It’s been a week almost since I returned from the Bay of Islands Sailing week and I have finally had a bit of time to ground myself and reflect on the amazing time I had sailing up and back, as well as the fun times had on the Opua Cruising Club’s Committee Boat also known as the ‘middle section starter boat’. I got to spend 3 days with some really lovely gentlemen; Gerry, Cam, Nick, Hugh and Pete, as well as a lady called Ava whilst we watched so many people enjoy the passion of their sport. I had never really wanted to race a boat, just simply drift along ‘cruising’ as they call it here in New Zealand. When I was first asked “Ah, so you are a cruiser then?” I explained that the idea of a cruise ship wasn’t my idea of fun, being stuck on a boat with 1000’s of other people with shops, gyms, pools and goodness knows what else was my idea of the worst kind of saling, if you can call it sailing. No I was definitely not one of those kind of cruises. I am a Kiwi Cruiser (my new term for what I do!) I want to be on a boat with a handful of other people maximum, sailing with no deadline, just going with the flow to our next destination.
During the daytime, the sun would tell us she was going to give us a beautiful day, even if the wind and sea breezes were not great, we would still be able to enjoy being on a boat in the Bay. I look back at the moments sitting by the Opua General Store, thinking just how beautiful this area of New Zealand is. I would have Tapu Point to my left, a sacred Mauri point, with deep spiritual connections. A place where they used to bring their dead loved ones on the way to the burial ground. In front of me would be the Bay, with sailing yachts anchored and the morning clouds are very few and far between, with a beautiful clear, light blue sky. The sun would glisten off the water and the community would wake up for another day of racing. To the right was the Marina stores – and when night time came, the tented bar areas where a flow of Mount Gay Rum, Lager and Wine would be enjoyed after a ‘hard days racing’
One of the things I have reflected on is the food I was eating. When on a boat, or volunteering and being provided food, you sometimes just have to suck it up when it comes to your choices of food. I have had to eat wheat, which is not good for my body, but gluten free wasn’t that available, unless you were eating cake or rice crackers. I have also eaten salami and ham, something I haven’t eaten for years, and to be honest don’t want to eat again. It is making me gag just thinking about it. When choosing my own food from the shops, I would choose the delicious vegetable quiche for breakfast, and a cheeky hash brown…. And boy were the Opua General Stores hash browns good! I do love a good hash brown! The quiche was very light, and it was home-made, so to whoever made the quiche, well done! It was delicious!
Speaking with Manuela, one of the main organisers, I asked her if she ever got tired of the views surrounding her; and I loved her honesty. She said “very few people even see it anymore, we don’t value it. It is only when we have visitors like you that we even notice it again”. I can theoretically understand it, but my soul just doesn’t comprehend that. Even when back home in the UK, living on the edge of the Peak District, my breath is still taken away by the trees, the streams, the changing colours, the energy and well, just everything about it. I don’t rush through life anymore like I used to. I learnt a lot when I was given 24 hours to live 11 years ago, and learn very quickly to slow down and appreciate everything around me. To appreciate my life, and the abundance that life has to offer. I know facing my own mortality, and that of my ex-husband 17 years ago, is part of what has led me to wanting to enable others to live a life they love and step away from the things that make them miserable or drained, and sick. I coached and mentored people before these two wake up calls, but since then, my coaching and passion to make a positive difference in people’s lives has taken on a whole new meaning.
As I watched people busying themselves getting ready to race, or get the next day’s racing underway, I was made aware of how the ‘busy culture’ is still very prominent even in a less hectic environment such as the Bay of Islands. The work life balance here in New Zealand, or rather Aotearoa, is so much better than that in the UK and other parts of the world I have been to, but during sailing week, it really is all hands to the deck (pun definitely intended!) The weather is the driver here, less about clock watching and more about weather watching, and when there is a good window for sailing, you go. There and then. No messing about. Sailing is dictated to more by nature than by the corporate bottom line, even though having that corporate bottom line profit margins helps with the sailing life. Regardless of what people say here, the racing element of sailing is very much a wealthy sport. There is still an element of class structure, but it’s not as shallow or arrogant as it is in the UK.
Here in New Zealand sailing is accessible to everyone, and the adage of “if you can dream it, you can do it” being the order of the day, those without the cash to own a race boat, partner up to invest in the costs of buying and maintaining a boat –regardless of whether it is a race boat, or a launch. There are so many ‘Learn to Sail’ clubs, even in schools sailing is offered as part of the school sports listings. Crewing opportunities are abundant; as I am finding out, and the community here is so open, so welcoming and so helpful. I have not yet found an element of the sailing community here that has the proverbial broom up the backside like there is in the UK. The sailing community here are happy to share their knowledge, invite you into their community and help you out with introductions, opportunities and give you a bed for the night on their boat. I have loved the generosity of the sailing community here, so much. It has been the best place to start my life at sea and my journey around the world writing The Mermaid’s Guide to Hitch Hiking.
With so much joy being on the Committee boat, watching the racers, seeing the beautiful R Tucker Thompson Tall Ship sailing by, and being mesmerised by the ocean, I was at peace. I was happy. I may have been missing my boys and my partner, and of course my two little dogs with their enormous personalities, but I was doing this for me. I was living my dream. I was on the ocean every day, writing, learning about others and of course learning more about myself. The evenings were just as much fun, although in a very different way. I was working predominantly behind the Mount Gay Rum bar – and I met this incredible woman named Steffi – a kindred spirit is ever there was one! I have not giggle and laughed that hard for a long time; but it wasn’t just the giggles and laughter. It was the depth of conversation, the non-linear thinking, the entire experience was just magical! And then there were the punters. The racers. One particular guy called Hamish and his team mates had been racing Rocket Science in the Young 88 section, and I managed to get a great photo of it (You can also see it on my Instagram feed @DawneeBe.) It was great to be able to chat with him, really lovely guy. Well everyone was really. There was lots of banter, and lots of drinks for me, so I paid it forward; giving those who had helped me throughout my journey thus far one of my free drinks. It was so great to be able to thank them with words and with a great night. Seeing people smiling and enjoying themselves, getting excited about their sport, their results and their performance, even if it was assisted with Rum and Dry, was such a buzz. The energy was great and the people very lovely… especially the ones who thought I was only 30!! Shaved a decade of my life, and I will take those compliments!! It did however explain the funny looks I was getting when I said I had a 15 year old! A young mum by many standards these days, but not that young! Hahaha!! It is great to know that it wasn’t just the guys who had had a rum or two that thought I was 30, it comes from men and women alike, older ones, younger ones, and mostly sober ones. It was also nice to get chatted up by a few guys, but when your heart is with another, it doesn’t matter who compliments you or chats you up, your thoughts are always with the man who resides in your mind and soul.
Anyway, that’s it for now, more on the journey back tomorrow on a Young 88 called Mindbender and the other wonderful gifts this amazing universe of ours is co-creating with me!
Have an amazing day folks, and remember to live the life of your dreams, and if you are not living the life of your dreams, then message me and let’s see how we can work together to enable you to!
Go wild! Have fun! Be love! Be Joy! Be Peace! It’s amazing!!
Ciao for now!