Moving On to Roberton

It kept raining for three straight days after our visit to Peter’s enchanted little house up on the hilltop. We were tucked in the warm and relatively dry bellies of our mothership, every now and then making quick dashes across the deck to go to the galley in the other hull for some snacks or a meal. This weather was to be a harbinger of the times ahead. Northern New Zealand seems being robbed of its summer this year!

Towards midday of the fourth day the skies finally broke. Warm rays of sunshine broke through the thick clouds and quickly dried any weary tear of sadness. We had been eager to continue our way South. The friends we had met up in Tonga had invited us to come and stay at their home along Whangateau Harbor. According to the charts this was going to be a sail of a little over 70 miles. The weather forecast looked excellent for the next three days with the window closing fast after that. So it was time to move, now or never!

We sailed past the mass of sailboats once again and then out the Veronica channel towards the Bay of Islands. We did have to do a couple chores on land and by the time we were under way most of the afternoon had passed on to the nick of eternity. According to local guidebooks staying in the lee of Roberton Island just outside the channel entrance promised to put us into a good position to start the actual journey down the coast the following day. Aluna plowed gingerly through the brown waters full of silt washed slowly but steadily towards the sea. Heavy rainfalls like the ones we had just experienced continue to wash away much of the fertile soil after the land had been deforested by the careless settlers of many different generation, ethnicities and creeds that had come to this land before us in search of new and plentiful sustenance. Much of New Zealand’s dubious history was engendered right next to us in this very area: The arrival of the first legendary Maori canoes bringing settlers from their mystic homeland Hawaiki; the rowdy splurge of whalers who called into the little township of Russel to our right, which made much of its fortune catering to their lustful needs; the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi hinged on its brood of misunderstandings between opposing cultures a little further to our left.

At the mouth of the channel rounding Tapeka Point the waters faded from brown to green to blue and a gentle swell rolling in the vast South Pacific ocean greeted us with a bit of commotion. A short downwind sail from there brought us to the rocky shore of Roberton Island, one of many in the aptly named Bay of Island. Along its Southeast coast the steep and whitewashed cliffs make way to a beautiful crescent beach with waters totally protected from the present weather. No swell whatsoever would rock our boat during the night, only a very gentle sloshing of shallow waves made for an elusive lullaby by rolling coarse gravel up and down the beach.

We arrived just in time for a little exploration on land. Climbing a well-catered path up the forest we arrived at an outlook on top of the island with splendid views of a sizeable chunk of the Bay. The sun had just set and the nightly symphony of colors started its subtle crescendo of reddish, orange, pink and then purple hues, all faithfully reflected on the rippled waters below and all the way around us, reminding us of great and true art is born almost out of itself with no need for a celebrated master, no refined brushes, slick pallets or expensive paint, just sacred, pure action that seems to simply stand there, absolutely still.

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