When things don’t go exactly according to the plan

Back in May, I caught up with a friend.

“I love New Zealand.””Me too.”

“I love travelling.” “Yeah, me too…”

“I love sailing.” “Me too!” Where is this conversation going…?

“And surfing.” He was talking about windsurfing, but hey, close enough. “Me toooooo!”

“My ultimate dream is to go on a surf trip, by a sailing boat, to the Great Barrier Island. I can get a boat, all I need is a crew. Christmas time. Just imagine…” My eyes were getting bigger and bigger. Has he just described my ultimate holidays?? “What do you mean you just need a crew?? I’m in! And my three Slovenian friends, they’re coming too!”

2 hours later, we had this epic plan agreed and confirmed. 5 of us, 10 days on a sailing boat, over Christmas and New Years, exploring Great Barrier Island (just off the east coast, a bit north from Auckland) and the other islands nearby, surfing, swimming, snorkelling, hiking, enjoying the sun, salt, sand and the ocean. I couldn’t wait! I was counting down days (well, months). 7 months to go. Just 2 more months. 3 weeks and we’re off. We’re leaving tomorroooooow!

Or are we? The wind forecast was looking pretty lame. Very strong wind and rain. We decided to pack the boat, prepare everything and leave the very first thing the following morning. When we finally left Westhaven Marina in Auckland I couldn’t believe my luck, it was finally happening. I have never planned any trip for that long. I was never sooooo excited about any travels. We are on the boat, the surfboards are ready, finally I will visit the Great Barrier Island that has been on my to-do-list ever since I landed in New Zealand. I just couldn’t be happier!

 

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Ready to sail away

We motored out of the harbour, set up the sails, turned off the engine, and off we went. Our first stop was to be Kawau Island, a few hours sailing away. As I love sleeping on a boat (the more it rocks, the better I sleep), I went to a bed, reading a book, napping in between. I was in heaven :).

“Guys, can you smell something?” I heard Janez talking to the others. I didn’t pay much attention, probably he is referring to some food or something (that is pretty much all he thinks about anyway 🙂 ). “Hm, I think I can see a smoke…? It’s coming from the engine…” The next moment I just heard someone screaming “Lanaaaa, get out!” The smoke burst into the front cabin (into my heaven). I opened the hatch and jump out on a deck with a lightning speed, Janez on the other side was holding a fire extinguisher, and Rodrigo was somehow dealing with the smoke and the engine. A pretty intense situation, especially when you consider we were in the middle of the ocean…

“Dooooooolphins!” Matic was screaming. We instantly forgot about the smoke. We were absolutely mesmerised by these beautiful ocean creatures. There were soooo many of them! They came right to the boat and swam with us, played with the wake, surfed the waves and had heaps of fun. They were gorgeous and up to date we still agree the highlight of our (two-day-long-and-not-ten-as-we-planned 🙂 ) trip. “Guys, hm… we still have a situation… you know, the smoke and stuff…?” Oh shit, true, let’s sort this out!

 

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Dooooolphins (Photo by Rodrigo)

Luckily there was no fire, we managed to get rid of the smoke and whatever was causing it, the motor still seemed to be working, and we safely arrived at Kawau Island. “Domen, can you please turn the engine off?” “Domen? I asked you to turn off the engine? The engine? Off? Domen?” Hm, we couldn’t do it. The motor (pretty noisy one, I have to say) just kept going and going, no matter what we touched or pushed or pressed or clicked. It took us about an hour and some help from a nearby boat to finally kill the engine. “Woooow, it’s so peaceful here!”

The guys assessed the situation (I was swimming in the meantime, as I established I should not be a smartass for once and leave the assessment and the decision to the 4 engineers). “Right, a few cables and wires melted, so we cannot use a battery. This means we have no electricity, gas for cooking, nor drinking water. This could be a problem… We also have a slight issue with the engine, it starts, and we figured out how to turn it off, however, this is not exactly the ultimate way of doing it. We need to fix the boat before we go any further.”

I know I decided to be quiet, but I couldn’t keep my smartassness to myself. “I have a little torch, hence we don’t need any electricity, do we?” “The water could be a problem, but we’ll fill up all the containers that we have every time we come to a land, we should be fine!” “Gas for cooking? Pfff, we don’t need it, I hardly ever cook at home.” “Besides, you guys are all engineers, you’ll figure out how to put together the two little wires and get us going, won’t you?” Hm, I wonder why my comments were not accepted very well…

We decided to try to fix the boat. “Maybe we can find some help and appropriate tools on the shore. There are not many people on Kawau Island, let alone any shops, but there is a boat club and we might find something and/or someone useful there.” That sounded like a reasonable solution. Unfortunately, we didn’t come very far. First, we couldn’t get an outboard for our dinghy off a rack, it’s been screwed too tightly and the screws were too rusty. Ok… no problem, we can paddle, it’s not that far to the shore! Janez and Matic were pumping the dinghy. Half an hour later, the little inflatable boat was still just as uninflated as at the beginning of their ‘mission’. Sh**, the pump is leaking! Luckily duct tape can solve (almost) all your problems. The dinghy was in a water shortly after and Rodrigo started paddling to the shore. Well, we weren’t even surprised anymore when he was back before he had even left the boat. “Mierda, the dinghy is leaking too!”

“Anyone keen for rum?” And these were the words that came from me… 🙂

Although stranded on the boat, we had the most fun Christmas eve. A delicious bbq dinner (yes, we had a bbq with us on a boat and it was working!), Santa hats, cheesy Christmas songs, a couple of bottles of rum, a slivovica (plum shnaps), and a night time swim – I believe that people on the neighbouring boats were relieved when we finally fell asleep…

The next morning we sailed back to Auckland. We decided to try and fix the boat and give our dream trip another go. The timing was not exactly on our side since all the shops were closed and everyone was on holidays due to the Christmas break. Ah well, at least we tried. We packed our cars the very same afternoon and went camping to Mahia, Gisborne and the East Coast instead. We scored some really good waves and we couldn’t stop laughing at our epically failed sailing/surfing trip. It stays a dream for now, and maybe next time we’re gonna make it. I’ll keep you posted 😉 .

 

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Exploring Mahia

 

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Searching for waves

 

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Waiting for waves

 

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A short hike to Cook’s Cove (Photo by Rodrigo)