Friday, January 16, 2009

Interlude - Bay Of Islands ( A Realisation) (2 of 3)

The new crew contemplates a week in the Bay of Islands with a Viking Pirate. She did well subduing the skipper by letting him do all the cooking etc, etc - "This is my week off" she declared, to which I agreed, and I think that all things considered is only fair - She marked me out of ten for every meal, but the scores are a trade secret and cannot be revealed.

Idyllic sailing in the Bay of Islands. Christine steers the boat and holds onto her hat. Most of the sailing in this little sailing oasis was like this - flat water, gentle breezes and safe anchorages; a respite from the rigours of the coastal passage.

The 'R. Tucker Thompson' a square rigger at the Russell wharf picking up tourist passengers. Russell is an absolute hive of activity over the summer months. I went ashore here for ice and water and a few other supplies. The township of Russell features prominently in the early history of New Zealand colonisation.

Happy campers. Some of the land on the islands is owned by the Department of Conservation and there are some camping sites available for the public - many of these are in beautiful idyllic places - some with boat access only.

I did find it disturbing the way in which more and more land in the B.O.Is is now privately owned with 'Riparian Rights' ( owning land down to the high water mark). Bays I once rowed ashore to and climbed to the brow of a hill to take in the vista now have many 'No Access' signs along the fenced foreshore denying public access - this is more than just a shame in my opinion, it is a denial of access to this region of national importance and beauty to all New Zealanders.

Everywhere we went the Pohutukawas were in flower - the Pohutukawa is known locally as the New Zealand Christmas tree. In this bay you could only walk on the beach - the grass in this photo is the beginning of private property and there is no public access to the bay at all except by boat.

The B.O.Is was filled with a number of super yachts and super motor yachts. The photograph does not do justice to the size of the thing - it is a small ship really. One big motor yacht from a distance looked like a cruise liner, when we got closer I could see that it was a private motor yacht almost the size of a cruise liner.
The 'R. Tucker Thompson' plys her trade taking day trippers for a sail around the Bay - its always a thrill to see a square rigger sailing.

Mariner anchored in Opunga Bay. We were very thankful for the old tent shade that my father had given me when he sold his yacht many years ago. The temperatures during the week were in the 30s and we heard on the radio that the tar on the Desert Road in the central North Island was melting and causing huge problems to holiday motorists.

During our time in the B.O.Is Christine read her book 'Under African Skies' by Gareth and Jo Morgan about their travels through Africa by motorbike - she read me long excerpts of the interesting aspects of the political and social life there - I must read the book - but my own reading? - I went armed with some books and the very best of intentions but apart from the local navigation charts and guides I didn't read anything! never mind - I relaxed, reflected, meditated and tended to the needs of the boat and pottered about doing all the cooking and cleaning which I enjoyed as a contrast to all the Viking behaviour on the way up the coast.

Which brings me to my realisation, or rather a reminder of a realisation that we all know and have experienced. After about a week of the perfect, undemanding, easy, safe and lotus eating life in the B.O.Is I felt that I had had enough - I realised that if this went on for another couple of weeks I would soon be a bit bored - This perfect interlude was heightened by its contrast with the excitement and dangers of coming up the coast, the two complementry halves placed together forming a sort of perfect whole - and likewise, the anticipation of the trip back was within the context of the present perfect week - I started to look forward to the trip back and some more sailing excitement, BUT little did I know! - as George Bernard Shaw once said, (not that I am young) "Be careful what you set your heart on young man, for surely you will achieve it" - there is surely a subtlety and depth in that statement for those who understand! --- little did I know that the excitement of the trip back would exceed any ideas I might have had in my head.


Katherine said...

I spent four x 2 weeks worth of summer holidays up here based at Jack's Bay. Suffice to say I have so very many countless happy memories, brought back by this post.

Alden said...

Yes,it is a very beautiful place and a great holiday destination. However it can be very crowded over the Christmas period - in Waipiro Bay one night I lost count after 70 - of the number of boats in that bay.

R Tucker Thompson said...

Thanks for the lovely photo. If you were not aware, the R.Tucker Thompson is held in a charitable trust for the benefit of all Northlanders so our day sails help to fund maintenance and our youth sail training programmes over winter.

Alden said...

Yes I was aware of the charitable trust and hope that the R Tucker Thompson can continue its great work introducing young people to the sea and sailing. It is always a great pleasure for me to see all of these square riggers sailing, The R Tucker Thompson, Soren Larsen, Breeze, Spirit of New Zealand and others - absolutely fantastic - as we left the bay the tall ships race was in progress but too far away for me to get a good photograph - I am tempted to put a mizzen on Mariner making her a yawl and join in the racing!