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Home / Newsletters / Newsletter March 2021
Home / Newsletters / Newsletter March 2021

Newsletter March 2021

Future Events

America's Cup live viewing from 3.30pm Wednesday March 10th to Sunday March 14th (and 17th March if necessary) Light meals available on the 10th and 13th.

** Tuesday 9 March - Gulf Harbour Marina Race 8

** Saturday 13 March - AA Solar Gulf Race 4

** Wednesday 17 March - Taylor & Co Ladies Race 7

** Saturday 20 March - Sandspit Combined Race

** Sunday 21 March - Burnsco Race 7

** Wednesday 24 March - Gulf Harbour Marina Race 9

** Friday 26 March - Pub Games Night & Photo Competition judging

** Sunday 28 March - Barfoot & Thompson Race 3

GHYC Vice Commodore's Message

Hello everyone, our fearless leader is away somewhere on his grey boat, (a colour which is becoming popular for hulls on other leisure craft, though I'm not sure why).

Anyway, I decided to pen a note focusing on the positives in our watery lives, and not mention the C word.

So what is good, great and fantastic in our boating world.

Well firstly isn't the club building looking fantastic with its fresh cedar oiling. It's been some years since it was spruced up last, and in my opinion, it has weathered remarkably well, given its proximity to the sea. Thank you to Pub Charity who granted your club $10,400 towards this work, which covered most of the cost, and to Diane and Gill for raising the funding and arranging to have the work done.

The refresh is timed to be completed for the viewing and celebrations of New Zealand winning the 36th America's Cup.

Talking of the America's (not this time) Cup, you super keen racing yachties may be interested to learn that NZL 20, the red America's Cup yacht that raced in the 1992 Louis Vuitton Cup Final, and that has been acting as a gate keeper for the marina is up for sale at, I suspect, a "take it off my hands" price. Well, vintage planes, military tanks and the like, finish up on residential front lawns, and NZL 20 would certainly give you bragging rights.

And what a fantastic summer of boating we are having. The weather has behaved reasonably well, allowing all of us to do and go, pretty much as we wanted. It was surprising how often you anchored up in the same bay as other club members, and then you had to listen to all the BS about the fish that were caught (or got away). Interestingly no-one ever showed any evidence of same. Some yachting highlights included the Saddle Island race with Manly Sailing Club, the Mahuranghi Regatta (which the club sponsored) and the Marsden Cove race with Richmond Yacht Club

And what about the fantastic cruising events where launches and yachts alike, finish up in a selected bay, and then go ashore for more BS, bbqs and mad lawn games. I'm sure there's more competitive spirit ashore than on the water.

And so no "good" or "great" for your club, we just do fantastic. Bring on the AC36.

Colin Mitten

'An invitation to members'

Yes - the sky is longer the limit! (Just ask Peter Beck). Opportunities galore exist at GHYC! Get to know the inner workings of the club!

Yes - your favourite yacht club needs you and your boundless skills to help keep the club ticking along in an efficient and timely manner. The Executive Committee meets once a month to do exactly that, and now with a number of Committee members looking to retire this year the Committee is seeking to welcome new faces to its ranks from our highly talented club members.

Are you highly talented? Or even just a little bit? Contact our Rear Commodore Diane Lindsay at or mobile 021 230 5745 to find out more.

So don't delay - even if you are new to the Club there are always ways to get involved and we would like to hear from you

Your Club Executive Committee

Snippets from the Rear Commodore

It can't be Autumn already, there is still so much boating, gardening and enjoying the outdoors to do. Eagle eyed members will have noticed that quite a lot of effort has gone into the Club gardens in the last few weeks, complementing the refreshed Club exterior. A big THANK YOU to all the members who helped with both the building exterior and the gardens

Seaweek is here again, but this year the Club is not participating due to the clash with America's Cup. However there is lots to see and do so check out their new website:

Pest Free Hibiscus Coast Project Pest Free Boaties. To find out more about the project go to: . Any Club member who lives on the coast and who doesn't already have a free rat trap is welcome to collect one from Maria in the Gulf Harbour Marina Office

AA Solar Gulf Series: Route 55 to Marsden Cove

What a wonderful race to be a part of, joining forces with Richmond YC this annual event always delivers! The champagne forecast of E/NE winds didn't quite eventuate with a more southerly flow dominating, so carrying Spinnakers was the winning formula. A beautiful day's sail was had with dolphins in company and the Richmond multihulls pipping a few of us to the finish line.

Congratulations on completing the race to all GHYC & WBC starters in the Gulf Harbour division

Line Honours; Riverwind

Handicap Results. 1st C McGuire, 2nd First Priority, 3rd Big Kahoona

Success for our Sailors

Congratulations to Matthew Rist for his recent achievement, a 'Top of the World' standing at IGCSE Physical Education in the prestigious Cambridge University Learner Awards. Matt is a junior club member who came second in the recent Laser Radial Nationals and crews for the Commodore on Enigma I whenever he can.

In another foray away from keelboats, Gavin Auld participated in the Farr 3.7 Nationals last week gaining a creditable 8th from 21 starters.

Matt Rist at Laser Radial Nationals

Mystery Anchorage........

Answer at end of newsletter

The Americas Cup so far - Mike Pignéguy

I have to admit to having a sort of love/hate relationship with the Cup. This was brought about in the late 1990s when I was chairperson of the Auckland Branch of the Marine Transport Association. Dee and I were operating our 30m 'Te Aroha' from alongside Hobson Wharf West, and we had designed a charter boat base to berth some 25 charter boats in that area. Everyone from government ministers down was in favour of it, that was until the Americas Cup loomed large on the waterfront and the Ports of Auckland priced us out of proceeding with our planned marina base. Both charter and fishing boats were 'moved on'!

At that time we were paying around $250 a week berthage, but that suddenly jumped up to $1000 a week, or we could buy a berth for $600,000! I said that was totally unsustainable for locals, but was told that there were Americans coming who could pay that. When I said that we had been there for the past 15 years the reply was 'So what, if you can't pay, go away!' So we had to sell. We were advised by Peter Blake that we had to 'look at the bigger picture!'

So that's the hate part!

The love part comes with experiencing the gathering of many beautiful yachts from around the world and being out on the water with them to watch some great racing. In the previous two Americas Cup races held in Auckland (2000 and 2003) there was a tremendous 'buzz' on and around the waterfront, and that was also very much the feeling out on the water in the huge spectator fleet that accompanied the races. No anchoring was allowed and there was no speed limit restrictions, so there was a great deal of jostling for a good position which, because of no anchoring, continued right throughout the race. It certainly kept skippers on their toes, and how any major collisions were averted was just as much by luck as by skill!

The 88ft charter boat that I was skippering was struck by the 120ft launch chartered by Dennis Conner. The American skipper accused me of running into him while I was overtaking, but I was actually going astern to avoid him backing into me! Needless to say Dennis Conner was very vocal and thoroughly abused us from the deck of his boat!

After each race, because there were no speed restrictions, there was a completely mad free-for-all of everyone racing back to be outside the Viaduct Basin to witness the race boats arrival and entry into the Viaduct. The Rangitoto Channel became the inside of a washing machine while outside the Viaduct one could jump from boat to boat. But the atmosphere was just amazing, especially when the race boats arrived and had to wend their way through masses of boats with their passengers and crew cheering them on. The waterfront was also packed with cheering crowds as well adding to the overall excitement and creating an unforgettable experience.

But all that is missing this time. The 5 knot Rule, as good and needed as it is, has made the procession to and from the courses very proper and sedate. The now permitted anchoring has kept everyone at a respectable distance apart. After each race, by the time everyone races back at 5 knots and arrives at the Viaduct basin, the race boats, that have been towed back at 25 knots, are all berthed with their crews tucked up in bed it seems! Absolutely no atmosphere at all as we quietly assemble waiting for our turn to enter the Viaduct Harbour.

Out on the course, if you don't have a TV set on board you really have no idea of what's going on. On the couple of races where I have managed to anchor in a good position at the windward marks with the 20m Sky City launch that I am skippering, we have managed to get about 15 seconds of some great actual viewing after which it's back to the TVs!

So, all in all, for me anyway, and for many others that I have spoken with, this time around with the Cup certainly lacks for atmosphere, although seeing these racing machines whizz past at 50 knots is a thrill.

Trip to the Sub Antarctic, Snares and Auckland Islands - Louise Shave

Basic 'stuff' for those unfamiliar with this part of the world...

Historically and politically part of NZ and connected geologically to our country by a sub-continental shelf beneath (relatively!!) shallow seas, although they differ markedly in size, topography and vegetation, these islands are notable as the breeding grounds of immense numbers of seabirds and seals. Since their discovery (first by Maori, then Europeans), most of them have been modified to some extent by man or his introduced animals. The early whalers and sealers virtually exterminated the Southern Right Whale, the Southern Fur Seal and the Hooker's Sea-Lion; and they introduced pigs, cats, Norway rats and mice to some islands. Then, from 1840, came the greatest modification with the liberations of animals as food for castaways and attempts at settlement and farming. The great news is that, soon after the turn of the 20th century, farming was abandoned and they became reserves for their unique flora and fauna.

In Bluff we joined our Expedition ship, 'Spirit of Enderby' (ex 'Professor

Khromov) a 72m, Russian-registered ice breaker. Originally built in Finland as a research ship, she has been converted to carry 50 passengers and as many crew, and spends an idyllic life in the Arctic during our winter and comes south to the Antarctic for our summer. For the aficiandos, she was built in 1984 and has a beam 12.8m, draft 4.5m, top speed of 12 knots and cruising speed of 10 knots.

Before I go further I should warn you that a trip like this is certainly not for the faint-hearted (or for anyone who suffers from sea-sickness), as the Southern Ocean is vast and unpredictable. During our voyage we had times of swells of 7-8m and up to 10 m... During the worst of the weather I moved my mattress onto the 'floor' where I could slide happily up and down without danger of falling off the bunk!!! Fortunately, both Roger and I are both quite at home in big seas, so we didn't miss a single meal of our brilliant chefs! So, what I'm saying is 'for heaven's sake don't be put off, but just consider it carefully...' :)

Our superb Expedition crew (Leader, doctor, lecturers/guides and chefs) were mainly NZ'ers, while the other half of the great team - our Captain and his crew (sailors, engineers etc) were Russian. We quickly learnt simple phrases and loved the interaction with the crew. Our Chief Engineer delighted in his other role as zodiac driver, searching out elusive birds for us, and got as excited as me when he pointed out our first tiny black Snares Island 'TIT-TOM"!!! The Bridge was always open and the officers welcoming - though occasionally I had to work to get a 'Russian Smile'!! I love being on the Bridge as you see so much more when the ship is moving.

Albatrosses of all varieties imaginable wheel and soar all around :) and rafts of Sooty Shearwaters float up and down with the swells. And how on earth do those tiny petrels skim the waves without being battered by those fierce winds?

In gorgeous weather we sailed south for The Snares (Maori named them Tini Heke). Because of the very special nature of these UNESCO World Heritage islands and the highest level of NZ Govt protection, it is now not permitted to land without a special permit. If you are very, very, very lucky, you may be able to join a zodiac cruise around the coastline to enjoy their magic - and we were amongst the lucky ones. Despite all fears, we had the most perfect conditions for our day.

This island group (210 kms SSW of Bluff at the bottom of our South Island), consists of N.E. (Main) & Broughton Islands, some 20 to 30 sea stacks and a string of 5 rocky islets known as the Western Chain. Frequent vicious storms, mainly from the prevailing westerlies, lash their coasts. These storms, coupled with the group's small size (total area of about 350 ha) and their distance from the NZ mainland, have left the islands relatively free from visitors so, amazingly, the dreaded predators such as rats, mice, stoats, cats, goats or other introduced animals have never been there.

Such conditions set the stage for a unique show of plant and bird life in undisturbed habitats. The landscape is rugged and bordered by steep cliffs.

Olaria (tree daisy which I also loved on the Chathams) covers most of the larger islands with tangles of twisted branches, somehow surviving the harsh winds to form a 5m tall canopy and shelter for nesting seabirds. And OH, those seabirds!

photo by Oscar Thomas

We saw hundreds of Sooty Shearwater (Titi) whose burrows honeycomb the peat of the forest floor and tussock slopes. Sometimes during the voyage it seemed there was not enough room in the sky for all of them at once and I wondered if they somehow varied their landing times to fit a schedule known only to themselves! The Snares Crested Penguin breeds here in thousands. These hilarious 'bad-hair' penguins live in rookeries scattered throughout the forests and on peat and bedrock (generally granite) in open areas.

There are colonies of Prions (of more varieties than this humble person can identify or name..) and Cape Pigeons and tiny diving Petrels; Skuas and whiter-than-white-bellied Antarctic Terns nest on the exposed headlands. To cap it all off, NZ Fur Seals and endangered Hooker's Sea Lions gallivanted in the giant swirling kelp around our zodiacs. be continued in our April newsletter

Answer to Mystery Anchorage:

It's the north side of Motutara Island

Last updated 09:19 on 20 February 2024

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