Friday 17th March 2017
We were well rewarded for our week of wet and stormy weather by a couple of cracking day sails as we cruised around the Hauraki Gulf. Monday morning, with the storm moving out into the Pacific Ocean and keen to start south towards Auckland while the winds were still northerly, we stuck our nose out from the protection of Great Barrier Island to find the sea less rough than we had expected. With the 15-20 kt wind just forward of the beam, Raya made short work of the exhilarating 45nm to our next stop and we arrived with the sun still high in the sky. The anchorage was calm and still, protected from the wind the warmth of the afternoon felt good after the chilly sail and the last couple of stormy days.
We were anchored in Ranger Bay near the entrance of Te Kouma Harbour on the inner Coromandel Penisular and the next morning we all got into the dingy to explore this long narrow inlet. At the head of our small bay was a grey sandy beach with rocky sides, each rock was coated in a jumble of oyster shells. Each shell looked to be empty but was still cemented firmly to the rock creating a sharp and bumpy surface underfoot. Further up the inlet the water became very shallow, the low tide revealing gravelly mud flats and incongruent bright red rocky outcrops. The hills that lined this natural harbour were of green grassy meadows, vivid and smooth in appearance, looking almost as if they had been covered in snooker table baize.
Wednesday we headed for a Waiheke Island and again we had a fantastic sail, this time in higher winds on the port quarter. We were heavily reefed and sailing conservatively, until that is, we spied another boat on the AIS coming up fast behind us. True to the old adage that a race is two boats sailing in the same direction, Rick couldn’t resist putting out some more canvas, we stormed along at over nine knots making it to the headland a mile in front.
We settled down for a couple of nights in Oneroa Bay, a pleasant seaside town with some much needed facilities, we restocked the fridge and rid ourselves of a weeks worth of rubbish. Unfortunately there was no where to dock the dingy, so trips ashore were taken in shifts and ideas of dinner out abandoned.
So that evening while eating supper in the cockpit, we noticed the boat was covered in cobwebs, small spiders appeared all over the deck. We realised the webs were floating past in the air and catching in the rigging. Jane had read about the phenomena of ballooning spiders, where spiderlings launch gossamer threads to create a makeshift parachute that is lifted by the wind, wafting them sometimes for hundreds of miles, in the hope that they will land in new surroundings suitable for colonisation. Fascinating as it was to see, we are hoping that sailboats aren’t one such environment. We have just dropped Janie and Peter ashore, their time with us having come to an end, we had a fun final day with their daughter Domini and her two children onboard, sailing an hour west to Woodlands Bay where we had lunch and the kids swam off the back of the boat. On returning to Oneroa Bay, we discovered the anchorage rocking, with a lively swell and from a large noisy garden party taking place in the house on the cliffs above us. Our lunch spot had been calm and quiet, we dropped our passengers on the beach and motored back there to enjoy the sunny evening in peace.