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Kawau Trip –December 2004

Kawau Trip –December 2004

[Some tips and ideas from our trip]

Tio Pepe and her crew went up to Kawau Island on 3 December 2004 hoping to have a few days of relaxation in the sun. The company and relaxation were great; the sun part was a joke as it was missing most of the time. The sail there was enjoyable with a decent SW wind pushing us north from Westhaven to Kawau on an overcast day (see photos). We were accompanied by another yacht and joined various other folk staying in a rented house in Schoolhouse Bay. Saturday and Sunday were so chilly that a fire was lit to warm the house and the frozen fishermen who had ventured out to hook dinner (summer?).

The Kawau Historic Carnival at Mansion House on Saturday 4 December was excellent, in spite of cold drizzly weather and very worth going to for everyone in a family.

Tip 1. Get there this year if you can (and don’t feel shy about dressing in period costume for the occasion). Details can be obtained from Mansion House at 09 422 8882. Ferries or water taxis from Sandspit are an alternative to sailing there and they offer cheaper rates on the day. It makes a very pleasant day excursion.

We circumnavigated the island anticlockwise on Tuesday when the weather cleared a bit. Exploring the island all the way around its coast was most enjoyable.

Tip 2. Besides obviously checking out all of Bon Accord harbour a look into North Cove is especially worthwhile - a delightful spot. A walk from Schoolhouse Bay or Mansion House to the old copper mine site is also worth the effort.

Sandy decided (sensibly as it turned out) to ret urn home early on Tuesday and I was left to sail Tio Pepe back on the planned departure date of Thursday with someone who was part of the group staying in the rented house. The weather forecast warned of a low pressure front approaching which was scheduled to arrive later in the day. We got up early at 05:00 hoping to be away by 07:00 and beat the approaching poor weather. No such luck as the front arrived early (and lasted weeks).

Tip 3. You do not need to be told anything about the reliability of weather forecasts. As we left Bon Accord the wind was already up and by the time we passed Moteketekete it was strong. I put in a reef and as I did the main got a 10cm tear at the end of the top batten as the sail flogged. It held until two thirds of the way between Tiritiri and Rangitoto. By then I was ready for the second reef so I dropped the main and continued on a partially furled headsail which was all that was needed in the blow.

Tip 4. As the books and experienced sailors will tell you, reef early. The sea was rough and the wind increased all the while. My crew member was inexperienced so it was really a solo trip. The wind was SW to WSW and I needed engine assistance to go against the wind and get around Rangitoto lighthouse.

Tip 5. Do not think that getting around North Head means that you have safely got through all the heavy seas and big waves. Going up the Auckland harbour was not easy because not only were we going into the wind (headsail furled by now) but the waves were bigger than we had yet encountered. Sheltering on the south side hoping for some screening by the city buildings did nothing to reduce waves which had built up down the length of the harbour pushed by a 35 to 40 knot wind.

It was an interesting trip and every time we take Tio Pepe out we learn a few more things about ourselves, the boat or the environment which is all part of the appeal of sailing.

Chris & Sandy – “Tio Pepe”