Last week I wrote briefly about New Zealand’s first settlers. The explorers were from a mythical Polynesian island called Hawaiki, which some believe to be Tahiti. These travelers were the ancestors of the Maori people. That these people made such a long and dangerous journey in little more than wooden canoes is extraordinary. During a visit to the Maritime Museum in Auckland, we got to see what these boats might have looked like, courtesy of Lenore:
And the internet:
Today, Auckland, New Zealand, is called the “city of sails.” It has the highest boat ownership per capita in the world. There’s no better place to entertain a little hands-on sailing.
We got to experience a bit of what it is like to sail across the Tasman Sea, albeit in a very differently constructed vessel as we boarded a sleek America’s Cup Yacht for a hands on sailing experience. And I mean HANDS ON.
We first got a safety briefing from the professional crew:
There are multiple steering wheels like the one above as well as masts and winches and tons of other equipment. I am a sailing neophyte so I do not pretend to know what all the gadgets are for. My main concern was how to stay clear of the many ropes and wires that surrounded me so that I wouldn’t accidentally be hoisted over the mainsail – if that is possible.
We listened carefully:
Yeah I was a bit flummoxed. Lenore, an experienced sailor was obviously more relaxed.
To give you a rough idea of what the deck looked like – take a look at these schematics – they aren’t exactly the same as the yacht we sailed on but provide a good overview:
Basically the winches are used to raise the sails and shift them to best catch the wind – so beside watching out for the ropes below I also had to be aware of the swinging sails across the deck. And add to this the fact that most of the time the yacht was on an extreme angle so we had to constantly shift our bodies to lean against falling over:
Our wonderful guide Tia provided some arm muscle as she manned one of the two-person winches to raise the sail:
It was glorious:
While we worked hard to avoid capsizing, all around us were miniature sailboats manned by sail students who put us to shame with their sailing prowess:
I think the following lyrics from the Disney movie “Moana” is a fitting close to this adventure.
We read the wind and the sky when the sun is high
We sail the length of the seas on the ocean breeze
At night, we name every star
We know where we are
We know who we are, who we are
We set a course to find
A brand new Island everywhere we roam
We keep our Island in our mind
And when it’s time to find home
We know the way