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Volvo Ocean Race: Anticipating the arrival to Auckland

Team SCA competing in the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race

After 22 days at sea, SCA crew member Annie Lush anticipates the team's arrival to Auckland with a mixture of excitement and nerves. 

The City of Many Lovers (and Sails)

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta and Queen Street Wharf from Smales Point 1864. Auckland Harbour Board photograph album no. 67.

The 175th Anniversary of the founding of Auckland city is being celebrated this weekend with a range of events on Auckland's waterfront, including the annual Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta.

The Māori name for Auckland is Tāmaki Makaurau, which is often translated as "City of a thousand (or many) lovers". The harbours and the fertile volcanic soils have made the region an attractive destination for centuries.

Life on board a tall ship: the night watch and keeping clean on the ocean

Twilight on board Breeze
It’s not all fun in the sun on board tall ship BREEZE! Here mate James Brock explains what it’s like sailing at night, as the crew make their way from the Bay of Islands down to Marsden Cove Marina for another week of public sailings. 

BREEZE sets sail in the Bay of Islands Regatta

Breeze sets sail in the 2015 Bay of Islands Regatta
BREEZE and her hardworking crew spent the last weekend in the Bay of Islands running public sailings alongside fellow tall ship, R Tucker Thompson. A highlight of the weekend was taking passengers out for the historic tall ships Regatta in Russell. Skipper Stuart takes a moment to reflect on the crew’s experience so far:

Pirates

Buried treasure, eye patches, wooden legs, parrots, Jolly Roger, hats, hooks, rum, swashbuckling, Davy Jones’ locker, the Flying Dutchman, Captain Hook, Captain Pugwash, Captain Jack Sparrow... arrrr me hearties!!

A hostile climate not fit for humans

Howling winds persisted all night and well into the morning for the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Survey team, which meant the penultimate penguin count on Enderby Island had to be cancelled. Getting ashore in the dark in 50 knot winds would simply have been too dangerous.

Reflections from the wilderness: What is the future for the Auckland Islands?

As predicted, the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Expedition team have spent the last days of their trip battling 50km an hour winds. With gusts of over 60 knots, they spent a day confirmed to the yacht at Erebus Cove on Enderby Island. After ten days living in close quarters, for Christine it was a chance to reflect on the experience so far.

Cabin Fever: Getting to know the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Expedition Team

Trapped on board the yacht by bad weather, Frazer reflects on how the weather influences the team's mood and behaviour, and introduces us to more of the team.

"Bad weather in the form of extreme high winds gusting well over 50 knots and heavy rain has meant no penguin counts for the last two mornings. Yesterday we couldn't even leave the ship. It was just too dangerous to use the dingy.

Out and about in the Auckland Islands: Exploring Carnley Harbour

A Sooty Albatross photographed by the Australian Antarctic Division, Department of the Environment.

With some time for island exploration, geography teacher Christine tells us more about the unforgiving landscape of the islands surrounding Carnley Harbour.

“Carnley Harbour is an amazing place, very peaceful and impressive. After the penguin count on Adams Island in the morning, we headed back to the boat for an early lunch and then went ashore for a hike up the south west cape. This was probably my favourite day of the whole trip so far. The weather was perfect; blue sky, not too windy - one only 56 days of no rain in the whole year (apparently)! 

All’s calm in the Auckland Island

On 25 November the team awoke in Waterfall Inlet to be greeted by calm, still and sunny weather – at last! Rather than going ashore, they were able to watch for penguins from the yacht. Frazer explains what a treat the settled weather is:

Facing off a sea lion in the Auckland Islands

Human habitation has never succeeded on the Auckland Islands. And even on a still, calm day, nature can be unpredictable, as Christine explains:

“I had a sea lion keep me company while I was counting the penguins. He cruised up and down the shore, occasionally standing up to get a better look. That was fine until he hauled himself up the stream bed and into the forest behind me. I reassured myself that he was off for an early morning snooze and focused my attention back on the beach where two penguins were making their way down to the sea. 

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin Survey team visit historic Carnley Harbour

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin Expedition crew spent the first part of this week in Carnley Harbour, a body of water between Adams Island to the south and the larger Auckland Island. And for seasick Frazer, the calm tranquillity of the water is very welcome!

A Penguin Record! Counting up a storm on the Auckland Islands

Friday 21 November was the team’s second day of counting Yellow-Eyed Penguins – this time at the northern tip of Rose Island with views over to Enderby Island. After a 4am breakfast and a dinghy ride to shore, the team were in position by 5.30am. With the weather easing up, it was a good day for counting penguins, and Museum educator Frazer spotted a record number of 16. He got lucky with two of them though….

Counting Yellow-Eyed Penguins on the Auckland Islands

A typical coast watcher's hut from the Second World War on the Auckland Island. Most are now in a state of disrepair.

Thursday 20 November marked the first official penguin counting day for the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Survey expedition team. The dedicated volunteers were up at 4am to be at their counting sites by 5am. Luckily being so far south, it’s light by the time they’re in position.

Museum educator Frazer is one of two teachers chosen to take part in the survey. The other is Christine Greenwood from Wanaka who arrived at her counting spot to discover two Yellow-Eyed Penguins already there. She sent back the following observations:

Squaring up to sea lions on the Auckland Islands

A New Zealand Sea Lion on the Auckland Islands, where DoC reports that numbers are increasing slowly.

Now that the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Survey expedition team have made it safely to the Auckland Island, they’re taking some time to get to know the locals. With no permanent human inhabitants, the Islands are a haven for wildlife including southern skuas, giant petrels, yellow-eyed penguins and – as they soon found out – rather territorial sea lions.

Sufficiently recovered from his debilitating seasickness, here’s what our favourite Museum educator Frazer made of day one:

Auckland Islands Depot Boat

During the 19th century, sailing ships were sometimes lost to the stormy Southern Ocean. Eleven were shipwrecked on bleak islands to the south of New Zealand’s mainland.

To help marooned mariners, the New Zealand government set up castaway depots on the desolate sub-Antarctic islands providing food, clothing, fuel, shelter and often a boat.

A seasick sailing to the Auckland Islands

SV Evohe at dock in Bluff. After the testing crossing to the Auckland Islands, Evohe will remain the crew's home for the rest of the expedition.

The 2014 DoC Yellow-Eyed Penguin Survey expedition team have made it to the Auckland Islands! And it was a testing trip on board their 28 meter yacht, SV Evohe. Museum educator Frazer isn’t known for his sea legs, so he had a particularly miserable time during the 37 hour crossing from Bluff.

Here’s what he had to say about the experience.

“The last few days have been a blur. Of the 37 hours it took to sail down here I was in bed for 35 of them. 35 hours I would like to forget!

Preparing to Depart: Yellow-Eyed Penguin Survey Expedition

Saying Goodbye: The Maritime Museum team send Frazer on his way with an essential penguin survival kit. Hmmm, maybe he should rely on his own packing!

Museum Educator, Frazer Dale, is on his way to the Auckland Islands to count Yellow-Eyed Penguins as part of a Department of Conservation (DoC) survey of the endangered birds. In the final few days before his departure the Education team have been busy spreading the word to schools who can follow the expedition on this blog or via the Sir Peter Blake Trust website. They've also organised lots of school visits for Frazer’s return so he can share the stories from his trip.

Top 20 sailing superstitions

Because of the dangers faced by sailors and fishermen, there are countless superstitions around safety and luck on the sea. Some seem a little strange today.

From banning bananas to fearing flat footed people, here are our favourite picks from the old European sailing superstitions. While most no longer apply, we're guessing that some still linger in sailors’ minds....

Yellow-Eyed Penguin Survey Expedition

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Museum educator Frazer Dale is setting off on the expedition of a lifetime.