Sailing to Great Barrier Island 3


John decided to unfold the main sail. The sun shined brightly and the sky blue, but still hardly any wind. Not a great day for sailing. This probably explained why there were no other sail boats around. We plodded along on a relatively calm water at 5 knots. Suddenly a Southerly wind picked up. Thanks to technology, the boat was set on auto-pilot. The GPS was not functioning well. Satellite connections do always work every time. With this convenience, we could just sit back and enjoy the sun and views.

John unfolded the genoa sail, to complement the main sail with the hope of picking up some wind. It started of flat and occasionally filled up when the sail caught sufficient wind. John looked around and mentioned that the sea water behind us was darker as the waves built up. I only saw sea water. Then I began to notice the shadow cast by waves seemed darker with a little white water amongst them. There is some hope of better wind condition.

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I had been commanding the tiller earlier but now with the sails, I was apprehensive. John instructions were to look at the top of the ten meter mast. The tail end of the wind pointer should be at the southern end. Watch the main sail and make sure that it does not swing back (move towards the opposite direction). Finally, keep the forward direction at 10 degrees north. I was nervous and at the same time, wanting to get it right. Maintaining and fulfilling all the instructions were demanding and I became more nervous. I don’t want to break the mast or the main sail if it swung back. At this point, the boat sailed at around six knots with 80% of the power provided by the sails. An hour later, John decided to pull down the genoa sail as progress was rather slow. The motor was turned up.

The sea was calm, the sun was burning my skin and the sky a beautiful turquoise blue. a few island were scattered on the horizon. I saw a little bird just 20m from the boat. It looked like a penguin. It did not fly but instead submerged into the water. John though it might be Blue Penguins. The Coromandal Peninsula was now visible with a small rocky outcrop. On the northern horizon, a faint blueish Great Barrier Island with Hobson Point, a mountain, in the centre. A little left was Little Barrier Island. Our bearing had been pretty good. A large flock of birds floated effortlessly on the water’s surface. Perhaps there were large numbers of prey floated towards the surface by predator fishes. More birds joined in the feeding frenzy. Suddenly a small pod of Dolphins swam and jumped southbound past as if on a mission. I was just excited these animals in the wild. Unexpectedly, I barely caught sight of a black whale just diving into the water. I shouted to John in excitement. All these delightful incidents within minutes. This had made my sailing adventure fulfilled.


Between Coromandal Peninsula and Barrier Island is an open channel which drains into Pacific Ocean. Between these two islands is a small mass of land, Channel Island. I wondered if it is inhabited by people. The swells increased. The craft with its wonderfully crafted champagne glass shaped keel swayed gently. Floating on the water’s surface of the big swells were four Blue Penguins. These small birds dived underwater as our boat approached closer. This is my first encounter of Blue Penguins. An unexpected experience indeed.





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