Remember the movie "My Dinner with Andre"? Well, we had that, but we also had breakfast with Andre from E Capoe. He had flown down from New Caledonia to attend the wedding of Liz and Axel last weekend, and then borrowed Axel's motorbike to coast around the North Island for a week. He dropped by Namani yesterday to spend the night and we enjoyed a very nice evening and morning catching up on events since we had parted ways in Suwarrow last September.
Surprisingly, we had the bay at Te Kuoma to ourselves on New Year's Eve (the other boats had moved out when the wind shifted to the SW and we still had reasonable protection in our corner). So we toasted the new year on Namani under a starry sky and then left early on 01JAN to head towards Tauranga, with a stop in Mercury Bay. We arrived in Tauranga yesterday (02JAN) on the afternoon slack tide (4kn+ current in the entrance to the harbor at peak ...) and are now docked the Tauranga Bridge Marina.
Left Auckland on Friday morning (28DEC) and are now anchored in Te Kouma Harbour, on the west side if the Coromandel peninsula.
There actually is no harbour in sight, just a very beautiful little bay, which apparently is very popular with the local boating community.
When we looked across the Hauraki Gulf yesterday from a little here it seemed that half of the boats in the greater Auckland area were
converging on this spot here. In the end it turned out to be just 15 that stayed overnight.
... or at least felt as if they did ;-) We paid a visit to Auckland's Voyager Maritime Museum this afternoon. It's a great museum with a big section dedicated to NZ's role and success in yacht racing, themed around Sir Peter Blake. No surprise, the Americas Cup figures prominently in there, and in one corner they have this fun little sailing simulator, complete with grinding stations and all. The picture above shows Nicky as the tactician and helmsman, Nana as the foresail trimmer and grinder, and Markus as the mainsail trimmer and grinder.
It's been exactly a month since we arrived at at the Q dock in Opua. After a week at the dock and another at anchor in Opua we finally started moving again on 09DEC and have since criss-crossed the greater Hauraki Gulf (the pink line on the image above is Namani's track over the past two weeks). We've had some beautiful sailing (with quite a bit of windward work as you can tell from the odd looking tracks above), enjoyed some very nice anchorages, and above all some good company with Seabright, Saltbreaker., and a surprise encounter with Victoria.
... in small steps. It's been a while since we saw a TV set but the scene above on Rakino Island today unmistakably shows that were getting closer to what's commonly considered as civilization (with a Kiwi outdoor-twist). Saw the the city lights of Auckland in the distance last night from Tiritiri. No we actually look forward to spend a few days in this "bustling metropolis" (by local standards - 1.5m people).
Our stay in Kiwiriki Bay on Great Barrier Island (see previous post) turned out be more of a pit stop. We had planned to stay there for 2-3 days but the weather forecast the next morning meant that to make it to Auckland by Christmas without excessive motoring we would have to leave right away again. So off we went, hot on Seabright's tail for the 25+nm back west to Bon Accord Bay. Flakey wind at times, but a good sail overall.