Thursday, 28 January 2016

a northland treasure

Whangaroa Harbour Entrance
Early morning in Whale Bay
Whangaroa (pronounced f-ong-ah-row-ah) is a gem on the east coast of the North Island. We sailed there on Nyon for the first time this past December. I had been there twice on the R. Tucker Thompson when I crewed on youth voyages over the winter. The first time we sailed the tall ship there we arrived under starry skies. The next morning, the fog was so thick we could barely see 2 meters ahead. My crew mate Wayne and I took our young charges for a tramp up to the Duke’s Nose. A short but steep hike later, we watched the blanket of fog slowly dissipate from above and oh what beauty!

Since that first time, I have repeatedly pontificated on how we needed to go up there with Nyon. And we finally did. As a result of serendipitous scheduling, we both managed to garner enough days off in a row to sail up and into the beautiful harbour. Of course, it is summer in New Zealand right now – our destination was much busier than my recollections. A deserted harbour in the winter, its many anchorages are festive with holidaying boaters in the summer. It’s noisier, but it’s still beautiful.

Our lovely new sails...
Sailor Rick
We had to motor up most of the coast in calm conditions under a bright blue sky. A small afternoon breeze allowed us to sail from the Cavalli Islands to the entrance of Whangaroa Harbour. We decided to drop the hook in Rere Cove (Lane’s Cove). This anchorage is at the base of the Duke’s Nose, the hike I mention above. 

In our happy place: On Nyon, together
After a leisurely evening, we got up early the next morning and rowed past sleepy anchored boats in the bay. It was early enough that we were the only ones on the trail. There was no fog this time, and once we arrived at the top, we ate breakfast while listening to birds and taking in the scenery by ourselves. It wasn’t until we were almost half way down that we saw other climbers.

The last bit before reaching the top

Breakfast with the birds

I guess this is alright, if you like that sort of thing...

The Inlet
With the tide still rising, we put our electric outboard on the dinghy (more on that later) and decided to go explore up the inlet – large sections of it dry out at low tide, but you can putter quite far inland when the tide is high. Our electric outboard allowed us to go a lot further than we would have had we rowed. We felt pretty stealthy as we quietly puttered our way further into the inlet.

Pretty reflections

Look ma, a New Zealand Christmas Tree just for you!

Checking out the scenery

Feeling stealthy with our Electric Outboard


It turns out the water wasn't very
warm yet... 
Upon our return to Nyon, we weighed anchor and headed over to Waitepipi Bay – a larger anchorage, with fewer boats zipping by, (until sunset, when all the fishing launches crowd into the bay for the night). The next day, we jumped in the water (and boy was it refreshing), read books, daydreamed in the hammock, explored a trail up a hillside in the southwestern bay and simply took it all in. Too soon, we sailed south again. But we’ll be back!

Last morning in Whangaroa Harbour

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

a year of moments

Nyon at anchor in Army Bay
This past year was not a year filled with adventures for us. At least, that’s what I thought when I first looked back on the last 12 months. What are adventures but moments of heightened awareness and fleeting rushes of excitement. I certainly feel most adventurous when I’m thrown into new environments, or forced out of my comfort zone. I also like to write about what that’s like. Judging by the very few times I’ve written in 2015, it appears that I find it more difficult to write about the small, ordinary moments of a more static lifestyle.

What I’m realizing after having been an expat for the past 2 years, is that if I spend a lot of time waiting for the next big adventure, then the present time begins to feel like limbo. I have finally grasped that being still and opening up to what is, is when the real adventure commences; it’s in that space that creativity can find room to expand. I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to come to that conclusion.

Following, is a collection of moments that captured my imagination in 2015. Sometimes simply paying attention is better than any escapade and more powerful than a lovely turn of phrase. And that awareness is a gift in itself. 

Waipu Beach, on a perfect day

Human connections

Working as a team
Meaningful work with
the R Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust
(I'm in the green t-shirt)

Blissfully quiet morning at anchor

Family time

Rick's Birthday Sunset

The neighbourhood

Winter morning walk to work

The sacred post-anchoring beer in Rere Bay

Monday, 25 January 2016

christmas 2015 in pictures

A surprisingly uncrowded bay
Christmas Eve tapas

Sunshine on Christmas Day

Two happy sailors

Time for reflection

Lovely pohutukawa tree in bloom

A refreshing swim

Watching the R Tucker Thompson sailing past on
Boxing Day


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