We have run away from home.
I know many of you won’t think that is anything new for us. Yes, David and I set off from Kawau on two previous voyages since we met five years ago, the first to sail south and explore Fiordland, the second time to head north into the Pacific and across to Australia and Tasmania. But in each of those instances, we weren’t actually running away, but running towards enticing adventures, distant destinations. This time is different. We have absolutely no goal, no definite destination, no actual plans, just a desire to be “away.” Our goal, if you can call it that, is to find quiet anchorages where we can sit and do absolutely nothing. I’ve brought along paint and varnish to spruce up Sahula, but not much desire to use them. I’ve got my computer and might do a bit of writing. David has his water colours and sketch book. He might use them. But in reality, the most ambitious thing either of us want to do is dive overboard for a swim, take a few walks on shore, read some good books, avoid news, hope there is no internet connection and forget normal life for a good long while.
The last several months have been overfilled as, despite the restrictions of Covid, we were able to carry on with not only our normal work, but what turned out to be an eight-month long refit of 12 meter Sahula. We are not the first people to decide to do a relatively easy sounding job on a boat and have it turn into a major effort. When David was doing his bi-annual check for rust inside the boat’s hull, he realized there was a problem spot he couldn’t reach under one of the water tanks. Out came the tank, a job which required removing the woodwork in the main saloon. By good fortune, we shared our covid bubble with Mike Hayes who is a skilled boatbuilder. He offered to work on our project. Unfortunately, that meant the two men decided to continue inspecting for any other possible hidden rust problems. Thus, half of the interior of the boat got removed, sometimes brutally. David learned to use tools he’d never realized existed as he did the rough woodwork. Mike filled my boatshed with his tools, taken out of storage just for this job and did the actual fitting or the revamped cabinetry. I ended up spending half of each day painting, sanding or epozying bits and pieces for the interior, the other half searching for supplies. Then to add to the chaos, I couldn’t resist changing the 31-year-old formica work surfaces of the galley and putting in stainless steel tops. So yes, a month’s work turned to eight.
Those of you who do not own a cruising boat might wonder at spending so much time, effort and yes – money, on an older boat like this one. But she is more than just a boat, she is a memory sink, a magic carpet that took David around the world, and me right around the Tasman Sea and through the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. And she is a capable and seaworthy escape machine, waiting to take us across oceans and to the far edges of the world when we feel confident covid will not cause countries to shut their doors to visitors. Even if fate keeps us from reaching far away shores, she will always serve as an escape machine when we need one.
We needed her now. And after only a week I am feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. And there is no good reason for us to return to North Cove for at least two or three weeks more.
Today, when I awoke to the quiet of this beautiful bay I recalled a decision my late husband Larry and I made soon after we bought my home at Kawau 37 years ago. We considered our North Cove cottage as a homebase, but spent the majority of our time off exploring the world on our 9 meter classic yacht Taleisin, returning every few years to work on another book or video project. Though we often got involved in local racing which took us into Auckland, or to the Mahurangi River, we decided not to explore the islands around the Hauraki Gulf. “We should save that for later, after crossing oceans isn’t fun anymore,” we both agreed. Unfortunately, that time never came for Larry. Furthermore, until David and I ran away from home ten days ago, I had never been to the majority of anchorages that pepper the Coromandel, I had only once landed at Waiheke, only anchored for two nights at Great Barrier Island.
But now, finally, I am getting a chance to explore the Hauraki Gulf onboard Sahula. And now I realize, no matter which direction you head, there are dozens of wonderful places to explore just half a day’s sail from North Cove. That means, as long as we take care of Sahula, even if we never venture further afield, we can always enjoy being afloat around Kawau.