Ian was really keen to have a go at sailing in an America’s Cup Boat, but the prices on the quayside were a little pricey. Luckily bookme.co.nz had an offer on, so we booked our tickets and then excitedly headed down to the ticket booth at the time stated on our letter. We were handed our boarding passes, and waited with a growing group of tourists before being ushered through the gates and onto a boat. Which was not an American Cup boat.
Tea and biscuits were handed out, as the skipper began a spiel about safety and what we were to be doing on our gentle sojourn around the harbour. Meanwhile Ian and I had an argument in muttered undertones as to which one of us was going to question our presence on the “wrong” boat. I hastily recalled the email on my phone, and as the skipper asked for “last questions” overcame the English standard of “just smile and accept it” and stuttered “ummm I think we are meant to be on that boat.”
The skipper just smiled politely and set about telling us the difference in cost and what the boat was etc. etc. “No really, I booked to go on that one” came my reply, and upon showing my email, a very confused skipper lead us off the boat and back up to the ticketing desk. It transpired that we had been sent the wrong arrival time, and rather than check the booking properly, the ticket lady had just assumed we were there for the one o’clock departure, rather than the America’s Cup boat, which left an hour later. Problem sorted, we had a short wander round the quayside before returning and climbing this time, thankfully, onto the correct boat.
And off we sail…
As soon as we boarded the yacht, it was clear that this was the adventure we had hoped for and we were soon set to task grinding away! For anyone not familiar with sailing, this is not a euphemism for anything! Grinding involves manually turning big handles which operate the winches required to raise and trim the sail and move the boom. In a race, this is a very physically demanding job – and isn’t something to be sniffed at on a touristy jaunt either!
Everyone was heavily encouraged to get involved, but it isn’t a requirement for joining the trip. Being the eager beavers that we are Ian and I both jumped at the chance to man the helm and help to raise and lower the gennaker. This meant that we got to jump down into the hull of the boat where all the sails were kept! The two hour trip sailed by (haha) and we left suitably drained of energy. If sailing is your thing (or even if you only have a passing interest) this is definitely worth the extra money – you’ll get to see all the highlights of Auckland Harbour that you would on any other Harbour Cruise, but you get to be involved in the action!