Sailing trip rounds off the year

Twenty-four Year 11 students took the opportunity to go on a five-day sailing trip on board Sir Peter Blake’s around-the-world yacht, Steinlager 2.

The students, mainly from Year 11 Outdoor Education classes, were able to try out the different aspects of sailing, including being the helmsman, navigator, sail trimmer, deck hand and kitchen hand. The crew shared stories from their journeys with Sir Peter Blake and his teams, and the history of the vessel they were sailing on.

Conditions over the five days from December 11-15 were kind, with plenty of sunshine and calm seas. A mixture of wind strengths allowed the students to get a taste of Steinlager 2’s capabilities as it was often heeled over with sails filled.

Departing from Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, we sailed up to Smokehouse Bay on the western side of Great Barrier Island. Students were introduced to the various roles aboard the boat and once ashore we developed a group contract to ensure we were an effective team across the five days. After an early morning swim around the boat we sailed around the northern tip of Great Barrier Island to Arid Island, a remote uninhabited island on the edge of the South Pacific Ocean.

A main focus of Outdoor Education is to provide students with opportunities to strengthen skills in leadership, teamwork, communication, determination, courage, and respect. Students were therefore regularly prompted to reflect on their personal strengths and weaknesses in order to focus in on something they wanted to develop. An example of this was when each student was dropped off out of sight of others on Arid Island to experience a two-hour solo where they were encouraged to reflect on who they are, how they became who they are and who they wanted to become. After collecting everyone again, it was heart-warming to listen to the appreciation shown towards their parents for everything that they have done for them.

Departing Arid Island, we sailed for Great Mercury Island, located east of Matarangi on the Coromandel Peninsula. Arriving at night, it wasn’t until the morning that we had the opportunity to appreciate how beautiful this island is. Anchoring in Peach Grove Bay, we tendered to the beach and walked up to a waterfall and swimming hole, before enjoying some body surfing in the crystal-clear waters of the bay. It was then back to Great Barrier Island during which a large pod of dolphins cruised along-side and entertained us with their playful nature. Anchoring in Rangiwhakaea Bay, the location for NZ Survivor, two tribes were formed (girls and boys) before setting up their own shelter to spend the night under on their respective beaches. Another clear night saw more shooting stars and satellites to observe soaring above. In the morning, the three watch groups constructed rafts and raced their craft through small surf and back to Steinlager 2. We set sail again, this time sailing past Little Barrier Island to anchor in Mansion House Bay on Kawau Island. With calm conditions and warm water, activities here included swimming off the boat, heading ashore for the flushing toilets, fishing for snapper or being hoisted up the main mast to experience the view, 35 metres above the deck.

The final day started at 4am with a visit to Motuora Island with the hope of hearing and perhaps seeing kiwi. Although only a few were lucky enough to see them dart out of the bush, everyone experienced a connection with one of New Zealand’s icons when they heard the kiwis’ loud, piercing, upwardly slurred note repeated among calls of morepork, tui and pukeko. After breakfast and the completion of logbooks, we sailed to Waiheke Island for a swim in Oneroa Bay and a prizegiving, before returning to Freemans Bay and the Viaduct Basin.

Thank you to the NZ Sailing Trust crew of Alistair, Jo, Miranda and Bridget for helping us extend our students outside their comfort zone in an ongoing quest to help develop them into prominent members of society. 

Miss Claudia Goff, Miss Michaela Hey and Mr Darren Whitehead