Parekura Bay

174.14 E 35.15 S
Parekura Bay
Bay of Islands. New Zealand.

We expected the learning curve on Duet ll to be steep; we hadn’t imagined it to be vertical. Our maiden voyage up to the Bay of Islands from the Hauraki Gulf, is a passage of only 100 miles, all the same we stopped for the night along the way, as we didn’t fancy anchoring for the first time in the dark. The wind was a brisk 25 knots from the South East, perfect for heading north.

There is space enough for stowing our dinghy fully inflated on the after deck, a very handy solution for short passages. The cutter rig is perfect for this angle of sailing and Duet duly showed off her paces. The sea was quite rough so it was probably not ideal conditions for trying to work out how to set the spinnaker poles. The poles are stowed on the mast and have to be wound down the track. This was the first time we had used this method but we figured it out in the end and set the yankee with pleasing results. I was extremely happy we had left the spinnaker behind in a friends’ garage.

The Bay of Islands is a fabulous area and known as the crimson coast. The flowering New Zealand Christmas tree, Pohutukawa, is a fabulous sight at this time of year. Very good friends invited us to join them for Christmas. They have a family Bach, New Zealand speak for beach cottage, in the bay. Christmas eve was glorious weather but the following day it was cold and rainy; that never succeeds in damping anyone’s spirits. For a few more days we cruised to various other anchorages and walked some of the hikes on the islands to make up for the over indulgence on Christmas pudding.

New Years eve saw us back at Parekura Bay, another glorious day with sunshine and a good breeze. Simon’s dream came true as he sailed with Roly in his Flying Dutchman whilst I went fishing and scalloping with the rest of the family. It was a great time and a brilliant party in the evening. New Year’s day is the traditional race around the bay — any boat of any size takes part. It’s all timed so that the fastest boat starts last, the idea being that everyone should finish at the same time. Amongst the various dinghies taking part were several Olympic sailors past and present. The race was won by an 11 year old girl in an optimist!

Christmas books: The Cat That Could Open The Fridge. Simon Hoggart takes a curmudgeon’s guide to the dreaded Christmas round robin … blog writers also take note! Red Undies and Dutchman’s Trousers. Nothing to do with Simon, but everything to do with the hidden meaning behind plant names — some very naughty things grow in our gardens. A very happy new year and good sailing to everyone.

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