The Log Book
Tales of an Artist Afloat
Trying to show how small the world looks from the boat sometimes. I know the ocean should seem vast, but the low view point of the cockpit makes the horizons seem incredibly near by. It's all a matter of perspective. On the boat, my world can be filled by a wave sweeping towards us. The horizons might be close, but I still feel incredibly tiny.
A little experiment in watercolour, Neocolour pastels and Posca paint markers.
Leigh gave us the chance to grab a coffee and stock up on ice for the fridge. Leaving, we were faced with confused seas, determined to force us in the wrong direction and make our journey as uncomfortable as possible. As we wobbled out towards Little Barrier Island (which is shaped very much like a crocodile), I tried to draw a helm's eye view of the boat. I am going to blame the rolling for some of the very wobbly lines. Things started to behave themselves after a couple of hours, the waves settled down and the wind sped us north. We passed by the Whangarei Heads and anchored at Pacific Bay on the gorgeous Tutukaka Coast, where we will be spending Christmas.
Wonky boat art in Micron fineliners, watercolours and Polychromos pencils (added the next day in a calm anchorage!)
Excitement hit on Sunday morning, somewhere between loads of laundry, a final tidy of the boat and a visit from our friend Adrian. The stressful jobs were done and I was ready to go sailing! There was a total lack of wind, so the sails remained furled, but we maneuvered away from the dock easily and headed to Waiheke. Our night at Blackpool was quiet and uneventful. I made the most of having time to read, Jim worked on the drain pump which had already began to misbehave, and the next day we set sail to Kawau.
We had beautiful winds. All the work which Jim had done on the hull paid off as Island Prism cut through the water at 6.5 knots. We met heavy rainfall, with beautiful sunshine in between, and by the evening were anchored near the Governor's mansion at Kawau. The anchorage there is secure and very pretty. The island has a colourful history, having been home to cannibals, coppermines and Governor George Grey, who imported exotic plants and animals and drove around the island in a carriage drawn by four zebras. Some of the animals remain today- peacocks and wallabies roam alongside the native birds.
The island's birdlife are always happy to see people, especially if you come bearing bread. A flotilla of ducks swam out to see us as I sketched the view from the boat in the late afternoon, and the following day the peacocks and weka stalked the cafe in hope of edible gifts. The peacock's feathers were glorious in the sunlight, although he did seem to have trouble turning round in the confined space between tables!
I was experimanting with my new Noodler's Nib Creaper and Lexington Grey ink. The pen is a flex nib, which gives it a range of line variations as you change pressure, and Lexington grey is a lovely shading ink which goes from a light pencil shade to a deep grey. The two worked together beautifully as the pen allows the ink flow to vary- I think the duck sketches show it well. On the cream paper in my sketchbook, everything had a very gentle 19th Century air. Next time we're back I might need to try something a little more outrageous, but for now the greys and greens suit the beautiful mansion house and peaceful island very well.
Kawau is beautiful, and it was tempting to stay another night- maybe looking for wallabies at dusk and barbequing on the beach. But the wind was blowing well so we decided to take it to head up the coast to Leigh.
It's been a busy couple of months. We've launched Island Prism, moved out of our house, sold or given away just about everything, packed and repacked the boat. I've written reports, packed up a classroom and even attempted to do some teaching. I'd also been working on a very special gift. No wonder I'm sleeping well!
We're cruising New Zealand until late April, when we'll start on our journey across the Pacific to Canada. The journey will get my husband home, and will be the longest voyage I've done so far. I'm very excited, a bit nervous, and sad to be leaving behind my friends of the last 12 years.
The staff at St Heliers School sent me off in style with bubbles, reminicences, singing and dancing. I was presented with lei from the lovely Loretta and Robyn, my colleagues gave me a gorgeous leather traveller's notebook filled with beautiful papers for drawing and painting, and my class gave me a voucher for the local art store, which has since turned into sable brushes and tubes of watercolour.
I shared my goodbye with two friends, Robin and Amanda, who are also setting off on their next great adventures. We knew we wanted to present the staff with something special, and decided to create a painting with the Maori proverb 'He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata'- what is the most important thing in the world? It's people, it's people, it's people.
As well as symbolising voyagers, whales are special to our school as we give a carved bone whale tail to the Year 8 students as part of their graduation. The mountain is Rangitoto, the island which dominates the Waitemata Harbour and can be seen from the school. I used masking fluid to keep the letters white and added patterns to each whale in metallic gel pen- Maori designs on the humpback for Kiwi Amanda, a raven inspired by Pacific North Western art for Canadian Robin, and Celtic knotwork for me.
There were tears and laughter, and the same in my class on the final day. I know I'm leaving somewhere very special, but also know that I am very lucky in the wonderful adventures to come. I'll post more about the start of our sailing soon, but want to leave this here with a goodbye and a heartfelt thank you to all the wonderful people who make the community of St Heliers School such a special one0 my New Zealand whanau.
An Artist Afloat- Painting the world one anchorage at a time.