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Sunday, February 21, 2010

January 12 – 31, 2010 – part one – Mangonui to Gulf Harbor

Following a nice day of sailing we arrived at Whangamumu (prounounced "fawn-ga-moo-moo) just in time to set anchor and get settled in before dusk.  We spent two nights in this beautiful harbor.  Our one full day there we packed a lunch and took a long hike through farms and across pastures full of sheep and beautiful horses, remembering that all of New Zealand's lands are public access, meaning that land owners are not allowed to restrict access to walkers and hikers across their property.  I think there may be an exception for certain Maori owned areas.

Next stop was the familiar bay of Tutukaka, where we had anchored last year with Tom and Mary when they sailed with us.  A front of bad weather was moving in and this harbor was sheltered from the prevailing winds.  Boats packed into the small bay all afternoon long, causing us to feel quite cramped and a tad bit uneasy about the proximity of some of our new neighbors.  By evening, it had turned very foul and our plans to go to shore for a nice dinner turned soggy.  The winds whipped the boats around the anchorage and howled like crazy, but we felt comfy and cozy in our little cocoon, held firmly by our Rocna anchor.  We love that new anchor! The next day cleared enough for us to go ashore and do a little exploring, but the front had brought quite a drop in the air temperature making conditions unpleasantly cold and very windy.  We had dinner at the yacht club and then bundled up for the dinghy ride back to our boats for an early bedtime.  We had a long day of sailing ahead to make it to Kawau Island in time to get anchored for the next blow.

Sailing south to Kawau Island, in the Hauraki Gulf across from Auckland, was a great day in spite of reports of impending high winds and rough seas.  As we were approaching the channel, our friends Julia and Ian on Moasi hailed us on the VHF.  They were making their way to the same anchorage that we were.  Wow!  We had not seen them since last April.  They had gone to Tonga last season when we sailed to Fiji.  We knew that they had come back to NZ in November '09, but were missing them everywhere. Not this time. We anchored just behind them, and they invited us to join them for dinner.  We spent a too short evening with them, eating and visiting into the night, and then bid them farewell as they prepared for an early departure up to Whangarei (prounounced "Fawn-gah-ray") the next day.  We slept in the next morning  - finally – and then dinghyed into shore with Marsha and Earl (Mahurangi) for some exploring.  The island has a lot of history and miles of beautiful hiking trails.  We chose the one that ended at the famous Mansion house.  Marsha and I toured the mansion while Frank and Earl did whatever boys do when girls tour mansions.

After our two-night sojourn at Kawau Island, we made a 3-night stop in Auckland's Gulf Harbor.  We had serious need of provisions, since we'd been delayed in the journey to the S. Island and had been without a decent grocery store in over a month.  We also had piles of laundry to get done and a date with the "dinghy spa" for Destiny's tender, which was in need of a makeover. 

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