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At Motuarohia, aka Robertson’s Island, Bay of Islands

Monday December 2nd, 2013

This day comes calm with a light southerly breeze. Pale yellow sunlight streams through layered clouds in this early morning. We sailed here a day ago after anchoring up under Day Point to tuck in out of some 30 knot plus winds. Motuarohia is a small sweet island or a couple high lumps of islands strung together by small raised beaches. At anchor is a fine gaff-rigged yawl.

A much respected sailing ship colleague, Capt Jim Cottier, is living ashore here and invited the crew to come, explore and hold a barbeque as well. The Monomoy had sailed independently from Day Point letting some of the gang get more exercise in that fine craft here at this island too. In the evening, most hands went ashore in the long boat for a quiet night around the BBQ. The rest of us had a nice ‘picnic’ supper in the mess-room onboard.

This morning, as we went about scrubbing the decks and cleaning the below, and getting the days work started, the Barque Lord Nelson hove into view. They gave us a call and then came to anchor right near the Picton Castle. I wonder when two barques were last anchored here.

We all know of when one barque was anchored at this very spot. That was in the later 1700s when Captain James Cook dropped hook here and went shore. His accounts report that these islands of the Bay of Islands were well populated at the time, with villages everywhere and canoes pulled up on all the beaches. This area would be an extremely pleasant place to live and truly benign climate at 35 South. Fish everywhere, good soil, good harbours, protected bays, balmy winters but no freezing. Pretty all around good place to live it seems to us. And a good place to meet up with another North Sea barque it appears. Thinking back on Cook and later trading sailing ships of the 19th century, I asked Capt Cottier when the last time there were such ships anchored here. He told me ‘two weeks ago’.

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