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34 | Mahurangimatters 13 November 2013

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Fair winds put Mahurangi College sailing team on track The Mahurangi College sailing team has had a good run this year, coming second at the regionals, third at the nationals and fourth at the interdominions. Manager Colin Snedden says the school has always been in the top six or seven of the 40 secondary schools that take part, and the successful streak is the result of experienced students rising to the top. Tim Short is the coach and 15 students make up the team, spending four hours per week training at Sandspit Yacht Club. Colin says most students also do a Sunday afternoon or a regatta. Their first major regatta of the year was the North Auckland and Northland regionals held at Whangarei in March, where students faced light winds and choppy waves. They managed to hold off younger teams to advance to a closely contested final with Westlake Boys’ High. Captain Angus Adamson says the speed of the “westies” made all the difference though, leaving Mahurangi second. The team went into the nationals at Lake Taupo in April “apprehensive” after less-than-wonderful experiences there, Angus says.

The Mahurangi College sailing team (rear, from left) Tristan Gill, Tim Snedden, Angus Adamson and Jordan Stevenson. Front (from left) Savannah Gordon, Pia Schuster, Brooke Adamson and Shannen Mills.

“The condition varied from heavy winds and rough waves, to flat water covered in mist, and everything in between.” The team ended the final day in third place, winning the right to represent New Zealand at the Interdominion Championship against Australia. The Interdominions were held in Brisbane at the start of October but the Mahurangi College team was put

on the back foot after discovering it would have to compete in Pacer dinghies, the preferred boat used by Australian teams, instead of the 420 dinghies used by New Zealand and the rest of the world. “An equivalent would be racing mountainbikes in New Zealand and doing well at nationals, only to be told that you had won the right to

represent your country on a tricycle,” Angus explains. He says despite that, the team managed to beat the Australians at their own game to gain a very respectable fourth place. Colin says Mahurangi is one of the best places in the country to learn to sail. “There’s strong club support and there’s an easy ability to take a boat into the water.”

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Kawau Coastguard on duty A wave of accidents during this year’s Coastal Classic yacht race kept the team at Coastguard Kawau flat off their feet. President Roger Davies says three yachts got into trouble off Cape Rodney during the longstanding race from Auckland Harbour to the Bay of Islands on October 25. The first call was received at around 6pm from passengers onboard a 28ft yacht called Tongue Twister. The vessel had a split hull and was located eight nautical miles north of Leigh, with crew vigorously bailing in lumpy seas. Conditions proved too rough to undertake a tow so the decision was made to escort them to the safe haven at 2.5knots. Within minutes, another call was received from a larger yacht, Taniwha, with jammed steering. It was a difficult boat to tow, testing the skills of Kawau skipper Miles Glover and his crew, but they eventually got them safely to Leigh Harbour. Roger says the team had time to gobble down some hot food and half a cup of tea when the third call came in from a 12m yacht Pacific Icon that had apparently been dismasted and was being assisted by a member of the public. “It was only four nautical miles north of Leigh and was easily found because of the cluster of lights from both boats. Turns out they were missing a rudder, not a mast.” Roger says the rudderless boat rafted

up alongside Kawau Rescue before being barged back to Leigh Harbour. The team ended up calling it a night at 2.30am. The crew from one of the boats sent a thank-you note and a donation that Roger says was “humbling”. He says Coastguard Kawau has responded to 67 calls for assistance in the past year, with 11 during October alone. yy Coastguard Kawau is holding a flare demonstration in conjunction with the Tractorama Event, Mahurangi Fire Brigade and Mahurangi Tech on Sunday November 17, from 2pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend and dispose of their out-of-date or unwanted flares. yy Coastguard Kawau is selling summer lottery tickets through December and January. For every $10 ticket sold, $7 goes to the unit. yy A Coastguard Education Cruise around Mahurangi and Kawau Island is happening on December 3. Passengers are shown the most popular anchorages while a commentary reveals information on hazards, practical tips on safety, recreational opportunities and a historical account of each area. Fishing author and columnist Bruce Duncan will assist with fishing and diving aspects. A ferry departs Downtown ferry terminal at 5pm and returns at 10pm. Contact or phone 09 303 4303.

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36 | Mahurangimatters 13 November 2013

making waves Couple’s sea adventures captured in print Sailing the world’s oceans is a life that many would-be Robinson Crusoes dream of, but few have the luck or determination to achieve. Among those few are Matakana residents Jean and John Porter. Their story is captured in a book published last month called The Tiller Years. Written by Jean, from diaries and logbooks, it tracks their story over 14 years and 80,000 miles of sailing – a journey that took them from Stewart Island to Alaska and back, with enough adventures to fill three books. Although Jean grew-up on a Rotorua sheep station, almost as far away from the sea as it’s possible to be in NZ, she says that even as a child, she daydreamed of one day sailing the seven seas and living on an uninhabited island. But it wasn’t until she met John, a boatbuilder who’d done his apprenticeship with Percy Vos, that sailing became part of her life. The couple built their 39-foot sloop behind their house in Papatoetoe and called her Sinu-K-Tam, which means “daughter of the wind”. “The book is a biography of a boat and our story as a couple, and covers the most important part of my life,” Jean says. The story starts with the construction

Sailing through Alaskan waters is just a memory now for Jean and John Porter, who these days are more likely to be found travelling by campervan.

of the yacht and finishes at the end of the couple’s longest cruise – a five-year round-trip odyssey from NZ to Alaska via numerous Pacific islands, Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Marquesas Islands. Their adventures include the frightening experience of bouncing off a whale 1000 miles offshore of Tahiti, exploring the inland canals of San Francisco, wintering over in Alaska, and living for several weeks on an uninhabited atoll in the middle of the Pacific. Although the plan was to continue to sail the Sinu-K-Tam on many more adventures after returning to NZ,

Book giveaway Mahurangi Matters has a copy of Jean Porter’s book The Tiller Years to give away. Just write your name and daytime phone number on the back of an envelope and post to: The Tiller Years Competition, Mahurangi Matters, PO Box 701 Warkworth 0941. Alternatively, you can enter on Facebook by sending us a private message marked “The Tiller Years”. Competition closes November 29.

John’s deteriorating health soon made that impossible. Jean says they were drawn to the Warkworth area by the Mahurangi Harbour, where they could make day trips from Westhaven. In 2010, when John was unable to continue even day sailing, the couple reluctantly sold their yacht and bought a campervan. “Now we sail around NZ – I’m still the skipper and John is still the navigator. In the past 18 months, we’ve already done 40,000km.” The Tiller Years is available at The Matakana Village Bookshop.

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Tues 26th November 5pm - 10pm (approx)

Tues 3rd December 5pm - 10pm (approx)

From Fullers Downtown Ferry Terminal

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Coastguard Member $65

Coastguard Member $55

Non-Member $75

Non-Member $65

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Mahurangimatters 13 November 2013 | 37

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Marine courses steam ahead

For your Marine Services

Mahurangi Technical Institute has been industry-driven since it started New Zealand’s first National Certificate in Aquaculture with nine students 24 years ago. It now offers more than 20 different courses and has a roll of about 2500. The school recovered from a funding scare in 2010 before being bought by Manukau Institute of Technology a year ago, but director Paul Decker says it’s been business as usual. “I’ve become more accountable to boards and spend more attention on budgeting constraints, but apart from that not much has changed,” he says. Paul started the school in 1989 to help the Mahurangi oyster industry get staff with the right skills. “Employers found people would do a good interview but they’d go out on the water when it was raining and blowing and decided they didn’t like it. Oyster farming needs more than a labourer. It needs people who understand the rules of the sea for mariners.” He says industry leaders asked the institute to develop navigational skills for barge operators and engineers, then the mussel industry liked what it saw. “Students decided they preferred to work on ferryboats so companies like Fullers and Interislander approached

2 Gumfield Drive, Warkworth Phone 09 422 2162 – 0275 720 457

Paul Decker started Mahurangi Technical Institute in 1989 to help oyster industry staff get the right skills.

us and said our students were well trained, could we do more?” Courses extended to cover food, hygiene, barista skills and liquor licensing laws. “The cruise ship industry had students from that pathway as well but they needed skills for things like laundry, floral arrangements and sewing. It was a domino effect.” The institute teaches people to be deckhands, sea captains and superyacht operators, and how to look after aquariums through its companion animal services certificate. It also trains members of the Navy in navigational components – how to stabilise a ship for example – and firefighters, with NZ’s only private firefighting simulator. Read full story at

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Making waves  
Making waves  

Mahurangi Matters, Marine feature