Mum, this is our home now….
“Mum, we have no home, this is our home now” said Libby to me while heading back from Great Barrier Island today. I had been saying that we will deal with the overflowing rubbish bin when we get home, but she is right. We have no land based home. It’s a strange thing to get used to the thought of.
We have just spent the Easter break on and around Great Barrier Island with Chris and Madhurii, Chae’s parents. An extended weekend to thoroughly enjoy the most magnificent weather that we were lucky to have.
Leaving on a rainy and chilly Friday morning we headed over, there was little wind so sailing was not on the agenda. What was however, was fishing! Two lines out the back on the trip resulted in 3 great fish. 2 Skipjack Tuna and one great sized Kahawai. There were also 2 others but they got away…. those big ones, they always seem to get away.
It was an emotional approach for me to the Barrier as we came up to Wellington Head. This is the eastern giant rock face that is on Motuhaku Island. It is a towering and imposing place, made even more special for me as it is the final resting place of my brother Paul’s ashes. This was one of his favourite places, the fishing and diving were always exceptional here and he talked of it often.
It has been several years since I have been here last and it brought back many memories and emotions about the whole sailing process that we have embarked on. He would have been by my side through the whole experience, championing the way. He was a sailor in his heart and his advice and experience would have been well received. At least I know that he will be with me wherever we go on this wild ride, scattered in the wind and waves at one of the most magnificent headstones you could imagine.
He must have been there for me as the fishing was excellent. Many snapper were brought up, under showers and rainbows. Chae landed the biggest of the day!
It has amazed me how much the kids have all got into their fishing. They had always enjoyed it but it has become more of a passion now! Libby especially, is the most patient fisherwoman I have seen, a tiny 4-year-old sitting with her rod for as long as it takes to hook the big one, then fearlessly reeling them in herself.
The rain cleared as we headed in to FitzRoy Harbour. The place was packed. Boats everywhere! Anchorages were a plenty and we found a beaut little spot in Kiwiriki Bay.
Looking across the still water that evening toward Smokehouse Bay (one of the most popular in the Harbour area) it looked like we were staring at a city as there were so many boats in there, lighting up the evening with their anchor lights.
We managed to get to see the eastern side of the Island, which is often hard to do as there are less anchorages there for if the wind kicks up or changes direction suddenly.
We had a stunner of an evening in Harotaonga Bay, with only 7 other boats to share the magical spot with. Some of the clearest waters we have seen, with a picture perfect white sandy beach full of rock pools and caves to explore.
The highlight of the evening was seeing a pod of 4 dolphins come into the bay while we were having dinner. Emelia and Chae jumped into the water with their snorkeling gear on and Noah paddled out on his surfboard to have a swim with them. They played in the bay with the swimmers and gave us a magnificent show of leaps and jumps, giving the kids and Chae a thrill. Swimming right up to investigate these humans who had come to join them in their evening games. I doubt very many 9 year olds got to swim with dolphins on their Easter Break.
We completed a circumnavigation of the Island, stopping in at Tryphena for lunch to get out of the wind that had picked up as we rounded the tip of the island, then heading up to Whangaparapara for the night, in a small bay called Cemetery Bay. Tucked away in the corner of the Harbour this holds some of the original graves from early settlers. One of our friend’s great grandfather is buried here, and his father still lives by Great Barrier Lodge on the other side of the bay.
Again, without a breath of wind in the bay we enjoyed an evening of playing on the stony beach and watching the sun slip behind the hills.
Fish was on the menu again after a quick drift and drop of the line at the Harbour entrance. The kids again excelled, with Noah being the fishing champion of the evening!
There is a great little walk to a waterfall in Whangaparapara Bay. Around half an hour each way and you are rewarded with an epic little pool in front of the falls and sweet little bridges over crystal clear streams and stunning native bush.
Madhurii cleverly hid Easter eggs at each bridge on the way there without telling the kids, so when the whinging started about having to walk home she told them of the treats and they RAN back!
We spent several more days between different bays, fishing swimming, eating, drinking and enjoying the freedom and relaxed life that came with having the in laws to help with the kids and boat life in general. The load is certainly lighter with extra adults on board.
Life was not always rosy, with Madhurii and I both feeling very seasick on the way over, plus a giant fight with my darling husband about anchoring by rocks to fish…. we still have differences of opinions on what makes each of us comfortable (mainly what I freak out about) and so there is work in progress on this front. The sailing life is not always easy!
Then there are the constant boat jobs, things breaking, the boat smelling like fish, repeatedly telling kids not to run or jump about on the couches, baiting lines again and again and again and again, did I say again and again….
It has been such a fantastic weekend to give the boat a good shakedown, along with the crew getting more and more used to the life that we are all living now.
I feel almost dread about having to head back to ‘normal’ duties for the next week and a half of school for the kids and wrapping up the final boat issues/jobs and having to finally sell my car. The last land based tie to cut.
It has been the breath of fresh air in our lungs, and sails, that we needed after several long weeks at anchor in Little Shoal Bay, trying to keep the balance between the last of our land lives and the start of our boat future.
I don’t think I will ever be completely ready, but it’s starting to feel a little bit more like home and where I am meant to be….