Whangarei NZ

Getting Started on North Island, New Zealand

In October 2012 I was traveling in Europe alone and found it unsatisfying.  On a ferry in a Norwegian fjord I sat near a couple from New Zealand and our very pleasant interaction spurred me to return to New Zealand, a place I had spent considerable time in previously and which I found much superior to overcrowded Europe.  So on December 4th I left the States for New Zealand with no return fare.   In January 2013 after just a few weeks of looking at boats for sale, I bought Backbeat, a 2002 Fountaine-Pajot Bahia Maestro (‘Maestro’ denoting an owner’s version as opposed to a charter layout).  That occurred in Whangarei (pronounced ‘Fahng-array’), the northernmost city in New Zealand.

After closing on the new boat, my old crewman, Glen McConchie, who is a Kiwi, and I then sailed along the coast of the North Island for six weeks, discovering a few problems with Backbeat and determining to make certain improvements.  We had a lovely time, however, cruising largely in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, and experienced some excellent spearishing when anchored in Von Luckner’s Cove at Red Mercury Island near Whitianga.

On return to Whangarei we hauled Backbeat and proceeded with our list of regular maintenance and improvements, including sanding off the old bottom paint and applying a new bottom, among other things.

Then around May 1st we were joined by our old crewman, John Charlton, and at first opportunity we set sail for points north, our first destination the rather isolated Fijian island of Rotuma.

                                          Whangarei Town Basin Marina at sunset


                               Abalone and lobster we harvested in NZ with plantains

America’s Cup boat ‘Prada' screaming by us on a practice run near Auckland, both hulls out of the water!


                           Kelly as Coal Miner, after sanding off bottom of hulls

       Backbeat at the fuel dock at Marsden Cove Marina before setting off from NZ

© R. Kelly Wright 2014