When we were making our decision to sell the house and buy a bus one of the things that swayed us towards taking the risk was the hope that we would get to share some amazing moments together and make some really special memories as a family. Well just a week in to our travels we found one of those moments that I know I will hold onto long after our bus days are over.
We had left Whatamango Bay behind the day before and travelled along Queen Charlotte Drive to Havelock. Deciding that we needed to stay in a motor camp for a night so we could do some washing and have a real shower we ended up staying in Havelock, the proprietor was very friendly and helpful and following his recommendations we decided to stay two nights so we could go out on the Pelorus mail boat the next day. Part of our strategy for bus living is that we are trying to live quite economically, so most of the time our entertainment is going to be walking and playing on the beach, we don’t plan on doing all the tourist attraction type things. But in saying that, their are going to be some things that we will splurge on and take the opportunity to do.
The mail boat tour is quite unique, around the sounds there are houses that are only accessible by boat or walking track. So the mail boat does several different runs on various days of the week, they deliver the mail and groceries and to help them run at a profit they also take tourists. We were very lucky to have gorgeous weather as we sailed out of Havelock at around ten am and the first few hours passed very pleasantly with an interesting commentary and beautiful scenery.
Then after a few stops delivering mail and a few passengers catching a ride home we were dropped off at one bay where we could walk across to the next bay and the boat would pick us up from there. It was a welcome opportunity for Oliver to stretch his legs after the confines of the boat and also an interesting contrast after looking at the land from the water to be enjoying the views out from the land again.
From here it was a bit more cruising and a few more mail deliveries, which are all part of the tour. I have to say all the locals are incredibly good sports, it must be a bit strange to have a boat load of tourists snapping your picture every time you collect your mail. Then we reached our lunch stop, we had the choice of either stopping at a little shop/cafe where you can buy lunch or going to a nearby farm and having a little tour of the woolshed. We had packed a picnic so opted for a farm visit. It seems an idyllic life, living in these beautiful settings with the ocean literally on your doorstep, a farm that has been in their family for several generations and a woolshed with a view of the ocean has to be pretty special. But you get the sense that this is a hard life as well, that they work extremely hard to keep things going and when you hear that the eldest of their two children is 13 and now attends boarding school as the only school option where they live is correspondence you know that it would not be an easy life to live.
After leaving the farm the weather had started to change, the wind had picked up and we were starting to head back to Havelock. So we settled inside the boat for our trip back. Oliver was sitting on Wayne’s knee, very relaxed, almost to the point of falling asleep and we were reminiscing over how he had always found being in a boat soothing. And then the magical part of the day happened, we saw dolphins! The captain slowed down to see if they would come over to the boat and when they did we spent about half an hour moving, slowing down and speeding up so they would swim alongside us. I have been lucky enough to see dolphins several times in my life and they are pretty special animals. But seeing Oliver see them for the first time was something I don’t think many things could beat. He was absolutely transfixed with them and listened so well to where he needed to stand and hold on to things that we even managed to stand right at the front of the boat and watch them keep pace with the boat, there noses just jutting out in front of us. There were some baby dolphins as well and though he had to stand and watch for quite a while, because they weren’t coming as close to the surface, he did see them too. Once we moved away from the dolphins and sped up to head back to Havelock Oliver looked at me, huge smile on his face and said ‘We have to tell Nana we saw dolphins!’ I knew then that it was every bit of an incredible experience for him as it was for me. And now that I write this I realize that I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t take a single photo of them, but maybe it wouldn’t be the pictures of the dolphins that would hold the best memories. Maybe it would be the look of awe on my sons face as he watched these creatures and absorbed their grace and power and playfulness. And now that we have had such a special moment so soon in our journey I can’t help thinking there are good odds for many more in the time we plan to spend on the road…..