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
Log, Act II - Le Souffle du Nord Kilcullen Team Ireland From Enda O’Coineen & Team, 14th Nov, East of Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand
The log restarts, Act II and really it the ‘bit in the middle‘ namely circumnavigating New Zealand…
ACT III will commence in January when I will be honoured to set out as Ambassador for Le Souffle du Nord and Team Ireland on board Kilcullen Voyager to complete our circumnavigation (with one stop of about 3,000 miles).
And then its sole to Les Sables d’Olonne - to unofficially finish the Vendee Globe for two teams we hope - but have to risk Cape Horn and the Southern Ocean without support.
Anyway, now its calm, 0500 hrs its Tuesday 14th November. We are about 15 miles from the coast. The blackness of the moonless night is starting to lighten in anticipation of the Spring sunrise. There is little wind as we prepare cross the Cook Straight which divides New Zealand North and South Islands.
And wow, at sea again, it seems circumnavigating New Zealand - while we're at it - has become a modest little challenge in the context of completing our lap of the Planet. And a planet, whose oceans covering two-thirds of it, never cease to amaze, fire our imaginations and humble us.
Its all still a bit surreal. Like yesterday- on board the Kilcullen Voyager - powering towards Cape Horn. Wham. No mast. A new goal to survive. Otago Bay a week later, a temporary mast to Christchurch. The merging and marriage of two teams. For me it was love and the right thing to do at first sight. For the our new French Partners, still bewildered from their loss, the romance to blossom took time. ( 30th November we will have the opportunity to welcome them in Dublin)
And now Le Souffle du Nord Kilcullen Team Ireland are underway, re invented and I take from the words of Samuel Beckett, reflecting my humble drive….
"Perhaps my best years are gone.... but I wouldn't want them back. Not with the fire in me now"
Earlier in the week we lived a little on the edge. Getting the boat out of the Davie Norris’s yard in Christchurch, blocking off the highway and successful launch in Lyttleton Harbour was a challenge. Then through launch and sailing trials the weather was bad and it blew hard.
Happily the boat is in great shape, the rebuild has made her almost better than new. She is certainly stronger and reinforced where it matters.
Davie & team have done a brilliant job and are a credit to the New Zealand marine industry.
Leaving Christchurch, I was nervous. Having survived a thank-you night out with all our new Christchurch friends and Michael Keane (of Sligo) The Claddagh Pub. Also Amanda Davis who worked on the boatbuilding with Viki Moore, now ‘establishment’ and a new Council Member of the New Zealand Yachting Association representing the South Island, braved the sharp Spring wind in the rib to see us off. Our romantic French team members leaving their girlfriends behind, something about one one ever port, if only!!! But they do like their Guinness,
Nervous of these waters and the legendary stories but now there is little wind. Nonetheless a good test of boat and equipment, Our final leg of this journey, up into Wellington, now only 70 miles to go the the North, writing this log, as the sun prepares to rise over the Kiwi capital, should be uneventful.
Our greatest concern in the light winds, as we motor from time to time, has been bumping into whales as we passed through the Kaikoura Bay area – This is world famous as a meeting and breeding ground giant Sperm Whales, Humpback Whales, Pilot Blue and Southern Right Whales – we’re told. Keeping a constant lookout is vital.
Happily, while ACT III will be solo, we have 5 souls on board here off South Island NZ. Namely two brave French teammates Pierre Antoin-Tesson and Maxim Buoy from Le Souffle du Nord. Then Stewart McLachlan, a brilliant KIWI sailor in the middle and Joan Mulloy a talented sailor of Team Ireland, who has Figaro plans in 2018 together with Vendee Globe aspirations which we should all support.
Meanwhile as ever your Skipper is happy at Sea (namely those Ashore are safe!) and where passing the test of being a Real Irishman is a doddle. Namely the Real Irishman is one who never goest to bed the same day that he gets Up.