New year, New friends, New sailing adventures!

You know, that old adage “nothing ventured, nothing gained” really has merit on so many levels! This year it has gained me a new friend and sailing buddy, and a wonderful time so far aboard SY Tohora.

It all started before Xmas when, while out walking and exploring my new home town, I rocked up to a couple of blokes talking on the wharf of Port Ohope, and introduced myself. We started chatting, swapping stories and generally making friends. As one should do in a new environment.

One of them, Brett, owned the yacht tied alongside the wharf, not only owned her but built this yacht himself. He’s a fitter/welder/boiler maker, and literally put her together completely himself. An amazing achievement. So I was delighted to be shown around her and have since seen the photographic record of her build. On top of that, the longer I am on board, the more impressed I am.

However, to back up the horse a little, we did the Facebook request /accept thing, and kept in touch. Whenever the boys and I went to the port to do manus off the wharf, I’d pop in and say hi. Long story short, Brett (possibly foolishly!) said one day “feel free to join me for part of my annual trip round the Coromandel if you want”. Of course I said “I might just take you up on that!”

And so it came about, not long after New Year, upon returning from the festive season with family down South, he reiterated the offer and we decided I’d join the yacht in Whangamata.

Having discovered that the bus from Whakatane to Waihi is $70 and from Tauranga to Waihi is $15, I drove to Tauranga and bussed from there. Then I hitched to Whangamata. It took 2 rides and only a few minutes with my thumb out each time. Even the rain cleared up for that part of my trip! So the gods of hitch hiking smiled upon me once again and I arrived at a very civilised hour. Brett picked me up in his tender, we got supplies (read wine, beer and rum) and settled in to plan our next move!

I joined Tohora on Monday 14th January and am still here! We’ve had a sterling time, cemented a great friendship, work really well together and I feel I’m basically living the dream! I’ve told Brett he’s stuck with this crew till I run out of money! He seems philosophical about that!

We left Whangamata for Slipper Island, then went to Cook’s Beach in Mercury Bay, did our laundry at Peach Grove Bay and anchored in Coralie Bay. The 19th saw us heading to Coromandel Harbour via Colville Channel, where we resupplied. We’ve been stooging round here ever since. Today, the 24th, we refuelled and took on water. Tomorrow we plan to get a few more supplies in the town and then wander our way towards Auckland. We’ve had amazing weather and been well fed on kai moana! One bay supplied us with Pipis, cockles, oysters and a mussel!

The boys, bless those wonderful sons of mine, seem adorably unperturbed that I’ve disappeared into the sunset sea again! Who knows when I’ll get home!


Another year has flown by and I do believe my Grandmother was right after all. They seem to speed by more quickly each year!

I saw the New Year in in Totaranui, one of New Zealand’s truly spectacular and special spots. We have been blessed with hot, calm weather, to everyone’s relief and joy. It’s a lovely, well managed campsite, nestled between towering native bush and the sea. I have done lots of swimming and snorkeling off Skinner Point. The sea life is a treat with abundant colonies of paua, kinna, mussels, star fish and even some clams. Healthy sea weed and kelp provided cover for crabs and fish I have yet to identify! The down side of no Internet! I do like being able to research things I see!

The walk over to Goat Bay is a good workout and very beautiful. It’s a decent climb up through mature Kanuka and Kamahi trees, predominantly, but of course there’s also Rimu, black Beech, Lancewoods, Akeake and the smaller shrubbery, mostly broad leafs. I saw plenty of fat Kereru, Wood Pigeons, snoozing off their over indulgence on the berries! Lots of birdsong also, from the Tuis, Fantails, Bellbirds and so on. Truly a magical part of this country and a fine spot to start the year!

The Weka and Pukeko are super cheeky here, being so used to having campers and hikers around. They are an endless source of entertainment, chasing each other round, climbing into buckets of water left out, and generally being totally opportunistic. They’re also very vocal, with a fair range of strident calls. Shane comes up with a running commentary on what they’re apparently saying to each other, wildly irreverent and funny. We’ve eaten well and wined possibly better! Down to our last bottle of red today. Just as well we’re heading out tomorrow, sad as that is! I could stay here for a lot longer!

I had Christmas with Dad and Mum and the extended family, at Brandon Downs, the Ewart family farm. It was nice to see everyone and catch up on the family news. I had driven as far as Wellington, left my car with an acquaintance, and caught the ferry to Picton. I’d planned to hitch hike from there but it was raining so I hopped on the bus.

The driver was terrible. It seemed he’d been called on to drive unexpectedly, as the train got canceled, and was very unhappy about it. He was barely short of downright rude in his commentary, being sarcastic and snide the whole way. His driving left a lot to be desired as well, at one point standing on the brakes so hard I got hit on the head by things flying out of the overhead locker. Turns out he was using his cell phone and didn’t see the road ahead. The only thing that made the journey tolerable was the company of a visitor from the Czech Republic sitting next to me. We conversed using Google translate and had a good chat! Nice guy. I hope he’s enjoyed New Zealand.

I have some loose plans for the year, which do not include returning to theatre! I’m going to sell my house in Christchurch and get all my mortgages, student loan etc settled, freeing me up for travel and boat work. I’m applying for boat work again and if not already contracted by the start of the Mediterranean season again, will head that way around April. I’m hoping to do the offshore marine medics course in Auckland in March. And I’m keen to go to Europe either via the US, Kenya and Tanzania or Thailand. Haven’t decided! Of course, plans have a habit of changing or evolving!

The last couple of nights of my trip have been in Napier with Vicki. Wonderful to catch up! I then drive up through Gisbourne and Opotiki on me way back to Ohope. Its a spectacular drive, requiring concentration as its mostly windey!

Good to be home and with the boys again. I missed them heaps and the chilled vibe we have here. We’re living in the sea, it’s so hot! I had a go on Matt’s surf board yesterday. Such fun! Not that I stood up but loved the feel of the wave under the board! Might have to further that acquaintance!

So… Have a wonderful year, everyone! Push your boundaries and above all, be happy.