditions was Smokehouse Bay, but it had been packed out with hundreds of boats that had come out for New Year and stayed rather than face the 45 mile windward passage back to Auckland. On the day the wind dropped it began to empty and we took the opportunity to move over there and use the facilities which are provided for Boaties and maintained by donations. The smokehouse the bay is named for is a tin shed full of racks for smoking fish, but there is also a bathhouse where you can bath or shower using water piped in from up the hill and heated by a wood burning stove, a laundry area with big concrete tubs, old fashioned mangles and rotary driers and, new since we last visited 2 years ago, a woodburning pizza oven. Combined with seating round a fire pit and rope swings for the children its a popular spot. We did some much needed laundry and topped up our water tanks.
On Friday the wind was still south westerly but down in strength so we set the alarm, got out the small working jib (our sail for use in stronger, windward sailing) and headed out at 0700. We took one long westward tack past Little Barrier Island and almost as far as the mainland south of Whangarei before a windshift made the other tack more favourable so we went about and were able to point for a spot a few miles off Kawau Island. It still took us until 1900 to get to Kawau (a distance in a direct line of 35 miles from Great Barrier) and we changed sails more times than we can remember. Unlike our last visit before Christmas, the anchorage was calm and quiet so after a good night’s sleep we decided to stay for the day, giving Phil the opportunity to work on the engine that has been reluctant to start recently. Our fresh stores were running short by now so we had supper at the Kawau Boating Club that evening and met a couple from Wales who split their time between Europe and their boat in New Zealand.
On Sunday we were on the move again, this time continuing south under motor in a flat calm. Sarah needed blood tests and the easiest place to get them done was Waiheke Island where the Pathology lab is within walking distance of the waterfront. With stores replenished at the small supermarket in the town we intended to move to a less open anchorage but the engine was even slower to start so plans changed and we booked a place in Westhaven Marina in Auckland and arranged for an engineer to visit.
The engineer has been here all morning and done a thorough investigation. The fuel pump has been replaced and we now have to wait until tomorrow to try starting the engine from cold to see if the problem is fixed. In any case we have our berth here until Friday so will used the opportunity to visit the chandleries and other boat related stores that are all within easy walking distance of Westhaven.
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