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January 2007
Noel and Larry seem to be able to spend hours talking about boat building. They are examining the rudder on 53 foot Sina in this picture.

Dear Friends:

The Christmas season here in New Zealand coincides with summer holidays. This means that during December most everyone is busy with the crazy rush of food and gift shopping, Christmas and New Years parties to plan for, but also preparing for their yearly yachting get away. Things get even more confused because many major sporting events - both professional and amateur are planned for this time of year and almost all businesses shut down for two or three week beginning on Christmas day. (Banks, many cafes and super markets are only closed for a few days.) This reality is especially hard on voyagers who sail into New Zealand after several months in the tropics with a long list of repairs and replacements for their boats. They are shocked to find local repair people, sailmakers, and suppliers are not able to accommodate them until late January or even February. The actual holiday time is intensely family oriented, with calendars full to the brim and for transplants or visiting sailors, can be almost lonely.

Helen Schmuck was reluctant to let the festivities end on New Years Eve, so she put on a Hula demonstration for us before saying good night.

Our calendar, after several summer seasons down here, was full to the brim, and included the rush to get ready for summer sailing too. But without real family and with Christmas dinner being away from home, I was spared the shopping rush. The first holiday gathering of our season was a special one when we spent two days on the mainland, driving north to visit Alvah and Diana Simons and also Litara and Noel Barrett. Both couples have done circumnavigations and sailed extensively into high latitudes. We first met the Simon's in Maine, the Barretts in Chile. Noel is a superb boatbuilder born and raised in New Zealand, Alvah an excellent writer born in the middle of America, Diana born and raised in New Zealand, is an accomplished gardener and fabric expert, Litara is a nurse of Samoan heritage and is of royal blood, a princess in her homeland, so even if we had not all had the shared experiences and friends from voyaging to talk about, conversation would never lag. But the subject filled a large part of our evening was one I some day want to write about, the far side of cruising. When do you stop crossing oceans, where do you settle, what do you do then? That took us through several good bottles of wine!

Eighteen month old Lexi Miller, my adopted grand daughter, ably assisted by her father, Christopher was the youngest participant in the New Years day regatta.

For the actual Christmas holidays we did something a bit different. We sailed Thelma into the city, secured her in the Viaduct (right in the center of the city where the America's cup bases once were) and soon after secured Puffin, the Bristol Channel cutter owned by our long time friends Doug and Helen, right in the same berth. (It is usually used by a super-yacht and is 80 feet long). Then the four of us enjoyed the flesh pots of the city, watching shoppers madly rush about for two days, going to a fine concert put on by Bjorn Again, an ABBA tribute band, then having Christmas dinner with Helen's sister at her Auckland home. Thelma, though 34 feet long, has only 7'6" beam and sitting headroom. So she is more for camping in than living. Fortunately friends on the island have a grand pent house apartment right on the waterfront, four blocks from the Viaduct. As they were out at our island for the holidays, we had the use of this luxury apartment. I had often dreamed of a place right in the city. But after five days both Larry and I agreed, city life is not for us - fun for a visit -

Right of way discussions definitely came up at the start of the regatta as the manned dinghies crossed a starting line just offshore of the electronically controlled yachts.

New Years back at the island brought a lovely flotilla of classic and cruising yachts into our bay - including Doug and Helen on Puffin. So New Years eve parties seemed to start two days before the actual date with final party celebration being - a barbeque on our deck, then trying to get a dozen of our guests into boats to row or motor across the cove to three different celebrations at three different houses. It was like herding cats, with twice the laughs. I really love the casualness of these island New Years eves - everyone brings something along to drink or snack on, you never know exactly where you will be when midnight strikes, and we always seem to meet someone new and interesting. This year it was the Scopas family, owners of a beautiful 75 year old classic yacht who run a sausage making plant at their home which is set amidst an orchard of 750 olive trees. They are just setting up the olive presses. We sampled their sausages for dinner. Look forward to trying their olive oil before long.

As official handicapper, start and finish committee, I had to restrain myself from favoring the home team.

Somehow I ended up as organizer for what many hope will be a traditional New Years day regatta. The weather was not perfect, but several dinghies turned up only two hours after the scheduled mid-day start time. Larry represented our family in Cheeky 3, our New Zealand based Fatty Knees 8 footer. The winning boat was a Laser, Larry came fourth, unhappily beaten by Doug in his Fatty Knees 7 footer. Larry is already planning on how he'll beat Doug next year! Highlight of the day though was the fleet of radio controlled Electron models racing in and among the fleet, under the auspices of their designer Des Townsend.

Sorting through old boxes of photos sometimes reveals treasures. This shot was taken by Walden Jones, a friend we made in Costa Rica in 1971. I remember that day with pleasure, we were all on board Seraffyn for lunch on our day off. Larry and I were on top of the world as we had a good job, our cruising kitty was filling up and in a month we planned to set sail for the Panama Canal.

All together a fine Holiday week, even though the normal warm, dry summer weather seemed to be terribly evasive. The day that everyone left to go home from the island, the weather turned wonderful, Thelma went up on the tidal grid and Larry set to work upgrading her cabintop as part of her gradual restoration and also preparing for the regatta season that begins in three weeks. We set to work on the new edition of Storm Tactics Handbook in hopes of having it most of the computer work done before we return to San Francisco to rejoin Taleisin and take part in the Jack London Boatshow.

May 2007 be an especially lucky year for all of you,

Lin and Larry






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