Having just returned to Auckland after spending three weeks down in Akaroa, I do believe I found the Akaroa Dolphin Whisperer!  Roy Bortelli, owner and Captain of the Fox II for the last 12 years invited me down to Akaroa to learn more about the historical Fox II and improve on my sailing expertise and knowledge, a chance I couldn’t refuse!

Sailing with Roy and his ever revolving crew was such a pleasure.  With his son Max sailing with u Monday to Friday, the only consistent crew member other than Roy himself, Roy is giving so many individuals the opportunity to learn the basics of sailing, and spend time in the Banks Peninsula watching dolphins, seals, penguins and albatross live their lives in a beautiful, natural setting.

With a playlist of sailing tunes and etheral songs from people such as Enya, Roy has gained the knowledge it takes to call in the dolphins on every single trip he takes his guests out on.  Whether these guests are locals, visitors to the township or just passing through on a cruise ship, Roy brings pleasure and excitement to each and everyone of them – even if they have yet to gain their sea legs or get a grip on the contents of their stomachs!

Watching and listening to Roy share his knowledge of the local Maori, English and French history, as well as tell you about the marine life you get to witness; such as the Hector Dolphins, the smallest and most extinct dolphins in the world.  To know that there are less than 2000 of these magical creatures left in existence was upsetting, but knowing I have had the privilege to see them swim, jump and play with each other, as well as out swim us at the bow of the Fox II was very emotional.  Seeing these dolphins jump up high, do back flips, dart here, there and everywhere left me with so many happy tears and a big smile on my face, that my face ached for days afterwards!

The fur seals were equally beautiful to watch as they swam along the coast, played in the rock pools, ran along the rocks and basked in the sunshine.  I was somewhat envious of their ability to simply bend and lie in any position over the rocks, knowing how stiff my back was due to staying in a local hostel, also as part of my research, and an experience never to be forgotten – let’s just put it this way, it bought a whole new meaning to stepping out of my comfort zone!

The tiny Blue Penguins were just too cute and it was great to see them in the ocean during the daylight after my trip to Philip Island, just off the south coast of Australia 16 years ago.

Now I knew the albatross was a large bird, but nothing prepares you for the elegance that this giant has when it comes to gliding just above the ocean waves, and how not even the dolphins could make me look away from the magnificence of this incredible species of bird.

During my time in Akaroa I got to race with the Transition team for their final Coastal series race of the season.  Watching, and being a small part of the crew was something I will never forget, and yep, you’ve guessed it there is a whole blog entry dedicated to them and the Akaroa Yacht Club.  To be welcomed into their club and the Transition team would not have happened if I hadn’t been invited, and attended an event held at The Gaiety House about Akaroa’s very own Frank Worsley, sailor and explorer who served on Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antartic Expedition of 1914-1916.

It was also on this night that I got to meet the wonderful owners of the Meniscus Winery, David and Gay Epstein; and who I had the pleasure, and the honour of staying with during my final week.  Not only is the wine superb, the warmth and kindness of these two incredibly generous souls, now means I have family to come back to when I return to Akaroa, because I will be returning, as I have The Mermaid’s Guide to HitchHiking to launch when my circumnavigation of the world’s oceans and seas is complete.

So to all who made my trip to Akaroa the wonderful, and insightful, experience it was, thank you! So much!

My time riding the waves on the Fox II, paddle boarding, connecting with people, watching marine life where it should be – in the ocean, seeing the miraculous life cycle of the Monarch butterflies unfold before my eyes, learning about myself, meeting friends old and new, enjoying great food and wine, and getting present to what I am about to do, was an intense few weeks for so many reasons, but well worth it!

Challenging yourself may be overwhelming in so many ways, but the results … unforgettable.  The growth… worthwhile.

Now it’s time for me to prepare for my last week in Auckland, before delivering a presentation at a local library and then sailing up to Opua for my last week her in New Zealand.

Until the next instalment of The Mermaid’s Guide to HitchHiking… have fun, live life to the full and embrace all that comes your way!

With love

Dawn xx

For more information on how you can uplevel your life, then please visit www.dawnabtes.com/coaching and send me a messgae via the enquiry form!

For more info on the Fox II visit www.foxseasail.co.nz