Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Climbing Mount Hobson and surviving the storm

With the sunny and calm (before the storm) weather at the weekend we did a nearly 7 hour hike up from the anchorage inland to climb Mount Hobson. The Department of Conservation (DOC) have done an amazing job of creating a hiking trail that used by many walkers and they have built thousands of wooden steps in areas that would have otherwise suffered serious soil erosion, plus several impressive suspension bridges.

Our anchorage near Port FitzRoy

The route follows a stream which, in the 1920's, was the site of a remarkable bit of inventive thinking. The entire island was being ravaged by the need for Kauri timber for house and boat building and tough bushmen, armed only with axes, handsaws and jacks, would fell the massive Kauri trees and then struggle to find a way of getting the huge logs out of the forest. Here they hit on using a series of wooden dams along a fast-flowing stream and would fill the artificial lake at the bottom dam with the huge cut timber. When the time was right the dams were tripped one after the other from the top of the stream so that a tidal wave of water would thunder down the valley into the bottom lake and, at that moment, its own dam was tripped and the logs would cascade down to the sea.

This is the remains of the bottom dam, built in 1923 (the water behind it would have been about 40ft deep):

The Kauri dam - the vertical boards were the gate that was tripped at the critical moment

How it would have looked
An eyewitness at the time said: "The logs would rip up trees in their path and you could hear the roar they made miles away. As they tore the valley sides the ground beneath you would shake. Hundreds came to watch and many of them were terrified."

The views from the top made all the climbing worthwhile:

Looking west - we set off from the bay to the mid-right of the photo

Looking towards the east coast - this is a prime surfing beach
The next day the weather changed dramatically as the remains of Cyclone June approached - first we had torrential rain then a wind that was forecast to contain gusts of up to 65 knots. We knew it was serious when a couple of huge 260ft fishing vessels came into the bay to shelter:

We moved Maunie to the most sheltered anchorage we could find and dug the anchor in hard, adding an 'angel' to the chain (an extra weight to dampen the pulls on the anchor as the boat got buffeted). We're glad to report that we survived it though we had a rather sleepless couple of nights! 

By Wednesday calm was restored so we were delighted to be able to return to our previous anchorage and go ashore for a drink in the Port FitzRoy Boat Club which has a flexible attitude to opening hours:

We left Great Barrier this morning for a good 53 mile passage back to the mainland at Tutakaka and the novelty of a marina berth! No need for the anchor alarm for once.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent update of the Barrier. Enjoy Tutukaka and don't forget Woolleys bay etc. Beautiful!! Have fun xx