Dinghy Misadventure #1 - Coromandel Harbour
We've anchored in Coromandel Harbour a few times and are aware of the fact that it is very tidal. You have to anchor a ways out and dinghy in - either to the wharf or through a channel to a river which runs to the town center. So, as usual, we anchored a ways out and got into the dinghy to head into town. For some reason, we assumed the channel was deep enough at low tide. This was a bad assumption. We realized how bad of an assumption it was when the outboard prop touched bottom. "Hmm," we thought, "maybe we just need to get a little closer to the entrance of the channel and it will be clear." Nope, not the case. The prop still touched bottom. So Scott got out the oars and started to row us in. Then the oars touched bottom. This is when we started paying attention and looked around us. And what we saw wasn't the normal channel filled with water that your dinghy floats on top of. Instead, we saw a channel quickly drying out while the outgoing tide continued to carry the water out of the harbour.
|What the channel looks like when it has water in it.
Skipper Scott is a persistent fellow though and we eventually made it to the wharf. By this point, the ground around the wharf was completely dried out and full of sharp rocks, shells and broken beer bottles which we had to walk across in our bare feet. On the bright side, trying to dodge the sharp objects and not cut my feet was a good distraction from thinking about the mud coating my legs. We tied up our dinghy, climbed up the steps to the wharf and tried to wash off as much mud as we could. We then proceeded to walk into the town center, get some Coro Pies, some coffee and then we killed a few hours poking in the various shops while we waited for the tide to change. Eventually it did and we made our way back to the boat with our little dinghy floating on top of the water and being propelled along by our outboard. You know, the way a dinghy should work.
So after that incident, you would think we would pay more attention to the tides wouldn't you? We didn't. Two days later, this happened...
Dinghy Misadventure #2 - Rocky Bay, Waiheke Island
|Rocky Bay at low tide
We had moved to another anchorage for the night, but were keen to get back to Rocky Bay the next day to do a longer hike, this time with shoes. So we moved back to the bay in the morning and dinghied in without considering the tides whatsoever or even taking a close look at the chart. If we had done both of these things, then I think we would have timed our trip quite a bit differently. We got to the beach no problem, tied the dinghy up and went for a 8 mile hike. When we got back to the beach, it was pretty obvious we had a problem. The foreshore dries out for quite a long ways and we had a choice of waiting several hours for the tide to change or carry our dinghy out to where there was water. Skipper Scott voted for carrying the dinghy out. So we did.
One little problem. Scott has big biceps (thanks to all that picking up of our anchor without the assistance of a windlass). I have very small biceps and don't like to carry heavy things. And when I have to carry heavy stuff, I whine. A lot. So Scott took the outboard off the dinghy and left it on shore to make the load a bit lighter. We started to carry the dinghy out and I started whining about how heavy it was, so Scott took the 20 liter jerry can of water (which we had filled up on shore) out of the dinghy and left it on the beach. We then continued to carry the dinghy out for what seemed like miles. Eventually, we got to the water line and put the dinghy down. Scott, being the trooper that he is, made two trips back - one to carry the outboard back and one to carry the jerry can back. I bet you wish he was your skipper too. So strong and he never whines. Me, on the other hand...well that's a different story.
Thankfully, Skipper Scott is strong, because that came in handy just a couple days later...
Dinghy Misadventure #3 - Islington Bay, Rangitoto & Motutapu Islands
|The ferry we carried our dinghy over at Islington Bay at low tide.
On our way back to the bay, we noticed another ferry pulling in. I thought it was odd, but assumed the Outdoor Education Centre decided the kids were too noisy and decided to ship them back home early to their parents. Turns out I was wrong. Instead, the ferry was transporting what looked to be livestock trucks which promptly headed up to the farm on Motutapu. We continued on our way, but when we got to the boat ramp, we noticed the ferry had pulled up to the boat ramp on the right hand side. And when we looked at the water, it became apparent. Yep, it was low tide which meant the ferry had to pull up at the lower boat ramp. The boat ramp which we use to pull our dinghy in and out of the water.
We had a wander over to look at the other boat ramp, but unless we wanted to jump about 2 meters into the water with our dinghy, it wasn't going to happen. And as the ferry was due to be there for another 45 minutes, we decided to get creative and carry our dinghy up onto the ferry and lower her down into the water. Will we ever learn? This seemingly sensible plan required two reasonably fit people who can clamber over things while carrying a dinghy with an outboard motor on it. First we tried it with me on the ferry and Scott in the water. That didn't work. So we reversed things and Scott stood on the ferry and lowered the dinghy down to me. It was all going okay (or as okay as lifting a dinghy over a ferry can go) until I slipped off the ramp and into the barnacles on the side of the boat ramp. You'll be proud of me though - I didn't scream and I didn't drop the dinghy. I merely noted that there seemed to be a lot of blood running down my leg and into the water. I don't think Scott heard me when I said I was bleeding, because when we eventually got in the dinghy, he looked at my leg and said, "Oh, geez, Ellen" and then turned on the motor and headed back to the boat. (Scott is from North Dakota, the land of the understatement, so what I think he was really trying to say was, "Oh my goodness!!! You poor, poor thing!!! Look at your leg!!! You are such a trooper!!!")
After this little particular misadventure, I'm pretty sure I'll pay much more attention to the tides going forward. It's the tides, I tell you. They're either with you or against you.