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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Sailing from the Barrier to Paihia

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 22 February 2009 | Views [1968]

It was a big day of sailing as we set out toward the Bay of Islands today! This morning when I woke up I knew it was going to be so hard leaving because Nikki is a very nice lady! I took a shower and then made my morning cuppa earl grey with a teaspoon of honey. When I called Roberta on Waiheke Island I finally got a hold of her. She told me I'm welcome to come back at anytime and gave me a suggestion to add WWOOFing as one of my groups if I decide to write my thesis on travelling with autism. She told me to give Kat a hug for her. She wanted to talk to Kat but she stays in a separate house and there is no way I can transfer the phone call. We talked for a wee bit and then I had to get ready to go. We had planned to wake up at like 6:00 AM but I ended up sleeping in until about 9:30. What was the rush? When all my stuff was packed up I went to Kat's house to give her the message. She was sleeping naked but she still wanted to give me a hug goodbye. She got up and gathered rhubarb in the garden to make rhubarb porridge. The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous, so don't eat them! Kat dressed up in a green sheet of some sort and in the garden she looked like a model. She allowed me to practice on her because I'm a terrible people-photographer. Some of the shots turned out very artistic! Kat let me try some of her porridge; it turned out really good! As Kat, Andy, and I were talking, Gabe showed up. He decided to go up to the house to make something to eat. He said he was waiting for hours for us; getting up at the crack of dawn. Yesterday I tried to call DOC about permits to Little Barrier but there was still no response. Up at the house Gabe and Lance were making some beans, filling themselves up before we set sail today. Nikki said she'd be back around noon but by the time noon rolled around she still wasn't back. I wrote her a note, then Gabe and Lance added in their thank yous. With all of our stuff we were ready to roll! We took the 15-minute walk down to the wharf. Gabe had to paddle across to go get the boat. There was another boat parked at the wharf but the owner came and got it. His dog jumped in the sea after the boat! Great Barrier Island is free of weasels, possums, Norway rats, hedgehogs, and stoats; there are signs prohibiting people from bringing these pests onto the island. Gabe came up and we hopped onto the boat, which is where I'd be stuck for the next 2 1/2 days! It was about 1:30. At first we were thinking of sailing directly west but Gabe decided we should sail to the east of Little Barrier Island and then sail directly up to the Bay of Islands. The last thing I ate today was some cheese balls, and that'd be all I'd eat for the next 24 hours. It was a Yom Kippur-typ fast; sundown to sundown the following day. We sailed through the Chaddock Passage and the seas were a bit rough. We sailed passed some rocks that went straight out of the water. Gabe said we should sail throughout the night and that we could be at the Bay of Island by tomorrow. As we sailed past Little Barrier, we saw that even if we had permits it would be very difficult to land because much of the coast is steep-sided cliffs. Little Barrier is home to several rare species of birds, including the tahake and several kiwi species. As we sailed away I waved goodbye to Great Barrier Island. We only spent five nights there; I wish I could have stayed longer. What I will miss most is the lush green bush and the soothing cicadas. By the way, the cicada is the sound in the beginning of "We Don't Know How Lucky We Are" which is a classic New Zealand song by Fred Dagg. We all took turns at sailing and the stars were starting to come out as we made our way past Little Barrier. The Maoris call Little Barrier "Hauturu" meaning "resting place of the winds." I told Gabe that we should have sailed to the south and then the west of Little Barrier because as its name implies, it acts as a little barrier. The seas were very rough tonight and I was wondering if it'd be a good idea to sail throughout the night. A problem I have is that I have a very difficult time taking a piss on moving boats. It's just something my mind tells me. For about 15 minutes I stood at the front of the boat trying to take a piss; I eventually did. I know that's something that you may not want to hear about but it's part of the journey. Sometimes you'll go through moments like that. The stars shone very brightly and there was no moon. As I sailed for a wee bit I was very distracted by the bright, starry sky. It was like the starry skies in Australia or Arizona. The Milky Way was brightly intact and I could see a number of distant galaxies! It's something that sailors did hundreds of years ago; sailed with the stars as their guides. Polaris is only visible in the Northern Hemisphere so we didn't have the North Star to look to. Instead I was watching Orion. Speaking of, what you see as Orion's sword in the Northern Hemisphere is upside-down in the Southern Hemisphere. We all took turns resting and then got up to sail the boat. There are several bright lighthouses in the gulf so we could use those as our guides as well. Earlier I was a bit fearful of us sailing throughout the night but it really is magical! This arguably is one of the favourite parts of my journey. When the moon finally came out it was a very small crescent, but I could see the full body of the moon in the Earth's shadow. Tonight I couldn't make my nighttime cuppa or read my book because the easiest way to get seasickness is to read books on a moving boat. As we sailed through the night the stars had the energy and I was drifting off to sleep. Tomorrow I'll probably see you in the Bay of Islands.

As Indian Summer was cruising along I was at the helm at daybreak. The stars quietly disappeared and the sun was shining. We were all very tired because we only slept in small increments last night. However, this has been quite a rewarding adventure! We were well past Great and Little Barrier Islands and were heading up into the deep north. It would be a full day of sailing! This morning I had nothing for breakfast and didn't have a cuppa. It's good to fast sometimes; it gives your digestive system a bit of a break. We passed the Hen & Chicken Islands and were heading past Whangarei. When I get to the Bay of Islands I'm hitching back to Whitianga; I'm not sure if I'm going to do any sailing for awhile. Along the way we passed Poor Knights Islands, which are considered to one of the world's top diving and snorkelling destinations. However I was too "out of it" to ask Gabe to sail over there. For dinner Gabe cooked up a concoction of mashed potatoes and cheddar pasta. It was deliciously good after not eating for more than 24 hours. Even so, I didn't feel all that hungry. At first I tried to encourage Gabe to cook the mashed potatoes separately but it turned out really good! After eating I was at the helm for nearly two hours, sailing away. Cape Brett was in our sight but it was a long way away! We sailed away as we made our way toward Cape Brett, which is where the Hole in the Rock is. What many people call "Hole in the Rock" is actually Piercy Island. It was a looooooooooonnnnggg journey to the Hole in the Rock. The sun was about to set when we finally made it there. I was suggesting that we should just anchor somewhere and go to sleep but Gabe insisted on sailing through the night. The waves were crashing so hard that water was coming into the boat and soaking my sleeping bag. Gabe asked me to get up and sail for awhile because he was exhausted. We turned on the depth tracker so we could find a place to anchor and actually rest our heads for the night. I was so tired that my eyes were starting to hurt. As we sailed into the Bay of Islands there were large dolphins jumping out of the water near the boat. I watched them from the window because I had a headache. Next time I sail we'll have to bring more ginger beer because I'm not the biggest fan of gingernuts. They're alright but they taste funky and are too hard to chew. When I woke up after sleeping for awhile, we were finally anchored! It was such a relief to actually rest without the continuous pounding of waves and the boat rocking from side to side. Tomorrow we should definitely be in the Bay of Islands.

I finally had a comfortable night's sleep because we actually took a break from sailing last night. We weren't too far from Paihia when we awoke. We lazed for a wee bit and then I talked Gabe into getting the sails up and getting over to land. I really wanted something to eat...like a pizza. This morning I was feasting on apples and Lance was unsuccessfully fishing to his heart's content. Most emphatically I'm not a fisherman; I eat fish but I don't fish. It started to rain and Lance ran inside fast, leaving me outside because he already had his "apprenticeship." When we asked a sailor if the town ahead of us was Paihia he was like "It's Australia." He was just a smart-ass sailor. Instead of going to Paihia we decided on going to Russell, the first capital of New Zealand. Three years ago I sent Professor Russell a postcard from Russell. When we moored in the harbour Gabe and Lance decided to swim to shore because Gabe needed to go to the toilet like really badly. I'm not the most confident swimmer so I used the kayak. If I had a mask and snorkel and if I didn't have any other gear then I probably could swim across. I was finally on land again! We're very close to Opua, which is the main port of entry for visiting yachts. It'd be a great place to find a yacht going to Tokelau or any other exotic Pacific destination. This sailing trip was a sort of preparation for a trip like that. Getting to Tonga takes about 12 days whereas getting to Tokelau or Tuvalu would take a lot longer. At the store I got a Red Bull and a blueberry muffin. It tasted good after only eating pasta yesterday and a couple of apples this morning. I wanted to go to the internet cafe and email Teressa, so the three of us split up while I went there. I checked the exchange rate so I know if it'd a good idea to withdraw money. I didn't have enough cash to pay for the internet so I had to visit the ATM to get some cash. My KiwiBank account has been idle for quite some time. Next I talked around for a bit. The Russell Museum looked like it was worth a wee look. Admission was $7.50. While there was quite a bit of interesting information, the admission price was a real ripoff. The museum is essentially two rooms: one with artefacts and another with art and paintings. On my way out I got a wooden postcard to send to Teressa. I sure miss her and love her with all my heart! A wooden postcard will make her feel good. By then I was dying for something eat, so I walked over to the pizza place and got a margherita pizza. Since I owed Gabe from the fish & chips he bought me last week I paid for half of his sautee chicken pizza. My head was hurting due to the after-sailing effect. It's like a hangover in a way (even though I've never been hungover). After filling myself up with pizza I rested for a bit and then strolled around Russell. When I went to get a ginger beer at a bottle shop the clerk refused to sell it to me even though it didn't have any alcohol in it! Even to buy a pack of gum there she would have to ID me. I mean, it was flattering but I was upset. My passport was on the yacht and I wasn't ready to swim across to go get it. When I get up to Lance and Gabe they were ready to cook some mussels they had pulled off the side of the wharf. Lance had his ID with him so he got me the ginger beer. It's so ridiculous; I'm 24 years old and I have an American accent (even though I wish I didn't have one) and they're refusing to sell me ginger beer. With my ginger beer in hand I was still feeling that swaying effect when I wandered into an art shop. The girl who works there, whose name is Ashley, is from Colorado. She is only 24 but has been to some very exotic places, is a New Zealand citizen, owns her own yacht, and has been to six continents. She has travelled to the Ross Sea on a scientific expedition but her father paid for it. My father has expressed willingness to send me some money but it's more that I don't want him to. I'm 24 years old...I'm not 15 or 16 anymore. If I was on a class field trip it would be different. I didn't grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth and I've accepted that. Ashley's partner, Osher, has travelled to some exotic Pacific countries like Niue. Ashley told me that's she'd never sail alone around the Pacific. When I asked for her email she said she's really bad at responding; I really wanted to see photos from the Ross Sea. Speaking of Antarctica I really have to pursue going there because I've kind of laxed on it these past couple of years. New Zealand is the perfect place (although more expensive) to get to Antarctica. Ashley and I talked for a wee bit while telling her about my idle plan to get into outer space. My goal is to get out there by the time I'm 32. It's the "8th continent." When I left I wanted a Red Bull or something energy, so I went with Lance to get a V drink and a pack of gum. The sailing journey today was a lot of fun except for the after-sailing effect because my body was absolutely swaying back and forth all day. If it were a bigger yacht it wouldn't be so bad. Lance and Gabe were talking about sleeping on the beach tonight, which sounded like a good idea. There were no good pubs or anything open tonight but I did have a wee look at the local swordfish club. That makes me crave some fish & chips. Tomorrow I'm thinking of hitching up to Cape Reinga so I can say I've hitched the entire length of New Zealand from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island including both the Cook and Foveaux Straits. Lance knows a few people up there whom we could potentially stay with. Down at the wharf I noticed a couple and their daughter fishing for mackerel. They use it as bait to fish for bigger fish. They let me have a go at it but I caught nothin'. Lance found me because we have matching shirts; it's bright green with high visibility. Gabe caught a few fish, catching four (out of five possible) on the line. The gentleman caught five out of five in one stretch. Fishing looks so easy but it's far from easy. When I was about five years old I saw on TV what looked like a fisherman just putting the line in the water and pulling a fish out straight away, but it's not that easy! While those guys were fishing I was talking to a couple from England who is here for six weeks. Tonight I was really feeling like I wanted a cuppa. Gabe and Lance ultimately decided to sleep in the beach without sleeping bags or anything and I ultimately decided I was going to sleep on the boat. Gabe gave me instructions on using the gas cooker; I always fear burning myself. I paddled over and tried to get the gas cooker started but I just couldn't figure it out. I'll have to wait until tomorrow for my cuppa. It was a sky full of stars again so I don't think the rain will come down on those guys. I put Lance's sleeping bag outside to dry because everything was soaked last night from the crashing waves. The kayak kept banging against the side of the boat so I pulled it up onto the boat and then I decided to close my eyes, going off to another world...   


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