We moved on board Kokamo on the 16th February, the night
before my 30th Birthday so our first day’s sailing was a double
celebration - or perhaps more that entering my 4th decade was nicely
tempered by knowing that we were finally going to make the dream happen for
real. It was a big milestone in our
year and great to feel we were really getting started. We spent a week getting to know Kokamo
up in the beautiful Bay of Islands, working out how she sailed and fixing a few
The sail down to Auckland - end of
Our first proper sailing trip was down the
coast of NZ to Auckalnd. We had a few more major repairs and bits of work to do
on the boat and Auckland seemed like the right place to be based for a
while. The trip was pretty good and much to our relief we found that
Kokamo did munch up the miles nicely - NZ to Tonga should be no problem we
Tom at the helm in the first bit of serious breeze
The Auckland skyline as we arrived
The Dreaded Boatyard - early
Our stint in Auckland was pretty full on.
Kokamo was hauked out of the water for a week to do a serious load of
painting, plumbing, engine repairs and rigging replacement - all happening while
we were still living on board amongst the general boatyard grime and mess.
We just about managed to get everything done although we were only putting the
engine back togther as the boat was being lowered into the water - nerve racking
Covered in paint after sanding the
looking smart as she goes
back in the water
When we were finally back up
and running we did manage to catch some of the Louis Vuiton Match racing out on
the water which was fantstic to see close up.
Team Origin (GBR) in
Coromandel Peninsula -
It was great to get away from
the city and start to do a bit of exploring. We visited the tiny fishing
town of Coromandel which was very quaint and had rather an exciting time trying
to get back to the boat. Kokamo was anchored a long way from shore in
a shallow bay and the tide was going out so time was of the essence.
Our dinghy outboard decided to give up just at the critical moment. Tom
did some frantic rowing into the wind but we were't really making any
headway. Thankfully we were rescued by some nice fishermen who were very
amused at out incompetence so gave us a tow.
It was all a bit more relaxed
once we made it up to the Northern end of the peninsular. There is no road
access to this part pf the coast so we really felt like we had the place to
Ok, so there is another boat in the photo....
We spent a couple of days
chilling out at the millionaires pad of Great Mercury Island - a private Island
which can be hired out for vast sums of money - reputedly where U2 stay when
there are playing in Auckland. Anyway, we anchored just off the helipad
and Italian villa for a couple of nights and felt like we could almost be rich
and famous, when we weren't stitching sails or tinkering with the engine.
Tom and I did our first night
passage from Great Mercury back to Auckland (a trip of only about 15
hours, but we thought we ought to give ourselves a bit of a challenge!).
It didn't start well - we discovered a critical plumbing issue just as
it was getting dark and we were beating into a steep sea.
It almost made us put back, but after a stint of lying face
down in the bows of the boat a green looking Tom managed to fix it. The
whole thing was made marginally better by seeing a school of Dolphins and
amazing phosphorescence on my watch in the early hours of the morning.
Still quite a relief to make it back in one piece - perhaps Tonga wouldn't be so
easy after all!
We left Kokamo in Auckland for
a week just before Easter whilst we dashed to South Island to get a taste of
Fiordland and some of New Zealand's most dramatic scenery - See the Queenstown
Great Barrer Island - mid
Back on the boat and it was
time to head North back up to the Bay of Islands, out port of departure for
the trip to Tonga. We stopped for a few days at Great Barrier Island
which was wonderful. Port Fitzroy has an almost totally enclosed natural
harbout which is incredibly sheltered and a lovely place to stop for a while.
Even though all the Native Kauri trees were pretty much wiped out by
logging to make spars for European ships the Island is still covered with
dense native bush. There are the remains of old
Kauri dams - impressive feats of engineering used to flush the
huge Kauri loggs out of the mountainous forest though gorges to
We walked to the top of of
the island's highest hill - Mount Hobson - to find an amazing view,
and rewarded ourselves with an afternoon at 'Smokehouse Bay' where
some enthusiastic boaties have built a wood fired bath house - the first
bath I've had since we left the UK - felt like luxury!
Passage to Whangaroa -
Another night sail took us
up to Whangaroa harbour. Somewhat more sucessful this time although we did
have to contend with tag team seasickness for the first half of the night- not
Tom's cousins - Mop, Jonjie and
Susie - came aboard when we arrived and Susie was the first person on the
boat to sucessfully catch a fish (although too small to eat! - we need to
improve our self sufficiency skills).