Opua wharf's busy season
In the first week of the new year, parked end-to-end on one side of the small Opua wharf were three substantial marine craft.
First to arrive, and technically the smallest of the three in length, was the 40-metre luxury catamaran called The Beast, painted camouflage-style and owned by jeweller to the stars, violinist and golfer, Sir Michael Hill.
The Beast is one of the largest boats made in New Zealand and if she needs any more distinction, she was built in landlocked Foxton. She has been described as capable of going everywhere except Antarctica and (presumably) the Arctic.
She can hold a massive 76,000 litres of fuel, 14,000 litres of water and can store an equal amount of sewage or, if you prefer, affluent effluent.
The Beast's after-deck has a tender and a smaller craft called Baby Beast plus every amount of fishing gear one could need. She also has a remote-operated submarine for investigating underwater sites, among other paraphernalia deemed essential for luxury cruising.
Her top speed is 14 knots with a range of 5000 nautical miles but for the first two weeks of January she spent a great deal of time at rest at the wharf, with just an occasional day foray around the Bay of Islands.
Next to arrive was Promise. She is a classically styled expedition yacht of 51 metres registered in George Town, Cayman Islands. She was the longest of the three at the wharf and has a top speed of 14.5 knots from two Caterpillar C032 engines.
She came from Singapore via Australia on New Year's Eve and was displaying the yellow quarantine flag on her sizeable mast. Before arriving in Singapore she had been to the Maldives and Phuket.
This superyacht was built in a Dutch shipyard, the first ice-class built by Feadship, so unlike The Beast she can go to Antarctica or the Arctic. Her luxury bespoke fitted interior can accommodate up to 12 guests in six en-suite cabins.
Promise is apparently not for charter and trying to establish who owns her proved difficult but it is believed to be an American. It is presumed Promise is in New Zealand for America's Cup racing that gets under way on January 15 with the Prada Challenge Series.
The Beast, on the other hand, can reportedly be chartered for $273,000 a week and her owner is garrulous about his catamaran and, indeed, most other aspects of his life.
The most traditional-styled craft on the wharf was the tall ship Spirit of New Zealand, the steel-hulled, three-masted barquentine measuring 45.2 metres and with a massive 14 sails of 724.3 square metres.
She is owned by a not-for-profit trust and each year has 1200 young people on board on a sea and life-training exercise.
Her journey north began on December 28, 2020, from Auckland via the Poor Knights, Whangaroa and on to Opua with a few side excursions in between. On January 6 she sailed from Opua with fare-paying passengers for a day trip.
Free jazz in Bay of Islands
Some of the country's top young jazz musicians will be playing free concerts around the Bay of Islands this weekend, thanks to Covid-19 border closures.
The Burtones, a group of teenage musicians led by 17-year-old Kerikeri saxophonist James Dawes, have toured Japan and Thailand in recent years and would have been in Hawaii this summer but for the pandemic.
Instead they have embarked on a North Island tour which will wrap up with three gigs in the Bay of Islands on January 15-17.
Dawes cut his teeth locally with bands such as Jam Sandwich and Thelonious Punk, and won national awards with his own youth jazz band, Diminished 5th, before winning a music scholarship to continue his education in Auckland.
The Burtones' members are all under 18 and are managed by Kings College teacher Gary Burton.
The band will bring its blues/jazz/funk vibe to the Plough and Feather (Kerikeri) on January 15, Kainui Rd Vineyard (off SH10 north of Kerikeri) on January 16 and the Duke of Marlborough (Russell) on January 17. Go to the.burtones for more details.
Big event for the big screen
Coming to you live, large and free. The Turner Centre in Kerikeri is inviting all America's Cup fans to watch the races on a giant screen in the Centre.
The races will be broadcast live in the auditorium, with seating for 400, a high-definition movie screen, theatre sound system and ample parking next door.
The Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series held in Auckland over January and February 2021 will determine which of the Challenger teams will take on the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, in the 36th America's Cup.
Drinks and bar snacks will be available throughout the races from the adjoining New World Theatre Bar, which will be open before and after each race. Funds raised at the bar will help support community groups.
The racing schedule for the round robins and semi-finals is two races per day with a tentative race time window estimated between 3pm and 5pm. The Turner Centre will be open from 2pm most days, starting from January 15.
During the Prada Cup final the estimated time of racing will be 4pm – 6pm. The Turner Centre will be open from 3pm.
Visit turnercentre.co.nz for more information.
Busy on the bay
The annual Tall Ships sailing regatta hosted by the Russell Boating Club this year attracted around 100 boats.
Racing was in remarkably light airs and numerous boats, particularly the larger craft, failed to finish in time.
There were three divisions in the regatta and class winners for 2021 were:
• Tall Ships division: Zindabar. Elapsed time 2:25:43 and first across the line
• Classic Division: Slipstream. Elapsed time 2:51:26 First across the line was Northerner
• Allcomers Division: Apache. Elapsed time 1:21:45.
Shakespeare in the vineyard
William Shakespeare will make an appearance in a vineyard in Kerikeri in February. More precisely, the Kerikeri Theatre Company will be performing the Bard's "Twelfth Night" at Kainui Road vineyard and boutique brewery.
Sometimes referred to "What You Will" the romantic comedy was believed to have been written around 1601-1602 as entertainment for the close of the Christmas season.
The play centres on twins Viola and Sebastian who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola (disguised as Cesario) falls in love with Duke Orsino who in turn is in love with Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man. Confusion reigns in what is known as a hilarious romp.
The first recorded public performance of the play was on February 2, 1602, at Candlemas, the formal end of the Christmas-Epiphany season.
It's an appropriate month for The Kainui Vineyard production which is directed by Barbara Kirkman.
Performances are for eight consecutive nights starting on February 18 with gates open from 6pm. Tickets are sold exclusively from
Sea slugs spotted
Slugs deadly to dogs have been spotted at Long Beach in Russell, prompting a warning to all locals and visitors who are holidaying with their dogs to keep their animals on a leash.
The grey side-gilled sea slugs (Pleurobranchaea maculate) are a native species that carry poison strong enough to kill a human, in the unlikely event the slug is ingested. But even touching it then, for example, eating a sandwich straight after, can be deadly.
Natalie Struthers, from the Village Vet clinic in Paihia, said sea slugs contain the same neurotoxin (tetrodotoxin) as puffer fish.
"Even kicking a slug or allowing a dog to nose it could kill the dog and there is no antidote, only supportive intensive care," she said.
She recommends keeping dogs on a leash, using an inexpensive plastic cage-type muzzle or avoiding the beaches in the area altogether.
Signs the dog may have touched a slug include trouble breathing and paralysis. Phone the vet immediately.
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