As desperate as we were to sail extensively over the 2022-23 summer holidays, the staffing needs of our business has meant juggling dates and taking our holidays in two parts.

During our 21-22 summer holiday the weather dictated when we could sail; on Christmas Day we found ourselves sailing from Aotea Great Barrier Island to Whitianga. This year’s dream was to be on a Pacific Island but, given our constraints, we knew we could not travel far from Whangaparaoa. As the kids have previously fallen in love with Kawau Island’s School House Bay, with its clear waters and pier from which they dive with absolute delight, our choice was made.

Then it struck us – there, off Kawau Island, is a small ‘deserted’ stereotypical Pacific Island. We searched Google and learned this obscure little – and it is little – island that looks like a beehive to the west of Kawau Island is Beehive Island. Our plans for Christmas Day were confirmed.

Beehive Island.

Before heading out on Christmas Eve, I installed a Pure Sine Wave Inverter. This delivers cleaner power than our old Modified Sine Wave Inverter. With the Pure Inverter we can plug in and use a jug and a Nespresso machine. First world problems, right? Well, yes and no. The Pure Inverter means we won’t need gas to cook with, or Sauvage’s diesel engine to power our watermaker. Instead, we can regenerate our own power through our solar panels and ‘Spinny’, our wind turbine. And the new inverter easily powers our computers and devices.

I bought the 3kW Pure Sine Wave Inverter from a West Auckland business, WaveInverter, for around $800. The swap-out was quick and I have dedicated the old inverter to water making.

In our rush to depart Cambridge, we forgot our induction cooktop element (also a winner with the new inverter) and then we ran out of gas before we even boiled the kettle for our first coffee. Trust me, I was not popular!


Initially we envisioned cold meals and no cooked lobster on a deserted Pacific Island. Then Kirsten recalled there was a free BBQ at Mansion House Bay and we also found our long-lost ‘gas-less’ Casus one-time-use hotplate which we reserved for our Christmas Day lobster.

The ‘sail’ over was sunny, serene (except for the odd launch which roared past us leaving behind a large wake) and windless. We attempted to properly sail a few times but most of the trip was under motor; the kids were happy – this year they are big enough to ‘own’ raising and lowering the mainsail, and they did a great job. We tried letting the genoa out a few times but each time the wind would last a few minutes then die again.

There is a free BBQ at Mansion House Bay on Kawau Island – a great boating-friendly feature.

We arrived at School House Bay mid-afternoon, and immediately the kids made off to do a bit of paddleboarding on our newly acquired SUP (Airpoints are a wonderful thing). From our vantage point we could see them wobble each other off the board, accompanied by peals of laughter, and arrive at the pier, from which they had significant pleasure jumping into the water.

On Christmas Day we moved to Mansion House Bay for a BBQ breakfast – well, breakfast became brunch became lunch since we breakfasted at midday. Kirsten and I drove the tender while the kids, Chris Jnr and Neve, paddle-boarded to land.

After a delicious breakfast/lunch it was time to head back to Sauvage. Chris Jnr proposed that he would drive the tender while I could paddle the SUP with Neve. I had seen the kids using the SUP already, and they made it look very easy. I removed my new jandals, as I didn’t want to lose them if I fell off, climbed onto the SUP, and back to the boat we started.

Cooking rock lobster on the Casus grill.

Well, it turns out paddleboarding and I are not so well matched. Neve was on the front providing instructions, I was in the middle trying to paddle the damned thing, but after all of 50 metres (actually, maybe 10…), off I fell. Into the water went my glasses (sadly, never to be seen again), and the phone in my pocket was given a deep wash. The sea has now taken three phones from me in 12 months!



It was Christmas Day so ‘not much’ was made of this significant failure, but for the next few weeks I would be a blind man walking (I am by no means blind, but without my glasses I cannot clearly judge distance).

Onwards we continued – frustrated, yes, but intent on getting to Beehive Island, a 15-minute, slow motor-sail. At 3pm, at low tide, which is exactly what we wanted, we arrived at our Christmas Day Pacific Island lobster-eating destination. On shore, we set up our Casus hotplate at the mid-low tide mark – no flames but environmentally-friendly hot biscuits which effectively barbecues the lobster. This was what our Christmas Day dream was all about.

We walked around the island (five-minutes at chatting pace) and investigated the ‘Beehive’. It’s all of a 10-metre square clump of trees and there is no practical way to walk in amongst them. We just moseyed around and sat on the beach instead, simply enjoying the unique experience.

Anchoring at Two House Bay is difficult in busy times – but just around the corner is Shark Bay and that is fantastic – easy anchoring and well protected.

After eating and more resting – it was Christmas Day after all – we headed back to Kawau Island for the night, anchoring at Dispute Cove, which was not as sheltered as the inlet bays. On Boxing Day, we headed back to Mansion House Bay for a mid-morning breakfast. However, it was crowded with launches (not surprising, it’s a nice spot), who were juggling positions to get close to the shore. Unfortunately, after last year’s incident, we still only have a 30-metre anchor chain, so at high tide we need to get close to shore to anchor in the shallower depths. This wasn’t going to happen, so instead we moved to Shark Bay, the next bay inside the inlet, which is a better anchorage. That’s where we spent the remainder of our time at Kawau Island.

As I have noted before, I like to park Sauvage stern-first at the marina. I don’t have a bow thruster and have worked on (and mastered quite well) the art of docking. Well, to cut a long story short – ahem, you know very few of my stories are short – between the breeze that had blown up during the afternoon and my lack of glasses, we made maybe 10 attempts to get back into our slip! Round and round the marina we went, nearly getting in, then at the last second, driving around again – it was a very long, one-hour docking procedure! I have since replaced my glasses with contacts… BNZ

It turns out Chris and paddleboards are not well matched.