By Grahame Harris - Rotorua, New Zealand

Although I have a late model 16 ft fibreglass powerboat, with Yamaha outboard and Honda auxiliary, my workmates call me a ‘wind bludger’ (bludger – one who scavenges and uses for free). Why the nick name? Because, I get such pleasure from sailing. Don’t get me wrong though – there’s a definite place for the release of Hydrocarbons via an internal combustion engine.

Sailing – It’s not only the being there that’s important, it’s ‘how’ we get there that’s the attraction of the pastime. Harnessing the elements, using changing wind patterns to the best advantage, and gaining ground into the teeth of wind or waves, are what give us the thrill of having got ‘there’.

I changed jobs last year and now work in a boat sales and chandlery store in Rotorua – in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island, close to the lakes I have enjoyed so much after building my Welsford designed Truant – “TruantSea”. I’m getting to go out on each lake – in both boats. The area – rich in geothermal resources and natural beauty, is a true wonder.

Last weekend was possibly our ‘Kiwi’ summers’ Swansong. It was a gloriously fine, warm, breezy Sunday and my darling wife had to work. Shame! I thought I’d take the opportunity while it was there, to sail on unfamiliar waters. Lake Rotoma – some 25 miles from home, the farthest and clearest of the 19 lakes in the area, was the target.  (Google coordinates:-  38 03.04 S , 176 34.18E).

Map (click images for larger views)
Lots of sandy little coves to land on.
Small beaches slope gently to a sandy lake bed.

There’s clear water with little/no weed. Sandy beaches slope gently to a sandy lake bed, easily seen, even at over 30 ft deep. There’s lots of sandy little coves to land and picnic or swim in. In fact, there’s picnic spots aplenty around the perimeter of this little lake (only 4 miles long by 1.5 miles at its widest). There’s plenty of shelter from any prevailing wind – and plenty of opportunity to catch them if you’re a sailor – without too much wave action to upset the boat. It’s easy to circumnavigate, you can sail basically from any point to any point. The lake is wide enough for fine, close reaches - tacking into the wind, but has little in the way of wind swirl and eddies to confuse the sail settings.

Planted pine trees and native bush ring the lake.

Rotoma has a couple of good launching spots for trailer boats, with good ramps – natural hard packed sand – bit shallow for some, plus steeper concrete ramps – easy! There’s plenty to see, and plenty of nothing if you just want to get away and find a little stretch of shore just for you. There are some houses nestled amongst the planted pine trees and native bush area – all facing the sun, with no road access – just jetty’s on the lakes’ edge. Those holiday owners have all got magical water views.

Picnic spots abound on this little lake

Rotoma has good trout fishing in season. A gent I chatted with boasted of a 7lb Rainbow he had caught “just around the corner there” at dawn a few mornings ago. The place is simply ideal for all types of water sports. A number of powerboats and jet skis plied the waters – well away from me.

A sandy crescent beach with a couple of jetties and one moored boat

After a 2 or three of hours zig-zagging my way into the wind to the head of the North west arm, I “dead ran” downwind and found a sandy crescent beach with a couple of jetties and one moored boat. No one in sight, just the call of a few native birds in the trees, and the faint drone of a motor boat on the other side of the lake. The sand was fine and the wind temporarily gave out just as I landed. I lay on a towel for half an hour or so and soaked up the tranquillity. It had warmed up even more by this time, so I took a quick dip in the surprisingly warm (this was supposed to be early Autumn) crystal clear water, before the thermos and snacks were broken into.

I lay on a towel for half an hour or so and soaked up the tranquillity

The wind returned, so I spent another happy three hours, or so, sailing across the lake and back, finding new landing spots, more hideaway homes and possible fishing spots. It was a happy, enthralled sailor who arrived back at the launch ramp by about 4.00 pm.

A magical day.
A magical Lake.
A fantastic boat to enjoy it with! 
Lake Rotoma is high (if not top) of my list.
Thanks TruantSea.

Grahame Harris. New Zealand

Plans for John Welsford's Truant are available HERE.

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