Left the ramp on Thursday morning with a loose plan of sailing over to Coromandel somewhere.
Other than that my plan was to have no plan and just go where ever and make decisions on the fly according to the weather and see where I end up.
The mornings forecast was for westerly 10-15 knots. Perfect breeze to propel the little ship across to Coromandel. It was an easy down wind run making good speed Heading directly for Te Kouma harbour. The wind slowly shifted around to the north west but had little effect, I was making such easy progress covering all that water without any effort.
I think they refer to it as “Champagne sailing” No waves, no swell, perfect breeze, boat not heeling at all, Sails not needing any input, self steering doing all the work. If I fell asleep, I’m sure Corvina would have sailed herself right into the anchorage at Te Kouma, Or at least up onto the island in front of it.
Then I thought, why have a perfectly easy down wind sail when I could be having to work to keep on track and moving forward? so I changed course and headed for another destination I have been wanting to get to, Elephant Cove.
Destination getting closer, but still plenty of daylight to explore the area.
The wind was dropping and so was the tide. I lowered the sails started the motor and headed in to explore a group of islands off Amodeo bay.
It was bang on low tide, an excellent time for a look around underwater.
When one has no plan, one cannot claim the perfect timing of the situation. But I sure made the most of it.
I anchored in 8.5m of water, suited up and jumped in, initially I had planned to check the rocks for Paua and maybe get lucky and stumble upon a cray, but I was soon distracted by the empty scallop shells on the bottom. After a few dives to the bottom I managed to find a live one. They where scattered far and few between but I eventually gathered enough for a feed.
Back on-board I had a snack of Laksa soup and toast before pulling anchor and heading off again.
Sailing away from my target destination, the wind was still only a light breeze and I had plenty of time to get to the anchorage. I wanted to head around to the east side of the island’s to see if the Gannet’s where working in the hope of some easy fishing.
The Gannet’s where absent, But I did spot this ominous looking dorsal fin on the surface.
Turns out it belonged to this group….
Some where doing flips showing off, unfortunately it was some distance away and without a zoom camera and good timing I couldn’t capture the action, best I managed was this little fella.
Heading for my chosen anchorage for the night Elephant Cove in the distance.
The wind slowly increased and no surprise it was blowing directly from the Cove, meaning I had to tack back and forth working my way towards the island.
It took awhile working my way upwind, I could have chosen the easy down wind at the start of the day, but I was glad I chose this option. Time was on my side, all I wanted was to arrive at the anchorage before nightfall.
I observed about 4 or 5 yachts progressively leaving Elephant cove and heading south. Oh bugger why are they leaving?
I re-checked the forecast, it seemed ok for the night there. West/nor west winds. In my mind Elephant cove faced the south, I only had a casual glance of the chart a few days prior. I haven’t been their since I was knee high to a grass hopper, I couldn’t remember anything about the place. Maybe the cove is getting a little swell forcing the other boats to leave for a more comfortable spot?
It was getting late in the day and I was committed to going to Elephant cove. At worst I would go in for a look, if it was terrible then I will just make a new plan on the fly as per my carefully thought out plan!
I approached the island, it wasn’t quite the “cove” I had thought it was, more of a bay facing south. It was sheltered sort of, but suffered from a strong breeze funneling between two islands.
I wasn’t convinced this would be the best spot for the night, The nearest alternative anchorage was a good distance away, I needed time to think.
I dropped the sails and the little green jig in the 20m just off the rocks.
Almost instantly the line pulled tight, I had hooked into to a solid fish that put up quite a battle on my light gear.
Turned out to be a decent snapping fish.
Dinner well and truly sorted. I still needed to decide what to do. I could almost see across a low narrow rocky beach into the next bay to the north a little. Hmm what’s around there I wondered?
I motored around the corner to check it out.
Looks promising I thought as I rounded the point. Is this the actual Elephant cove? I was convinced it faced the south, but checking the chart confirmed that it is in fact Elephant cove.
Only one boat was in their, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, cool plenty of room and peace. On the other hand why did everyone leave?
I lowered the anchor, and admired the view, It’s a really nice spot and worth the extra effort. I was still a little weary of the wind and theoretical protection this spot would offer.
The conditions inside where ideal, just outside the entrance the wind ripped past causing white caps, would a swell develop and cause a rolly night at anchor? occasionally a gust twisted its way in and spun the boat around. Most of the time The launch next to me faced in the opposite direction. I was confident I was anchored far enough away that we couldn’t swing into each. I decided to stay the night and face what ever comes of it, if it gets to bad I’ll move.
I extracted my hard earned scallops from their shells, knocked a fillet off the snapper and enjoyed a super fresh seafood feast courtesy of the Coromandel.
With a full belly I slid into the vee birth to continue reading my mint condition Francis Chichester before drifting off to sleep.
The anchorage turned out to be ok, a bit rolly for a few hours and swinging around a bit with each gust. Around midnight it seemed to get better or maybe I got to tired to care.
I make sure I get up a couple of times to check that the rocky shore is staying where its meant to. It’s very hard getting out of a warm bed to go up on deck in the cold windy darkness. I read a good trick that sailors use to make sure you get up.
before going to sleep, drink a heap of water…. works every time.
Next morning I went back around to the bay I originally thought was the Cove and dropped the jig in for another fishing session. I had some fun watching the jig on the sounder dropping down to the bottom and being retrieved 5m above and then back down again. I could watch it all, I even watched a second object follow the jig up from the bottom, and next thing feel bites. These sounders are Awesome!
I continued working the jig, fixated on the screen like some sort of video game. I watched another fish follow the jig, felt the bites and managed to hook it! Amazing technology.
I observed a few more follows of the jig including bites every time but failed to hook them. I guess even with this seemingly cheating advantage it’s still fishing and the fish still have a say in the matter.
Sorry about the grainy images, I was more focused on the fishing.
Time to head south, the forecast was for a late southerly change. I decided I would take advantage of the nor west winds and head for Te Kouma harbour. It was hard leaving this place, I just as easily could have stayed another night and just explored this little group of islands for a day. But I didn’t want to risk a southerly at that anchorage.
I sailed down to the next bunch of islands under jib alone and had another Jig through the passage between two islands. No luck on hooking one but got a few bites.
I dropped anchor in a sheltered bay and chucked a can of chilli into a pot, burnt some toast and enjoyed the scenery. One of the bonuses of solo voyages is that no one complains when you eat chilli!
The weather started to turn, from the south the sky looked to be getting darker. I downed my beans and toast, put the wet weather gear in a handy spot and pulled anchor.
As I headed south trying to beat the southerly change the sky grew darker and threatened to rain. The north wester increased in strength, I sailed round the mussel farm at Rabbit Island and turned to go outside of Goat. Making double sure to keep clear of the rock just south of Rabbit. Its submerged at high tide.
I learned about this rock when I worked on the mussel farms. Dave the truck driver was hammering along in his launch, he said he watched the sounder go from deep, to very shallow in seconds, so braced himself and next thing it bounced up out of the water and slid right over the rock and back into the water. He went full throttle into the beach at Rabbit. There it sat on the bottom in shallow water. We got the radio call for help and assisted in the recovery, cradled between two barges we took it back to Coromandel town.
The rain came, the wind increased and the tide fought against the wind kicking up some chop. I couldn’t point high enough to go outside of the island off Goat so went through the gap. The extra current lifted the waves even higher, the chart says 3 knots can be present in this gap.
I had great fun surfing down the waves, I got my highest ever recorded speed in Corvina 8.7 knots, might not seem like much, but in a heavy trailer yacht with a full length stub keel it’s probably not bad. I was having a ball, She tracks perfectly down waves and gives me confidence to venture into bigger ones.
Little old Cow island coming into sight in the distance through the drizzle.
My Nan once said if you can see enough blue sky to make a sailor’s uniform it will clear up.
A patch of blue broke through, and sure enough within 10 minutes…..
As I got down towards the cow and calf the wet weather gear came off and the wind started to die away. I checked the forecast which had now changed to “bugger all wind” for a few hours and then practically no wind tomorrow.
Hmm make another decision on the fly, stay at Te kouma and motor home tomorrow? The ramp is easier at high tide, would need to be there about 0930…or head across to Chamberlains bay on the other side for a closer motor to the ramp?
Next thing I see a bunch of Gannets diving just outside of the Cow and Calf, that settles it Ill go that way. The wind was light but manageable, except I couldn’t sail against the current at anything better than 2 knots. I even shook out the reef I had in all trip. I needed to watch the wind vane to work out where I could point. The wind vane at the mast head had turned, the side indicator things where facing side ways. that’s not meant to do that but what am I going to do about it I thought.
I went below for something and when I came out and looked up it was gone! Grrr, The Gannets where calling and the wind wasn’t helping any, I soon dropped the sails and motored direct for the action.
I got out amongst the diving Gannets and found they had company.
I wasted no time in dropping a line, this time trying out my new $26 Kabura jig. I was a bit nervous sending it to the bottom on such light line. It proved its fish catching ability on the second rise hooking a fat snapper.
I landed the fish with the net, This type of jig has a separate head that can free slide up the line leaving the hooks and skirt, which it did but in the net.
The wretched thing tangled itself in the net so well I spent 5 mins trying to free it. I ended up cutting the line and re tying it. During this time I drifted off the spot and couldn’t get another fish. Dumb idea these jigs, this brand was “catch” well named in my opinion. I ended up putting my trusty green “net friendly” jig back on.
Near the top of the green jig where the eyes are, is an increasing spot of missing paint. I think they attack it at that spot, unfortunately the hooks are lower down, I might have to modify it.
I left Coromandel and motored in near perfect conditions towards Waiheke.
Again joined by the friendly bunch…
I motored along for the next hour or more with auto tiller steering, nearly ploughing into the many small Hammer Head sharks that seem to love cruising on the surface out here. They all got out of the way before I could get a decent picture.
I re thought my plan, instead of staying at Chamberlains to catch the morning tide I may aswell head to Kawakawa and catch the evening tide.
I changed course and within about 15mins it went from beautiful flat water to a 12-15 knot head wind.
Had a long and slow motor to the ramp but got there in comfort, this boat handles the chop great.
Back at the ramp mid tide, It’ll do.
From land the sea gives little clue of the conditions I had just pushed through.
All in all a pretty epic trip and a good taster of what is on offer “over the other side”.