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11 March 2014

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Whangaparapara wharf
When you’re out cruising, things are generally good. And why wouldn’t they be? You’re living a life of freedom on a sailboat, exploring new areas and learning lots of new stuff. Occasionally, there are some bad things, often related to weather or things breaking on your boat, and sometimes something ugly happens. Fortunately, the ugly stuff is rare, but it sure does help to have a wee vent about it on your blog. So here is the good, the bad and the ugly from our second trip to Whagaparapara on Great Barrier Island. 

The Good

 
Tiny bach (holiday home) in Whangaparapara - site of the "banana incident"
One of the best aspects of cruising, or travelling in general, is meeting and chatting with the locals and hearing their stories. We’ve met lots of nice and interesting people so far, but one that stands out is the postie who kindly offered us a lift in Whangaparapara after our hike out to the hot springs. We were walking back to the wharf on an unsealed road (which isn’t pleasant at best of times given all the gravel just waiting for you to twist your ankle on it) and had agreed that if someone offered us a lift, we would take it. Some might call us cheaters, not having walked the entire way back, but I was happy to be a cheater at that point. And just then our savior came along in his Rural Post van and told us to hop in.

We had an interesting chat with him about the fact that nowadays Great Barrier Island is split between ordinary folks, many of whom are on the dole when seasonal work dries up, and the multi-millionaires who own holiday homes on the island. Property prices used to be dirt cheap back in the day when the postie’s father bought land on the island, but nowadays local residents can’t afford to buy property and are either forced to rent, go to the mainland or family property is being subdivided (when the Council allows it, which isn’t always). It must be tough to be a young couple just starting out and not be able to buy your own home on the island you grew up on.

On the way to Whangaparapara, a guy stopped us and the postie yelled out, “You better not be shipping any more bananas to the Barrier!” Turns out he had shipped a few boxes of food over to the island which got lost in the post and when they did turn up, the box with the bananas had quite the smell to it. This time, the guy was ust looking to see if some oars he had shipped over had turned up. They hadn’t yet, but the postie said he would keep an eye out and leave them behind his house if he wasn’t at home. You certainly don’t get this kind of service in the big city – proof of identity and a signature required. 

The Bad 

Once we got back to the wharf, we moved our boat over to Graveyard Bay for the night. Some folks had told us previously that anchoring can be a challenge in Whangaparapara as garbage has been dumped in the harbor. We had to reset the anchor the last time we were in Graveyard Bay and Scott even found burlap on the anchor when he picked it up prior to dropping it again, but we didn’t think having to reset one time was too bad.

Well, it turns out anchoring was much more challenging this time. We went back near the same spot we had been successfully anchored last time but this time we ended up dragging five times while setting the anchor. We usually never have a problem with our ground tackle, having only dragged a couple of times previously, so this was quite a puzzle for us. I don’t know what is down on the ground in this particular spot, but we weren’t having any luck. On the fifth time, that’s when something ugly happened… 

The Ugly 

It seems like some people don’t have a clue about anchoring etiquette. We encountered one of those rare cruisers in Graveyard Bay. An overseas boat came in, watched us drop our anchor a couple times and just as we were in the process of trying to anchor for the fifth time, they swooped in and dropped their anchor just a few meters behind us. This meant we couldn’t let any scope out. And when you don’t have any scope, there really isn’t any point in anchoring.

So we picked up and moved to another spot in the bay, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Ugly to enjoy our spot. Fortunately, we didn’t have any problems setting the anchor on the first attempt in our new spot. And then, once we got settled, we had the pleasure of watching Mr. and Mrs. Ugly drag themselves. They ended up moving to another bay in the harbor. Which was absolutely fine by us. I’m not sure what is so hard about being courteous when anchoring especially when there is plenty of space available in a bay and there were so many other empty spots they could have chosen?

Anyway, enough of my “ugly” rant, here is the scoop on our time in Whangaparapara… 

Monday, 10 February 2014 

We had been back in Auckland at Westhaven Marina for a few days due to a previous commitment and headed from there in the afternoon and headed up to Islington Bay for the night. We anchored under sail for the first time when we got there, which went surprisingly well. (It was mostly me that was surprised, Scott was confident in our ability to do the maneuver.) We saw our old neighbor from the pile moorings anchored just ahead so we picked up anchor and moved closer to him so that we could have a bit of a visit with him. It’s fun to see boats and people you know when you’re out there! 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 

Since anchoring under sail went so well, we decided to sail off the anchor in the morning. Our neighbor watched us through his binoculars and shouted out, “Looking good!” when we left, so I think that maneuver went well too. We left Islington Bay at around 10:00 am and 45 nautical miles later we were anchored at Graveyard Bay in Whangaparapara at around 8:00 pm. It was a very long day and for some reason I decided to try a new recipe for dinner which turned out to taste something like canned dog food (or what I imagine canned dog food tastes like). Nothing worse than being tired and hungry and having canned dog food for dinner. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Bridge to the Green campground
I was feeling fairly lazy the next day – a combination of a long day sailing and having had canned dog food for dinner – so I didn’t feel up to doing much. We went for a short walk from the wharf to the Green Campground and that was about it for me. Scott went out in the dinghy to try to get some snapper but sadly no luck. This time, I made one of my tried and true recipes for peanut noodles and cabbage salad. Much better then canned dog food. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014



The hot springs at Kaitoke
This is the day that we moved our boat from Graveyard Bay closer to the wharf and went for a hike out to the Kaitoke Hot Springs via the old logging Tramline Track, had a dip in the hot springs, took the Kaitoke Hot Springs Track back to Whangaparapara Road and got a lift from the postie. After he dropped us off, we headed to the general store at the lodge to get some bread. While there, we asked if they did showers for boaties. They used to offer the service when they had a backpackers on the premises, but now it something that is available on an ad-hoc basis if a room is vacant and hasn’t been cleaned yet. We didn’t take advantage of their showers, but goes to show that it doesn’t hurt to ask about things like this, as some things aren’t advertised. After our hike and bread buying, we headed back to Graveyard Bay for some bad and some ugly. 

Friday, 14 February 2014



Start of the trail to the summit of Te Ahumata
We tried to escape from Whangaparapara to head up to Port Fitzroy, but ended up turning back as there was too much swell out there for our little engine. We were only averaging about 2 knots and were down to 1.6 knots at times. {Note to self, get a much more powerful engine in our next boat.} So we made the best of our additional time in Whangaparapara and went for a hike to the summit of Te Ahumata (398 meters). We got offered lifts there and back, but you would be proud of us, we said no each time. Nobody wants to be a cheater on Valentine’s Day. 

Overall 

Total nautical miles = 59
Number of bad meals = 1
Number of lifts we were offered = 5
Number of lifts we accepted = 1


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