29 December 2013

Cruising to Western Coromandel {Or The Toilet Seat Slid Out From Under Me}

Sourced from LINZ. Crown Copyright reserved.

Three sure fire ways to know you're a cruiser...

1.  Stuff breaks.

2.  Your home often seems to be tippy.

3.  Stuff breaks in your home at a very inopportune time. Like say when you're trying to pee, the boat is heeled over and very tippy, you're desperately bracing yourself in order to stay on the toilet and the toilet seat breaks and slides out from under you and lands on the floor. While you're peeing.

Other than that, we had a great time on our latest excursion out to the Western Coromandel. Want to know more about the toilet seat? Read on.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

We left our mooring and headed over to the infamous X Pier at our marina to replenish our water. No one fell in the water this time. An excellent docking by all concerned. We headed out around 10:00 am under motor due to lack of wind. Skipper Scott (the coffee addict) asked if I could make a cup of java for him. Tragedy ensued when the propane wouldn't turn on. How could we possibly contemplate continuing our voyage without a way to make coffee?! Of course, we could go without food for days, but coffee, not even possible. We were too far from the petrol station near our marina to turn back so we headed to Putiki Bay in nearby Waiheke Island in the hope that we could find propane there. But before Scott headed out in the dinghy to Waiheke, he checked the propane one last time, fiddled with something and we had a bona fide miracle - the stove turned on. Coffee was had by all.

We left Waiheke around 1:30 pm and continued on our way under sail through the Ruthe Passage and out to the Firth of Thames which separates the outer islands near Waiheke from the Coromandel Peninsula. Beautiful sail on a beam reach, then a broad reach, then running. The tide and waves were in our favor and we hit a top speed of 7.5 knots with an average around 5.5 knots. It was a speedy passage across the approx. 10 nautical mile stretch of water and we dropped the hook in Deep Cove Bay at Whanganui Island at 6:15pm.

Deep Cove Bay, Whanganui Island

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The winds were gusting around 35 knots, so we stayed snugged up in our anchorage. We did some reading, played some cards and Scott tinkered with one of the electrical panels to try to fix the cigarette charger which had broken. We don't smoke, but the cigarette charger is essential to us in order to charge up our mobile phones. Our phones are our only source of internet access on the boat. But as we don't have very good data plans, we only check our email about once a day. However, our phones are an essential safety feature as sometimes you can get mobile coverage when the VHF reception is spotty. Good news is that Scott seems to have made it work so we can keep our phones charged. And as a bonus, we can also charge up our portable DVD player so we can watch movies at night. Although to be honest, we end up being so knackered at the end of the day, we often only make it through a couple of scenes. I guess the flip side of that is that we can make a movie stretch out for a week.

When it is too windy to go anywhere, reading is a great way to pass the time. I'm currently reading Michener's Caribbean.

Monday, 23 December 2013

We got off to an early start with the anchor up at 7:30 am. We motored around the southern point of Whanganui Island and anchored in McGregor Bay in Coromandel Harbour about an hour later. We hopped into the dinghy and spent some time wandering around Coromandel Town. And we got pies for lunch! Yummy, yummy pies from Coro Pies. We then headed back across the Firth of Thames and anchored up in Chamberlain's Bay in Ponui Island. The "silly season" is beginning in New Zealand so the anchorage was very crowded (at least by New Zealand standards) with a few boats even coming in after dark. We had some fun hanging about in our cockpit and watching everyone anchor up after us. The highlight was when one guy motored in front of us, dropped his anchor without even checking where our anchor was, put out no scope whatsoever and didn't even bother to back his anchor down. By some miracle, he didn't drag up during the night. Which was good as ours is the boat he would have most likely hit.

The main drag in Coromandel Town. It was a pretty overcast day.
Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Eve, or the "day of the broken toilet seat" as it shall be known from this point forward. The anchor was up early again around 7:30 am and we motored around the eastern side of Ponui Island and through the Sandspit Passage. This is a tidal stream, so if you want to go through, make sure you check the tides. Skipper Scott knows what he is doing so he timed our trip to hit the passage at just the right time.

Interesting rock formations along the eastern side of Ponui Island.
Once we got through the passage, we had wind against tide with winds gusting up around 20 knots. So, we just decided to motor along. I helmed the boat for a couple of hours while Skipper Scott had a well deserved break, reading and snacking below. If only he had know what would happen with the toilet seat later, he could have busied himself doing some preventative maintenance. It was a very cold day so I was bundled up in two fleece jackets and a blanket tucked around my legs up in the cockpit. We run a low-tech boat, so no auto-steering here. Someone needs to keep their hand on the tiller even while they're shivering and wishing they had gloves on. New Zealand ain't the Caribbean or the Med, that's for sure.

Going through the Sandspit Passage south of Ponui Island. Big marker - they really want to make sure you know to avoid the reef to the south.
Finally, Skipper Scott came up top to take over and decided that we would make similar time beating into the wind rather than motoring. So the tippiness began. I don't like tippiness. I tend to get a lot of bruises on my legs moving around the cabin. You get even more bruises when you try to pee and the boat is heeled over practically on its side. And that's when it happened. Mid-pee the toilet seat slid out from under me. It apparently doesn't like heeling anymore than I do.

It was a hard slog back beating into the wind and we got a lot of practice perfecting our tacking routine. Tack, tack, tack. Approx 15 tacks in all. Did I mention that we don't have self-tailing winches either? I think I found new muscles in my body I didn't know about previously with all of the tailing and pulling on the lines. Scott's original estimate had been a 1:00 pm arrival with a maximum of three tacks. But the wind direction changed so it was a long sail and we didn't make it back to our marina until 5:30 pm. 

Once we got back to the marina, we hit the X Pier again, cleaned off the anchor, topped up the water, took the trash and recycling off and Scott fiddled around with the roller reefing (it acted up a bit while we were out). Eventually we moored the boat back in the piles and headed back to X Pier on our dinghy. And that is when the next thing broke - the oar lock on the dinghy. When we least wanted it to break. With strong winds coming entirely the wrong way at us, with the threat of drifting out into the harbor and when we were very tired, very hungry and very ready to be back at the apartment. After a few attempts to fix it with the our handy Leatherman in the middle of the water (thanks Mom for the gift, see how it has come in handy!), Scott ended up rowing us with one oar back to the pier into the wind. He is such a trooper.

As I keep telling Scott, if stuff didn't break, we wouldn't be real cruisers. We've definitely joined the club.


Total nautical miles = 95
Top speed = 7.5 knots
Approx hours motoring = 6
Approx number of tacks = 15 (it may have been less, but seemed like 15 to me)
Number of things broken = 3 (cigarette charger, toilet seat, oar lock on dinghy)

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  1. Sounds like a great trip. That toilet story was hilarious! Probably not as funny as it was happening, but you sure tell it well.

    1. The toilet seat was actually quite comical even when it happened!

  2. Great Trip..so tell me..I planning to head out of West park to Coromandel this weekend..im sure my boat is ready, last bit of preps to do as ill be solo voyage for the first time ever, Ruth channel never looks very big to me on the map, when you came closer to crossing into the gulf, was there anything i should be aware of there, also .. which passage do you recommend i go through, i hear all sorts of go this way and that, and youl be right mate..but you guys have sailed through it .. wind is SW and SSW - comming into Coro harbor around that Rocky area, any advice..?? im thinking to avoid a toilet seat collapse, ill try for a bucket, mite be the high lite of the day if i get a chance to go lol


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