Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 In Like a Lion

This is the view through the dodger window we awoke to on New Years day. A large low moving down from the tropics moved over us as we lay at anchor in Great Barrier Island, about 50 miles NE of Auckland. The Met Service predicted 35 kts gusting to 50 kts. Right now there are hundreds of boats out at the island from the mainland. They call this the Silly Season, when all the punters are out for the extended summer holiday and Xmas break.
After we anchored this mating trio of power boats anchored behind us. About 6:30am the next morning we had some gust in the mid-40s. One hit us as the boat was already veered to the wind. I felt the boat not straighten out to the wind and a few seconds later the anchor alarm went off. We were one of the punters dragging our anchor. Unfortunately we were heading directly toward the  power boats astern of us. I subtly called for Chris to come up and then quickly got the engine started. Chris took the wheel as I went to tend the anchor. It took full engine revs just to get the bow to stay up during the heavy gusts. Eventually we had the anchor up and went looking for a place to re-anchor and some dry clothes to ward off the chill. On the way we saw one sailboat who had dragged his anchor and was stuck sideways on a long fish farm float. Another powerboat lay on the rocks directly under a cliff that was blocking the wind. There were at least 20 or 30 boats moving about trying to get to a decent place to re-anchor after having their evening anchor spot rudely dislodged. It took us an hour to find another bay that was shallow enough to anchor, protected enough to minimize some of the wind and not so crowded that we had to endanger some other boat by anchoring near by. It's still blowing hard and the Met Service says it will continue until tomorrow afternoon. The current bay we are in is only seeing gusts in the 30s, so it is an improvement. It is a much further out from the main area so there are not nearly as many boats to deal with. Welcome to 2016!!!
Great Barrier Island is a remarkable and pretty place when the storms aren’t hiding it from view.

The day before the storm we went ashore to look for rusty stuff. Unfortunately someone had carefully re-painted this old steam tractor with black paint. Me, I prefer rusty. The tractor was used to drag giant kauri logs from the tramlines to the pier for export. This was the largest lumber mill in New Zealand till they cut down the last kauri tree in the mid 1900s.
Across the small bay from the timber mill is the remains of the last whaling station in New Zealand. It closed in the early 1960s. Currently it looks more like a 60s hippie household with this beached ferry clearly being lived on.
Shell hunting isn’t great here, but we did find this large broken paper nautilus.

On the way over to Great Barrier we stopped on the Coromandal Penisula (so this blog is written in the backward travel order while we sit here listening the wind howl and the rain pelt).  This is Port Jackson at the very top of the penisular. Our guide book says it is gobsmacking. I believe this means an anchorage that has a nasty swell in it and gets non-stop gusts flying down its hills at high velocity.
So how gusty was it in Port Jackson? It flipped our dinghy during the night. Fortunately the engine and tank were safely on the main boat at the time.

One of the New Zealand Christmas trees, aka Pohutkawa tree. There’s a suspicious large bull carefully watching us take the picture to the right.

We stopped for the night at Rotoroa Island. It was the official drug and alcohol dry out place for Auckland run by the Salvation Army for over 100 years. It is now a park and museum. Above is the old school house.

The island has lot of these flightless Weka birds running around. They have managed to eradicate the rats and stotes from the island, leaving the birds free to nest. Although these Weka’s have been known to take out a rat or a stote and eat them.

The patients were court sentenced to the island for 6 months to 2 years to dry out. The staff stayed for extended periods too. Some never went home.

Christmas lamb being enjoyed on Pete and Miranda’s catamaran Tayrona.

The crew of Georgia hope you all have a great New Year –

and we hope that we have gotten our annual anchor dragging incident out of the way.

Paul and Chris


  1. as they explained to us as we cleared in at Opua: "The weather is part of our self defense, mate"

  2. I don't know you, Paul or Chris – I stumbled upon your blog while looking at photos of Galapagos wildlife (you have taken some beautiful photos). I have since read everything from Panama on up to this last post. Which was January 3rd, and now it is the 24th, and it seems like it's been a long time between posts. So, I am just concerned that the two of you are OK. I don't see any posts of concern from anyone else, so I hope I'm just being a little overly concerned. Hope you are both safe and well! Anne (writing from Santa Monica, California)