November 18, 2011: Our final day
It’s happy birthday to Nicole Donahoe, and Chef Mabee has carved an elaborate apple swan for the breakfast bar in her honor.
One gift given, another taken away. We’re hoping to make landfall on Tiritiri Matangi, a remarkable island of conservation. The once-eroded farms are now sanctuary for some of New Zealand’s rarest birds: the flightless takahe and kokako, which was nearly extinct.
But the southwesterlies intrude again, making the tender operation too dicey. We need a calmer easterly wind, so all we can do is snap photos and sigh.
By noon, Island Passage is safely lashed back in her berth at Auckland Harbour. I feel a total disconnect to the miles clocked — a 120-mile loop from Auckland to Auckland. It feels like we’ve been away for years, into another realm.
Capt. Vince told me on our first day, “You come out here and unplug. To be able to step off the planet is so nice.” I now know exactly what he means.
Betsa Marsh is president of the Society of American Travel Writers