Sailing at Akaroa

Akaroa is a beautiful harbor village on the southern island of New Zealand, and once was an American submarine base. It's fairly shallow so we were anchored on one side of the bay and took tenders to the main dock, where we met Captain Ray of Akaroa Sailing Cruises for a 2 1/2 hour sail on his unique 47' wooden yacht. This was a participative sail, so we had a chance to help steer the boat or move the sails. There were 7 passengers on board for this tour. We started out with little wind so he used his engine part way into the bay, then hoisted the sails.

Ray said the dolphins in this area seem to know the boats and like to cruise along in the stream the boats make in their wake. He was quite sure we'd see some of the rare Hector's dolphins found only in this part of New Zealand. They are recognized by their fins which resemble Mickey mouse ears. We encountered a school of about 8 that followed our boat for about an hour. It was fun to see them swim alongside.

There are small caves on one side of the bay where small blue penguins are found. We were lucky to see 2 on our trip, but they were hard to spot because they are shy and they are no bigger than a large duck. We also saw krill, the tiny shrimp like creatures that whales eat...but alas no whales. There were a variety of birds fishing too. The wind picked up and the sails caught the breezes, so we seemed to speed along as everyone had a go at steering the boat. The sun shone brightly and we had a great sail.

Afterwards, we ate freshly caught grilled salmon paninis on the dock. I think it was the most delicious fish I've ever had. Such a perfect day!

Everyone got a chance to sail the yacht, even if we didn't have a clue!

krill- the food of whales and much smaller than I had imagined

the smallest breed of penguin- looks like a duck

Hector's dolphins known by their fin that resembles a mickey mouse ear

they are extremely rare and very small


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