With the generator still on the engineer’s bench, and the prospect of good weather over Easter we slipped our lines in Gulf Harbour to head out onto the water with thousands of other boats of course. We were finally away at about 1500 and with a destination of Man o’ War Bay on Waiheke Island, some 20 miles away, thought we may have to delay our arrangement with Geoff and Pat from Duetto to come aboard for supper. But, with a freshly antifouled hull and propeller painted with a special coating (Prop Speed) Pipistrelle was raring to go and we found ourselves bounding along on a beam reach at 7.5 knots in flat seas and a light breeze. Though dinner was later than planned, we spent a convivial evening with Geoff and Pat. They had very kindly given us paper charts of the Torres Strait that will provide useful backup as we head through that busy stretch of water in a few months.
Next morning, Good Friday, dawned fine again and calm. This was heater-motor-reinstallation-day and memorable because we had been sans chauffage, admittedly still a luxury on a yacht, for one NZ spring last year so knew it gets decidedly chilly, damp and uncomfortable on board in the evenings. The ‘whys and wherefores’ are too involved to document here, but after several failed attempts by a man who said he can but could not, we finally had it successfully repaired by Diesel Maintenance Services, a reliable company in Auckland. Repair is one thing, installation quite another! Without the generator, moving around in the engine room was easier for Bob, but even so the heater is mounted and connected in an awkward and inaccessible spot. The fuel pump however is housed next to the diesel fuel tank – under our bed in the forecabin – and with the Eberspacher Hydronic 10, we needed to get the fuel to flow through several metres of capillary tubing, and deleting the fault code on the control panel at the chart table on numerous occasions, before the heater would fire up. This it did eventually, and the next challenge was to retrieve Bob’s favourite screwdriver that had fallen under the fuel tank in the process! Not only did the magnet bring up said screwdriver but a very rusty old spanner too.
On Saturday with still just six of us at anchor, we noticed the beachside ‘Man o’ War’ winery was open, so thought we might go ashore to taste the wares (some of which we had bought on our previous visit). However, the bay was fast becoming busy with an influx of what seemed to be rally yachts. When one anchored too close to Pipistrelle, we decided to lunch on board and guard our territory with a view to moving to the next bay! Bob enquired if our new neighbours were staying overnight. They weren’t, but as a result of the ensuing conversation we were invited to attend their wine tasting event later that afternoon. It turned out to be the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Easter Rally. And having beached the dinghy, we were made most welcome at the event by Mike and Sheryl from ‘Shared Delight’ who had extended the invitation to us. They later joined us on board Pipistrelle to share sailing yarns!
Bruce and Val who we had met tasting the Man o’ War nectar came past on ‘Paramour’ the next morning to drop off their contact details. They suggested we follow them to Greens Bay, an anchorage we did not know on the south of Ponui, some four miles away. There the RNZYS fleet had gathered again for the children’s Easter Egg hunt and fun races. To our surprise we were invited to go ashore to share Bucks Fizz and ‘brunch’ with all the other rally participants. Overwhelmed by their hospitality, we left late afternoon and had a good sail to Awaawaroa Bay on south Waiheke, a sheltered overnight anchorage chosen by Bruce. Again on board Pipistrelle that evening we heard more fascinating tales of the sea. Late the following morning we sailed to Waiti Bay (NE Waiheke) for the night and then on to West Bay, Rakino Island before returning to Gulf Harbour for reinstallation of the generator.