WE HAVE arrived in Auckland with a 35/40 knot gale up our stern. We shot across the Bay of Plenty, over the top after negotiating the Eastern Cape - our "Cape Horn". Prior to that, it was a hard upwind slog from Wellington. IMOCA 60's are not happy sailing into the wind and big seas, and their crews are even less happy.
Now we are almost half-way around the two massive Islands and many weather systems they call New Zealand. The Kiwi circumnavigation, which we will now complete by sailing to Dunedin is a mini-diversion on our way back to complete our "Humming Bird and Irish mission".
At times, and in particular the South it can be sub-antarctic and in other places sub-tropical. Their storms would make the West Coast of France winter gales seem like a children's tea party at the Buoy residence, such is their fierce and dramatic nature. It is a country governed by weather systems, with many climates and many cows.
The leg to Auckland had some drama. It included a crash gybe in darkness which smashed the traveller car... however we have recovered and it was a valuable lesson. Namely that these are fragile boats, we are fragile and the the ocean knows no emotion other than fury and is indifferent to the fate of mankind, engulfing two thirds of our little planet.
We were greeting on arrival by a gang of young Kiwi girls. They were clearly attracted by our two young Le Souffle du Nord crewmen, Maxime and Pierre. However, their older Skipper, may have cramped their style by talking to their mothers trying to control their drunk daughters celebrating and 18th! The evidence in the picture attached says it all.
"And to the ship that goes
The wind that blows
And the lass who loves a sailor"
(in every port)
The Kiwis have a passion for the maritime, the oceans and adventure. Indeed when they do things i it with focus - and did I mention rugby? This morning, (our morning after arrival) from our small dock coffee shop it’s cold, windy and raining and I see a group going to sea...
In many respects NZ is a frontier country - they are very self-contained. The 'Can-do" attitude is strong and having always had to stand on their own they do not have the ' safety-net" many Europeans have - such as pensions for older people our our health systems. By comparison Ireland and France are becoming 'Nanny States'.
And so this is our last log - I think - until we sail again to complete our voyage around nz to Dunedin and then back to finish in Les Sables.
But first. your Skipper travels back to Europe and we look forward to meeting all in Dublin 30th November. This will include the launch of our Schools Adventure Programme by Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor, a lunch, and workshop on using ocean adventure in Education, a reception hosted by the French Ambassador to Ireland and then a night out in Dublin...
Unrelated but complimentary to our great adventure, the Atlantic Youth Trust partners (www.atlanticyouthtrust.org) looked at 16 countries around the Globe to survey their youth maritime development models. As it happens By far the New Zealand one was the best. Here the Spirit of Adventure Trust run the Spirit of New Zealand, a 45 metre Tall ship (see www.spirpritofadventurtrust.org).
So in January we have a group of youth doing a 10 day voyage from 6th to 15th January starting and finishing in AUCKLAND. Then 14th to 16th we have an official visit to meet the NZ charity trustees and see their youth development model first hand. This will be valuable in developing the ATLANTIC Youth Trust, not just as an island of Ireland North South youth project, but also a European project.
Other activities for the exchange are also being planned not least some time rubbing the Americas Cup secured at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
Then on the 16th January approx, the plan is for our team to depart up over the top left corner of NZ, down the west coast, and around the bottom and up into Dunedin - thus completing our NZ circumnavigation. This will be a valuable 'warm-up' for the Solo departure around 25th January for Le Sables d'Olonne and unofficially finish the Vendee course with "One Stop".
Until then, we look forward to our next log " at sea' and thanks for sharing the mission, vision and adventure and let the dreamers dream.
- Enda O'Coineen, Auckland