Who Opened The Gates At Paradise Bay

So we arrive in the Paradise Bay anchorage in the mid afternoon. The sun is shining and there isn’t a soul around. We have this amazing anchorage all to ourselves. What more could two salty dogs want after all we’ve done to make it to the Bay of Islands except a beautiful bay, some cold beer and complete isolation from the rest of the world? Ahhhh…this is perfect!

Paradise Bay

We settle into our new neighborhood quite quickly. The winds are picking up as the day progresses but we are well protected from the southeasterly blow here. The anchorage remains rather peaceful and calm in the midst of it. We sit in the cockpit watching boats and watercraft of every shape and size make their way from one side of the bay to the other. There are jet skis completely set up for fishing, sailboats, fishing boats, large luxury yachts and I can’t even count the different types of charter and tour boats on the water. Some have large jet engines spraying water 2 meters in the air behind them, others are catamarans that are just gently gliding through the water and still others are antique, three masted schooners. It’s quite different from what we are used to…sort of like a carnival on the water but it is certainly quite entertaining.

As the afternoon progresses and the expected clouds, wind and rain start to settle in we find that we are not going to be the only ones here after all. It’s inevitable….we know that in a place as wonderful as this our perfect moment of solitude can only last a short time. Within a few hours of our arrival a catamaran shows up on our port side. Okay, okay, I guess we don’t need this entire place to ourselves. Shortly after that two other monohulls show up flanking us on either side. Yes our solitude is short lived but it’s a good sized anchorage and no one anchored too close. We’re happy to share….maybe not exactly happy, but we know we can’t expect to keep paradise from the others. Sharing is caring you know.

When there is a lull in the weather Dan throws a few steaks and potatoes on the grill and we sit outside enjoying the gorgeous anchorage while he cooks dinner. I can’t tell you how good it is to finally be here after all the little detours. It feels like a whole new brand of freedom!

After dinner we do our normal movie and then hit the hay. It was a long day and we both are  pretty tired. I wake up in the morning to the sound of rain. We knew it was coming so there really is no surprise there. It’s not so bad. Even in paradise you have to have a little rain to make the flowers grow. And, we can always enjoy a day of chilling down below.

Good Morning Paradise Bay

Rainy Day At Paradise Bay

I whip us up some breakfast with my first batch of homemade sausage. Here in New Zealand they have a different taste for sausage. We’ve tried many versions but just can’t seem to find anything to fit our taste so I finally resorted to making my own. And, for my first attempt it isn’t too bad. Think I’ll make a few modifications next time but we are pretty happy with the results.

The rain starts to let up just before noon and that’s when it happens. It is like someone just opened up the flood gates. Boats of every shape and size begin to descend upon this anchorage like bees on honey. At one point I counted more than 30 boats! And let me tell you something…the Kiwis don’t mind anchoring right up next to you. Fortunately for us we only have one boat, a very large power boat, anchor inside our comfort zone but the Captain stays on board the entire time so we are okay with that.

Literally inside of an hour the anchorage is teeming with boats and people. The second their anchors hit the sea floor they are out kayaking, swimming, walking the beach and hiking the trails onshore. Some jump in their dinghies or kayaks and head back out toward the bay to go fishing and others just relax on their decks sunning themselves in the summer sun.

The boats are starting to converge upon the anchorage here at Paradise Bay

I will say that it is quite a change from the experiences we’ve had in Tutukaka and Urquharts Bay. The Captains here seem a bit more squared away than we’ve seen. They are backing down on their anchors, using snubbers and generally appear a bit more savvy. Of course there’s always going to be that one skipper who has to make a show on his/her way into an anchorage. Today it’s a large commercial fishing vessel that arrives and throws up quite a wake as he barrels past the anchored boats looking for a spot to drop his hook. He’s the most rude of them all but happily for us he anchors a fair distance away on the other side of the anchorage. 

The afternoon’s activities are fun to watch and so we just spend time in the cockpit checking out the boats and people. Who needs TV when you have all this??? I always say real life is way better than fiction.

As evening comes we expect to see many of the boats leave but very few do. Of course it is the weekend so you can’t expect them to want to leave paradise and go home. Would you? Throughout the evening you can hear lots of partying going on at the beach and on boats across the anchorage but as is typical in the boating world things start to settle down around 2100. For those who don’t know…that’s what we call “Cruiser Midnight”. Long days on the water are quite exhausting and therefore yachties never seem to stay up too late.

Hello Kahuwera Pa

The next morning we decide it is time for the Dazzler crew to head out to find a place a little less populated so around 0900 we take off. We really don’t have an anchorage in mind. We are just looking for something quiet that will protect us from the coming winds. About 3.5 miles away we find the cutest little anchorage. The tiny bay doesn’t even have a name but the point is called Kahuwera Pa Point. It’s actually an area that has played a large part in the history of the Bay of Islands.

First of all let me explain that a “pa” in Māori is a settlement, village or embattlement. This particular pa is one of historical significance in many ways. One is that its settlers played host to whaling crews back in the 1800s. They fed, entertained and sheltered them. It’s also a place where Samuel Marsden, a member of the Church Missionary Society and the man considered to have been the first to bring Christianity to New Zealand, arrived and started one of the first missions in the Bay of Islands. Of course this place is also historical for other, not so pleasant reasons as well.

Much has been written about Chief Korokoro who presided over Kahuwera and the neighboring pa of Paroa. In documents written by Samuel Marsden he says of the chief, “Korokoro is a very brave and sensible man. I have seen no chief who has his people under such subjection and good order as he.” The interesting part of this is that it is said that during Korokoro’s conquest of the Ngare-raumati tribe’s fortified positions at Kahuwera and Parao they were attacked, captured then “killed and eaten”. I’m just spitballing here but if my chief is the kind of guy who kills and eats his enemies I think I’d be pretty obedient as well. Just saying!

Even more interesting than this is that Samuel Marsden took Korokoro as well as some other chiefs with him to Australia in 1814 where they were given regimental uniforms by the then Governor, Lachlan Macquarie. This action essentially gave the chiefs official law enforcement status. Hmmmm….not sure I want my law enforcement officers to also be cannibals but then I guess it would cut down on the need for prisons.

Chief Korokoro died in 1823 and by 1827 when French explorer, D’Urville, visited Paroa Bay he found both pas deserted. Today it has been deemed a Historical Reserve and has walking tracks across the area. We did not take the track as from the beach in front of us the track looked to go straight up the hill some 20+ meters (65 feet or so) with just some sparsely placed terraces in the thick grass. It is our understanding that the track can be reached more easily  from Paroa Bay on the southern lobe of the peninsula but we did not try that.

It doesn’t look as steep in the photo as it does in person.

As much as we would enjoy a walk around the track here we certainly have no problems just sitting on Dazzler watching the world go by. And, it turns out it’s probably good for the owners of one sailboat that we did stay on board.

The Dragging Anchor

About an hour after we arrive I am in the cockpit playing a few Irish ditties on my tin whistle when a small sailboat arrives in the anchorage. I watch them as they search for a spot to anchor. First they go in very close where there are lots of underwater rocks. They drop their anchor and quickly realize this isn’t the spot. Next they come out to drop their anchor directly beside Dazzler. I lean over the side and call out to let them know we have just over 30 meters (100 feet) of chain out. They realize that they are now too close to us.

The skipper is great about it and backs up a bit before dropping their anchor for the third time. They say third time is a charm but alas this is not always the case. You see, I continue my musical entertainment, Dan goes down to nap and the couple on the small boat prepare to head to shore.

About 45 minutes after they are on shore Dan wakes up and I tell him I am pretty certain they are dragging anchor. He looks out and says he is absolutely certain of it. We don’t have Sparkle in the water to go help rescue her either. Leave it to Captain Save-A-Hoe though. He gets on the hailer and calls out, “Attention on the Beach. It appears your anchor is dragging.” The guy on the beach has a funny look and Dan says, “Your boat is definitely further away from us then when you anchored. At least 30 meters!” The guy gives him the hi sign and Dan goes back down below.

Me, Mrs. Kravitz, I’m not going anywhere. I want to see what transpires next as their boat is moving at a nice little pace and it’s heading out to sea and toward some shallow rocks. Please do not misunderstand. I would NEVER hope for anyone’s misfortune but I am going to stay on deck to monitor the situation. Call me nosey or whatever, but out here we all have to look out for each other.

It’s about now that I become a bit perplexed. The skipper acknowledged that he heard us tell him his anchor is dragging and yet instead of loading up in his dinghy and heading directly out to save it, what does he do? He decides to take a swim. I’m not kidding. I was in complete and utter shock! And, he doesn’t just take a quick dip. He’s in swimming around for a good fifteen minutes with his wife and baby by his side. 

After what seems like forever he casually saunters back up the beach, grabs a towel, stretches a few times and wraps the towel around his shoulders. Wifey poo and the little munchkin are still in the water. I mention this to Dan and he says, “Hey, I’ve done my job. You can’t save someone from themselves.” The thing is, I know Dan and if this boat keeps going and the guy doesn’t get out there we’re going to be scrambling to drop our dinghy in the water to rescue it because their dinghy has a 2.5 HP motor. If this thing gets further into the channel it’s going to move too fast for them to catch it. They will need our Yamaha 20 HP to get them there and of course we will help if necessary. We just don’t want to have to do all this right now.

Twenty-five minutes pas and they begin to casually load their beach gear into their dinghy and head to their boat. By this time it’s are a very good distance away from where they started. As they pass by Dazzler the skipper gives a nod of acknowledgement and thanks.

The good news is they made it to their boat safely before it hit the rocks and within a few minutes they were hauling anchor. Interestingly, their anchor came up with half the seabed worth of seaweed on it so it appears they may have dropped into it. This combined with the fact that they had a very small anchor, little chain and just some small rode is likely the reason they drifted. Oh well, just glad they and their boat are safe.

After this the afternoon is rather uneventful. We watch a Māori family come in and do some snorkeling around the rocks. Guessing they are looking for clams or crayfish. They hang out for a couple of hours and then they too take their leave and we are back to having this gorgeous anchorage all to ourselves again.

Yes, THIS is the kind of place we like to call home.

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan

Author: Dan & Jilly

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