The Stewart Island stopover lived up to it's reputation of being the highlight of the race so far with the locals turning out enforce with their warmth and hospitality to make all the competitors feel at home within the community.
Children on the wharf at Stewart Island - Two man Round New Zealand race
All yachts were welcomed into Half Moon Bay and allocate moorings. The Danaide crew received a welcome from their support crew who sung their hearts out to a theme along the lines of desperately needing a cuddle. All crews were billeted ashore with the exception of the Sunstone crew who preferred to stay aboard their own home.
Evening get togethers at the South Seas Hotel were the norm with the exception of a crew welcoming banquet at the local Pavillion and a farewell prizegiving at the Community Hall. Both functions were outstanding with abundant freshly caught Paua, Oysters, Mussels and Blue Cod.
The golf day was unfortunately cancelled by the only real day of rain so a day fishing on Garry Neave's fishing boat 'Arun' was scheduled instead. This was a real shame as the committee having arrived early with a day to spare managed a fantastic 3 rounds of the 6-hole course and to say that the views were spectacular would be a grand understatement!
We all learnt how to catch cod by both line and pot. Also the correct way of filleting was perfected by Charles off Vingilot who spent about two hours reducing his 'inferior product' percentage and amassed about 10kg of fine fillets with the rest of the 20 odd kilos being produced by the expert hand of Garry in a fraction of the time.
Apart from the fishing day the weather was remarkably good with generally clear skies and light winds though temperatures had a distinct hint of winter in them.
The Stewart Island school has been actively following the race and came own to the wharf and looked over both Surreal and REVS. The Surreal and Sunstone crews also gave talks at the school and the children came out on one of the local fishing boats to watch the start.
The Island presently has no active yacht club so our usual donation to the stopover clubs to help cover expenses posed a small problem, but with the keen interest shown by the local School we all agreed that our donation should go tot he school which we hope may kick-start a building program for Optimists or Firebugs and get a learn-to-sail program going. Then perhaps next time we visit we may find an active club at Half Moon Bay.
The restart at 1400 on Tuesday went relatively smoothly with Truxton and Expedition Coppelia charging over the line first with Genneker and Spinnaker, respectively, with a tail wind of around 12 knots.
An armada of local fishing boats and spectators followed for about an hour to farewell them on their way. In many ways it was a sad day having to leave all the wonderful new friends we'd all met but the memories we've gained we'll cherish for a lifetime and Im' sure come the next race some serious consideration will be given to participating once again if only to revisit the Island and those wonderfully warm people.
The committee, upon returning from seeing the fleet off, were given one final treat. We hauled up an oyster dredge, stored on the sea bed in Half Moon Bay and motored out to catch an oyster. Two short dredges later we had about 70 of the most delicious large oysters and after a few samples we headed in to finish shucking them on the lawn of Gwen and Garry's overlooking the spectacular bay with a few cold ones.
As we promised them in 1990, so did we again - that we would be back but this time not to wait 22 years!