Up the Coast and Down to Earth

The screaming of the outboard finally stopped. A stiff winter breeze filled Aluna’s big main and mizzen sails and she shot out of the wide mouth of the Mahurangi Harbor and into the emerald green waters of Kawau Bay. After threading her way amongst the many little islands she had to squeeze out the narrow channel between Kawau Island and the Tawharanui Peninsula and head for the open sea. Cape Rodney was next and the stiff breeze held, blowing at a steady fifteen knots. Perfect sailing weather if it weren’t so bloody cold. I had five layers on on top and three below the waist and tucked behind the windbreak of the deckpod cover I was barely warm enough.

The sun set early at a quarter past five and a crescent moon peered through the clouds that streamed overhead. Conspicuous Sail Rock made it’s way to starboard as darkness set in. A sparkling path or silver led to the sinking moon touching down over Bream head, the sentinel of the entrance to the Whangarei Harbor. Continuing up the coast we passed the fancy sounding headlands of Tutukaka, Ngurunguru, Rimariki, Whangamumu and finally Whangaruru.

During the night the wind had dropped and by mid morning there was nothing left of it. A heavy leaden grey draped across the sky and the sun shone pale through a thick veil of haze. Still nine miles to go to Cape Brett and a forecast of Northerlies later in the day! Here you have it: the reasoning of despair! Turn the bloody motor on again and avoid the hardship of endless bobbing around and then tacking through another night.

The sea inside the Bay of Islands, after having passed through the impressive gate at Cape Brett, continued glassy and still. I tried to sail, but after two hours of ghosting at half a knot and losing the little ground I was able to make to tidal currents, I caved in to the corporate gods of petrol yet again. Never in my life have I motored so much in a single day. My friend Glenn Tieman, the quintessential sailor if there ever was one, must be pulling out his ever-ruffled hair when learning about this!

Now I’m writing this up over a cup of good night tea at anchor in the little bay of Roberton Island, where we stayed overnight on our way down the coast six months ago. Six months ago! Six months of emptiness, I’m tempted to say, if that doesn’t sound too rude. Civilization does bring with it a colossal lack of life. No spark in the human heart, nothing exceptional in the tortured mind, no intensity in an empty soul. The comfort of full fridges and fancy cars asphyxiates the human condition in its very core, shackling it to the constant thought of money, how to make it, how to take it, how to hold on to it, how to have more than you need. More than you need! It is one sad story that is very difficult to tell in any kind of entertaining way. It’s that story we all know so well, in fact we know it by heart. But the gloomy part is that we don’t want to hear it anymore, unless we all fall to our knees and cry rivers of tears, drowned in fears and mangled in pain, so much in vain that again, we cannot let go, we’re unable to quit. The madness must go on, on and on it must go as if walking amongst the living dead, amongst the living dead, amongst the living dead!

8 Responses to “Up the Coast and Down to Earth”

  1. Craig Anderson Says:

    Hi Beat,

    I have to admit I’ve been quite a clandestine follower of your blog living in Christchurch, New Zealand. I enjoy your posts and having spent some time in the areas that you describe I can often imagine myself there. It is however with regret that I agree wholeheartedly with your observations of the world and its addiction to money, how to make it, and get more meaningless stuff. I’m an agricultural researcher by trade and it is frustrating to see that those living on the land are dragged into this ‘productivity’ mess too – tied to corporations that supply energy, chemicals and processing facilities for thier products. It’s all about pushing the land to the limits (and beyond) with the forseeable mess that is land degradation and pollution. No matter how much advice one gives on the potential to build a self sustaining agricultural system all one hears back is: “That’s going to affect my bottom line”, or; “How are we going to feed the world?”. Truth is, we can feed the world with alternative agriculture and the only thing stopping us is monetary greed.

    When will we learn? The wolf is already at the door. New Zealand used to be quite a nice place to live but regretably the social fabric is fraying pretty badly since we insist on being in the “First-World” club (what does that mean anyway?). I secretly hope that the world’s economy crashes around our ears sooner rather than later so we can reset our ideals and get back to living properly and building communities rather that wealth. The only trouble with that scenario is that those who have the least will no doubt be shafted as the uber rich try to salvage the false economy they think they need.

    The silver lining is that there are some extremely inspiring people out there who shun the system and do some amazing stuff. The time is ripe for change! All we need to do is follow thier lead.

    Anyway, keep up the posts, they are always a good read.



  2. Beatriz Restrepo Says:

    Como siempre me encanta lo que escribes. Cuidate mucho 🙂

  3. rudy Says:

    Dats’. Ah so sad… You may be so far downriver I may have to pump you some real world juice. Perhaps some gassoline for that motor on the boat or some batteries for the computer. Oh yah the computer … that we send our smoke signals on without which half of us would not remembber who we all are.or what we look like as we grow older.. BTW remind me to send you my extra ipad3. UB would love one but Idigress which often happends when l blow to much smoke… Just kidding about the sending you the IPad3 but we both can dream…

    Here is a thought to ponder… If you are given the choice of luscious oganic apple or a IPad3 which one would you cnoose given you are not dying of physical starvation. You do see where I am going here… Smile… Take good care mr friend…


    • alunaboat Says:

      This is a very easy riddle to solve, my friend. You get the iPad3,sell it to your worst enemy for almost new price, buy a first generation from your best friend and then go an get some of those o-ganic apples at the local farmer’s market! Thanks for the encouragment!

  4. Glenn Tieman Says:

    I’ll take that as a virtual invitation. A pep talk is called for not only for you, Beat my friend, but any other boaters reading.

    Without a doubt motorboating is far easier and faster than sailing, and after you’ve taken an engine on board, with all its liabilities, most of the price has been paid, so why not use it? (Much like car ownership). As long as the issue is getting there, sailing is hard to justify much of the time, but there is another issue. There near Cape Brett, without an engine, you could have enjoyed being stopped on a quiet, glassy sea. What a great place to read and cook and enjoy life with a million dollar view, kind of crazy to rush on after striving so hard to get there. I’ve noticed that I often become becalmed in spots worth spending some time. If that headwind filled in, and you were tired, you might have found a place nearby to anchor (I’ve found the best anchorages this way) or just forereach slowly offshore while sleeping, not much harder than being anchored. In the river you could have drifted out on the ebb tide, anchoring during the flood, as I’ve done to cruise far up rivers into Borneo. These techniques amount to sailing as opposed to motorboating, where you just drive over everything. “What a lot of difficulties” the yachties think. But these ways of sailing, facing the challenges, using every part of geography, wind and tide, working nature, have been the most profoundly beautiful experiences that I’ve been blessed to recieve. And then there are big advantages to not owning an engine at all. Whether real sailing is hardship or ecstatic depends purely on one’s attitude. The point is – the engine lowers the quality of the experience. No – the engine eliminates the magic of sailing, The engine shuts the door to Alice’s rabbit hole. The engine keeps the matrix plugged into the back of your heads.

    You, your blog, and your trip are absolutely fantastic! Insightful and stimulating. Glenn

    • alunaboat Says:

      The master has spoken! Now I want you to repeat this five times without the slightest hint of irony. Because when the masters speak you need to listen. So listen carefully! Did you hear what it is all about? It’s all about time. This precious commodity we never seem to have enough! Now time is not such a hard thing to understand if you look at it without using too much of your head. Time is when you do what you are doing right now, without thinking of anything else. Just be a hundred percent in this present moment and feel how there really is nothing else. Everything else is fake, a lie, a plot, death! I guess I got myself infected again with the illness of civilisation! Time for a detox, my friends!

  5. Kiwi Assessment « Aluna’s Travel the World Blog Says:

    […] an effort to explain myself. And I might not have made this public statement if it weren’t for a passionate comment left by Craig Anderson on my previous post. It’s easy to discard my own hypercritical point of view as that of an […]

  6. Bob Bois Says:

    Well, I find I can keep silent no longer, Beat.
    Perhaps you’ll remember I visited you and Beatriz in San Leandro just as you were starting to build the boarding ramp on Aluna.
    I’ve been meaning to email you for quite some time now to tell how much I’ve been enjoying your blog posts as you meander, in true Wharram-fashion, through the Pacific.
    I must also admit to some envy – but in a good way: you are motivating me to get off my ass and get out of here before it’s too late. The breaking away from the responsibilities of a land-based, consumer-oriented life is fraught with difficulty, as you well know.
    I was lofting the lines for the backbone of our Tiki 46 when a massive snow storm collapsed our building shed (no one was inside, thankfully) and we lost everything inside. After all the work of building the shed and then completing the lofting and getting ready to cut plywood, to have that happen took all the wind from my sails.
    It’s been over a year now and I’ve done nothing to get back up on my feet – and I’d like to think I was made of more resilient fiber.
    The desire to live a more simple (even if less secure) life still calls. So, my wife and I and the boys have talked and talked and talked and we have decided to sell the plans for the 46 and see if we can buy unused plans off of one of the website selling them.
    I know you built Aluna on a shoestring (relatively). Can you pass on some pearls of wisdom when you have a calm moment? Any $$ saving tricks you could let me know about – from finding ‘re-purposed’ lumber to your awesome rig, would be met with smiles and gratitude at this end.
    There is no way we can now afford the time and expense of building the 46. We are adopting the ‘go smaller, go cheaper, go sooner’ approach.
    I hope you’re well.
    Oh – and as a writer myself, I have to say your writing has really improved as you’ve traveled and written your blog!
    Thanks Beat – fair winds to you, sir.
    You can email off blog at: bbois@verizon.net

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