Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On the Midnight Boat to Kawau

All my (not so) hard work getting to know how to sail and crew on racing yachts led to being invited on a destination race to a nearby island, Kawau. The trip down involved me, the two boat owners, and the wife and small daughter of one owner. This boat was quite a bit bigger than the one I usually race on. Combine that with some pretty good sized seas and the spinnaker that was flown to good effect up to North Head and you have some exciting sailing.

Even more exciting when the skipper went under water while dropping the spinnaker during a gusty wind shift and an unexpected broach. In any case, we lost most of our lead but got it under control and had a nice reach up to Kawau. It was at night, by the way, and I got my first sighting of the Southern Cross. We ended up 2nd on the line and 2nd on handicap.

Kawau Island is beautiful; the bay we anchored in has an impressive Victorian mansion built by an early Governor.

There was some neat fauna - some of it native, like this weka. Apparently there are kiwi but I didn't see any.
There were wallabies, however!
Apparently this island and the eccentric ex-governor introduced quite a few species to NZ. Modern conservation ethic in NZ keeps you from doing this for a good reason. One of the species introduced to the island was the Australian opossum, now it is a scourge to the native bush all over NZ.

On Saturday the skipper dove for scallops and we fished. I caught three Kahawai on a total of one baiting and two casts. Not bad.

But I did not win the competition - they wouldn't count my double catch as one fish.

These plants look familiar - straight from AZ?

The skipper and I raced home on Sunday. We got a poor start this time and spent the day dealing with gusts and wound up putting a reef in. That's not the way to win races but it was a good idea under the conditions.

Near Takapuna we (almost) ran into competitors racing tornado's (the Olympic catamaran class). One of them went flying by at 20ish knots just astern with a displeased look. The next weekend was the world championships so getting in the way this time wasn't so bad.

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