Introduction to Sailing in the Salty Waters of New Zealand
The transition from sailing on Lake Superior’s fresh water to the salty waters of the South Pacific took a little bit of adapting. There are many factors that come into play when sailing on the ocean. Salt corrosion, tides, swells and currents are examples of the most common differences between salt and fresh water boating. These variables are especially important when anchoring. The rule of thumb for anchoring is to let out at least 4-5 times the water depth in anchor line at high tide. Throughout the day, the water depth can vary greatly in ocean conditions. Therefore boaters must be informed of local tides, time of day and weather changes.
All the new variables associated with ocean sailing was very new and exciting to me. The majority of my sailing experience had always been on fresh water lakes, specifically Lake Superior. Which in many ways can display the same types of weather changes and waves that you would expect from an ocean.
Waiting out Cyclone Hola
When I arrived in New Zealand in March, Auckland had already been hit by two cyclones: Fehi and Gita. Cyclone Fehi plummeted local temperatures in some regions by 20 degrees and created massive storm swells. Less then a month later, Cyclone Gita hit sections of both the South and North Island, resulting in flooding. A state of emergency was declared for various parts of New Zealand. As the South Island continued to repairing their infrastructural damage from cyclone Gita, the North Island was preparing for Cyclone Hola.
Not only had I never experienced a cyclone before but I was going face cyclone Hola while anchored on a sailboat. However, Cyclone Hola only lasted a day and wind gusts didn’t reach over 90km/h. Luckily enough no-one got sea sick and the only belongings lost were my bathing suit bottoms. The remainder of my trip was sunny and filled with long days of 5-30km/h winds that carried our 37 foot sailboat up and down the coast of New Zealand.
Overall my experience in New Zealand allowed me learn more about boat safety and how to read weather conditions. Which will come in handy, on Lake Superior, with my new position as Captain for Sail Superior. So make sure you check out the variety of breathtaking tours provided by Sail Superior this summer.
Photo: The stern of Landfall a 37foot Shanon in the harbour Waiheke Island, New Zealand.
Winter Hiking in the Sleeping Giant Provincial ParkApril 12, 2018
Hiking the head of the Giant in the Winter
Hiking, sailing, and rock climbing are all part of a long list of exciting outdoor activities that are easily accessible in Thunder Bay. Within 20 minutes you can be down at the marina jumping on a boat for an afternoon excursion on Lake Superior or fishing at your friend’s inland cabin. But that’s summer. Winters in Northwestern Ontario can be long and cold if you don’t take advantage of the snowy conditions.
My girlfriends and I plan weekly adventures and heart pounding activities to motivate us to go outside during the winter. Our most recent excursion involved hiking the snow packed trails of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. We decided to make the challenging hike to the top of the head.
It takes approximately six hours to hike from the parking lot to the head and back. And approximately eight hours, round trip, to hike to the knees of the Giant. The trail to the head is fairly flat for the first 7 km and becomes very steep for the last 2km. There are many useful signs along the way but the trail can split and some routes can turn out to be longer than expected.
Hiking the trails can be very challenging in the winter and therefore the following precautions should be taken:
- Tell someone where you are going and when you should be back
- Bring sufficient water
- Bring a flashlight
- Have Nordic Trail Crampons
- Bring extra clothes (it can be very windy at the top)
- View a Map ahead of time and know your route
- Bring a cellphone (service is variable)
Hiking in the Summer
In the summer this amazing lookout is easily accessible by hiking, mountian biking, and even sailing. Sail Superior has also introduced a 30 foot Zodiac to its fleet this season. This will allow hikers to cruise over from the marina to the trail head in under 70 minutes. From the drop off point in Sawyers Bay, the head of the Giant trek is approximately a two hour return trip.
The Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is open year round and is a highly recommended hotspot for any outdoor enthusiast. Not only does it have the most spectacular view of Thunder Bay, but it is also home to many native species. This includes wildlife species such as deer, red fox, grey wolf and black bears. Additionally, over 200 bird species have been identified within the park through the help of the Thunder Cape Bird Conservatory. The Conservatory occupies the tip of the Sibley peninsula and is accessible through the hiking trails provided by The Sleeping Giant Provincial park. A map of the hiking trails are available at the entrance to the park.
Sailing in New ZealandApril 10, 2018
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Sailing alongside the Volvo Ocean 65 Race Boats in New Zealand
As the summer approached and my urge for sailing grew, the choice of whether or not to join my aunt and uncle’s sailing adventure was too easy. Not only was I given the chance to sail the South Pacific Ocean and up the Huaraki Gulf of New Zealand. But I was arriving just in time for the Auckland portion of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Upon my arrival in Auckland I contacted Sail Superior’s former Captain Marek. He had made many contacts in the Auckland racing community since moving to New Zealand several months ago. As a result, he was able to set me up with a spot on a 42 foot sailing race boat in Auckland’s Friday evening Rum Race. Prior to the Rum race we had the amazing privilege of watching some of the worlds top sailors battle to out in Auckland’s In-Port Volvo Ocean race.
2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race consists of seven Volvo Ocean race boats equipped with some of the worlds top sailors. In 2014, they introduced the concept of a one design race boat meaning that the teams no longer needed to spend money designing their own high performance sail boats. This change allowed races to be won by athletic performance rather then superior boat design.
“If it hadn’t been for the new one-design rule, then I probably wouldn’t have done the Volvo Ocean Race again” Ian Walker, Adu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s skipper.
This years Volvo Ocean race started in Spain and will be finishing in the Netherlands. These sail boats not only race to each location around the world. But also complete in the In-Port harbour races during their stop overs. Which allows spectators such as myself to witness the speed and skill of the Volvo Ocean 65 and crew. I couldn’t recommend a better way to get over the winter chills then with a trip to watch some of the worlds finest racing competitors battle it out in Auckland’s sunny harbour.
Best Things to Do in Thunder BayApril 21, 2017
Best Things to Do in Thunder Bay, Ontario
Thunder Bay provides a dream playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Surrounded by water and mountains, Thunder Bay has something to meet every adventurer’s desires. Here are some of the Best Things to do in Thunder Bay.
Don’t forget to experience the greatest freshwater lake in the world. Sail Superior specializes in various sailboat excursions that will satisfy your craving for fun, excitement, adventure, romance or relaxation. Observe the brilliant night sky on a Starlight Wine and Cheese tour, new this year.
- Tours run mid-May – October.
- Adult prices start at $59/person
- Duration of tours range from 1.5 hours – multiple days
Check out the rest of our Tours
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Looking to stretch your legs while experiencing the beautiful Canadian wilderness at the same time? With over 100 KM of hiking trails, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is the ideal place to take it all in. If hiking isn’t your thing they also offer camping, biking, canoeing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
- Open 365 days / year
- Overnight camping runs May 19 – October 10
- Take a sailboat to the park
- 100 Kilometers of hiking trails
- 50 Kilometers of groomed cross-country trails
- Variety of hikes ranging from day hikes to multi-day hikes
- Stunning views at the top of the mountain
For more information visit Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Fort William Historical Park
Photo via Fort William Historical Park
Fur trading was a major industry in North America’s past. Fort William Historical Park re-creates the days of the North West Company and the Canadian fur trade. After experiencing one of the largest living history attractions in North America, visit their state-of-the-art Astronomy Centre.
- Open 365 days / year
- Tour a living history attraction
- State-of-the-art Astronomy Observatory
- Prices at peak season (Summer)
- Tour $14 / Adult
- Observatory $10 / Adult
- $25/night without services
- $35/night with services
- Canoe / Kayak rental
- $15 half day
- $30 full day
- Hours vary according to season
For more information visit Fort William Historical Park
Thunder Bay Lookout
Photo via Good Free Photos
Scared of heights? Put your mettle to the test at the Thunder Bay Lookout. Located on a cliff edge of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, the Lookout combines thrill and an amazing view of Lake Superior.
For more information visit Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Towering 1000 feet above Thunder Bay, Mount McKay has a great view of the city. If hiking to the top doesn’t suit your need, the parking lot lookout is 500 feet above the ground and provides a nice view as well.
- Operates mid-May – early October
- Open from 9 am – 10 pm
- Call (807) 622-3093
Outdoor Skills and Thrills
Professional guided rock and ice climbing adventures. Experience the best climbing Northwestern Ontario has to offer.
For more information visit Outdoor Skills and Thrills
Challenge your family, friends, and colleagues to a friendly game of paintball. It’s a great way to bond and relieve stress. Nestled into the base of Mount McKay is Paintball Mountain. They provide everything you need to get your adrenaline pumping.
- Operates 365 days/year
- Open from sunrise – sunset
- Reservation required Monday – Saturday
- Reservation not required on Sunday
- Prices start at $35.40 / person
For more information visit Paintball Mountain
Thunder Oak Cheese Farm
Thunder Oak Cheese Farm is the first farm in Ontario that produces Gouda cheese. Their award-winning Thunder Oak Gouda is a natural product made with fresh milk from their own Holstein cows. Take a short trip to Slate River Valley to experience the tradition of Dutch cheese making.
- Open from 9 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday
For more information visit Thunder Oak Cheese Farm
Itching for more hikes? Here is a list of some of the most popular Thunder Bay hiking trails.
- High Falls
- Poplar Point Trail
- Cascades Trails