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Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sun 7 Mar 2021 03:34

We keep meaning to write a new blog but not getting round to it so here goes with almost two months worth!

13 Jan we raced across from Tryphena on Great Barrier to Kawau Island, the wind was behind us at 21 knots so all we needed was a bit of genoa to start with gradually increasing to full genoa as we made the 30+ mile crossing and anchored in Bon Accord Harbour again. We had decided that we cannot head down to South Island and it would be a good idea to have Serenity lifted out for antifouling and other jobs, meaning that she will be ready to go anywhere if countries start to open their borders or New Zealand stop extending visa’s. This will be in early February so we had time to kill.

We walked on Kawau out to the Copper Mine with Bernd, watched the first races of the Prada Cup on computer, and did a longer walk over to North Cove via Mount Taylor. Interesting as the footpaths through the bush don’t match the map, thank goodness for satnav and maps on the phone, at least you can see where you are even if its not on a path. Descending to N Cove we met a couple of women with local knowledge also unsure of where they were but at least they knew that there was a path along the shore at North Cove so we could make it a loop walk. The start of the return path was far from obvious as the area has become more developed and nobody it seems is interested in walking through the bush, the path was accessed by climbing over a pile of building  rubbish and then heading up hill.

High point of our walk

Path along the shore of N Cove.  We got there at high tide and part of this path was flooded, so we took our boots of and waded!

Moving on from Kawau after a few days we headed south stopping in Home Bay, Motutapu on the way, then on to Man O’War Bay on Waiheke to get more shelter from the South Easterly wind. Waiheke Island has anchorages which provide shelter from all directions you just have to choose the right one. We spent a couple of days in Man O’War, where we had lunch ashore at the vineyard, then moved round to Oneura Bay. We needed to do a food shop and this is the easiest place, with a good Four Square supermarket and as we discovered the most amazing ice cream shop, we had to visit it twice as the selection was so vast. 

Island Gelato

Oneura Bay is a popular anchorage but with any north in the wind suffers from swell, we were lucky on this visit to be able to stay comfortably for a couple of nights and we had time to walk around the NW end of the island passed some amazing, and expensive looking properties.

NW coastal property

And guard dog.

24th Jan we started heading back North, with south easterly winds expected we intended to go back to Kawau but it soon became clear that these were more N of East so rather than bash against them for 20 miles we eased sails and headed for Great Barrier instead, a 40 mile trip but definitely more comfortable sailing, its nice to have these options available. Stopping over in Smokehouse Bay at least meant that we could get some laundry done and say hello to the local wild life, a wild pig that wanders around whenever it thinks there is likely to be food.

Wild pig in Smokehouse Bay

Choosing a weather window for the trip back to Whangarei had us leaving on Saturday and crossing a lot faster than expected to anchor up in Munro Bay, secure and quiet, moving round to Parua Bay on Sunday so that we could eat out at the Parua Bay Tavern, a luxury we have missed on this trip. The tavern was very quiet, there had been a Covid case identified in the community the week before and this was one place they had visited. The tavern had to close and deep clean so they were now just picking up trade again. In contrast to the rest of the world, New Zealand has had few cases of Covid and has a tracking system which works, the person involved had used the tracker app and the premises she had visited were identified.

Returning to Whangarei on Monday we had time to take our liferaft to Auckland for service, visit the Americas Cup Village, no races on, and to meet up with friends Rob and Jo for a long catch up, they had spent last year through lockdown in the Marshall Islands returning to New Zealand via Fiji before Christmas. We met for lunch and didn’t leave the restaurant until about 4.00 just in time to catch the rush hour traffic heading north.

Big screen viewing of the racing in the Americas Cup Village

Meeting up with Rob and Jo

One of the problems of a long thin country is that when there is an accident on your main highway diversions can be problematic and lengthy. We were diverted off the SH1 just after the end of the motorway section and the 15km to Warkworth became a 32mile diversion out toward the west coast and back again, much of it on unmade road. Lots of dust as it was very dry and single lane bridges with priority to traffic from the other direction. About a 2hr addition to the journey.

Diversion on the way home, ‘metalled’ road.

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