Ernie and the Ocean – A Trip to Charteris Bay

“On a Mish’ #363 Ernie and the Ocean. Te Wharau / Charteris Bay. Horomaka / Banks Peninsula. 20.1.2023. Most don’t remember their very early childhood. Therefore most don’t remember their first time experiencing things like seeing the sea for the first time. The sights, the smells and how strange it must be to see a huge amount of water that has a rather salty taste…

The recent addition of ‘Ernie the Dog’ to my little whanau has been extremely beneficial to both my mental and physical health. Taking Ernie on adventures all around Canterbury has been the breath of fresh air I didn’t realise I needed. Having someone else to worry and care about has been a great distraction and also someone to plan for in a future which was a blank slate up until the arrival of a little dog. Ernie the wire-hair Jack Russell started out as my parent’s new dog, but over the time he has been living with us we have forged a friendship which now cannot be broken by me disappearing south (eventually). He needs me and I definitely need his companionship and free entertainment.

A near thirty degree day was cooking Christchurch and we needed to go somewhere to cool down.

Te Wharau / Charteris Bay was a place we used to visit when I was a kid. I remember helping my Dad set up the family sailboat, and then hitting the high seas of Lytteton Harbour. We didn’t have much growing up, but we certainly didn’t suffer from a lack of adventures. Sometimes the outings in the mighty yellow ‘trailer sailer’ got a little bit more adventurous than planned. Nowadays, many years later the only thing that has changed is the year on the calendar and the colour of the boat. The water and the freedom found on it is still as spectacular as it was when I was a child.

We loaded up several cars (my sister’s family too) and headed over the Port Hills to the location of many childhood memories. The day was at its hottest as we pulled up to the bay and readied the boat for heading out on the water. Due to the lack of wind the sail was removed and paddle power was the way we would see the bay.

While the boat was being unloaded I introduced Ernie to the ocean and he was left in total confusion with the fact that up until then all water he had tasted wasn’t salty. He explored the bay’s edge, testing each patch of water, and each time he screwed his face up in disapproval of the strange phenomena he had been introduced to.

It is important at this stage to mention that one of my most vivid memories is of the time when the family boat washed onto rocks in a very dramatic scene. The ordeal stuck with me for years and probably put me off boats and the ocean for a while. We did not want to repeat the disaster so we decided paddling would be a better approach.

Beffie sailing the high seas of Charteris Bay

As we paddled around the bay I had memories of doing the same as a kid, and watching my niece, nephew and dog have an awesome afternoon on the water was very reassuring. No washing up on the rocks for this band of happy sailors!

The afternoon drifted on just like the clouds of a late weather change. As if a timer was set, an excellent day came to an end when the clouds covered the sun and the temperature began to lower. By this stage we had had many hours in the hot sun and we were done.

Ernie and the kids were much quieter on the trip back over the hills, the signs of a big day out. Once home it was funny to watch Ernie test the water in his bowl to see if it had a salty taste. It reminded me how strange it must be seeing the ocean for the first time, and I am happy that he seemed to really enjoy the experience.

I cannot wait for the next outing that me and Ernie go on, but for now my little adventurous dog needs a feed, water and a long recovery rest!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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