Our Current Position

Monday, 9 April 2018

Great Barrier Island with Friends

It’s always nice to have friends come to visit us as we plod our way around exotic places, but it does require some preparation so that they don’t find out how we really live on the boat!

After leaving Whangaparapara we headed south again to Tryphena, primarily to do the laundry, which hadn’t been done for 3 weeks! We battled south in a nasty Force 6 easterly and at one point had to divert into Blind Bay to get the headsail completely furled and then crept around the coast with the engine, avoiding the large seas. We were relieved to get anchored in Puriri Bay and then ashore to investigate the laundry facilities. Unfortunately we were out of luck as they only operate in the morning when the generator is running. There are downsides to living off the grid!

So, on Monday we had a busy day doing the laundry and then the provisioning for our last few weeks aboard X-Pat. Our friends Mal and Ange arrived early evening and we rather conveniently met them in our favourite Irish Pub for a few beers and dinner. We then had the fun job of dinghy transfers for all of us plus luggage. Our dinghy really isn’t built for more than the two of us, but we managed.

At Anchor in Puriri Bay (photo courtesy on Mal)
The team including X-Pat in the background

On Tuesday we moved X-Pat around the corner to Mulberry Grove. We had a nice walk just along the coastline and then convened at 8pm for a tour of the skies with “Heavens Above”. This is a local company who have taken advantage of the fact that Great Barrier Island has recently been declared a “dark sky sanctuary” where there is negligible light pollution and the views of the night sky are truly magnificent. Once the telescope had been set up we had over two hours of star gazing along with hot chocolate and homemade brownies! A very nice evening. We even managed the dinghy transfers back to X-Pat in the dark without any dramas.

Our trusty dinghy in action (photo courtesy on Mal)

On Wednesday we set sail in light winds, but did manage to sail with just the genoa for a few hours, back up to Whangaparapara, where we had a pleasant evening. 

Thursday was a cracking day. We left Whangaparapara mid morning and headed towards Smokehouse Bay. Once again we passed through the beautiful group of islands off the west coast fo Great Barrier Island and this time decided to stop for an hour to catch our supper. It didn’t take too long to land two good sized snapper and then we headed around and got anchored in Smokehouse Bay.  

Ange kindly volunteered to clean the fish at the fish cleaning table in Smokehouse Bay, so we loaded the dinghy with fish, knives and a few cold beers and went ashore. As we headed ashore Ange was convinced that one of the beers had ruptured as she could hear it hissing. It wasn’t until Pat went to head back to X-Pat that he discovered that it wasn’t the beer but the dinghy that was hissing! Sharp knives and inflatable dinghies don’t mix. He managed to get back and retrieve the pump but it was a pretty bad puncture and we didn’t have much glue to fix it with. Fortunately Ange had managed to chat up a fellow yachty, Warren, who kindly headed off to his boat and returned with copious amounts of glue. We then completed an emergency repair on the beach whilst the snapper were slowly smoked in the smokehouse!

Beautiful Scenery as we headed north (photo courtesy on Mal)

Ange prepares the Snapper at Smokehouse Bay (photo courtesy on Mal)

Fellow Yachty, Warren, provides helpful advice and glue (photo courtesy on Mal)
Smoked Snapper feast! (photo courtesy on Mal)
During all the drama Debi was still back onboard baking her wonderful caramel slices and muffins. We then went and picked her up and had beers and smoke snapper on the beach! This cruising game can be rough sometimes! Back on X-Pat a few more drinks were consumed and the day was only spoilt by Debi insisting that we play Taboo! The girls won but we are convinced they cheated so we’ll call it a draw!

On Friday morning we had guests for morning coffee. Bron and Ken joined us from their yacht SV Nicola and Brodie, Cat and Travis joined us from SV Citation. It was nice to catch up with others to swap stories and understand peoples future plans. It sounds like we’ll be seeing them all again later in the year. We left Smokehouse Bay in the afternoon and stupidly didn’t look at the weather before we left. It was only about a mile around to Kaiarara Bay where we planned to anchor but a nasty squall came through and guess who had to stand out in the rain!  

Bron and Ken in their reliable dinghy 

Brodie, Cat and Travis from SV Citation

Helming in the rain! (photo courtesy on Mal)

Saturday and Sunday were quite active as we decided to go for a couple of nice walks, including the Glenfern Sanctuary, which we had visited previously. Then sadly we had to say goodbye to Mal and Ange on Monday morning when their taxi arrived to take them to the airport. After dropping them we decided to move X-Pat around to Nagle Bay. This lovely bay  was empty when we anchored, but seemed to fill up quite quickly and we ended up with about eight neighbours by the evening.

There are some wonderful walks on Great Barrier Island
Sunset Rock at Glenfern Sanctuary with Port Fitzroy in the background

Sadly our stay at Great Barrier Island came to an end on Tuesday when we hauled anchor and headed back across the Hauraki Gulf to Gulf Harbour Marina. It was an absolutely windless day when we left but the wind did pick up a little and we managed to motor sail for a good part of the way.

Departing Great Barrier Island on a very still day

X-Pat is now berthed for the next six weeks and is getting her annual service prior to the next adventure. Suddenly the boat started filling up with new bits and pieces to be fitted before we head off. Busy times ahead!

It's annual service and upgrade time!

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