Yacht Charter in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Posted by Director of Education on February 27, 2013 under Bareboat Charter, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

NauticEd staff just completed a 10 day yacht charter on a 40 ft Leopard Catamaran with the Moorings, New Zealand in the famous Bay of Islands. AND … I have to say that comparing all the places all over the world that we have chartered in, the Bay of Islands is definitely world class. We sailed out of Opua which is the yachting hub. We first ventured 12 nautical miles north out of the Bay to the Cavalli Islands where we stayed the first 2 days. Then further North to Whangaroa harbour, back to Opua, south to Whangamumu, back to the bay for a few nights then returned to the base. As with all bareboat charters the time flew by and 10 days was not enough.

Our Moorings 40 Charter Catamaran

Our Moorings 40 Charter Catamaran in Paradise Bay, Urupukapuka Island

If you like what you see below and are interested in Chartering in New Zealand contact us, we’ll help you book and design a perfect itinerary. In addition, in March next year (2014) we’ll be holding a Bareboat Charter Master Graduation Celebration Charter for graduates of our Bareboat Rank. If you’ve ever wanted to come to New Zealand and charter, then join our flotilla. I’ll be leading the armada around this world class haven for yachties. Spaces will be limited to keep the fleet manageable so contact us now. Cheers  – Grant

Here’s a quick summary of each location we visited and some of the activities

North Island New Zealand

North Island New Zealand

Zoomed in – here’s a iPad Navionics chart of the area.

Northland Coastline

Sailing ground for a Moorings Charter - Whangaroa to Whangamumu.

First off, the Bay of Islands is unquestionably spectacular. There are over 100 islands but about 6 main large ones with dozens of protected anchorages and amazing lonely beaches in the islands and arms off from the mainland.

I like this

I love this place

The main larger islands all have local Maori names. From west to east they are: Motuarohia Island, Moturua Island, Motukiekie Island, Okahu Island, Waewaetorea Island and the largest Urupukapuka Island.

Bay of Islands New Zealand

Bay of Islands New Zealand

Twelve miles to the north west of the 10 mile wide Bay of Islands lie the Cavalli Island group. The Cavallis is the final resting ground of the famous Rainbow Warrior green peace boat bombed in the Auckland Harbour in 1985 by the French government. I’ve dived on the Rainbow Warrior on previous trips to the Cavallis and it is a great wreck dive where there are easy entrances and exits at about 60 feet deep.

 

matauribay-rainbowwarrior

Matauri Bay-Rainbow Warrior

The Cavallis, as with the entire north of New Zealand are abundant with Snapper and many other kinds of eatable local fish, crayfish (a local spiny lobster) and scallops. Thus we took along with us with us 3 fishing rods and eight scuba tanks and were able to feed the entire boat each night from our catch as we sailed around between the different islands and bays. Contrary to the Caribbean and parts of equatorial Pacific, the reef fish are completely safe to eat. It’s the absolute most seafood we’ve ever prepared on a sailing trip anywhere in the world – purely because of the abundance of fish. We were able to refill the scuba tanks back at Opua when we stopped back  mid week to re-provision, however there is also a scuba refill station at Matauri Bay campground opposite the Cavallis.

Cavalli Islands

Cavalli Islands New Zealand

And the islands are pretty spectacular. Which is one thing that you’ll notice about New Zealand is the ruggedness of the coastline followed by extremely beautiful untouched and uninhabited beaches.

View of the Cavalli Islands

View of the Cavalli Islands

A walk up to the monumnet commemorating the Rainbow Warrior is really with the walk from Matauri Bay and gives a commanding view of  the Cavallis.

rainbow warrior

Rainbow Warrior Monument at Matauri Bay

Scuba diving in and around the New Zealand coast line is pretty incredible. The water is too cold for coral but the reefs are still abundant with fish and colour. Scallops are found in sandy areas at about 30 feet deep and beyond. Crayfish are found in the rocks 20 ft down and below. Noting the cold – you’ll need about a 3-5 mil wetsuit to cope with the extended underwater times.

Colourful reefs

Colourful reefs in New Zealand

On one of the dives for our search for Scallops, I came across one of the weirdest looking things I’ve seen under the water. In the sand lay a perfectly tubular hole about 8 inches in diameter and 4 ft deep. Lining the hole was perfectly placed scallop shells from top to bottom and outside the hole lay a heap of scallop shells. Needless to say, there was something intelligent living in there. Ohhhh – I got the underwater heebie geebies. About 50 meters further on was a large Octopus contently sitting there with his tentacles wrapped around more scallops ahh – mystery solved – pretty cool.

Our scuba adventure also involved catching crayfish which are certainly a delicacy. In the shops this one would sell for about $150.

 

Crayfish

Crayfish

On from the Cavallis, we sailed further north to Whangaroa Harbor.

Whangaroa Harbour New Zealand

Whangaroa Harbour New Zealand

This is a very large harbour with a narrow entrance and impressive cliffs and ancient volcanic cones. It is thus very sheltered and well worth the vist and sail north from the Cavallis.

Whangaroa Harbour

Whangaroa Harbour

Here also is a cool interactive 360 panorama photo I took on my iPad http://360.io/vazJMf

A unique chartering aid feature we discovered in Whangaroa harbour was a floating water refill station which operates on the honor system – pay $5 and refill your tanks. Thus through out the entire charter, we did not need to skimp on water -what  luxury.

Water Buoy

Water Buoy in Whangaroa Harbour

After Whangaroa, we headed south back to the Bay of Islands stopping over again in the Cavallis and just enough time to snag the anchor on the bottom at 25 meters. Fortunately the scuba gear was readily available and we were able to dive down to retrieve  This also creates a great future blog topic on how to retrieve a stuck anchor – with out scuba diving. The topic is covered in our skipper course also. In this instance, I believe the method would have worked well considering what we found the anchor to be doing on the bottom – see blog to come on this.

The sail back to the Bay of Islands was in a fairly large swell of about 2m with about 15 kots of wind which made it pretty interesting although the Cat handled the conditions well. Back in Opua we reprovisioned and headed out to Assassination Bay, an extremely tranquil and quiet protected bay – one of dozens of stunning anchorages through out the Bay. Assassination bay was so named after a group of french were killed in the early development years of New Zealand.

Assassination Bay

Assassination Bay

The Beautiful Shoreline in Assassination Bay

The Beautiful Shoreline in Assassination Bay

Over the next few days we explored many of the islands through out the Bay. Of course exploring meant scuba diving for scallops and snapper fishing. At the south end of Urapukapuka island  is a very sheltered and beautiful bay with a white sandy beach.

Urupukapuka Bay

Urupukapuka Bay

The island supports a fantastic worthwhile  1-2 hr walk through native New Zealand forest and leading upto a stunning and commanding view of the entire bay of islands in all directions. Next person up – take your iPad and get a 360 Panorama.

Top of Urupukapuka Island

Top of Urupukapuka Island

Heading south out of the Bay of Islands is the famous and large hole in the rock. Thousands of tourists every season travel on laden ferry boats to visit the rock and motor through the hole. Of course we zoomed through in our little dinghy.

Hole in the Rock
Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett

 Further south lies Whangamumu habour which is another extremely sheltered harbour and almost quite round inside.

Whangamumu Harbour

Whangamumu Harbour

 

The harbour has remanats of an old whaling station now rotting from the 1800s. A very sad place in on sense because of the slaughtered whales of old times – but on the lighter side – the dolphins seemed to be enjoying the harbour. It’s almost a guarantee that you see dolphins on a charter in the Bay of Islands area.

Dolphin playing in Whangamumu Harbour

Dolphin playing in Whangamumu Harbour

On almost any blue sky day, Whangamumu is a sight not to be missed, with several walking tracks around to take advantage of.

Whangamumu Harbour

Whangamumu Harbour

And of course I couldn’t help but do a few donuts in the dinghy LOL.

Donuts in the Whangamumu Harbour

Donuts in the Whangamumu Harbour

We fished and scuba dived amongst the rocks just outside the harbour for Crayfish, scoring an incredible sized packhorse cray (featured in the video) and some decent sized snapper all for dinner – although you’ll see in the video below, I almost lost the Cray overboard.

Whangamumu Rocks

Whangamumu Rocks

The sail from the hole in the rock down to whangamumu harbor is amazing display of the rocky New Zealand coastline including the Cape Brett Lighthouse marking the southern end of the Bay of Islands.

Cape Brett Lighthouse

Cape Brett Lighthouse

Our final two nights were spent back in the Bay of islands in Paradise Bay and Urupukapuka Bay on Urapukapuka Island. Paradise Bay has the most beautiful white sandy beach with deep water almost right up to the beach. Great for close in anchoring.

Paradise Cove

Paradise Bay

Overall, we can’t recommend the Bay of Islands more as a world class yacht charter location. The staff at the Moorings Base were friendly and helpful and the boat ran with out any hitches.

The best time to charter a yacht in New Zealand is anytime from December through March.

If you want to learn more about chartering in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand or make a booking, contact us at NauticEd we’ll help you design a perfect itinaray.

Now, please enjoy watching our video on our experience in New Zealand and why you should consider the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master bundle of courses. PS Watch the second half for the fun stuff.

 

 

There are two types of Sailors

Posted by Grant Headifen on November 16, 2010 under Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Skipper | Read the First Comment

They say that there are two types of sailors – those that have hit the bottom and liars. Well, with this blog, I can firmly place myself in type I.

I believe the reason “they” (I never really know who “they” are) make this statement is to promote caution, that you’re never too immune from the bottom of the ocean no matter how much experience you have.

Certainly – I’m one of those who demonstrated to myself that the bottom is to be kept at a distance. Here’s a story that happened to me that will hopefully stick with you and help reduce (probably not eliminate) the number of times you’ll be introduced intimately to the bottom of the ocean.

The setting is the beautiful Bay of Islands, New Zealand. We were motoring amongst the picturesque islands photo documenting the anchorages for a website that we were building for Sailing New Zealand (http://www.sailingnewzealand.co.nz).

When rocks like these are present it's a good sign others are lurking under the water

When rocks like these are present it's a good sign others are lurking under the water

In one particular instance, there were two ways to get around to the next bay. Cut through a 30 meter wide channel between a set of rocks and the island or around the outside of the rocks. We consulted the GPS map and the paper map, both indicated deep water between the rocks and the island. And on top of that, it was high tide (2.5 meters above datum). Clear Right?

BONK! Said the rock and the boat simultaneously.

So what happened? Was I off on my positioning? Nope – I infinity checked that after we’d given the keel the headache of it’s life.

What happened was pure thoughtlessness. What was I thinking? I had put pure trust into data. Assuming that each and every rock in the entire world has been accurately positioned and that data exists on all electronic and paper maps.

Very simply, that is just not the case and I should have known better. Would Captain Cook made such a rudimentary mistake as he performed his amazing exploration of the unchartered world? I doubt it! In those days they constantly lead lined off the bow and sent dinghies in to doubtful waters. Lives were at stake.

While I do believe that it’s pretty safe now-a-days to assume that in deep waters almost every rock has been marked – at least in the first world countries, the mistake I had made was in shallow water close to an island.

Fortunately the story ends ok with out any injuries except to my wallet and to my two year old who bonked her head in the berth below decks while sleeping. That’s a really sucky way to wake up by the way. We reported the issue to the charter company. They hauled the boat and we paid for the damages. Even though we were going slow, the abrupt stop caused a separation gap between the keel and the hull introducing a leak.

Moral of the story. The ocean’s beauty allures us to it but it can be treacherous. Keep your head screwed on and play it safe – every time. Your experience does not give you a get out of jail free card. In fact your experience can lead you into a false sense of security. Time for me to push the reset button on what I think I know and go back to the basics. Lesson well learned. I hope this story helps you “go around the outside”.

To learn more about coastal navigation, take the NauticEd Coastal Navigation Sailing Course.

One final note – it’s really important to report incidences like this to the yacht charter company. First – it’s a matter of integrity and secondly it is a safety concern for the next charterer. There are a lot of awful what if scenarios you could probably think of and for the price of the insurance deductible the peace of mind is worth it. And after it was all said and done and amortizing it out over my sailing career the cost was about 50 cents per sail. No big deal but the re-learned knowledge is worth so much more.