Good afternoon from Aft Port Watch. It is now Monday and I am writing this as we sail (ok motor) away from Opua to Great Barrier Island to join the other tall ships. The island is rugged and sparsely populated and we will be anchoring offshore and going in by boat. We have had a lovely two and a half days in Opua visiting nearby sites including Waitangi Treaty grounds, Paihia and Russell, as well as the beaches, ferries and footpaths in between. Yesterday the VC all headed off on their various excursions while the PC’s manned open ship. Some 500 visitors were shown around the upper decks and several expressed interest in joining later legs.
This morning there was time for some of the permanent crew to get ashore. Lesley set off on foot through the mangrove, whilst the rest grabbed a cab. Jon, Izzy and James found time for a heli-ride above the bay. Most found time for lunch and an ice-cream before returning to the ship. The Bay of Islands is stunning, with an interesting history and variety of habitats. The weather has been very kind and the locals delightful. We had a lovely meal with Monica’s watch last night in a restaurant overlooking the bay.
I’ll hand over to Izzy to describe her jaunt to the welcome…… The ceremony was the most thrilling experience and it was such a privilege to be invited to be part of it. The Captain, Marcin, Jo, Mike and I walked in procession with sailors from the other tall ships and were welcomed by the traditional Maoris welcome Powhiri. We were greeted by the elders with the traditional hugni, the nose pressing for the men and a kiss on the cheek for the women. It was the biggest event in Russell for many years and possibly the first time in at least 150 years that so many square riggers were anchored in the bay. The Captain sang a shanty which we joined in on on the chorus, that was well received by the locals. After we had tea and beautifully prepared food (even edible flowers) where we talked to the locals and other sailors. It was a great afternoon and one that made us feel very welcome in New Zealand.
Our watch is now at an end and next on the agenda is happy hour and the joy of the heads await.
Til next time, much love to those at home, from AP – Wayman, John, John, Seb, Ian, Izzy, Fi and Jen x