Thursday 20 September 2018

The Epic Voyage That So Nearly Wasn't: Gisborne to Wellington

My boys and I had just returned from an awesome morning at the beach when I noticed a number of missed calls and messages from a friend. Replaying the voice message took my breath away and accelerated my heart rate as excitement and anticipation took over.  A guy had recently sailed in, his crew needing to depart: one returning to work, (his brother and co-owner), the other returning to his wife due to a medical emergency.

Sunset Gisborne Marina

The stranded Captain had called into my friends' work, the fishing club, requesting local knowledge of potential crew available to help deliver his boat to Wellington, his home base.  I was the only sailing person she knew!

Proposed route: 268 nautical miles
or 496 km.

In spite of the reasonably legit sounding excuses of the quickly departing crew, thoughts of dodgy Captain stories came to the forefront of my mind.  Accompanied with gnarly sailors' accounts of that particularly notorious stretch of coastline, including a number who haven't actually survived.  Decided a Nanna nap was in order before making any hasty decisions to contact potentially dodgy Captain Haddock!
Arriving at the marina late afternoon, I had an idea which boat it was, having noticed new boats earlier in the day driving by.  (Boat stalking, it's what I do!)  Unfortunately, my friend had left work and the gate to the marina berths was locked.  Taking my time heading back to the car and contemplating my next move, a taxi pulled up near the gate with the driver pulling out bags of groceries.  My eyes met with the passengers' and enlarged instantly, recognising her as Lyn Pardy: legendary sailor and author of a number of books,
one of which I had dragged back and forth across the world!
Here's the book I had:

I had always imagined myself to act chilled if I ever had the chance to meet someone famous and treat them like any other normal person.  Instead, I was totally star-struck, stuttering my recognition of who she was and barely able to get my name out, saying I was "just Vicki," (haha)!!  I did at least manage to offer assistance delivering her groceries to her boat and was able to hold a conversation after the initial embarrassment!
James, the crew-less Captain was out washing his boat when I rocked up and introduced myself.  Over a cup of tea on his very nice boat, we got on easily, he seemed to know his stuff and I left with no qualms about this guy being on the list of dodgy Captains!
Next day while at work, I got the message from James: the forecast is looking good to leave 5am following morning.  Yikes!  My mind kicked into overdrive with the things I would need to organise: picking up and dropping off kids - Mum?!  Salem's home-school work, groceries, meals and baking for family and trip, sussing out affordable return transport home, packing.  I had half a day, which also required the time for a counseling session and taking the boys to their "tricking" session at the gym in the evening.  Finalising planning details with the Captain was rather essential too.  He had another local crew member organised, thanks to Lyn: Noah, who coincidentally was the diver that helped Antje unravel her fouled anchor chain...

All James's sources agreed the weather and conditions looked the best window you could ask for on this run.  I tracked down Antje, to get her opinion once she'd had a chance to check over her weather sources.  She also agreed the weather window looked like a primo opportunity to take.
Adrenaline or stress, or both, kicked in big time, my body felt like it was physically shaking most of the day.  A lot of breathing techniques learnt from the counselor were applied.  In spite of this I knew it was too good an opportunity to pass up.  I was also weary that if I didn't go for it, I may have a lot less courage next time.  Everything I had needed to organise seemed to work in my favour.
Stress consumed any space for sleep and 3.45am came around slowly as Dad pulled up to drive me to the wharf.
We meandered out slowly in the cover of dark and continued motoring most of the morning.  My nerves had settled as soon as I jumped onboard but around 9am I was reminded somewhere back there on land my boys would be arriving at school...and would I see them again?!  Just like that my heart began racing again.  Thankfully, Noah and James were in a conversation about the importance of living in the moment: if you consider the current moment you are in, that seems to be scary or stressful, it's likely you're actually safe.  It's scary yes, but probably, you're not actually sinking to the bottom of the ocean and out of air; worrying only makes it hurt twice - assuming it eventuates!

While writing this, I decided to look into the actual numbers as there was a bit of vagueness as to the exact ratio of stress compared to actual events, this is what I found on Huffington Post, the findings from a study:

Lo and behold, it turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.
By Don Joseph Goewey

Contemplating these things, sitting on the boat on a sunny morning, on a silky sea while most of the country were heading off to work, I was able to put a halt on the stress and be thankful for such an awesome opportunity and rest in the knowledge that my boys were safe and happy.  Now it was up to me to enjoy what I'd been given.  The stress left and didn't return.

By 10am the wind had picked up from the south west and we were close reaching under full sail, giving us enough speed and encouragement to tow a line out the back.  We were well rewarded with 3 skipjack tuna in close succession of each other!
As previously organised by the Captain, Noah had breakfast prepared with the ingredients he had brought along.  I was on lunch, dinner duties by James.  I had prepared a roast vege salad the previous day and served it up along with three ham salad buns each for the boys, knowing from experience that boys are always hungry, moreso with the salt air.  James was busy plotting our course and was the last to grab his plate.  Seeing the three buns on his plate he queried if it was all for him.  When the answer was affirmative, he replied, "Wow, you really are in the business of growing boys!"
It was fascinating to see Mahia Peninsula from the water perspective and to see their Rocket Lab launch facility perched atop the cliff...


So too, realising just how large the Hawkes Bay was in comparison to our Turanga-nui-a Kiwa bay.
Late avo, the boys decided to have a tutu (play around - kiwi slang!) with the self-steering wind vane.  James was sitting on the aft platform surround, trying to fix the rudder piece into place that wasn't holding.  Noah and I were in the cockpit watching, trying to figure out why it wouldn't click into place.  I was trying not to crack up laughing at Noah, who was so keen to get in and have a go, he couldn't stay still, fingers twitching, he was almost jiggling on the spot, frothing at the thought of solving the problem!!  They did eventually figure it out and we got to enjoy it for a time.

The fellas in discussion/tutu mode with sails!

This leg was in fact part two of James's maiden voyage aboard Abel Rest.  He and his brother had recently bought the 40ft steel cutter rigged sloop, Ganley Tara design in Auckland.  They'd intended to sail right through to Wellington but a fuel line issue arose, causing them to call into Gisborne.  Probably just as well with the other crew member getting the emergency call about his wife.
I went down for a sleep and awoke to the cooking smells of fresh fish for dinner, it was soo good!

Yum, thanks Noah!

My night watch we were motoring again for lack of wind.  Inspite of the constant hum, it was still a beautiful evening, and set me into a fairly poetic state of mind!  Here's my one and only log entry:

"The large egg yolk coloured 3/4 moon made a brief cameo appearance between the layers of cloud.  For the next hour or so I stood mesmerised on the cockpit edge entertained by the playful antics of dolphins criss- crossing phosphorus tracks through the dark, silky ocean as they swam alongside Able Rest...this is living!"
The dolphins seemed even more incredible in the dark, they almost appeared like Chinese dragons dipping in and out of the water with their long phosphorus tails!
..."Lowrance is showing a depth of 0.0m eek!!  Another instrument shows 13.3m though.  Perhaps the dolphins swimming under the keel are messing with the instruments!  According to Lowrance, we are nearing Cape Kidnappers to our starboard side.
The moon is back, blazing a bold, bright path across the ocean to meet the stern of Able Rest."

The boys' watches were not so peaceful, they had a dormant cruise liner and log ship to avoid along with a lot of sail changes.
Another clear, sunny day arose with light winds, 8-10 knots from the NNW. The boys decided to take advantage of the conditions and have a crack at hoisting the spinnaker.

Much strategic talk going on!

It proved to be a worthwhile exercise, we could enjoy our lunch in the cockpit with a smoothe downwind sailing motion, the graceful slicing through the ocean was so much better than the noisy slightly jerky engine hum.  It wasn't to last, the ocean appeared to be darkening and chopping up near land and was gathering momentum towards our direction.  A wise decision to pack away the spinnaker sail before it reached us 'cos fighting this massive kite in big winds with ropes whipping about is no fun at all!  I had gone below to make coffees while the boys made the most of the 15-20 knots of breeze upon us.

I had just finished pouring the coffees when a strong gust gave us a good shove, causing us to heel over, tipping the coffees all over the bench and beyond!  At least it had high timber edge surrounds for such an occassion, keeping the sloshing to a better catchment situation.  However by the time I had caught and cleaned it all, the queezy green feeling had overtaken and sent me hurtling upstairs for the leeward edge of the boat, apologising there's no way I was going to be able to make any more coffees!  They suggested helming for a while to keep my mind preoccupied. Unfortunately, the lurching feeling arose again to the throat, sending me making noises for someone to grab the helm while I aimed and positioned myself for hurling out the back.  Nothing came of it unfortunately and the only way I could feel slightly better was lying down on the cockit benchseat.  The boys very graciously ran around getting me seasick pills, warm gear, pillows, while they covered the watches.  I felt terrible for not being able to help share the load so in an attempt to try and be supportive, I slept in the cockpit all night, occassionally checking up on the helmsman to see if he was alright.
At some stage, lasagne was heated.  Ironically, the cheesy smell sent me straight back to when I was 14 or 15, in a very similar spot, off the coast of Napier.  I was aboard the Spirit of NZ with 39 other students plus crew, on what was supposed to be a 10 day sail to Wellington.  The weather had been so bad, we'd had to turn back to Napier for a few days but then had to gap it 'cos kids had transportation booked from Wellington.  I remember walking past the galley and the cheesy smell of macaroni cheese sent me running for fresh sea air.  I've only eaten macaroni cheese once, much later in life, since!
I forced down my small portion, which would've normally been very  nice, at a record slow snail pace, knowing that food in the tummy is actually more of a prevention for sea-sickness and the fuel would be much needed - moreso than I realised at the time.

On Noahs' watch, he offered me some hot water to drink.  Once again, downed at snail pace, in the hope it would stay down with that lasagne lurking about!  It was cold by the time I got through it but the warmth at the beginning did wonders being out in the chilly cockpit, the Autumn breeze blowing through.  He also gave me his phone to listen to a pod-cast, as an attempt to preoccupy my mind.  I kind of zoned in and out of sleep but it definitely helped.
On James's watch, we were motoring.  I must've been a lot more out to it 'cos at one stage, lying down, my leg fell off the bench seat and kicked the throttle lever, sending the engine screaming into high revs, startling me into an instant upright position, gasping, heart pumping, eyes wide like a deer in headlights!  James cracked up laughing, while adjusting it back down.  I mumbled sorry before collapsing back down into my semi-foetal position again; decked out with 7 layers of clothing, beanie, gloves, PVC wet weather gear on top and gumboots, you don't get to curl up that small!
The wind was up around 30-40 knots that night so the boys had dropped sails and were motoring till we'd rounded Cape Palliser, when the southerly change came.

Just before dawn, it was clear James was getting tired and I felt I could probably take the helm to give the fellas a much needed rest after their stellar effort covering my watch as well as their own through the night.  We were by now running along the Wairarapa Coast and expecting to arrive in Wellington later that avo.  This coastline is notorious for big surf and dodgy sailing conditions.  I was hoping to catch a glimpse of one particularly famous surf spot but the visibility was not in my favour due to the cloud cover.

By the time the guys had recuperated enough to venture back out, looking less zombie, so too returned the wind: 25-30 knots (50-61 km/hr approx) straight from the south, with 3-4 metre swells from the same direction.

Most of that day was a bit of a blur to all of us, filled with rubbish snacks when we could and dealing with the conditions!  Nearing the harbour entrance mid afternoon, we decided to pull the sails and motor in.  A potentially dodgy situation, we didn't fix the boom on the traveller enough to stop it from lethally swinging side to side.  I turned us into the screaming wind, we were bucking up and down the steep waves, closely compacted together, sending the boom dangerously back and forth.  I couldn't leave the helm to tighten the sheets.  Screaming "sorry!" and "watch out!" was to no avail over the noise of the wind. Just trying to keep the bow steady into the waves was a mission enough. Noah and James were tethered to the jack lines of the boat but one whack from the boom while trying to pull the sails down would've been all over for them.  It was a horrible helpless feeling as they stumbled, slipped and dodged all the while getting smashed by waves.  Such a relief to have them in the safety of the cockpit, we could then head towards the entrance.

An exhilerating entrance it was too, with the steep waves coming up the rear end, it was imperative for the helmsman to get Abel Rest lined up on the right angle to surf safely in and not get swatted on the side.  This session required a good amount of concentration by the helmsman and a spotter watching aft to give directions.

Taking turns in the different positions and getting accustomed to it, as the conditions eased, it gradually evolved into a competition of who held the highest speed record surfing down a wave, accompanied with plenty of hooting!

The boys did an awesome job of tidying the boat as I helmed us across the bay.

James then took over, pulling us into Chaffers Marina, right in the centre of downtown Wellington.  We were welcomed with live music pumping from the annual Homegrown Music Festival.  The party atmosphere from festival goers wandering along the waterfront only added to the surreal exhileration of mission complete.
For three individuals to have never met and within 36 hours or so be sailing/living together within close confinement for three days, it was amazing how effortless it was to get on well and work efficiently together as a team, all contributing something different.

Respect for the ocean and weather conditions was applied when due, but I loved that no one was intense and was just fun.  The number of times I was at the helm trying to steer straight into the waves and wind, feeling sorry for the boys from the comfort of the cockpit, while they were tethered up front trying to pull sails down, getting dealt to by the waves.  Yet their positive reaction quickly changed my mind, as their hooting and yahooing reached my ears, they had me laughing, getting back from their mission, eyes wide, big grins, fully pumped.  Because they were having the time of their lives, I could relax and go, "yeah, this is awesome!"
I felt very blessed to have been a part of this mission: the beginning of an exciting new mission for James, learning more about sailing and sailtrim tactics from the very knowledgable Noah, and all round good times it felt like we were the dream team!

Not least to mention that passage was the best sailing I'd ever glad I didn't pass up the opportunity!

Friday 7 September 2018

First Published Magazine Article!

Hey just a quick little update, pretty excited my article was accepted by a Caribbean sailing magazine! 
Called All At Sea, it's available online if you don't happen to be in the vicinity of the Caribbean islands!
Eden diving down.
The article is about our very non-conventional way we taught our five year old to swim while living on a boat.

Even made front page headlines!!

Check it out on the link below, hope you enjoy it:)

Friday 6 July 2018

Crewing: Gisborne to Tauranga

My first crewing trip came about from posting on the facebook group: Women Who Sail NZ.

Antje responded to my desperate sounding plea that if anyone was coming to Gisborne I would love to meet or even just sit on a boat! Her summer sailing trip spanned the East Coast of the North Island: from Opua situated north of Auckland, down to Napier, then back up to Gisborne.
Napier had her competing in the Europe Class National Champs on Europe dinghies, while Gisborne held the Sanders Cup Interprovincial Challenge on javelin skiffs.
We met on board for a cup of tea, got on well and when she mentioned taking her boat around to Kaiti beach for the upcoming race, I almost begged for a ride!

Eastland Port Inner Harbour, Gisborne.

Regatta morning we putted quietly out of the marina, it was raining but I was stoked.  Just to add to the stoke, Antje asked me to helm us out of the harbour!  So awesome to be behind the wheel again.  Even more surreal when I had to pinch between the harbour wall and a ship from Panama of all places, having returned from a 4 month stint there only 3 months prior!  See:

Cruising out of the entrance, we headed toward the sailing club to anchor.
Sarrie, a CT41 ketch, was to be the starting marker for the races.  We sat for a while to make sure we were holding before dinghying ashore so Antje could prepare for her race.  I walked back to the wharf grinning, I was feeling alive!

Fleet returning with Sarrie out back, Kaiti beach.

Later that afternoon returning for a swim and to check in on Antje's progress, I soon learnt racing had been good but there was a slight hiccup with Sarrie.  A local guy Noah who's actively involved with the club had been called in to help..with his scuba gear.  Turns out we had managed to wrap the anchor chain around a massive steel I-beam belonging to the Star of Canada wreck!  Visibility was not great and it took over an hour to free it up.

Photo credit: Gisborne photo news.

Built in Belfast in October 1909, the Star of Canada was a twin screw general cargo steamer of 12,000 tonnes fully laden. (Ula was all of 14 tonnes!)
470.3 ft in length with a beam of 58.4 ft, she was slightly wider than Ula in length!
"Although anchored, the Star of Canada could not withstand the fierce storm.  It started dragging on its anchor and nothing could be done to prevent the movement toward the beach."-

Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News.

The tug Hipi attempted to assist but was unable to do so.  Running aground on the rocks, water had entered the holds by morning.  The frozen cargo was saved and no lives were lost.  The remains of the ship eventually were moved to become part of the Tairawhiti Museum, as pictured below.

Photo: Tairawhiti Museum, eventfinder.

Sarrie's fate feared a lot better and was eventually freed to return to her cosy berth in the marina.
Antje had been hinting about the need for crew, Tauranga being the next port of call.  I liked the idea but was a little nervous from the many night-marish stories I'd heard of sailing round the East Cape.  Antje was great, she sat me down, talked through the plan, showed me the different weather models and how it should affect us on the map.  Our main concern being Tropical Cyclone Gita (category 4) causing flooding and damage in Samoa and Fiji.  Reaching maximum sustained winds of 194km/hr east of Vanuatu - definitely wouldn't want to be dealing with that in a boat!  In Tonga one person died, 33 injured, 4,500 people were moved into 108 evacuation centres.
Antje believed it appeared to be tracking more to the west of NZ but Dave had concerns of the swell it would be generating and when that would likely catch up with us.
Spoke with friends in Tauranga who'd returned from their circumnavigation 2 years prior.

Cathy cleaning very hot and dirty aluminum deck, Trinidad.

Dubbed the "Angels of Trinidad" (by the boatyard we'd stayed in), for being legends helping us at the beginning of our Ula journey. I wanted to get their opinion on the weather and potential cyclone.  Also arranging a catch up stay with them once arriving.  With the thumbs up from them, organising school drop off/pickups, pre-cooked meals for family, groceries, and packing in the space of 2-3 days, I was ready for my first big adventure away from the family.

Antje's two crew members had arrived the previous night from Tauranga.  A quick debrief on safety protocols and stowing of gear, Antje had me back at the helm heading for the harbour entrance and into the bay, on what was a gloriously still, sunny day.

Antje, me at helm, Yuki. 

As forecast, there was very little wind so we motored up the coast, identfying the different bays as we passed them.  The majestic Mount Hikurangi over-seeing it all is North Island's highest non-volcanic peak at 1754 metres.

Mount Hikurangi. Photo credit: New

Sarrie is a centre cockpit and set up wonderfully well to steer by foot! - You can spend your watch at the helm sitting on the aft cabin roof, enjoying the view and casually steering with your feet!!

Multi-tasking: helming and posing!

"Stop the engine!" the Captain commanded some hours later.  Within seconds, she was over the side, already decked out in bikini and snorkle gear, amping to get amongst the dolphins circling the boat!

Antje amongst it! Photo: Yuki.

By the time I got dressed and jumped overboard, the last of them had disappeared and I was left gasping from the very refreshing shock to the was a lot more tropical the last time I undertook such an activity!!

Thinking a late afternoon snooze might be a good plan with the potential prospect of night watches ahead, I made the mistake of lying down on the forward berth while it had been nice conditions.  As we neared the East Cape, the sea state deteriorated from the previous benign conditions.  My stomach had me bolting for the head, thankfully close by as I only just reached the vanity target with the contents of my stomach!  Hastily donning my bulky wet weather gear and gumboots, I clumsily made a dash for the cockpit desperate for fresh, cool air.

I was met with a decent wake-up breeze, unfamiliar, picturesque scenery, the isolated feel to it being softened by the warm pink hues of dusk, and the smiling, concentrated face of Antje.
Antje and the East Cape.

The call was made to cut between East Island/Whangaokeno and the Cape; the East Cape lightouse is the most east in the world.

East Island.

The seas converging provided a washing machine affect, nothing too serious though, Sarrie took it all in her stride.

Not taken during washing machine time!

I jolted awake, somehow I'd managed to fall asleep wedged into a corner of the cockpit in an upright position, fully decked out in the bulky wet weather gear and gumboots!  It was one of those really dark nights, Antje was requiring my assistance at the helm while she got the anchor ready.  I was informed we were motoring across Onepoto bay toward the northern anchorage end of Hicks Bay.

Photo: NZFrenzy

We had been following what appeared to be a fishing vessel headed in the same direction. Looking toward shore and being a little disorientated, I was filled with alarm, we seemed to be rapidly speeding through what appeared to be a seriously packed out anchorage for such an isolated spot.  Antje reassured me all the lights I was seeing were actually lights on the shore! - The darkness had blurred the line between land and sea and it was hard to gauge any depth.
The Captain amazed me again at her incredible confidence and knowledge as we anchored up near Hicks Bay wharf - a much bigger challenge in the dark.  A lot of sailors prefer to either slow down and wait for visibility to anchor safely or continue sailing through the night till they reach an anchorage in the daylight hours.
The now derelict wharf was upgraded in 1920 to serve the freezing works built there, but with few roads to transport livestock, it went out of business in 1926.

Schooner at Hicks Bay Wharf. Photo: NZ Frenzy from
local history book.

Wharf from land. Photo: NZ Frenzy.

Nearby Waihirere falls, photo: NZfrenzy.

The crew and I had really appreciated through the course of the day, the Captain's hands off approach with her boat just to allow us to learn and figure things out.

Captain clearly confident in her crew! Photo: Yuki.

Yet she balanced it out with lots of informative tips along the way.

Antje explaining to Kez. Photo: Yuki.

Her knowledge and experience from racing and how she applied that to strategic moves based on the wind forecasting was a real eye opener for me too.  I guess most of my sailing had been learnt in the Caribbean where the trade winds are generally predictable every day, if sailing in the safe season.  NZ being in the lower lattitudes seems to me (in my newbie-ness) to be a lot more subject to change and a lot less predictable! - You've probably picked up by now,  I'm not really a sailor, I just get about on boats!

Morning glory!

Great call by the Captain to anchor overnight, it was really nice to have a good nights' sleep. (Although I did wake a few times hearing waves crashing ashore; had to remind myself the boat is still floating and the waves sounded further away from the hull!!)

Yuki adding to the surreal flavour:
serenading us with her ukulele! 
Woke up to a gloriously warm sunny morning, birds chirping in the nearby overhanging Pohutukawas.  Surf was looking..surfable with the light offshore breeze throwing spray off the back of the peelers at Wharekahika Bay.

View of Hicks bay, drooling over surf!

Magical moments like these is what makes it all the more sweeter and the not so good seem worth enduring.

Spot the wharf! Photo: Yuki.

Antje cooked us another amazing meal that I had to pass on - wasn't too sure if my stomach could handle or hold down eggs!  We took our time lifting the anchor, in hope that the predicted westerly was going to kick in later that morning.

Wedged into a sunny corner
is usually where I can be found!

Motoring out it became instantly noticable how protected in the anchorage we'd been from the swell. Meandering toward Cape Runaway, the spectacular, isolated landscapes provided yet again a visual feast for the eyes. Yuki and I were relieved our stomachs had settled down too!

Cape Runaway.

Anchoring up at Whangaparoa Bay, on the Bay of Plenty side of the Cape, we donned snorkle gear to check out the underwater scene of the nearby rocky shoreline.  I did manage to see a ray thanks to Yuki but unfortunately, the Caribbean has spoilt me for both warmth and clarity!  The others stuck at it a while longer while I defrosted in the sun on deck!

Anchored between Cape Runaway and Whangaparoa.
Photo: Yuki.

While writing this, I found out that Whangaparoa beach is the landing site of the two wakas Tainui and Arawa from Hawaiiki around 1350AD.

Mealtimes are the best! Photo: Yuki.

Having driven the coastline between Opotiki and Tauranga possibly hundreds of times, searching for the faint outline of the ever smoking White Island, I was looking forward to getting a closer look.

Photo: Yuki.

Also known as Whakaari, it is apparently the world's most accessible, active marine volcano. I had the privileage of helming towards the impressive sight through the beautiful sunset.

Smoking White island just visible to the right!

According to, there are underwater steam vents, incredible visibility for diving, and an abundance of marine life. We assumed this must be the case due to the amount of lights surrounding Whakaari from all the fishing boats.
Sarrie has a sea-water temperature gauge which apparently rose a couple of degrees as we neared White Island.  I had gone down below for a sleep by that time but I distinctly remember gagging at one stage and almost yelling in disgust, "who farted?!"  Thankfully before doing so, the recognition of the familiar, eggy smell, associated with sulphur kicked in and concluded we must be in close proximity to the volcanic island - glad I kept my mouth shut!
Having motored through the night, I was pleasantly surprised on my early morning watch to find Mauao the extinct volcano, within sight.

There's something quite euphoric that arises when the destination comes into sight after a passage.  On one hand, it's exciting to be reaching land to see what's there, but there's another side saying, "I was just getting into it, how about we keep going, see what else there is to be discovered?!"

I was stoked to be on the helm again coming into the second busiest seaport in the country.
Could definitely verify that, being a Saturday it was very busy!  There were fishing boats, wakas, jet skis and cargo ships to contend with. I had to keep checking with the crew to make sure I was on the correct side of the shipping lane for NZ!

Coming into Pilot Bay, Mount Maunganui. Photo:Yuki.

There was just enough room under the keel for us to use the visitors' berth at Pilot Bay, so we could offload Yuki and Kez's gear.

Got to do my all-time favourite, pre-breakfast start to the day: jumping off for a swim, and it was so warm!  Then enjoyed one last delicious meal by Antje.

Antje and I then headed for deeper water in search of a decent spot to anchor in Pilot Bay. It was a nice homely feeling to be amongst live-aboards in an anchorage again; I miss that sense of community and comrarderie amongst sailors.

Pilot Bay side of Mauao.

Cruisers have this thing where you don't really say goodbye, it's just, "see ya when we see ya next."  Because everyone is travelling and most likely they will meet up again.
I had the wonderful opportunity to spend the last 24 hours catching up with our awesome cruising friends Eric and Cathy.
It was so great being able to swap stories and compare notes on the transition process from cruising to land-lubber status.

Capturing Eric mid-story on board! 

As an added bonus, I was able to peruse the awesome craftsmanship of Eric's current project: restoring a 1953 Bailey designed Kauri motor launch on one of Rotorua's lakes.

Reflecting on the scenic bus ride home,  I felt so glad and privileaged that Antje took the time out of her busy schedule to meet me.  I hugely admired the courage and wisdom she applied to every aspect of her life.  She was a wealth of information, yet was gracious enough to allow us to figure things out on her precious boat.
Me helming, Kez, Yuki and Antje.

A very inspiring Captain.