"WÉMOON" story 1998
"WÉMOON", Nelson marina, 2000

Adrian Parlane was owner of “Wemoon” 1998-2006. This is his story about Wemoon.


I purchased her in Auckland New Zealand from Tony Rodgers and Tony and I sailed her to Nelson New Zealand, where I live. My family cruised around Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds and also made 3 trips across Cook Strait to Wellington over the years. In December 2003 and January 2004 we circumnavigated the North Island of New Zealand. After selling her I delivered the yacht to Auckland with the new owner Adrian Lemmens and his son.


All I want are 10-15 knot favourable winds, boringly calm seas and the monotony of one sunny day after another.”

Adrian Parlane, May 2010

The following is about our trip to the North Island in Dec 2003 and Jan 2004.


Trip Nelson-Wellington, 98 nautical miles in 14.5 hrs

We are now in Wellington having had a great sail on Monday all the way here. We expected to anchor in Ship Cove Monday night but the strong NW wind and tides were ideal for taking us across Cook Strait so we just kept on going especially as a strong SE headwind was forecast. We arrived in Wellington at 10 pm. in the dark, which felt a bit precarious until we began to recognize landmarks amidst the jumble of bright city lights. The next day blew a howling SE wind and rain so it was good we didn't attempt to cross Cook Strait in that. It's lovely and protected in Chaffers marina and we're enjoying a bit of city life. We ran into an old school acquaintance who happens to be the Admiral in charge of the NZ Navy and lives on his big comfortable launch in the marina. He invited us on board and it’s always fun to see how others live on the waves. Plan to leave tomorrow morning for Napier and expect it to take us 40 hrs approx.


Jesse and Bruno are proving to be very pleasant crew…helpful and not phased about anything. Jesse is from Aussie (part Torres Strait islander) and a good cook…. how fortunate can we be!  Bruno is very keen to learn all he can about sailing, which makes him ideal crew. He’s from Brazil and he sometimes struggles with nautical English. We get a lot of laughs at his expense.


Wellington to Napier

Got to Napier in 35 hrs…we had to keep clear of the mean looking Fast Ferry that sped by us at the entrance. The winds were mainly with us except rounding Cape Palliser where we beat to windward in the dark for several hours. We take turns at watch, 2 hours on, 6 hours off and no one is allowed to go forward (on deck) without being harnessed or having someone else in the cockpit. This should ensure that if someone goes over board, at least someone else knows about it.


We’re now tied up to the visitor’s pier in front of the Napier Sailing Club which is a very lively place during Saturday races…. lots of small fast racing yachts. Napier city is the size of Nelson (about 30000)…. an attractive art deco centre with nice old villas perched on the hill overlooking the harbour. We’ll leave tonight at 8 pm and head north for Tauranga, bypassing Gisborne because we haven’t heard anyone say anything positive about that as a port to visit yet. It will take us 3 days to get to Tauranga so we’ll stop in protected bays, as we need to.  


In Napier we met a couple whose boat was too big to fit in a marina berth. When they invited us on board, we discovered that she is a very accomplished painter and was happy to talk art with Cathie. Cathie assumed that she worked on small canvases but no, she showed us her stack of stretched canvas 100/60 cm. Cathie is now a bit inspired to plan some paintings and get the camera out.


December 27

We have been berthed in the Tauranga Marina for the last 3 nights…a big spacious privately owned marina. Our 48-hour sail up from Napier felt long because we were expecting more helpful winds, which didn’t blow as the forecaster had predicted so we were a bit miffed. We were forced to head far out to the east before the wind changed and we could head in for East Cape. I was on watch at midnight and had to motor sail thru a very strong head current raging around the Cape with a following wind. Cathie missed all this and by the time she woke for her watch at 4 am, we were ¼ across the Bay of Plenty and riding the waves with a gentle breeze behind us. Dolphins or whales have accompanied us on three occasions so far and once one of them rose up to touch Bruno’s foot as he sat at the bow. They like to race the boat just under the bow and will sometimes roll to one side and eye us as we lean over the rail. For up to 40 minutes they will race us only inches from our dangling feet. The whales are a little less theatrical. They jump out of the water less, but were nonetheless impressive to watch. We also saw a shark who just cruised by.


Yesterday evening as we walked along the jetties checking out the other yachts, a friendly American couple who’ve been here for a year, invited us on board for a glass of wine. Their yacht had a beautiful cosy teak interior with leather upholstery, lots of book shelves and a complete bells-and-whistles kitchen. It’s been fun meeting these other sailors, some of them having been on board for years and having lots of stories to tell.


Xmas day we went to the Spinnaker restaurant at the marina for a three-course lunch over two hours.  It was expensive but superb.


This morning Cathie had one of those first-time experiences of being hoisted up the mast of 40 ft. to disconnect the wind vane. She sat in a little seat and Bruno had the job of winching her up. (He got his exercise for the day) Once up there she said she could hardly hear anything that was yelled to her from the deck because of the wind. Anyway, it was an excellent view from up there.


We hitched to the mount of Mount Manganui and walked up to the top.  Lots of people were doing this and there was a running race up there as well.


Today, we say goodbye to Jesse and Bruno as they will stay here in Tauranga for a while. Tomorrow we plan to continue sailing north to the Mercury Islands off the Coromandel Peninsula and then on to Great Barrier Island for a few days.



Had a great sail up from Tauranga to a tiny sheltered harbour called Boat Harbour.  Then up to Whitianga, which we like so much we stayed the night in the marina.


We had head winds for several days…. Mercury Cove was so full of boats trying to get out of the storm that we could only hover at the edge of the cove where the swell tossed us around all night. The next day was more of the same and in a very tired wet state we pulled into Great Barrier’s most southerly bay Port Tryphena. Everything improved at that point.


Our New Years Eve was quiet. We invited another boat couple whom we met on land to join us for drinks but that was it.


We have just had several wonderful days at Great Barrier Island in awesome weather. We fished and caught rather easily 5 snapper (threw back 2), which was more than enough for dinner. The trick is to drop your hook to just off the bottom and tie the rod so it can’t be pulled in by some overzealous fish. Then go have lunch or read a book…. basically forget you desperately want a fish and bingo, the next time you check your line, there’s a heavy weight on it that surrenders itself without a fight.


While passing through a narrow channel the skipper of a yacht going the other way yelled "Hey Stop!" We did and it was the previous owner of Wemoon (Tony Rodgers) so we had a good catch up on respective lives.


We spent the last 2 nights in Fitzroy Harbour, which is so beautiful and protected. Yesterday we took a walk up to an old restored Kauri dam, which was really interesting. We got very hot and puffed on the walk but found a deep freshwater pool to skinny dip in before returning to the boat.


Now we’re having a lovely sail toward the mainland and will have a few days around Kawau Island.


We stopped the night at a shallow estuary harbour called Sandspit near Kawau Island and arrange the use of a mooring.  A bit like where my father kept his yacht at Mapua – strong tides and not very deep.  We were going to visit a friend of Cathie’s at Matakana and he said he was too busy to collect us so we should hitch.  We did, successfully.  People are so friendly and helpful.  We ended up staying the night and had dinner with lots of the family who were visiting.  Early next morning we were dropped back to the yacht to catch the tide out.  We motor sailed down to the big marina on the Whangaparoa Peninsula with very light winds.



Today Cathie’s 2nd cousin, Mark Hildesley and his two little girls, Emma and Sophie, met us at the boat and were very kind to taxi us to town so that we could restock our cupboards and refrigerator.  Afterwards, he brought us back to their new home where Anna, Mark’s Australian wife, had prepared a small feast. It’s been great for Cathie getting to know Mark and Anna ….just having relatives in NZ is special for her. We’re hoping to get them down to Nelson for a visit.

We also had dinner with friends of Cathie’s from Austria who have been living near Whagaporoa for many years.


Jan 15

The last 10 days have been full to the point of not having much energy to sit down and write.

From Whagaporoa we sailed back up to Kawau and visited Mansion House in Bon Accord Harbour but it was a bit cluttered with yachts and launches so we went one bay up to North Cove for the night. From there we went up to Whangarei and anchored just inside opposite the Marsden Point refinery.  It was a lovely evening and the locals were all out in their little boats fishing.  The harbour itself is huge and very attractive.


Next morning we set off for Whangarei township.  It took us 2 ½ hours from the entrance up the harbour then up the river to the marina and town centre. The waterfront has been developed with lovely walkways, landscaping, cafes, shops, etc. We took long walks around the town to justify some great restaurant meals. NZ was in the middle of a heat wave and Whangarei, I think, was at the centre of this furnace. Swimming in the rather murky waters of the harbour was not an option so we retreated into an air-conditioned movie theatre for quick relief. The movie was that one with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton “Something’s Gotta Give” which happened to be pretty good.


Next stop: Tutukaka Harbour for one night. It was a great relief to anchor in clean clear water where we could jump in for a swim and cool off.  We got an early start the next morning as we aimed to round Cape Brett and anchor in some calm bay in the Bay of Island for the next night. We had the best sail under spinnaker for most of the day. Cathie decided to put out a fishing line and trawl, just for the fun of it. Within about half and hour, the rod was suddenly bending enough to nearly break and when Cathie started reeling in what felt like a whale we knew we had something good. It turned out to be a Yellowfin Tuna (45-50 cm long...more than enough for 2 meals) I filleted it and Cathie used some of it for yummy fish chowder. The fishing up here is a lot easier than around Nelson and there are hundreds of boats fishing in this small area.


For the following 5 days we wandered thru the Bay of Islands , occasionally going ashore to explore e.g. Russell but always anchoring in relatively secluded bays at night, which is not easy this time of year because of the popularity of the area. Finally we pulled into the Kerikeri Marina in Doves Bay to stock up on supplies before sailing north. To do this required hitching into town 15 km away. We were by now feeling pretty smug about our hitching abilities and sure enough, our rides both to and from the town were with generous helpful yachties. One of them was friendly with one of my former bosses at Carter Holt Harvey and insisted on taking us to meet him as he lived on the way...small world.


Cathie was sent up the mast again to refit the wind instrument, which had been repaired by the manufacturer and sent to us in Whangarei.  She was up there for over an hour so earned her G&T that evening.


That night we had a great meal out on the balcony of the yacht club which sits on a bluff overlooking the marina.... shared a table with a women from England. Sally explained that one of her reasons for being there was to find a boat to sail on and assured us that she had worked for months on yachts in the Mediterranean.... so we offered to take her with us as crew. Fortunately she could join us for only the short trip up to Whangaroa Harbour, as it turned out she was pretty useless as crew. We should have suspected as much when she more or less admitted to being a Princess Diana groupie. However she was good company for a few days.


Whangaroa Harbour is a beautiful small fjord-like harbour providing some of the best protected bays in NZ. We stayed here for 2 nights, said goodbye to Sally, bought last minute supplies at incredibly inflated prices, and left to sail north to Matai Bay which would be our jumping off point for the long haul around Cape Reinga and back to Nelson. There was a howling souwesterly blowing through there but it calmed down in the evening so that we could move to the eastern side of the bay and thereby enjoy a brilliant sunset. We were both nervous and excited about the trip home...no easy harbours to pull into, 4-5 days of straight sailing, 3 hours on/3 hours off routine with just the two of us, losing view of land, having no idea what kind of weather followed the current high which would get us about half way down the west coast of the North Island.


We left at 6 am Saturday.  The wind was perfect for getting us up to North Cape and around to Cape Reinga with spinnaker runs.  An audience of around 40 people watched from the Cape Reinga lighthouse as we sailed around the huge breakers below them. "Wemoon" must have looked like a little cork bobbing around on the increasingly high waves. Things settled down once we got past the Cape and we turned south with a good NW wind on the quarter. There we were charging along at 6-7 knots with the wind behind us and only the GPS and compass to tell us where to go. It's an amazing feeling to being moving that fast and not see anything. Checking the radar every 20 minutes insured we wouldn't collide with another object.  However radar does not pick up semi-submerged containers, which have fallen off cargo ships, so that was always a risk. Anyway, things couldn't have been better for 40 hours, 20 knot NW winds pushing us along at 7-8 knots.


Then on Monday morning I woke to commotion on deck, loud flapping of sails and Adrian swearing at the wind.  We had suddenly been hit by a low front that was moving north with 25 knot S winds and within seconds, everything changed. From then on the size of the swell increased to 3-4 meters and the wind was gusting up to 30 knots.  We were beating into this wind heading for the Maui platform.


The 1 pm weather report gave storm warnings for SE 40 knot winds for the area between us and home so we decided to take refuge in New Plymouth which lay about 11 hours east of us. Once we came off the wind the yacht took off surfing down huge quartering waves, which made steering somewhat strenuous but we were travelling very fast.  I steered most of the time and Cathie struggled to hold the course with the amount of sail we were carrying and the rising seas.  By the time we got to New Plymouth I was exhausted. It was midnight and we had only an approximate idea of the layout of the harbour and no chart.  Fortunately I had put important waypoints into the GPS. However the harbour lights were somewhat unclear against the background of city lights and I was very tired. We radioed the port who phoned back and guided us in. It still took half an hour to discern where to go. In the end we roped up to a fishing boat, went below and had a couple of strong G&Ts.


Next morning, we moved to the marina, which although more exposed to wind, at least provided a berth. The move was no easy exercise as the wind even in the harbour was gusting 40 knots at right angles to the marina so we drove around and around in circles before finally the yacht was nicely positioned at the same time as a lull between gusts.  We were able to dash into the berth. Fortunately 3 people stood on the jetty ready to help with the ropes and keep us from ploughing up onto the jetty. That was Tuesday morning and now on Thursday morning we think we'll be able to sail again this afternoon.


Although we were looking forward to getting home, these 2 days here have been a pleasant opportunity to see this bustling town with its fantastic natural history museum, colourfully renovated big old buildings and beautiful shoreline walkways and parks. Nelson could learn a lot from this town.  Also went to see “The Last Samuri” which was made in Taranaki.  Really enjoyed it.


So, on Thursday at 2.30 pm we set off for Nelson.  It was mostly a beat westward to get past the land lump of Mount Taranaki .  A very attractive mountain somewhat like Mt Fuji in Japan hence the making of the Samuri film here.  Once we could line up the Maui A platform at 90 degrees approx. we tacked, passing the platform at 1 am.  It was lit up like an 8 story Xmas tree, very impressive.  The wind was SW so about 70 degrees to the bow.  This is a fast sailing angle for Wemoon so we stayed above 7 knots all night.  The wind kept increasing so I kept reefing the main (no fun at night in big swells) and eventually just had the furler up when it got to 30 knots. I only got sleep in 20 minute lots as I was up and down checking radar and sails etc all night.  We were rushing along across lumpy 2-meter swells at 7 to 8 knots with the autopilot screaming away until 11 am when the wind eased as we entered Tasman Bay .  4 hours out the sacrificial cog on the little Autohelm 3000 finally failed but it had done a lot of good work on the trip especially after the blade on the wind vane steering broke off New Plymouth. As the wind eased we tried trolling again and caught two fish of significance, the first merely pulling the lure off and the second pulling the lure off when it was just meters from the yacht. The wind backed to a sea breeze northerly and we had a nice run to Nelson arriving around 4.30 pm .  Good to be home!  Have brought two replacements Autohelm cogs now.


December - January 2004