Taste of the gulf

The Waikato trailer yacht squadron held a start of season refresher/seamanship day on  29th of November. It’s a chance for new club members to learn some new skills and to be shown around some of the bay’s and anchorages in the area.

Kylie and I decided it would be a good opportunity and a good excuse to go sailing! We left the kids with Nana and towed the boat to Kawakawa bay on the Saturday morning. John from the club gave us a hand to get the mast up and get the boat in the water.

We motored 50m out past the break water and raised the main sail. Six other trailer yachts where tacking back and forth getting ready for our passage across to the Waiheke channel.



Unfortunately one yacht turned and went back in due to some sort of issue. We headed accross to the southern end of Ponui island in a nice SW breeze under mainsail only. In the photo above you can see us, just beyond us is a white boat. John from the club is onboard this boat, he knows where to go and we don’t.

I hadn’t sorted out reefing lines before leaving and probably had a bit too much sail up in the building breeze. We got closer to Ponui with our leader behind us and didn’t know exactly where to go, so we spun around and tucked in behind.

We approached sandspit passage, a narrow channel marked by a structure built near the end of a very long and shallow spit running north from  Pakihi island. We watched the boat John was on hoist their jib, so we followed suit and hanked on the smallest jib we had.

We where bearing down on the structure that marks the channel and I didn’t know which side to pass it. Luckily we where very close to John at this stage and I was able to get directions on which side to pass it. *note to self-study the chart before leaving….

We headed towards the Waiheke channel no longer sheltered by the islands the wind felt stronger. The boat felt much more balanced with the jib up, reducing weather helm considerably. It was good to feel sailing with the main sail only, and then appreciate the effect of the jib. Looking around it seemed like a larger fleet, trailer sailers all around us heading in the same direction. It was really cool to be part of it.

It was a fun section that demanded a lot of input on the helm and main sheet. In this breeze Corvina is a little bit of a handful with full headsail. We experienced some really nice gusts (scary moments according to Kylie) *note to self-sort reefing lines at lunch stop.

We sailed towards the designated lunch bay, Kylie took the helm while I went up and dropped the jib and got the anchor ready. One of the techniques to practice on the day was sailing on and off the anchor. We talked through the plan and Kylie headed up front waiting for my signal to lower the pick. Heading up into the wind Corvina came to a stop I gave Kylie the signal and she lowered the anchor, as we drifted slowly back I dropped the main sail and Kylie tied off the warp. We are starting to look like we know what we are doing I thought to myself.


A coffee and some food then sort the reefing lines. We could have anchored a little closer in and around into the bay itself  a bit more as suggested by John, but I was happy with spot. Until a slight rolling motion began rocking the boat for the rest of the lunch break. *Note to self-listen to John.


Anchorage for the night Chamberlains bay (aka North harbour) Ponui Island

Lunchtime over we hoisted the main, this time putting in one reef. Kylie went forward to pull the anchor up, I tried my best to sail forward to take some weight off the warp. it sort of worked but wasn’t the smoothest looking manouver.

With the anchor up I turned us toward the exit of the bay the main filled with wind and we gracefully sailed out into the Waiheke channel again. I went forward and raised the small jib again. It was really cool being able to sail on and off the anchor, I will endeavor to do this as often as possible.

We found ourselves out in front of John again and with no real idea on exactly where to go we spun around again to tuck in behind our leader.

The wind was directly behind us as we headed across the channel towards our overnight spot. This is proving to be a favourite point of sail for me, Not to miss the opportunity I let the boom all the way out one side and the jib out the other and we “goose winged” our way across at a great pace. This was our highest speed of the trip clocking an eye watering 8.14knots.

One danger of running downwind is the dreaded “accidental gybe” this is when the wind has changed angle from behind and makes the boom swing violently across to the other side. Potentially damaging gear or taking off your head if you happen to be in the way. Although it is surprisingly easy to do, I managed to avoid that situation.

As we rounded the head of the bay and turned in towards the anchorage the wind direction changed abruptly and I did the un imaginable an “accidental tack” I laughed and felt a little embarrassed to be caught out like that. I quickly recovered and told myself that from the other boats view it probably looked intentional…..

Kylie took the helm as I went forward and lowered the jib ready for anchoring. We sailed slowly into the bay which already had a dozen or so boats of various sizes anchored up. I got some advice on where to anchor as it was our first time spending a night swinging on the pick. It was really cool coming this far and not using the motor!

Tacking into the bay looking for an anchoring spot


Kylie getting ready to anchor for the night


Me escaping while Kylie does the “house work”

We raised the pop top,  Kylie prepped the boat for the night and I pumped up the dinghy chucked on the 2hp and went for a burn across to chat with some other boats.

We squeezed into the dinghy and cruised in to join the other members on the beach for sun downers.

after dinner we sat in the cockpit with a line out and enjoyed the sunset and a few more sun downers before bed….

The GPS plotter has an anchor watch function, you pre set a distance and if the boat goes outside of this an alarm sounds to alert you of a dragging anchor. There was a large power cat anchored behind us Called Margaritaville, it looked expensive so I set the alarm at 15m.

At around midnight the alarm chirped into life! Kylie made me get up and sort it out. After waking up enough I figured out we hadn’t moved and put it down to being low tide and a slight wind change. It went off again 15 mins later, convinced we weren’t dragging as it was glassed off with next to no wind, I turned the noisy thing off and went back sleep. *Note to self-don’t make a habit of that.

At first light next morning I couldn’t resist, Pulled anchor and motored out to try for a snapper or two…..

Firstly rewarded with an absolute cracker of a sunrise over my home town Coromandel.




I fished away



While Kylie lay in bed


Second reward, fresh fish


By around 9am the southerly had freshened, It blew straight up the firth causing waves up to one meter. I had fun tacking back and forth making our way towards Kawakawa bay. I even managed to get the odd wave spraying over the bow and into my face and down the back of my neck, meanwhile Kylie hid safely behind the dodger…..

We got back to Kawakawa bay in one piece, loaded up and towed the boat home. In a couple weeks we will be keeping it in the clubs mast up storage compound next to the ramp. I can’t wait for the convenience this will offer.

A great first trip sailing the gulf



Author: gulfwanderers

Just an average kiwi bloke

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