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May 2006
Dear Friends:

When I first met Larry he told me, "Sailboats are wonderful, you can cross oceans in them, you can use them like a toy - to race and enjoy, as a floating home for weekends or months at a time, as a way to entertain your friends…" What he never imagined was that sailing and boats would also provide us a vocation that seems endlessly rewarding. As Larry fiddled with the rigging details that would make Thelma more competitive for the "big" regatta, I settled in to do the finishing details on the new edition of Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew. Though we do not have, nor desire internet communications when we are off cruising, I did find the communications between my editors and book designers via internet were truly amazing, considering our New Zealand home base is on an island with no roads, twice weekly mail delivery and no high speed telephone or internet connections and I am working with editors in Maine and Seattle. Only problem - now that we have almost instant communications, no one seems to allow time for mishaps - where in the days when folks mailed things back and forth, deadlines were set with lots of spare time for mail slow ups. Our years of cruising definitely helped me through some of the mix-ups that seem a natural part of writing a book - as I do not have the expectation that things will go right, just that there is always a way to fix or jury rig things if the crew slows down and thinks together.

 

By the time Thelma was ready to sail back to Auckland City for the Lindauer Classics Regatta, my editing work was under control and the book on course for a Mid-May release date. So it was with a light heart that we headed southward on a lovely summer day, winds from the east for a brisk reach. Over 60 beautiful wooden yachts were involved in this five day event, a third of them are 100 years old or older. the race headquarters is at the old Team New Zealand Base and as many of the classic boats rafted together at the end of each race, we had prime seats to watch the final finishes going onto New Zealand's America cup boats in preparation for their departure to Valencia in Spain.

Gabriel and Micheal Marris who have a home directly across the bay from our base on Kawau, also have a glorious apartment overlooking the waterfront in Auckland. They generously insisted that we would do a better job of racing (and representing Kawau Island) if we used their flat (and spa tub) instead of bunking down on Thelma amid the noise of the harbour. We felt like "real" racers as we came in at the end of each day to participate in the buzz at the base, then wandered six blocks to sleep in luxury. Then there was our crew - two lovely young people in their early 20's who had always loved Thelma, had lots of dinghy racing experience and real enthusiasm. Emily and Scott were at the boat each morning even before we got there and had her washed down and waiting.


 

The light wind regatta required a lot of patience, but definitely suited Thelma and our crew as when Larry showed signs of tiring after three hours of constant helming to catch every puff - Scott took over and was excellent at catching the tiniest lift or header. But best of all, by the time all the racing was over - we had fully tamed the topsail - learning which lines to pull to get the two jackyards up between lazy jacks, under the topsail sheet, over the reefing pennant etc. etc. (Yes there are far too many lines on a gaff-rigged double jackyard topsail rigged cutter). Jonquil, the Buzzards Bay 25 we used to maintain and race, was our fiercest competitor and after the second race she had two first places, we had two seconds. The last race started with the all of us being sure we were in contention for second or third place with Jonquil unbeatable. Then it happened. In very light winds, Jonquil tacked right after the start, we kept going to the left and she fell into a windless hole along with half the others in the fleet. Only half the fleet finished after six long hot hours and, Jonquil among them. With one first and two seconds Thelma took first in her division. Yes, for those who do not enjoy racing, this all sounds like a big fuss about very little - but the camaraderie among the fleet, the joking back and forth on the water - the laughs and discussions afterward when you have all worked really hard and put up with the knocks a wind shift can give, it's hard to compare - especially in a fleet of boats that are as well loved as these - so much so that the docks were often lined with several hundred spectators to watch us sail in at the end of the day. Better yet, there are real prizes for competing - Thelma and crew split three magnums of fine sparkling wine plus a two day luxury charter on Lion New Zealand (we let our crew have this as we seem to get in a lot of good sailing.)

 

After the fun of being in the city, of dining out every evening at a grand selection of café's, and the full-on five days of participation of the regatta, both of us were, frankly, ready to take it easy. So we decided to turn on Thelma's little Arona diesel engine and putt home early the following day. At least that was the idea until we cleared Auckland harbor and a sweet easterly breeze filled in. Up went the generous mainsail, the two headsails and off went the engine and the magic of sailing just for the sweet pleasure of hearing the hiss of the water, the swish of the bow wave as Thelma ate of the miles toward our island hideaway.

 

I'm glad we had those last quiet, organized feeling hours as, the minute we arrived back at our home base, I realized what lay ahead. There on our porch was a pile of tools. At 0730 the next morning, Tim, one of our neighbors who is a builder, was waiting at our door - ready to work with Larry and I on a project I had been looking forward to with both anticipation and dread, the rebuilding of our 40 year old 600 square foot cottage. It definitely was a challenge, working on the final proofing and design of Care and Feeding as Larry and Tim tore out most of the upstairs while I set up my office in the play room under the house. - to cut a long story short - The next weeks were definitely confusing, interesting, messy, full of saw dust - the smell of lovely cedar, the sound of hammers, saws and occasional curses, the organization of getting timber, nails, and a myriad of building materials over on our small barge - but from the beginning we could both see the end results would be well worthwhile. Yes, the book project did proceed as planned - so did the building project. After 7 weeks of chaos I was able to send the final book off to the printer and my new office looked like it would actually happen, along with a remodeled bedroom and bathroom. (the old bathroom was once an entry hall and pantry with four different doors opening into a 6 square meter room.)

So I am pleased to be able to say the Care and Feeding, with almost 35% more information in it than the previous edition is now available from this website. It will be in the book shops in another month. It has been almost ten years since we updated this book when we were wandering around southern Africa. Now, as I found back then, reworking this book has brought back a lot of wonderful sailing memories and reminded me of how much I enjoy the challenges and variety of life on a sailing boat.

In next months newsletter I'll let you know how the other parts of our southern summer projects came along, including the three day classic boat regatta that is scheduled to happen at our home base at the end of the month.

Best wishes for a fine spring,

Lin and Larry

 







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