Escape from Alcatraz (well Gulf Harbour Marina)

Yes the weather finally improved and after a five nights at Gulf Harbour marina we left on our journey south bound for Waiheke Island on 12th February. We had a lovely sail on a beam reach for a few hours before the wind died as we approached the Rakino Channel. So the sails came down and the engine came on and we motored around to Putiki Bay on the south side of Waiheke to rendezvous with our friends Jo and Rob onboard Double Trouble. A pleasant and not entirely alcohol free evening was had by all!

Then of course came the 13th when it rained and rained and rained. So we spent the day on board X-Pat, surfing the internet, fixing things and surfing the internet again! 

13th of February View
Thankfully it dried up for Valentines day and we managed to escape to the shore. We got ashore reasonably early and caught a bus to go and buy a bus pass. Yes that’s right! There is only one place on the island where you can buy a one day bus pass, so we went there. Then armed  with our bus pass we walked back to Oneroa! Hmmm not sure of the logic there. Then Pat had a sugar low and managed to find the best ice cream in the world, Mandarin and Thai Basil flavour! Debi, who had decided she didn’t need an ice-cream because she was still trying to fit into those shorts, couldn’t resist and had to have a Lemon Shortcake and Basil ice-cream. It’s a good job we walked there so that we had some calories in the bank.

The Dinghy ride to the vineyard

Then full of ice-cream we caught the bus to Stonyridge vineyard for a bit of wine tasting and a mixed platter lunch (that’ll help the shorts!). We weren’t over impressed with the place which was expensive, pretentious and the wines were not that impressive. So we then walked next door to Te Motu vineyard which was much more relaxed but not much cheaper. We had a nice tasting session there and bought a couple of bottles as souvenirs. Then on the way back to the bus stop we found a brewery … well we had to. I can recommend the pale ale!

Sampling the red stuff

Lunch at Stony Ridge

Then finally we used our bus pass! We had a pleasant journey along the south coast and Debi managed to identify the exact moment when to press the bell to stop the bus for Shelly Beach. Then it was just a minor challenge to launch the dinghy and get back to X-Pat. All was OK as Debi was driving ….

Unbelievably the next day we got up and sailed to the Coromandel Peninsular (20 nm). We had originally planned to go to Coromandel Harbour, but then decided to head for an island to the north called Motukahaua. We found a lovely little sheltered bay with just one other tiny sail boat in it. The guy, who was onboard alone, seemed to be very keen to make friends but Pat was being grumpy but polite. The guy disappeared off for a few hours and came back bearing a snapper which he said was excess to his requirements and gave it to us. Pat gracefully accepted and then successfully filleted it, before getting in trouble for not inviting the friendly guy for a beer. Just trying to have a dry night!

At anchor on Motukahaua Island

Motukahaua Island
So that brings us to today, when we set off early before snapper guy was up and motored for 40 nm to Great Mercury Island. There was absolutely no wind but thankfully the tide was with us. Rounding Cape Colville we left the Hauraki Gulf and entered the Bay of Plenty.  We are now anchored in a beautiful bay called Peach Grove Bay. We had a nice snorkel this afternoon. Visibility was quite good though there were a few horrible cold patches, one of which we had managed to anchor in.

Cape Colville, our entry to the Bay of Plenty

Pat went off to the beach to do a beach clean. There was a bit of surf and he managed to fill the dinghy with water on approach but did better leaving! The beach was only 100m long but he picked up 52 pieces of polystyrene. Why this stuff is allowed to be used anywhere near the ocean is a complete mystery!

Mid way through writing this I stopped for supper. We had a Mexican evening and Debi cooked chicken chilli nachos! The conversation went along the lines of 

P: “this is very nice dear, but isn’t it unusual to have olives in a mexican dish?” 
D: “ there aren’t any olives in it”
P: “ well what are these then?”
D: “ Jalepenos?”
P: “ ooohhh, aaahhh yep that’s what they are!”
P: “ pass the red wine …”


Tomorrow we are heading south again with a broad plan to be at Tauranga Bridge Marina by Monday, ahead of Cyclone Gita which is due to hit on Tuesday. We are beginning to feel that the weather always wins!


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