We returned “The Box” and headed back to the airport to pick up our Micro Car. Oh man did we feel vulnerable, but we fit everywhere. Heck, it even felt a little sporty. When a Toyota Yaris starts to feel sporty... it’s time to come home.
A few hours out of Christ Church towards Kaikoura we learned why people don’t frequently travel the coast to Nelson. The road has been damaged by earth quakes and the recent cyclones make it susceptible to closings when it rains and has “Slips” as the kiwis say. We might call them mud slides. The detour really did call for a Porsche or something worthy of the winding canyon roads the detour put us on. I frequently thought of my Nephew, Ian as I pushed the Yaris way past Lauri’s comfort zone. I knew Ian would go faster, brake later, but the rain, fear of live stock on the road and Lauri’s screams kept me at a lively, but safe speed. Fun stuff.
Surprisingly, after darkness was complete, we arrived only slightly late for our dinner reservations in Kaikoura. I was a Cheegan that night (vegan that cheats). Many of our meals in “The Box” were like elaborate camping meals so tonight we splurged a bit. We both enjoyed some fish and remarkable bread... Nice.
Lauri found an amazing Inn and soon after dinner we were relaxing in our Pacific Ocean facing suite. Not much to see at night, but holy wah, the next morning, were we in for a treat. The mountains got some snow overnight at peak elevations and it couldn’t have been prettier. I had a brief conversation with the owner to learn that it was not unusual to get snow in the mountains this time of the year. I shared with my German host that I thought it looked a lot like Switzerland and he said “yes, but ... we have the Sea!” Kaikoura one, Geneva zero.
In New Zealand you frequently see road signs that say “South New Zealand roads are different... allow more time” No kidding. If Google Maps said 3 hours we’d allow 4 and frequently blow that estimate. Fortunately, the country is beautiful and the road north is literally on the sea side. Frequent stops for one way traffic, due to construction, kept the road technically open, but just barely. It was easy to see why the road experienced so many closures. Earth that wants to slide on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. it was a long trip but after 4-5 hours we were on the outskirts of Nelson.
The town of Nelson is the third largest port in New Zealand (taxi driver fact) and container ships make port to get their share of lumber, apples, fruit and other NZ desirables. Nelson is also a fishing town and it attracts tourists with remarkable beaches that expand like magic when the tide is out. Miles and miles of beach. The town is nestled at the southern end of Tasman Bay near the north end of the South Island of NZ. Wellington, on the North Island, is a 30 minute flight to cover the 80 miles between the two cities.
If you examine a chart of the Tasman Bay you would guess that God is a sailor or kayaker. Travel East or West and you will see remarkable opportunities to anchor, camp, hike near the Sea. If you thought this was the perfect place to take sailing lessons... you would be right.
Monday morning had us stowing our packs in the V birth of “Breeze”, a mid 90’s Jeaneau 36’ that obviously had a owner that loved her. This boat was meticulously cared for and we could only guess her age by the craftsmanship you could see in the cabin and the presence of real wood.
Four of us would be striving for our “Day Skipper” accreditation from the Royal Yachting Association. Paul, a Veterinarian program manager for the NZ government and Chris, a Kiwi intensive care physician that practices in the UK, joined Lauri and I onboard. Our Instructor, Kat, is a young woman that moves about the boat as if she grew up there. After meeting and greeting, we learned why. She did.
At the tender age of 7, her parents started sailing around the world in a 55’ Steel hulled sailboat with Kat and her two siblings. 5 years later they finished. Later Kat would sail solo to Fiji, Australia and back to NZ. Kat’s amazing experience and solid communication skills left us in awe of our instructor as we anxiously prepared the boat for leaving the slip.
The winds were light Monday so we spent the afternoon maneuvering Breeze and feeling Prop Walk, Prop Wash, tight turning and docking. I think instructors call this Marina Bashing, but the wind and current gods were kind and docks were only kissed gently as we learned how to parallel park the 8 ton yacht. Mooring lines, Warps, Halyards, Spring Lines, Sheets, Head Sails, Ports and Starboards all started to make sense and worked their way into each of our lexicons.
In the early evening, we picked up a mooring ball in the harbor and settled in for the night. With our endless prompting, Kat kept us engaged with tales of her childhood aboard the boat. Young children adventures in the dingy, getting knocked down, sailing from Japan to Sitka Alaska. Simply amazing.
Day two had us leaving harbor and heading north into Tasman Bay. Light winds caused us to motor sail a bit, but soon we had a pod of dolphins enjoying Breeze’s bow wave. Magic happens when a dolphin family shows up. Mothers and baby dolphins move as if they had one brain guiding both of them. Mother would change course and the babies lag was not perceptible. Magic. Almost as if the pod derived pleasure from seeing us enjoy them.
Navigation, Anchoring, Man Overboard, Reefing, tides and currents... you name it we did it. Sailing Bootcamp. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday flew by. Thursday afternoon we prepared our charts for a night sail back to Nelson harbor.
One person on the helm (Lauri for most of the night voyage), taking directions from a navigator. No charts in the cockpit. No white lights in the cabin, only red... keep your night vision. Taking sightings to fix our position... is that an aid to navigation or another boat? Give it time, it will become clear. I was at the helm as Chris navigated us to harbor. With his British infused Kiwi accent, every time he asked me to go to “Port” I had the urge to get him a dessert wine.
Coming into harbor at night is exciting. A road crew was working on the highway just behind one of the aids to navigation that I needed to follow in. The crews working light was so bright I had a hard time lining up the nav aids with complete clarity. Between all of us looking at it and ultimately agreeing, we sailed Breeze easily into the harbor.
My turn to navigate. With sails dropped and Breeze’s small diesel pushing us forward, Paul took the helm. “Put red marker 9 on your stern so it lines up with the impossibly far away green light... you should be at 2 degrees magnetic... Lauri watched the depth gage closely as we were splitting a very narrow, shallow, unmarked, channel, Chris was up front directing us around mooring buoys and moored boats.... when these two lights on our starboard line up, turn to 25 degrees magnetic to stay in the deeper part of the mooring area. We successfully made the final turn and Kat ended the night practice. Very fun, Very educational... only somewhat stressful.
Friday allowed us to practice picking up mooring balls with current to disrupt the boat a bit and we each got to put Breeze into a slip, tie her up and then take her back out again. The wind and current Gods blessed us again and kept Breeze scuff free.
After cleaning up the boat we all said our good byes after thanking the Sail Nelson team for a wonderful week of sailing education. What a wonderful way to learn to Sail!
7/3/2020 04:19:23 pm
This Bootcamp is for all of the people who want to try doing new things. If you are not here to enjoy the life that you were given, then what are you doing? Money is not everything, man. It helps to have money, but that is not where you want to put all of your focus on. If you start doing that, then you will just make your life miserable, that is what I believe, and that must be how it is.
10/30/2022 08:52:32 am
Short federal only public red maybe.
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Denny and Lauri