What a few weeks we’ve had! As I write, Cyclone Gabrielle is finally relinquishing its grip on northern parts of the country, but this massive storm is still causing trouble further south, bringing damaging winds, high seas, heavy rain, and flooding.

For Northland, Auckland and Coromandel, among other regions, Gabrielle was a double whammy, coming hard on the heels of some of the heaviest rain on record only two weeks earlier. The resulting flooding and destruction forced hundreds of people from their homes and damaged the property of thousands more. People died.

With the clean-up still underway, Gabrielle’s arrival was an unwelcome dose of more of the same, only this time its destructive force was felt even further afield. Nationally, its impact on lives and infrastructure looks likely to eclipse Cyclone Bola’s in 1988. My heart goes out to all those who’ve suffered in this terrible storm.

Let’s be frank. It’s been a dismal summer in the north so far – half of Auckland’s annual rainfall has already fallen less than two months into 2023! For many, all that rain (and wind) has dampened enthusiasm for waterborne activities, or outdoor pursuits of any kind.

North Island summer holiday venues have felt the pinch, with folk cancelling holiday plans or leaving early due to poor weather. Spare a thought especially for those campground and hospitality operators, fishing tackle retailers, charter operators and small business owners in coastal communities, all desperate for a strong summer season.


A friend in the fishing tackle industry reports abysmal sales so far this year – people have not been able to go fishing. It’s not been much fun for boaties either, with regattas cancelled or curtailed and most of us having to snatch boating opportunities whenever the weather allowed. This summer I’ll bet rather more time than usual has been spent hunkering down in a sheltered anchorage somewhere!

But enough complaining! We’ve still got plenty of potentially good boating weather ahead, and anyway, conditions must improve soon – La Niña’s influence is slowly weakening, and several months of ‘normal’ weather is expected before El Niño kicks in next summer.

Perhaps we’ll enjoy an extended ‘Indian Summer’ during which we can make up for lost time?

What we can look forward to with certainty is the resumption of landmark events on the boating calendar, such as the Auckland Boat Show, March 23-26. Returning to Auckland downtown’s Viaduct after a three-year hiatus, but occupying a new venue in and around Jellicoe Harbour, show organisers are promising a four-day ‘festival on the water’ (see page 34). Don’t miss it.

Who knows? The weather might be perfect – it’s high time!

Safe boating,

John Eichelsheim