Bay of Islands

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 19 Apr 2021 04:33
Position: 35 15.73 S 174 06.94 E 
At anchor Kororareka Bay, Bay of Islands 
Wind: NE, F3 Sea: slight Swell: nil 
Weather: sunny, mild 
Day’s run: 30 nm 

Its been a busy 24 hours. We had a slow but pleasant sail in light winds overnight. At times I contemplated using the engine but there seemed little point. We had plenty of time in hand, the seas were calm and the night quiet and peaceful, and I did not really want to be going to anchor in the middle of the night so while we were still making steerage way of about 1½ to 2 knots I decided to enjoy the soul soothing quiet. 

Come dawn, we found ourselves approaching the steep cliffs of Motukokaku Island. My original intention was to go around the outside of it but in the light winds were were drifting inexorably into the narrow passage between it, or more accurately between the rock to its south east, Tiheru Island, also known as The Dog, and Cape Brett. We still had steerage way in the light breeze so I allowed Syph to slip through passage. It was an impressive sight in the sharp morning light striking obliquely onto the cliffs and shining through the huge archway on Motukokaku Islands southern flank. 

Once through the straight we continued sailing for a while; however, by 0825 the wind had faded completely so, wanting to have some time to rest at anchor, I flashed up the BRM. We motored another five miles, through the rock strewn Albert Channel, then around Shag Rock and into Omakiwi Cove where we let go the anchor in five meters of water. Once Sylph was secured, I made a cup of tea then donned swimmers, put the boarding ladder over the side and had a refreshing dip in the bay’s cool clear water. 

After breakfast I consulted the charts, tide tables and weather forecasts. Kate and I are hoping to have a friend and her two sons visit on Thursday to take them for a bit of a sail in the Bay of Islands. In consultation with Kate we decided that, given the forecast weather conditions for Thursday, Waitangi might be the best place to pick them up from. A potential problem, however, was that the entrance to Waitangi is very shallow. I had never been into Waitangi before so I thought it would be best to reconnoitre the area before committing to arrangements on Thursday. Unfortunately the weather forecast for tomorrow and Wednesday did not look at all good for exploring unfamiliar shallow waters so I concluded that today was the best time to do so. 

Thus at 1220 I raised the mainsail, got the anchor in and continued further into the Bay of Islands. We motored and sailed in the light variable winds and at 1425 were approaching the shallows of Te Ti Bay and Waitangi. I handed sail, started the BRM and gingerly made our way into the estuary. The tide was falling so I did not want to make a mistake and end up sitting high and dry for several hours. Fortunately the channel proved to be quite well marked and the minimum depth we encountered was 3.5 meters. The height of tide as we entered was 1.6 meters so this means even at lowest low water we should still be able to scrape over the shoals to gain access to the public jetty. I was also pleased to see that the public jetty was well maintained and should prove reasonably easy to tie up to, though we shall have to be wary of the tidal stream that can flow quite strongly in and out of the estuary. 

Satisfied that Waitangi will in fact be a good pick up and drop off point, I turned Sylph around and headed back across Veronica Channel to anchor in Kororarera Bay off the township of Russell, letting go in seven meters of water just clear of the busy mooring field at 1520. Now I think I will go ashore for a leg stretch before dinner, after which I hope to enjoy a good night’s sleep. 

All is well.