Natasha Fickling is the mother of two who grew up cruising on sail boats with her family around the Hauraki Gulf and has sailed on and off ever since. The Maiden experience is part of her future plan to sail around the world with her husband and children.
The day before Maiden was scheduled to depart we completed our MYOB drills in crazy squally weather. Winds must have been gusting 40+ knots at times and the super-yachts were well healed over tied up to the docks.
Knowing it was meant to be sunny and calm the next day seemed a little too much to ask… but in typical Auckland style we awoke to a clear sky and a beautiful winters day!
I had a good hour and a half drive to the boat; trying to arrive on time to meet customs meant dragging my kids out of bed at 5:30am (when for the first time in ages they wanted to sleep in)!
With little time to really think in the past week about leaving them (and my husband) behind for the longest time yet in their short lives, I guess it hadn’t really sank in and it wasn’t until the interviews started that I finally got a little teary at the thought I wasn’t going to see them in 3+ weeks.
Saying goodbye to them, my husband Scott, my parents, sister & her husband, his parents and friends, finally got to me and I struggled to keep it together, let alone answer any questions on how I was feeling – this just kept setting off the waterworks.
However once the formalities and hugs were done, we stepped aboard Maiden to leave dry land for a few weeks and focus turned to getting her ready to sail.
Our send off was exceptional, from the speeches and thoughtful gift to deliver to King Neptune, to the spectacular sight of Steinlager 2 (who raced Round the World with Maiden on her famous debut with an all womans crew), Lion NZ (who raced in a latter year) and the other boats filled with family and friends who followed us out the harbour and around North Head.
As we sailed past Rangi Light, another iconic NZ yacht – Spirit of NZ – joined us for a few moments to say her goodbyes as well. The last boat to leave us was my husband and kids, Jack and Blake, who waved and blew kisses and set off the last of the tears before we turned east on the journey towards Honolulu.
The mood onboard is peaceful, the ocean is calm and it’s a clear sky with beautiful moonlight and a few dolphins. It feels so special and I feel so lucky to be aboard Maiden for this leg to Honolulu and knowing that despite some bad weather in the forecast, it’s only going to get warmer and warmer as we sail North. I can’t wait to get into shorts and t’shirts! (and anticipating the inevitable of what will happen to first timers crossing the equator….)