Villa’s Last Blast: Waiheke Island

Our showings after the storm quickly turned into a signed offer, so we were feeling pretty good about the sale process. The buyer couldn’t get a survey booked until almost two weeks later, and waiting in the marina sounded way less fun than waiting at anchor, so we decided to take Villa out to sea again. The wind looked like it was going to help us go south, so we settled on taking a tour around Waiheke Island. It wasn’t doing much of anything on day one, though, so our first stop was Tiritiri Matangi, just a short hop from the tip of the pennisula. We landed Dinkus on the beach, ducked around a closed trail sign, and started making our way up the small hill.

Up at the top of the hill is a small nature observatory, where we found a couple of Pukekos, sometimes also known as swamp hens. A sign explained the difference between these and the much more rare and elusive Takahe, which did not grace us with their presence. Also pictured, a sign describing jumping heights for various mammals; apparently Captain needs to work on his vertical leap.

A little further up the hill is a light house, still visible as we tromped away across the grassy hilltop.

On the way down we ran into this little beauty: a bug motel, engineered to provide safe spaces to various little creepy crawlies. The giant weta wasn’t home, but there were a few tree wetas, who seemed totally unperturbed when we opened the door and let the light in.

Back down the hill, we found the tide had gone out, which we had expected, and had left a huge amount of seaweed, which we had not. Fortunately Dinkus was still roughly at the tide line, so we didn’t have too far to haul him before getting the engine back in the water. Got to love these beautiful beaches we’ve seen so far here in NZ.

Back at the boat, Captain once again led the charge to view the sunset.

See this innocent little guy, just hanging out in the sunshine the next morning? Just leaving his belly out during breakfast? Apparently he was cranky about missing his morning walk or something, because he decided to pee outside the litterbox. In all seriousness, we have no idea what was going on, as he rarely has accidents, and they’re usually because something’s fallen and blocked his box access. Maybe he was picking up on our heightened emotions around the sale? Maybe he was defending his territory against the dog that one buyer brought by? Whatever it was, it left us with a super-fun cleanup project.

So we dealt with that, and when we were done, the promised wind had still not picked up, so we decided to motor down to our next stop. This turned out to be a great decision, because in the flat water, it was super easy to see the penguins! There were dozens of little blue penguins swimming around, and a whole lot more sea birds keeping them company. The penguins were not super interested in getting close, and it turns out that the vibration reduction on our camera doesn’t do a great job when the boat is moving around, so a bit of blurrycam here, but! Penguin belly! Flippers in the air! These guys are so cool.

Captain, meanwhile, was much more interested in the flying sort of bird, of which there were many. We also got a pass from the Spirit of New Zealand, whose sails were up purely for decoration on this nearly dead day. Admittedly, the effect is pretty nice.

We anchored on the side of Rakino Island, and Captain did his usual patrols while Andrew gave up on cleaning the carpet in situ and pulled it out. (Pulling it out was easy, so it had probably needed re-gluing anyway.)

The next morning, we had a nice uneventful sail from Rakino to Oneroa bay, on the north side of Waiheke. The weather wasn’t great, so we spent most of the day doing logistics.

Overnight, the wind direction shifted a bit, making Oneroa a bit uncomfortable. So we took a quick and surfy trip counterclockwise to the much better-protected Owhanake bay. There, we waited out a bit of unpleasant weather with our somewhat stir-crazy cat. We also had a bit of other unpleasantness: a big fishing boat came into the anchorage around sunset and anchored closer to us than we thought was polite. Doubly so since when, as predicted, the wind shifted and turned all the boats, their much shorter scope brought us even closer together. It’s a little hard to see their boat our our window in that last picture, as it’s dark, but it’s still much easier than it ought to be! Fortunately they realized and moved.

There isn’t much to do from Owhanake, so when the weather cleared up again we continued our counterclockwise circuit along this stretch of coast…

And turned the corner to anchor in Huruhi bay, just across a spit of land from Oneroa where we’d started. We dropped Dinkus and, after some indecision about the best place to land, tied up to a no camping sign. Knowing the tide was going out, we set a stern anchor and left as much slack as we could.

As we walked, we found that there was still ample evidence that a cyclone had recently passed. The ducks were having a grand time wading through all the flooded front yards. This boat can’t have been beached for long; all the canvas is still attached!

We had a nice lunch and wine tasting up at Cable Bay vineyards, and then walked back through town past some very orderly vineyards.

When we got back, despite it not being fully low tide yet, the water had receded a LOT. Dinkus did his best to follow it, but we only had so much tether to give. We had seen the sharp slope by the waterside, but what we hadn’t realized was that the sea floor beyond it flattens out for a long, long way. Fortunately, while Dinkus is heavy, he’s still manageable to carry between the two of us. We picked him up and carried him over all the rocks, thanking Jazz that we’d planned ahead and brought our water shoes.

Back at the boat, we celebrated our victory by dancing the cat.

In the morning we were feeling less celebratory, because it turned out that this bay is absolutely full of mosquitoes. Captain, with his protective fur suit, was fine, but Andrew woke up with dozens of face bites.

In retrospect, we probably should have noticed the full net coverage on all the neighboring boats. Though maybe we would have just thought that it was bird deterrent.

Anyway we got out of there and continued our tour of the coast. We tucked into what turned out to be an unsuitable stop, Rocky Bay, where we saw possibly the strangest water sport we’ve yet encountered. Here, a very nice fiberglass dinghy is dragging what appears to be a detached piece of floating plastic dock, with a guy riding it like an oversized wakeboard. In unrelated news, we’ve learned that the New Zealand word for hick or redneck is “bogan”.

We had almost reached Man o’War Bay when we passed by a fish farm and were suddenly swarmed with little black flies. They seemed to stream over the sides from every direction, fortunately not biting but covering every surface. The onslaught lasted only a few minutes, but shaking them off again was a bit of a project.

We got anchored in Man o’War bay and found that it was a super popular spot. It seems that half the city of Auckland comes here for the weekend, and we had arrived on a Sunday afternoon. We dropped Dinkus and joined the party at the winery. Where, like way more of New Zealand than we had expected, shoes were entirely optional. Tastings were a bit oversubscribed when we arrived, so we had a bit of a walk and came back when some of the crowd had abated.

We bumped into some other expats and got to talking. This resulted in us getting back to Dinkus a little later than planned, though this trip was not quite as much work as the last portage. It also resulted in us playing host on Villa; we had, after all, quite a lot of unused booze that we needed to pour out. By the time we went to bed, we were the only two boats left in the anchorage.

In the morning we had some fantastic spinnaker weather, and we sailed back around the island, taking the opportunity to shoot a nice long how-to video for the next owner. Our destination was Woody Bay, because we’d heard great reviews of the pizza restaurant. The bay was lovely, but the restaurant turned out to be weekends-only “after the end of high season”. We were disappointed, but still had a lovely meal and sunset on the boat.

We spent the next day shooting the rest of our for-sale video: while we had the boat ‘sold’, the offer was still conditional, and we had something of a feeling about counting our chickens. Here’s Captain making his daily patrol, and Andrew showing off the shade structure at sunset.

The next morning we had dead air again, and with heavy hearts, we motored back to the marina, and our survey, through an ocean full of birds. This would be our last time moving Villa for fun; we would be out on the water again, but always as part of the sale, instead of just as our family of three.

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