Gulf solo

Wife working, kids at school, few days off work, favourable weather……. this is the recipe for some shorthand sailing.

I towed the boat up to Kawakawa bay and arrived a bit later than ideal. I wasted no time raising the mast and setting up the yacht as the sun was slowly lowering in the sky.



With a bit of a struggle I got the boat off the trailer and into the water. The ramp is very difficult at low tide especially with my boat. I could have traded daylight for depth but decided being able to see was more important.

Soon enough I was heading north under sail. I wanted to find an anchorage on the eastside because I had loose plans of sailing across to Coromandel in the morning. I didn’t really know where a suitable anchorage was so read the chart books suggestions and decided east side of Ponui somewhere, I hoped to get their before dark to scope out a spot before dark.



It was a beautiful evening and very peaceful sailing downwind in about 8-10knots while the sunset in the distance.

The dark was getting darker and the wind dropping off, I spotted an area that might be suitable based on the forecast for the night of variable light winds. Two commercial boats had anchored out deeper and the darkness starting to take over I decided that I would go in close and drop the anchor.

There was no wind no swell and a good forecast I was happy with the spot for the night.



I was woken around midnight by the rocking motion of the boat, I got up to see if it was a wake from a passing boat but nothing was around apart from the fishing boats lights further out.

For the next few hours the rocking motion increased, hard as I tried I could not sleep. The rocking was getting more and more intense as the time ticked by. I put the keel down hoping to steady it a little. I didn’t want to move to a better spot in the dark because I am not familiar with the area just yet and didn’t fancy bumping into any surprise rocks.

At around 4am I was getting over feeling like a hostage rolling around in a car boot and planned to get up and start sailing across to Coro. The GPS shot below shows the boat swinging round and round at anchor. GPS’s can show a bit of movement even if stationary, though I was able to confirm that it had indeed swung round and round.



I raised the main sail in very light wind and went to pull the anchor but the warp was wrapped firmly around the keel! The warp that came with the boat floats. I think it’s not normally a good thing? and in hindsight probably why it happened! at least I could use the boat hook to grab the other side of the warp and pulled the anchor.

For the next 20mins I tried and tried to free it from the keel as I slowly sailed away from shore, at one point I thought it was clear so tried swinging the keel up, but instead jammed it with the keel. I really didn’t want to go for a swim so kept trying to unwrap it. I managed to free it by unshackling the warp from the chain and literally walking it round and round the boat and towing the excess.



I got the warp back on deck reconnected the anchor and put it back in its locker for some time out to think about what it did .

Heading towards Coromandel at last. Sun rising and light winds.

I got about half way across and pulled the sails down for a fish and to have some breakfast. I checked the forecast on the predict wind app and found it had changed. The forecast said the wind was going to drop right off real soon and for the next day and a half. Bugger, I had to be home the following day for work and really didn’t want to have to motor all the way back.


half way

As predict wind predicted the wind virtually disappeared, and the sun came out. Oh well might as well enjoy the fishing.


I raised the sails and turned 180 degrees and headed back towards Ponui. Coromandel will wait for another day.



As I got closer to Ponui I could see the Gannets diving. No keen fisherman could resist this sight and following the ABC’s of sailing (Always Be Catching) I headed direct to the area of the bird activity. Using an inchiku style jig, I had a ball catching Snapper and Kahawai while the Gannets moved around dive bombing their breakfast.

Fishing on the bottom when the gannets are working is a fun and easy way to get a feed of snapper, they follow the birds picking off the damaged remains of bait fish drifting down from the surface action.

After catching enough snapper I trolled one of the Kahawai behind the boat, sailing along trying to keep below 2 knots to help it swim upright.

Watching the sounder for any schools of fish I observed some funny markings I hadn’t seen before, multiple arching lines from the bottom, 20m depth rising up to about 5m deep. I assumed it was a miss read or some oddity, then 20 seconds later about 10 Kingfish pop up next to the live bait!

Both the Kahawai and myself got very excited, the Kingfish swam alongside the Kahawai  and around the boat for a few minutes, but unfortunately the fussy buggers didn’t like my offering and eventually headed off.

I sailed slowly around towards Chamberlains bay eventually having to use the motor as the wind disappeared.


Eventually motored into a nice and quiet Chamberlains bay.

Plucked a snapper from the chilly bin destined for another swim but this time in batter. With a full belly I and heavy eye lids I couldn’t help but drift off.



When I awoke I found Chamberlains wasn’t the quiet bay it previously was.



Next morning after breakfast I optimistically raised the main sail pulled anchor and headed out into the Waiheke channel.


I love the yacht in the foreground, The lines are very similar to my boat. As I slowly crept past, the owner popped up and confirmed that it is in fact another an Alan Wright design, 40ft and also has a lifting keel. He also confirmed that I was being optimistic hoping to get anywhere under sail….

I never miss an opportunity to sail off the anchor, I think the practise may come in handy one day.


Predict wind proved spot on, So I dropped the sails started the Yamaha and trolled a lure around the northern point of Ponui. I soon hooked a nice little Kahawai and in no time had it swimming along behind (always remember the ABC’s of yachting).

Be careful trolling the Waiheke channel, the southern end has a marine reserve that stretches the width of the channel from island to island. Marine reserves are a great thing but it would have been nice if they left a little gap for us ABC yachties to get through.

I pulled up and dropped the anchor for one last fish (outside the reserve) and also to let the tide come in a little bit. I planned to get to the ramp no earlier than half tide.

Heading home in glassy conditions, My wife and kids would love this I thought as I wished for enough wind to fill the sails.


Heading back to Kawakawa bay taking the scenic route, following the coast in and out of bays.



Back at Kawakawa bay, the ramp staff kindly helped me load the boat and I put Corvina into the clubs lock up for the first time. I forgot about the electric fence but was soon reminded!


All in all a pretty great trip despite the miserable weather…..




Author: gulfwanderers

Just an average kiwi bloke

One thought on “Gulf solo”

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