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STORM DURING NIGHT OF 2 AUGUST

,During the night of 2 August there was a massive blow in Auckland causing quite a bit of havoc ashoreincluding fallen trees and downedpower lines. I recall lying in bed listening to the gusts thankful not to be out on our boat.

Hobsonville marina emailed us the next day advising of gusts up to 67 knots in the marina with some vessels suffering damage to canopies and hatches. Di and I went thereto check on Rapport, fortunatelyfinding everything was fine.

Sir Peter Blake’s former 36 metre alloy expedition yacht Seamaster, now called Archangel, which has been anchored for a long time off St Heliers Beach dragged her anchor, but fortunately beached withapparently no damage. Her current owner says Archangel had a heavy anchor and 100 metres of chain out, but there are two issues of interest here:

1. Her owner was not aboard, but able to tell remotely that Archangelhad dragged and therefore able to go and investigate. I don’t know what technology the owner was using, but see our lastposting re Anchor Watch HD as it shows how valuable this free app canbe.

2. Her owner says Archangel dragged her anchor due to a 180 degree wind shift. This is a point I have mentioned many times, that is with adequate ground tackle set (as Archangel had) you are most unlikely to drag in a consistent wind. However when you encounter a 180 degree wind shift – which often happens during storms and/or as fronts pass through, all bets are off. This is because your boat’s movement following the wind shift can pull your anchor out from its set position and just drag it across the seabed. In other cases as your chain moves in the opposite direction it mayfoul the anchor and drag it across the seabed preventingit from resetting.

But wait there’s more. You have almost certainly anchored on a weather shore, that is with your bow pointing to the shore and no matter how hard the wind blows you are unlikely to see wavelets more than about 25cm high. After the wind shift you will be on a lee shore, that is with your stern pointing to shore and in shallower water. Now the wind has much greater distance to create waves and these can quickly rise to a metre or more. Waves cause a jerking motion placing further strain on your anchor and compromising your security.

Lesson: a 180 degree wind shift is always a case for concern and for close monitoring of your situation.

Four great products to enhance your winter cruising

 Here’s an edited version of an article to appear in Pacific PowerBoat’s next issue.

FOUR GREAT PRODUCTS TOENHANCE WINTER CRUISING – AND ONE’S FREE!

We really enjoy our winter cruising, but when it’sdark from before 1800hrs until first light arrives about 0700 the dynamics are quite different to summer cruisingwhen we’re still on the beach or BBQing until much later. These four products have helped keep us safe, warm and entertained during those 13 hours of darkness aboard Rapport.

See the lightTechlight hand-held spot

In days gone by our hand-held lights were usuallya 12 volt spotlight with a halogen bulb connected through a cigarette lighter socket anda trusty battery powered Dolphin . Whenusing these duringnight searches as Coastguard volunteers we often found the boat’s wiring to the power socket was too light for sustained use of the spotlight, due to the heat generated, while the Dolphinhad limited range and runtime plusexpensive batteries to replace. Also if the Dolphin hadn’t been used for a while we needed to remove and replace the (same) battery, presumably to provide a better connection. 

But a technical revolution has been occurring during the last 15 years or so not only with LED bulbs, that provide brighter light, give a higher quality beam and consume less power, but with rechargeable lithium batteries that continue to improve as well as becoming lower cost. I can distinctly recall when I first became seriously aware of this. Technical guru Chris aka MacGyver, our most frequent visitor to Envoy made his first visit in late 2010. We were sitting in the cockpit after sunset in a bay near Bodrum when Chris showed me a black aluminium flashlight about 130mm long, with an LED bulb and powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. This compact light easily illuminated trees on the foreshore, which I guess was about 250 metres away. By comparison the light from my largest flashlight – a clunky unit with 4 x D cell batteries and conventional bulb couldn’t even reach the shore. Flashlights using conventional dry cell batteries lose their brightness early on as the batteries start to lose their charge, however lithium battery powered lights can lose much more charge before their brightness reduces. We now carry one of the new generation MK 7 Dolphins with an LED bulb aboard as one of our low cost general purpose flashlights together with a rugged, no-nonsense looking TeklightST-3329 we bought from Jaycar Electronics for $159. The Techlight has an incredible 480 metre rangeand its 4,500 lumens of light (the Dolphin has 200 lumens) provides amazing brightness. It’s waterproof and floats, has a convenient wrist security strap and its lithium battery pack is rechargeable using either a mains charger orUSB cable, both supplied. Its full power option provides 75 minutes use while its still very bright low power option increases this to 150 minutes. If the proverbial hits the fan the unit can also emit a continuous SOS signal. In essence the Techlight provides the power of a hard wired spotlight with portability and we love it.

User tips: it takes about 40 minutes for human eyes to completely adjust to darkness so using low level red lighting at the helm and reducing brightness on navigation screens helps maintain night vision. Don’t try to use any spotlight through windows and avoid directing the beam on reflective surfaces.

Have we moved – Anchor Watch HD app for devices

When the wind is howling at 40 knots with the boat moving around during squalls as we encountered during early July’s “weather bomb” it can be difficult to tell if your anchor’s dragging during the night, especially as distance is far more difficult to estimate during night time. Most plotters incorporate anchor alarms, but as with our boat these may be on the flybridge and difficult to hear below. Enter Anchor Watch HD – a free app allowing you to maintain anchor watch from below or even while away from your boat.

When you open the app while connected to the internet it shows a Google Earth view of your current location and while Google Earth is not essential to use the system, being able to see your position on a map provides additional reassurance. This view is historical, so boats shown on the map will not be there now. You can change the scale using normal two finger zoom.

After your anchor is set press the anchor button and an anchor icon with an orange circle around it appears at your position. Now while the anchor icon remains in the original anchored position a blue/white/blue circle shows your current position. There are two on screen buttons to the right of the anchor button that increase and decrease the alarm range, which would typically be about 15 metres to allow for some sideways movement. The actual range displays on top centre of screen together with the distance and bearing from your current position to the original anchored position. If your vessel moves outside the set alarm range a volume adjustable (seriously loud at full volume) siren sounds and a dialogue box appears allowing you to ignore the alarm for 30 seconds while you adjust the scale or “raise the anchor”. The app can also send an alarm message by sms or email allowing you to monitor your anchored position while going ashore.

User tips: the app consumes a lot of power so keep your device charging when it’s using this app. Make a note of your GPS position after anchoring so that if you suspect dragging you can compare that with your current GPS position.

Stay warm as toast – Gasmate heater

Even on cold nights,once we start cooking the boat warms up quickly and when using ourgenerator we can also run our 2.4Kw electric fan heater. At other times we use our Gasmate portable heater with its ceramic burner providingan atmospheric warm glow. We bought ours from Bunnings costing $140 and usingdisposable 220gm butane gas canisters costing about $1.40 and lasting about 90 minutes. It’s very safe as a simple lever disconnects the butane cartridge when not in use and gas supply automatically stops if the unit should be accidentally knocked over, the oxygen level becomes too low or the flame goes out. It’s piezo ignition works well and it’s compact and smart with the butane cartridge housed within the casing.

User tip: when using the Gasmate allow some fresh air into your boat and never use it while sleeping.

Gasmate butane cartridge heater and Techlight spotlight


Entertainment during those long nights – RSE Mini-Lite Plus

We promised ourselves our next boat would have Sky TV capability to watch favoritessuch as Super Rugby. When we bought Rapport she already had an Avtex flat screen and a TracVision TV5 satellite dish enabling us to watch free to air TV. Our friend Chris suggested buying anRSE Mini-Lite high definition digital satellite receiver enabling us to plug in our Sky card from home.Theunit is easy to install, attaching to the rear of the flat screen and wired to our AC power supply. It’s performed welland accessesSky channelswherever we are, except for some unknown reason Oneroa.The RSE unit costs $199 and can be bought through RSE in Takanini orproviders of caravan accessories.

User tip: the power to the Mini-Lite and screen must be off beforeyou insert and remove the Sky card. If you don’t do this the Sky card will no longer work until after it’s used again in your box at home.

Enjoy your winter cruising!

Envoy to resume cruising

 We sold Envoy in late 2019 and her new owners, Larry & Catherine Wood from Queensland, planned to start some cruising in Spring 2020. However the world changed in early 2020 with covid and that plan changed along with it. For one thing G…

THIS IS ADVENTUROUS BOATING

I’m always impressed with people living their adventurous boating dreams in small vessels.

My younger brother Charles is a yachtsman who’s done lots of daunting sailing adventures. Among others he cruised from Perth around the northern coast of Australia to Sydney, sailed from Sydney to Lord Howe Island and back and then sailed from Brisbane to Scotland via the Med over several years while altogether racking up 14 years living aboard his 34ft van de Statd sloop, Acrobat, with his then partner, later wife Marie for.

Charles was our inspiration to embark on our own Med adventures following a visit to Turkey and a short cruise aboard Acrobat. He’sa very practical guy beinga qualified builder, cabinet maker and shipwright as well as being able to undertake many mechanical and electrical projects. Consequently Acrobat is immaculately fitted out to the high standard needed for ocean passages. But she’s quite basic by our standards having only hand-pumped fresh water, no hot water, no refrigeration and only a cockpit shower. I can’t imagine how Charles and Marie spent all those years living aboard in the Med without cold beer! He jokes that with Scotland’s cold climate lack of refrigeration is not a problem. As Marie is still working Charles does solo voyages from his home port of Lossiemouth in the Firth of Forth (close to Loch Ness and the Culloden battlefield) and is currently on a month long trip North Sea cruisenorth to the Orkney and Faroe Islands. This is serious sailing – The Orkneys are about half way from Scotland’s north coast to Iceland and the Pentland Firth between Scotland and the Orkneys has some of the planet’s strongest tides – up to 16kn.Quote “the force of the tides gives rise to overfalls and tidal races …. and often give rise to extremely violent sea conditions …. the races are highly visible with overfalls and whirlpools.”




Imagine Charles’s surprise when anchored at Fair Isle a Wayfarer sailing dinghy with two POB comes alongside for a chat. A Wayfarer is a popular UK 4.8m open sailing dinghy and they had sailed about 70nm from Wick to Fair Isle. Then they sailed about another 40nm north in open seas to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.



That’s what I call adventurous boating. As I write this we’re sitting aboard Rapport on a very chilly but fine Saturday morning, safely anchored at Waiheke’s Owhanake Bay– and that’s adventurous enough for me.

ENJOY YOUR WINTER CRUISING

We’ve owned Rapport now for a year and a half, finding her to be a great cruising vessel, however when you buy a pre-owned boat you inevitably make compromises compared to your perfect desired boat. In our case there were three compromises, which I’ll discuss.

1. Rapport has a large flybridge with full headroom and our compromise here was having plastic clears as opposed to glass. Particularly facing forward, glass is a big plus especially in heavier seas when there’s a lot of spray reducing visibility. However Rapport’s clears are exceptionally good being polycarbonate which appears to retain its clarity for longer than vinyl and we’re just about to treat these with RainX-Plastic which should considerably increase visibility with rain or spray. In general we’re pretty happy with these clears and won’t consider glass as an option until it’s time to replace the clears.

2. We prefer gas cooking to electric. There’s a lot said about gas safety issues, but we’re perfectly comfortable with professionally installed lpg systems with gas detectors. The main plus with lpg is you can cook without running a generator. Rapport has electric bench top hobs and a convection microwave. It took a while to get used to the convection microwaveand while Di says she would still prefer a “proper oven” we find it adequate, supplemented by an electric frying pan. To avoidhavingto start the generator just to make a morning cup of tea or coffee we bought a small bench top single hob “Gasmate” stove. This uses disposable lpg bottles which are cheap and last one or two days. We also use this for boiling vegetables etc. There’s no problem using electric cooking while the main engines are running and charging the batteries. Using the generator for cooking in the evening is also not a problem as we often need to run it to charge our house battery bank, particularly if we haven’t run the main engines that day. In the summer most of our cooking is on a lpg BBQ and we really enjoy using that. So in conclusion we’ve adapted and will continue with the present system.

3. As you will have read in our last posting we really enjoy using our dinghy and ideally wanted a 3m rigid-hulled inflatable with a 15hp 4-stroke outboard, lifted on board by crane. Rapport came with an old TakaCat inflatable that after a few weeks we literally threw away as it had so many air leaks. In any case its 6hp Mercury outboard was too heavy for us to comfortably lift on and off the dinghy.

As Rapport came without a crane and we needed something in a hurry that the two of us could lift onto the foredeck cradle we bought a very lightweight (33kg) Aquapro SLR 2.6m rigid-hulled inflatable with a Honda 2.5hp air cooled outboard. We had one of these Hondas in the Med and found it to be super – very reliable and nearly always starting first pull. This package has worked well but was always a temporary solution. We’re now going to sell the Aquapro/Honda and upgrade to an approx 3m rigid hulled inflatable with a 15hp 4-stroke outboard. This will give us planing ability with at least two adults, more room when we have often have four adults aboard, longer range and better rough water capability. Not to mention much more fun! Bear in mind that on a typical coastal cruiser your inflatable is also your life raft in a worst case scenario. In order to lift this dinghyaboard Rapport we’ll need to install an electric crane and we’re researching whether we can store the dinghy on a new rack to be built behind the flybridge (preferred option) or on the existing foredeck rack. Also researching which inflatable to buy and whether to fit a Honda, Suzuki, Mercury or Yamaha outboard – watch this space.

ENJOY YOUR WINTER CRUISING

In many European and North American boating locations Autumn is time to winteriseyour boat and leave it until Spring, however in Auckland there’s no reason not to swap shorts and tee-shirts for jeans and sweatshirts and enjoy most of what cruising has to offer throughoutourwinter.

Average weather statistics willsurprise you. For example Auckland’s average daytime winter temperature is 14-15dC while bycomparison popular cruising destination Scotland has an averagesummertemperature of only 15-17dC. Also surprisingly, on average January is Auckland’s windiest month while the least windy are March and May throughAugust. In Auckland showers are more prevalent than constant rain and the weather out among the Gulf islands is invariably sunnier than on the mainland. For example we often look back from Waiheke basking in the sunshine to see the mainland shrouded by cloud.

Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous boating area where the Hauraki Gulf’sMahurangi Harbour and Kawau Bay to the north-west, Great Barrier Island to the north-east and the string of islands from Rangitoto to Ponui in the south offer safe shelter in most weather conditions all year round.

Cruising in winter offersless crowded anchorages, good fishing and also means using your boat regularly, thereby reducing the chances of unexpected problems. I often see owners starting their diesel engines at the marina during winter, however engineers tell me there’s no substitute for using your boat regularly and working your engines under load at normal operating temperature, which can’t be achieved in the marina. In fact I’ve been told that starting your engines without loading them can do more harm than good.

The winter nights are of course longer from around 1800 to 0700 hours. We find keeping warm not an issue with heat from the galley, an electric fan heater powered from our generator and a portable gas heater. Other systems such as diesel heaters are also available. Ensure adequate ventilation when using gas heaters to avoid dangerous build ups of carbon monoxide.

We had planned a ten day family cruise for late May and as departure approacheswe watch theforecast with some consternation. The approaching weather system isso unusual that the media describesit as a “weather bomb,” caused by a ridge of high pressure in the eastern Tasman Sea combining with a deep low pressure trough north-eastof the North Island to cause south-easterly winds in excess of 40 knots and exceptionally high swells in excess of four metres. A gale warning is issued forthe Hauraki Gulf, but only a strong wind advisory forthe Waitemata harbour, so we modifyour plans to avoid the outer Gulf and enjoy the Waiheke area.

We leave on a Friday afternoon in a light south-easterly breeze and cruise to Owhanaki Bay on Waiheke’s north-west-coast. Here is perfect for the forecast strong south-east winds and we find only a handful of boats anchored here providing us with plenty of all-important swinging room. We’re cautious about this as having anchored many nights over the years in adverse conditions our only problems have ever been caused by other anchored vessels coming adrift and hitting us. The rocks either side of the bay’s entrance are awash with a larger than normal swell, but where we’re anchored there’s just a gentle lift. With the wind predicted to increase to 25 knots we elect to stay here for the next couple of days finding it perfectly comfortable and secure.

ByTuesday it’s a beautiful sunny day, albeit a bit colder as the wind increases and temporarily shifts a bit to the south. We anchor off Oneroa Bay, slightly further east, where our family members join us having arrived by ferry at Matiatia. We want to cruise east to the Waiheke Channel and it’s decision time. Do we take the route to the north of Waiheke enjoying the sheltered northern coast, but risking heavy south-east seas when we turn south into the Firth of Thames, or do we cruise east along the Tamaki Strait on thesouthern side of Waiheke expecting a large wind-driven chop for most of the way but no heavy seas? We elect the latter and cruise south down the west coast of Waiheke in tranquillity before turning east at Park Point into the full brunt of a steady 35 knot south-easterly gusting into the 40s. Although the wind-driven chop is about two metres high it’s directly on our bow so Rapport’s 16 metre hull handles the conditions well at about 8 knots with plenty of spray but little discomfort and with conditions gradually improvingas we approach the Waiheke Channel. Normally with a south-east wind we’d anchor in Ponui Island’s Chamberlin’s Bay, but with the exceptionally strong winds we find residual swell from the Firth of Thames so anchor slightly further to the east in the more sheltered Te Kawau Bay.

During the next few daysthe south-easterly isfar too strong to venture out into our favoured fishing areas of the Firth so we seek out new fishing spots in the more sheltered waters ofthe Waiheke Channel finding two locationsthat provide plenty of action.

Faced with the “weather bomb” it would have been all too easy to cancel our cruise, but we enjoy ten great days away confirming that winter cruising even in poor weather can be enjoyed.

EXPLORING IN YOUR DINGHY

After owning Rapport for 16 months we now know her pretty well and have plenty of confidence in her cruising ability and reliability. Although we bought her as being “ready to cruise” that turned out to be not the case and the first three months or so were spent adding equipment and bringing up to our high standards. For the past several months we’ve cruised extensively and clocked 129 nights aboard and 329 engine hours.

A huge surprise for us has been Rapport’s remarkable economy. She’s powered by twin 375hp Caterpillar 3208s and we generally cruise around 1,400rpm giving us about 8knots. She’s capable of the 21 knots we achieved during our pre-purchase sea trial with full water and fuel plus five adults aboard, but Di and I prefer the more sedate 8-10 knots although we do regularly run her faster for up to 30 minutes in order to load up the engines. We’ve found that we’re averaging about 15 litres/hour each engine for a total of 30 litres/hour and this includes running our 7.5Kw genset for an average of three hours daily. I had honestly expected a figure nearing double this and combined with Rapport’s huge 2,800litres diesel tank capacity we have a big cruising range with refuelling being a rare occurrence. For example since our last refuel on 27 December we’ve spent 58 days cruising clocking 133 engine hours, only refuelled once and still have over 500 litres in the tanks.

Here is an edited version of an article shortly to be appearing in Pacific PowerBoat.

You can easily miss a lot when sitting aboard your boat anchored a couple of hundred metres offshore, butif you take the time to jump into your dinghy and explore the nearby coastline you’ll be well rewarded andgain a better appreciation of your anchorage, for exampleknowingwhere anyrocky outcropsand shallower patches begin(keep a lead line in your dinghy to check depths).

If you have young children aboard you can makeyour dinghy trip a real adventure for them too as well as letting them drive the dinghy and teaching them aboutabout “messing about in boats”. Last but not least, surprisingly large snapper can be caught close to inshore rocks in just a couple of metres of water using floating lines and large baits, especially in the subdued light of early mornings and late afternoons althoughI must add that we don’t like fishing from inflatables as they are too prone to being punctured by spines.

If we’re going ashore onHauraki Gulf island beaches we often take a small rubbish bag to gather anyunsightly litter. As my background is in the plastics industry we’re a bit sensitive to the inaccurate negative publicity related to what is really an issue of littering, not technology. I must say that despite publicity about littered beaches we rarely find more than the odd plastic bag orcontainer, a few bottle tops and an old jandal. Sometimes we literally can’t find a single item of rubbish. Maybe other folks are regularly cleaning up beaches too?

Here’s some examples of dinghy trips we’ve enjoyed.

Rangitoto Island’s Islington Bay is one of the Gulf’s most popular and sheltered anchorages and we’ve anchored here countlesstimes during 40 years cruising. It’s sheltered from all except S to SE winds so generally like the proverbial millpond except for some residual wakes from passing ferries and large launches. From out in the bay Rangitoto’srockycoastline looks much the same, but as you cruise close to shore a different world opens up of small coves and the remains of small jetties and launching ramps not visible from afar. At the northern end of the bay Rangitoto is separated from Motutapu Island by a narrow estuary heading north under a bridge into Gardiner Gap, a shallow bay separating the two islands. Within about twohours or so each side of high water this estuary is completely navigable by small dinghy, but be ready to duck going under the bridge. Unlike Islington Bay itself the estuary has clear water and is a good place to have a swim, though watch out for rays which often glide across the bottom searchingfor small fish and shellfish. Likewise Gardiner Gap is good for swimming close to high tide. If you beach your dinghy near the bridge you can walk east over the farm lands of Motutapu or follow a track around Islington Bay’s coastline. There used to be dozens of baches here built mainly in the 1920s and 30s and these wererusticsimple dwellings unlike many of today’s small mansions that people rather ironically still call baches.Many were laterremoved after disputes about land leases, but you can still see where they were located along with remaining chimneys and foundations. Fortunately a few baches remainreminding us how people then travelled here by ferry to enjoy their simple holidays at a slower pace of life.

Another very popular anchorage is Kawau Island’s Bon Accord Harbour. This is particularly sheltered in easterly winds and the harbour’s depth allows anchoring well up the bay’s head between Emu Point and Moores Bay. Take your dinghy on a trip into Swansea Bay on the north eastern corner up to a couple of hours either side of high water, passing through the mangroves and into the creek. It’s possible to navigate several hundred metres up this creek into a delightfully tranquil valley of bush where the only sounds are birds singing and jumping fish splashing. The water is clean and easily clear enough to see any obstructions such as submerged branches. Kids love it if you pretend these logs are in fact crocodiles and embellish the story accordingly. Up this creek are several fresh water pools, ideal for a dip to wash the salt off.

If you’re visiting Coromandel Harbour a great dinghy trip is navigating the creek to Coromandel township. Anchor your vessel south-west of the Coromandel wharf and set off about an hour before high tide. Be aware the sea can becomechoppy in strong westerlies so don’t overload your dinghy.In this area life jackets must be worn, not just carried aboard and this requirement is enforced by particularly vigilant authorities. The channel is evident and you’ll see some fairly large fishing vessels moored alongside makeshift jetties either side of the fairway. After a few hundred metres you’ll come to a bridge carrying the main road across the creek and a large area where you can beach your dinghy. The township has an eclectic mix of people (read as people who became hippies in the 1960s and got stuck in the groove) and ranks as one of the most picturesque we’ve seen whileproviding all the cruising supplies you may need. In the old days we’d often go into the pub for a cold beer, but we’re now more inclined to have a doughnut and coffee at the bakery. There’s also a very good takeaway offering tempting fish and chip lunches. Don’t lose track of time though as the creek does get shallow as the tide recedes. On our very first trip here we moored our 6 metre runabout to the wharf and were shocked to find it high and dry when we returned, giving us no choice but to return to the pub.

A trip we want to do soon is to anchor off Arkles Bay and do a dinghy trip up the Wade River to Silverdale. Enjoy your dinghy exploration and find your own favourites.

REFLECTING ON RAPPORT’S SUMMER CRUISE

This is an edited version of an article shortly to appear in Pacific PowerBoat magazine.

We set off after Boxing Day for a seven week cruise,our first stop beingMotutapu Island at our favoured anchorage ofWaikalabubu. We love that name – sounds very exotic. Here it’svery sheltered in south-westerlies and only minutes away from great fishing in the Rakino Channel.

After collecting Di’s sister, Sharonand her husband, Doug from Gulf Harbour marina we head toMahurangi Harbour. The popular anchorage here is Otarawao Bay on the port side as you enter, but it’s often used by shore-based jet skiers breaking all the rules so we head a further mile up harbour to anchor off Oaua Point at the entrance to the Pukapuka Inlet. Here it’s more sheltered and quieter, the only soundsbeing the splashes of some large fish jumping.

Spending a few days around Kawau Island we enjoy good fishing on the island’s north-east coastaroundFairchild Reef. In strong westerlies a good anchorage at Kawau isdifficult to find, the best one beingHarris Bay in Bon Accord Harbour if you tuck close to shore. But that’sgenerally crowded so we anchor at Goldsworthy Bay on the southern side of Kawau Bay findingexcellent shelter and only two other boats for company. In northerlies our preference is the very picturesque Bostaquet Bay with its great sandy beach.

A visit to the Kawau Boating Club is a must with diesel and water at the wharf, basic provisions, laundry and shower facilities available and an excellent licensed cafe where we enjoy a perfect lunch of seafood chowder and smoked fish pie. In fact we like it so much we join the club.

Most of our time is spent at Aotea / Great Barrier Island and overall it’shard to beat, providinga hugenumber of varied, safe and interesting anchorages and some great sandy beaches. It’s well supplied with fuel (although$1 per litre above mainland prices), water and storesand offerssuperb fishing. We regularly caught good feeds of snapper up to a 72cm, 7kg specimen that we returned to the sea and even caught legal snapper in five metres of water at one of our anchorages.

There must be a few crays around too as the skipper of a nearby boat gave us the rare treat of one to enjoy. We offered him a bottle of wine in return, but he preferred a loaf of bread, something we’ll be happy to trade for a cray any day.

The Barrier also has many great walking tracks taking you to scenic vantage points, hot mineral springs, kauri dams, waterfalls and the remains of a whaling station. If the arts are your thing you can visit the studios ofseveral local talented painters and potters.

Our preferred Barrier anchorages are Kiwiriki (“Two-Island”) Bay and Wairahi (“Ghost”) Bay in Port Fitzroy, Nagle Cove and Karaka Bay (where laundry facilities are available at Orama Oasis) in Port Abercrombie, the Broken Islands in settled weather, Bowling Alley Bay in north-westerlies through to easterlies and Whangaparapara in easterlies or light westerlies.

Port Fitzroy’s Smokehouse Bay is very popular and it’s well worth going ashore to see the bath house, where you can also do some laundry, exchange books and most often chat withother boaties.Fresh water is available here at high water from a hose on the grid. Incidentally water is no longer available at Forestry Bay and while there is usually water available from Whangaparapara the supply has been turned off due to low supplies.

Nearby Smokehouse Bay in Ghost Bay Barrier Gold sell manuka honey and related products from a rustic barn where you can also catch up on the local news.

Recycling can be disposed free and garbage $5 per bag near the Port Fitzroy wharf where fuel, water, ice and bait are also available. Take a short walk up the hill wherea store offersbasic supplies, beverages and lpg bottle refills. However stocks are intermittent here andthe best place for supplies is Tryphena where virtually everything is consistently available from the Stonewall Store at Puriri Bay, one of the island’s nicest sandy beaches except in strong westerlies.

The Barrier has its own private radio station working VHF channel 01 with weather forecasts at 0745 and 1745 while Coastguard can be contacted on channel 60.

In most of the anchorages we visit there areroughly 60 per cent yachts and 40 per cent motor vessels. Among the yachts it’s noticeable there are less traditional designs and more imports, including catamarans. When we started cruising in the 1980s 12 metre vessels such as Marklines, Corsairs, Rivierasand Vindexes were considered large andKennedy 46s were enormous. Now these are small by comparison with many of today’s newer vessels and it’s not uncommon to see vessels in the 20-25 metre range. Unfortunately some of these large vessels cause enormous wakes of around 1.5m, a fact that seems to escape the notice of some of their skippers.

Despiteexceptional numbers of cruisers predicted to enjoy thisholidayseason we didn’t noticeareas we visited being any busier than normal. Maybe people had less annual leave availableor was itthe relatively strong south-westerlies prevalent for much of the time – in all of our time away there were only a handful of days with light winds.

The subject of sharks has been widely covered in the media since Waihi Beach’s tragic fatal attack in early January.We hooked and released six smallsharks while snapper fishing and saw several othersswimming near us or other anchored boats including three large bronze whalers just off Port Fitzroy wharf, one in Whangaparapara and one in Tryphena.On the homeward journey we also see a large shark inside Kawau’s Bon Accord Harbour. The experts say sharks are more noticeable because the water’s clearer and there’s more people around to notice them, but we’re not convinced and others aren’t either judging by thenoticeable drop in numbers of swimmers off anchored boats. There’s a strong case for not filleting fish where people are likely to swim as sharks are certainly attracted by the scraps. It’s much better to bag the frames and scraps and dump them later in deeper isolated waters, something we’re now doing and encourage others to do the same.

From the Barrier we make a side trip to the stunning Mercury Islands (25 milesfrom Tryphena) and Whitianga (43 milesfrom Tryphena) and wonder why more cruisers don’t make thisrelatively short trip down from the Barrier.Our close friends Frank and Marie are staying at Whitianga’s Simpsons Beach and join us for a three day trip to the Mercurys.

We find Whitianga’s Mercury Bay tough going for fishing, although GreatMercuryIslandprovidesus with snapper, kahawai and grandaddy hapuka.

Mercury Cove is snug in all winds except strong south-easterlies while Coralie Bay is great in westerlies and the various sandy bays along the south coast are delightfulin northerlies. Another option in strong westerlies is Kennedy Bay about eleven miles to the east on the Coromandel Peninsula. There are many other glorious beaches on the Coromandel’s east coast but most of them are only suitable for anchoring over night in very settled weather due to swell.

Around Whitianga overnight anchoring in south-westerlies is good off Wharekaho (“Simpsons”) Beach or Cooks Beach,but there are no good anchoring options in easterlies.

Whitianga is a perfectplace to re-supply and it’s generally possible to use a mooring in the harbour for this purpose, while diesel is available from the marina at mainland prices. In town is the amazing shop called Pinky’s – something like an up-market $2 shop offeringa huge range of useful products and we challenge anybody to come out of there without buying something.

On our way home we backtrack our outward voyage via Great Barrier and Kawau and cutting our planned time away by three days due to a forecast of winds around 50 knots and heavy rain. When this weather arrives Rapport is safely on her marina and we’re home once again, planning our next trip.

CRUISING WITH OTHERS ABOARD

Our cruising plan is to head up to Kawau, across to the Barrier and down the eastern side of Coromandel to the Mercury Islands and Whitianga area.

Here is an edited version of an article we wrote appearing in the latest version of Pacific PowerBoat.

After a difficult covid 19-dominated year and with lockdowns hopefully behind us, the summer cruising season finally upon us and overseas travel options restricted for the forseable future, unprecedented numbers of boaties are expected to head out to enjoy the delights of their local cruising area and beyond.

While a few old salts enjoy the seclusion that boating can offer one of the great joys of the cruising experience for the majority of us is sharing our adventures with family and friends (guests). We really enjoy showing guests around and not only are they great company, but give old destinations new life as they often discover new aspects and notice different features of interest.
But while there’s nothing quite like mates filleting the catch together over a cold beer at the end of a great day and telling tall stories about the one that got away, there can be a different sort of a catch. Guests may not be used to boats and you may not have previously have all spent so much time together in such close confinement.

Some guests may be experienced boaties, but even they need to know the peculiarities of your boat (yes and even those  of the skipper). So cruising with guests is made all the more enjoyable for all if they know what to expect and after being welcomed aboard are made fully aware of safety procedures, how things work, and the skipper’s basic “rules”.

If you’re planning to meet guests mid-way through your cruise consider that it’s generally much easier and cheaper for you if they come to where your boat is located rather than you needing to make major detours to meet them. It’s a funny thing that we seem to baulk at spending hard earned dollars on a ferry or taxi, but not even more for diesel.

With space limited on boats you don’t want guests arriving with bulky suitcases so discuss in advance what they should bring. Do they need to bring their own linen and towels? If you don’t like guests wearing shoes aboard your boat you need to provide guidelines on suitable footwear as well as clothing for the cruise (experience-based tip: guests always bring far too many clothes). Discuss food supplies to avoid duplication and to ensure any special requirements (which seem all too prevalent these days) are met. 

Find out if your guests are prone to sea sickness. If they are it can be a problem for you as well as them so make some suggestions for medications to bring along. If they are bringing children do you have suitable life jackets? 
If you intend to share costs it might be wise to mention this from the outset. For example we generally share costs for food, drink and fuel for the time guests are on board.
Particularly on a larger vessel it’s all too easy to overlook a safety briefing as being unnecessary, but a briefing demonstrates your competence as their skipper to guests and shows you are serious about their safety. Tailor your briefingto your guests’ experience levelsand at leastcoverthe location of life jackets, use of fire extinguishers, man overboard procedures and any hazards specific to yourboat. For some of our experienced guests I extend the briefing to include all aspects of taking command of the boat and use of the tender.
Most guests like to feel they’re part of the crew rather than passengers, so it’s often a good idea to encourage them to help with anything from anchoring to cleaning up after fishing to manning the barbecue. In open waters give them a spell on the helm.
Guests can be rightly concerned about weather patterns and sea conditions, so it’s best to fully explain each morning over breakfast the intended cruising plan for the day and relevant weather situation.

Two major challenging areas with guests aboard can be the heads and water conservation. Explain clearly to your guests exactly how the heads operate and what not to flush down them; dismantling a blocked head is not the ideal way to start a great holiday together! Also explain how your boat has limitations with fresh water compared with life ashore and the need to conserve water during showers (yes this particularly applies to the ladies).

Most guests find it important to be able to charge their devices – mobile phones, iPads, laptops etc and you need to explain how they can do this. We also ask guests to leave their phones off or in silent mode overnight to avoid interrupted sleep for others.

When having guests for more than a few days it can be a good idea to encourage them to do some exploring by themselves to provide some “time out” for all. Diane and I often take an early morning walk by ourselves for this reason.

By adopting some of the above suggestions your cruising experience with guests can be made a whole lot more enjoyable for all and with memories of a great cruise they will still be friends when they disembark.

RECENT CRUISING ABOARD RAPPORT

In early October Tommo from Caterpillar spent most of a day servicing our twin Cat 3208 engines and I spent this time with him, learning a lot in the process. They’re supposed to be serviced annually or every 200-250 hours and although they’d only done about 140 hours since the last service we needed to get the service done before the summer holiday rush. Half the cost of service is the multitude of filters, oils, anodes and other service parts replaced.

Due to covid we hadn’t used the boat since June, so in mid October did a three day shakedown cruise around Rakino & Waiheke Islands. The fishing was surprisingly good and we caught one snapper 62cm long. 

Nice snapper caught northern end Rakino Channel



We also found a few issues not related to the Cats service. 
The windlass deck switch wasn’t working so replaced that.

Rapport has a NEMA 2000 network information sharing system and we found some elements weren’t working properly. Subsequently the Furuno agents, ENL, came to the boat and quickly found the problem caused by two faulty network cable connectors which they replaced.

But the biggest issue was the recently serviced generator kept shutting down after about 30 mins operation. On return to the marina we found the 5 year old start battery had gone flat and replaced it, but that didn’t help. Our regular contractor called in a genset electrical specialist who after a couple of hours investigation found that during the service the oil pressure switch had been replaced with an incorrect type. The switch is supposed to send a signal to shut off the glow plugs after working oil pressure is reached, but this switch wasn’t doing that so the glow plugs were staying on and sucking 10 amps from the battery. Once the correct oil pressure switch was fitted all was OK.

Over Labour Weekend we took out John, Alice and our grandkids Lily, Veida & Axel. Again the fishing was good and the kids all caught their first ever fish, but what sizes. We spent an afternoon ashore at Waiheke’s Man O’War vineyard and although enjoyable was way too crowded with long delays for food.

Not a bad snapper for 4 year old Veida’s first day of fishing

We had another two weeks aboard during November, including on week with Chris. The weather wasn’t great with winds up to 30 knots and many showers, but everything ran well and again we had an abundance of snapper.

After a year of ownership we’ve logged 70 nights aboard and that’s not bad considering all the time we couldn’t go out due to covid restrictions.

We’ve postponed our Whitianga trip to around March-April.

A LOGICAL APPROACH TO MANAGING CRUISING INFORMATION

 This is an edited version of an article we wrote shortly to appear in Pacific PowerBoat magazine.

Covid-19 cruising update

No sooner had wementioned New Zealand’sreturn tounrestricted cruising late July in PMB’s last issue than the new Auckland level 3 lock down commenced on 12 August, lasting until the 30thbefore going to level 2.5 and finally to level 1 on 7 October. This time around there was no room for confusion about boating under level 3 being not permitted and now with lock downs hopefully behind us andSpring here cruising can only get better.

In other covid news there are many cruisers in variousPacific island locationshighly disappointed at not being able to come to New Zealand for the summer to avoid the cyclone season and a German crew who arrived illegally have been deported leavingthe future status of their yacht unclear. I guess many of these crews assumed they would be allowed entry and didn’t think to make alternate arrangements. Obviously there is sympathy for these crews, butpotentially arriving at various locations at different times could have represented a logistical nightmare for ourauthorities, although I guess their time at sea cruising here could have counted towards quarantine.Sympathy also for the various marine facilities and other businesses who normally benefit from the spends of these crews, reported by media as averaging $50k per vessel.

Managing cruising information

Cruising is all about maximising the enjoyment of our leisure time and the last thing we want to do out on the water is paperwork right? Absolutely, but consider these scenarios.

You call anelectronics technicianabouta problem with your radar and he needsto know its serial number. You think it’s about time to getyour engines serviced but can’t recall how many engine hours passed since the last one. You know you wrote down the weather forecast this morning, but where’s that piece of paper? You decide to sell your boat and need a comprehensive list of its features and onboard equipment. You’rein bed when your bilge pump alarm sounds – do you know how to access each seacock and through hull for inspection at night?

Asimple Information Management System can easily answer these questions as well as makingthe operation of your vessel easier and enhancing its resale value. The elements of the system we’ve successfully used during nearly forty years cruising include an Operating Manual, a Logbook, a Daybook, a To Do List and a Receipts File.

Operating Manual:when we bought Rapport last year there was no Manual and the broker’s advertising sheet lacked detail and missed much of the equipment. Now we have a comprehensive Manual comprising about forty pages describing all equipment aboard and covering subjects such as safety equipment, location of seacocks and other through-hulls, location of electrical isolation switches, functions of circuit breakers, how equipment operates, service intervals and spare parts carried. A multitude of systems makes boats complex and it’s impossible to remember everything about them, so when we do a job for the first time (eg adjusting an alternator’s vee belt tension)we note procedures in the Manual to make it easier next time. After owning our previous vessel for 12 years we were still addinginformation during our last year, maintaining it on Microsoft Word and periodically printing an updated copy for easy referral.

Logbook:This is where we note information of lasting interest that you might look back on. For example with great friends Bill and Sue you cruised to Man O’ War bay and had an enjoyable afternoon ashore at the vineyard. The next day you crossed the Firth of Thames catching some nice snapper mid-way, anchored off Coromandel and all went up to the township in the dinghy for fish and chips, nearly getting caught out by the tide on the return trip. We note down engine hours each evening, but only mention weather in the Log if it’s unusual and memorable for example a still sunny day in the middle of winter or a wind shift that causes an uncomfortable night.. If you want to (and you’re brave enough to) keep a record of money spent on the boat, the back of the Logbook is ideal forthis.

Daybook: We use this instead of writing information down on different scraps of paper that always seem to get lost. Information included is weather forecasts; route planning; fuel and water tank levels; refuelling details; engine oil pressure, water temperature and charging voltage;notes about maintenanceand information about planned boat projects. For example we’re researching an improved bait and filleting station so we’ll do our internet research noting relevant points in the Daybook so our information is all in one place.

To Do List: I guess most boat owners would use such a list and it’s really self explanatory. A cruiser’s dream is to have nothing left on their To Do List.

Receipts File: Keep all your receipts together in date order for ease of reference. When you eventually sell your boat many prospective buyers would want to see this and it helps reassure them that you’ve used anorganised approach to maintenance.

Using a system like this is not burdensome and on the contrary adds to the joy of cruising.