22 January 2014

Cruising In Kawau Island {Or It’s A Small, Small World}

I’ve always found that even though there are a gazillion people living on planet Earth, in many ways it is very a small, small world. Back when I was in university, I ran into a professor of mine in a dress shop in an alley in Dakar, Senegal. Wow, was I ever surprised – the last place I expected to see him. Fortunately, I got a good grade in his course so he was happy to see me.

That experience was my first clue that you never know who you are going to run into wherever you happen to find yourself in the world. The “small world” phenomena happened to us again when we were cruising up in Kawau Island and saw a boat just like ours anchoring just next to us in Bon Accord Harbour. Of course, we’re always interested when we see another Raven 26 so we had a good look and realized that the name seemed awfully familiar. It turned out we knew the boat and its owners from when we met them last year in Gulf Harbour! They don’t live in Auckland so they’re not people we would normally see when we lived there, and even though New Zealand is a small place, the chances of running into them on the water were pretty slim, let alone having them anchor just next to us.

They either recognized us, or thought they should pretend they did when they saw us waving to them, and came over for a visit and some drinks. And then they had us over to their boat the next morning for coffee. Such a lovely couple and it was so nice to have a visit with them. They’re in their 70s and they’re still out there cruising and enjoying their Raven 26. A real inspiration to me to see people who have loved cruising for years and years and still love it to this day. I’ve always read that one of the best things about cruising is the people you meet and this particular couple really confirmed it for me.

If you want to know more about our trip out to Kawau Island (the home of Lin & Larry Pardey), here is what happened…

Friday, 10 January 2014

Sunrise in Auckland
We took off from Auckland at 10:30 am and motored up the Waitemata Harbour. Scott looked enviously at the boats out fishing and decided to try his luck at 11:00 am near the naval base. Such excitement when he caught the first snapper of the season! Such disappointment when it turned out to be too small! Fishing was abandoned at 11:45 am and we continued on to Mahurangi eventually dropping the hook in Otarawao Bay at 6:45 pm.

Water conservation has been top of mind for me (I have bad dreams about running out of water), so that night I decided to try my hand at washing the dishes with salt water and then rinsing them off briefly with fresh water. My new dishwashing technique seemed to work out okay and our coffee didn’t taste salty the next morning which is the true test for me.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Sunrise in Mahurangi
We left Mahurangi at 11:00 am with plans to circumnavigate Kawau Island before anchoring for the night. Unfortunately, the wind had other plans for us. She was very uncooperative and didn’t seem to want to help us get anywhere. We puttered around for ages in very little wind. Scott decided to try his luck fishing again, but 15 minutes later the wind picked back up and we put the sails back up and the rod away. Unfortunately, we weren’t getting anywhere fast, so decided to head into Bon Accord Harbour and anchor up around 3:30 pm in a primo spot next to the Kawau Yacht Club. I was really happy about our early anchoring as the place really started to fill up in the evening and there is nothing worse than trying to find a spot in a crowded anchorage at the end of a long day when you’re tired and hungry. It is far more entertaining to sit in your cockpit with a drink and a full belly and watch everyone else.

Kawau Yacht Club
The Kawau Yacht Club is a great place to sit outside and watch all the boats come in so we dinghied on over for a couple of beers and some hot chips. As usual, we kept an eye out for the Pardeys, but no luck again this time. After that, it was “small world” time when Reflections anchored up next to us and we had drinks with them on our boat later that night.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sweet little spot where we had our picnic lunch on the grounds of Mansion House.
The next morning, we went over to Reflections for a coffee and a nosey around their boat. A much, much nicer boat then ours, that’s for sure. They’ve put a lot of time into her and it shows. We were really interested in their set-up down below which is quite different than ours. While we have our galley running along one side of our boat, they have their cooker near the companionway with their sink on the opposite side. This allows them to have two full settees in the saloon, rather than the just the one that we have. Much more spacious and clever set-up to my mind as they can both sleep on a settee each with their feet tucked under the sink and cooker respectively. On our boat, poor Scott has to sleep on the settee as he is too tall for the v-berth. It just goes to show you how important it is to put some real thought into the set-up of a boat. We had a great visit and a really tasty coffee and mince pie.

Public wharf at Schoolhouse Bay
We had planned to go out for a hike in the morning, but there was a cold front and showers that came in so we held off until the afternoon when things got a bit better. While much of Kawau Island is private land, the Department of Conservation has a large reserve off of Mansion Bay which has some really nice walks. We tied up our dinghy at the public wharf in neighboring Schoolhouse Bay and picked up the trail to Mansion Bay where we had a nice picnic lunch. [Tip - if you decide to do the same one day, don’t tie up at the public wharf. There is limited space for dinghies and the wharf has to be kept clear as that is where the helicopter would land in an emergency. The tides also make it a real nightmare. The smarter thing to do is to go all the way to Mansion Bay and pull your dinghy up on the beach. We did the dumber thing, but we’re smarter now.]

The path to the Kawau Yacht Club from the dinghy wharf. Beware of the pirates as you walk by!
After our walk, I had a craving for meat, which is in limited supply on our boat as we don’t have refrigeration, so we headed back to Kawau Yacht Club in the evening and split a bacon cheeseburger. Yummo!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Beach near the dinghy dock and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron facilities.
I decided to put my cooking skills to the test and made griddle scones on the cooker for breakfast. Not having an oven or ready access to reasonably priced bread out on the islands, means we’ve been relying quite a bit on store bought tortillas (which last forever) and what I can whip up in a skillet. While the scones you would buy in a bakery are a million times better, mine were edible and when you’re hungry, that’s really what matters.

The wind was kicking up and where we were anchored was getting rolly and uncomfortable so we decided to move over to Mansion House Bay. A much more protected anchorage for the conditions and we settled in nicely after a short stroll on the Mansion House grounds. The winds continued to kick up in the evening with the neighboring boat reporting that it was gusting up to 35 knots out on the water. Scott, being the good skipper that he is, kept a close eye on the anchor and made sure we had enough rode out to suit the conditions. Unfortunately, another boat (which anchored after us) touched our hull for a brief moment sometime in the night. That meant that Scott got very little sleep after that. He pulled in some rode and kept an eye on how our boat and the other were swinging all through the night. We’re sure neither of us dragged during the night but rather that the incident was due to our differing ground tackle and the way we were each swinging. Scott popped by the other boat in the morning, let them know what happened (they hadn’t noticed during the night) and everyone was happy there wasn’t any damage.

Monday, 14 January 2014

Mansion House
The weather was forecast to get worse later in the day and we needed to stock up on supplies and refill our grease gun for the engine so we headed over to Gulf Harbour. It was the worst sail ever - for me that is, Scott has had much, much, much worse. We were beating right into over 30 knots of wind. The boat kept slamming up and down and up and down and up and down making for a very uncomfortable ride for the crew down in the cabin. We’re not sure how much the skipper enjoyed things up top either. Scott thought about heading back to Kawau Island, but we persevered and made it into Gulf Harbour Marina at 12:30 pm. Poor Scott – he was pretty tuckered out by this point with the anchor drama the night before and the tough sailing in the morning.

While we were getting things organized on the boat, a guy stopped by and asked if he could have a look at our boat. He had recently bought a Raven 26 and was curious as to how ours was set up. We had a good chat with him and he told us about his adventures sailing to the Pacific Islands from New Zealand and how he spent several years exploring them. After that, we had a mosey over to check out his boat. It is quite different from the standard Raven 26 as it has a wooden coach roof, different windows and beautiful wood interior and teak decks. Concerto is an absolutely beautiful boat and he keeps it in pristine condition. So that was two Raven 26 boats that we got to check out on our trip – both look much nicer than ours!

We had hoped to catch up with one of my bloggy pals while we were in Gulf Harbour, but we ran out of time chasing down engine grease and other supplies and by the time evening rolled around, I think we were both exhausted and had an early night.


Total nautical miles = 62
Top speed = 6.1
Average speed = 3.75
Approx number hours motoring = 3 hours 15 mins
Number of other Raven 26 boats we visited = 2 

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