Sunday 6 December 2015

New Zealand Adventures : 4. Ahoy Athos! Moonlight Waka Adventure and Resurrecting Aoteroa One


Ahoy from Auckland, I seemed to have fallen into life as a water baby and was lucky enough to get a new day job working as an Engineers Assistant on board my now even BIGGER office in Auckland's boat yards - behold the big and beautiful ATHOS....minus the sails..

'Athos' is my new office and an even bigger one - at 206ft long (62 metres) custom made 203' Hoek Schooner yacht commissioned to be designed by Andre Hoek and built 5 years ago for a Dutch millionaire in Holland. She really is a beauty of a yacht which is having her TLC time here in Auckland after 5 years of sailing through the Caribbean, Galapogas, Tahiti, Tonga......the destinations go on. I'm working for the Chief Engineer on board Athos (get my own work t-shirt y'know!), moving equipment from the yacht into storage, disappearing for many hours down below deck armed with hoses, scrubbing brushes all weather gear to give her a spring clean (and seeing how well I can fit into small spaces!), pumping out oil, painting, sanding, wiping, scraping, name it, I'm pretty much doing it - I'm definitely proving to myself that I'm a 'Jill of all Trades'...or getting there anyway...

The yacht itself is a real treat to work on - there are 10 permanent crew members aboard from Holland, Ireland, England, Brazil and of course native New Zealand - along with a handful of day workers like me to come and help with the nitty gritty jobs in getting her ready to set sail again in March to New Caledonia. A dozen sleeping cabins, en suites, home cinema, crew kitchen plenty of food and drink makes it quite a reward for working hard on a superyacht. Over one weekend whilst the boat was docked on the water, I helped do a 'boat watch' which pretty much involved staying overnight on the yacht to make sure its safe and sound whilst the crew have some time on land after being isolated at sea for months.....not a bad compromise, plus its a great way to live with a ginger beer and deck view across Auckland's Waitemata Harbour.

Some of my jobs on Athos... 

dirty and very wet down below deck on Athos...

 On deck scrubbin'

Cleaning and painting engine parts for servicing  - real yacht grease monkey!

Re painting valves and pumps
The yachts stay moored in the water in the Marine Village until the maintenance shed becomes available to haul the boat out of the water (they have to reserve it sometimes a year in advance, Athos has pretty much taken over the whole workshop for the next few months as she has a huge maintenance and service project to be done). They could only haul the yacht onto the slip at 5:30am when the tide was high - getting a 62 metre boat into a shed is a long, technical process which can take up to 3 hours to do and involves a lot of logistics, maneuvering and scuba divers swimming under the boat to attach the hull into a cradle underwater for it to align perfectly to be hauled in.

The sheer size of her is monstrous

Moonlight Waka Adventure


As you know, I've been sailing on a Maori Waka here in Auckland as volunteer crew and been helping take passengers out for sails close to the waters of Auckland. I got the opportunity to go retrieve the Waka 'Aoteroa One' from where it was berthed at Gulf Harbour in Whangaparaoa and join the crew in sailing it back to Auckland to undergo maintenance work - what an adventure!

Little did I know, you times how long the 16 mile journey would take by Ferry from Auckland (50 mins) by about four or five in Waka journey time!

50 minute later across the Waitemata Harbour, 16 miles away in Gulf Harbour, Whangaparaoa, where the Waka was berthed, the crew under the skipper Hotu's instructions prepared it for sailing back to Auckland and I documented our voyage back to the city.

'Aoteroa One' was actually used in the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup 2011 which was pretty neat to know I was now about to help sail it back to Auckland - we actually didn't get underway on the water until 6:20pm and were in for a long journey, but gave me a fascinating insight into natural navigation techniques used by the Maori's using the sun, stars and moon to find their direction in the night.

The wind measurement was only about 6 knots, so we had to motor most of the way across the waters - We didn't have a lot of fuel so we had to go very easy in the usage to get us over to Orakei Bay first to refuel the 600 litres held in the two engines. 

But, once we on our way, my god the most peaceful journey at sea I've ever actually experienced....the Maori believe they let the sea gods and spirits keep them safe and lead them in the right direction. 

Johnson, one of the Maori crew members told me the ocean is very sacred to the Maori spirituality - when a person passes away, they believe their spirit dives into the sea off of Cape Reinga the very Northern top of the North Island and their spirit travels across the ocean through the water itself or through the sea mammals, whales, dolphins and turtles to the place of 'Hawaiki' where all Maoris are believed to be created from and return to life after death - so there is the comfort of being surrounded by higher spirits whilst at sea.....good job.
Guitar out for on board entertainment for the Kiwi sunset

Crew photo - Me, Ema, Skipper Hotu, Johnson,Kere, Mama Liz and John behind the camera...

Night falls and the Stars and Moon begin to come out...

Johnson looks out to the skyline of Auckland at twilight, our destination a few hours from then on - we were using the lofty Sky Tower of the CBD as our guide for direction and he told me how to find East, West and how to follow the Southern Cross star constellation to find the South Celestial Pole - the point in the sky about which all the stars seen from the Southern Hemisphere rotate. You have to be extremely savvy with knowing your star constellations to be able to navigate by them when you have nothing around you 360 degrees but water. The first star in the series of three on Orion's Belt will rise from the East and set exactly the same place in the West but you also have to be aware of how the stars will rotate across the night sky - I found it so incredibly clever.   

Behold - the bright lights of Auckland City!.....six hours later at 1am in the morning...and then eating a highly anticipated night dinner of hot potatoes and vegetables on board to celebrate :).

Resurrecting Aoteroa One

Berthing the Waka in Auckland near the Viaduct Basin, I've been busy volunteering most evenings after my work in the boat yard with helping the Maori Crew Mama Liz and Marama to help restore it back to better days to use for tutoring young Maori's how to sail in the Waka, an extra vessel for charter trips and spreading awareness about Maori culture and Environment Sustainability. I've really started getting into boat maintenance with these opportunities and have been occupied in between sails with painting, oiling, scraping, hauling buckets of sea water to soak the deck - who needs the gym!


Mama Liz preparing brand new ropes for the Waka - she's given me a piece of rope from the Waka to practice knots

So there you have it! I found some spare time to share with you the more interesting news of what I've pretty much been up to in the last couple of weeks living in Auckland, maybe we'll just throw in a major Environmental protest I caught just a wandering down Queens Street to top it off.. was also my 33rd Birthday so I celebrated with a visit to Silo Park with officially my new favourite drink here in NZ...

Thanks for reading!

Auckland, New Zealand

With Lonely Planet Travel Guide New Zealand

1 comment:

  1. Wow she's an absolute beauty...and the boat isn't bad either! I kid, but that is a wonderful yacht. I've barely had the opportunity to give in to my own inner water baby. I live by the coast but the seas of Brighton are a wee bit chilly to spend too much time frolicking! Shame really as I love the sea.

    Abraham @ ASIC


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