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Home : New Zealand 2003 : Sailing the Bay of Islands

December 06, 2003

Sailing the Bay of Islands

No sooner had Evan, captain of the R. Tucker Thompson, an 85-foot, square topsail schooner built in the backyard of his father’s house, promised us all that “there’ll be no rain today” the sky opened up on us. Under angry clouds and a light drizzle we motored out from the pier at Russell in the Bay of Islands hoping the weather would change for the better.

The Thompson’s all-woman crew (only three plus captain Evan) hoisted up the sails, the rain thankfully stopped and the strong winds on this blustery day had us plowing through choppy seas out into the bay. Soon the sun burned through the clouds and haze and we were sailing along at a good clip. It was all exciting enough to make you want to talk like a pirate - and the crew actually did from time to time as we tacked back and forth out to one of the bay’s many islands.

Neither Nicci nor I really enjoy rocking and rolling on rough water, but today the chop didn’t seem to bother us much. I actually didn’t feel seasick at all, though staying on the top deck with eyes on the horizon helped, I’m sure. Rather, we scarfed down scones with jam and fresh whipped cream with tea and coffee as we left Russell behind, then clambered out and rode on the bowsprit like Kate and Leo.

After a couple hours of swift sailing we dropped anchor at Moturua Island to explore the beach and tidal pools while the crew prepared a BBQ lunch. We showed a Dutch couple and their two-year-old where to find anemones, starfish and urchins and they showed us how to crack open and eat oysters which clung to the rocks. Their little girl slurped them down and kept begging for more. They were good, but a little too salty.

After an hour or so the ship’s dinghy shuttled everyone back for lunch and drinks. The wind picked up again after lunch and we made even better time heading back to port, the deck tipping enough to take on a little water once we were beyond the shelter of Moturua’s bay. By four o’clock we had returned to Russell a little sunburnt but happy.

We walked around the little village of Russell before taking the ferry back to Paihia where we are staying these past two nights. Tomorrow we head for Tutukaka for a diving trip to Poor Knights Island.

Posted by Scott at December 6, 2003 03:38 AM
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