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June 2007

Before we left our home base in New Zealand, Larry finally got the boatyard windlass secured so we can use it to haul boats up to about 5 tons.

Dear Friends:

We often hear folks talking about saving up enough money to “cruise for the rest of my life and never have to work again.”  Yet as I look back over four decades of a life that has revolved around boats, voyaging and cruising, it is often the time we spent working in different countries, with every changing workmates and experiences that we remember best. I also now know it is the contrast forced into our lives by the need to sometimes stop and earn a living, which has kept our lives around cruising and cruising folks so interesting. The past six weeks highlight definitely highlight this.

I am slightly ashamed to say that sometimes its grand fun to get out on our boatyard fizz boat (that’s what Kiwi’s call run-aboats) and put her at full throttle as I buzz over to the mainland to get the weeks groceries.

Though our lives at our New Zealand home base are busy and interesting, there are only a few dozen folks living on the island, no cars and other than during parties, little hustle and bustle. Contrast that to the world we flew into when we returned to Taleisin in Alameda, California with just four days to get her ready for the Oakland Strictly Sail Boatshow. We found her in fine but dusty condition at Marina Village where I think everyone of the many live-a-boards had taken a personal interest in being sure she was safe, sound and well ventilated during our absence. Jim and Diana Jessie, who live on the boat that was next to Taleisin, had washed both boats down with salt water on a weekly basis. (Thank you Diana, Jim.) They were on hand as Larry used the sculling oar to move 50 feet out from Taleisin’s winter dock, then watched us hoist our sails for the one mile reach down to the boatshow docks.  Well, it felt so good to be on board this wonderful, easy to sail boat again, to hoist simple gaff-free sails, that neither of us really wanted to go alongside our assigned dock.  So we used the excuse of checking out the set of our newly strengthened staysail to tack about in the estuary for another hour. (We had the sailmaker add a full length leech tape and re-stitch all the seams on the 25,000 mile old sail. Thought it made sense to do this before it blew apart.) Then we switched into full-on work mode for the next nine days, first preparing Taleisin to be shown by members of BAADS (Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors) for what turned out to be over 700 on board visitors then setting up a booth to sell raffle tickets for BAADS and books for the Pardey’s cruising kitty fund.

This is Des Townson, well known Kiwi Yacht designer who has, over the past fifteen years designed and built more than 3000 of these Electron sailing models. The handsome dinghy is his design too.  He’s one of our favorite Kawau visitors.

As the assigned booth was almost a half mile from the assigned berth, we both got a lot of exercise.  Not only did we meet a lot of new folks, but dozens of friends from past ports and past lives came to greet us.  Our booth was a hustle bustle mix of guide dogs for blind members of BAADs, wheel chairs, able bodied volunteers and probably would have been awarded the prize for most disorganized booth of the show, but what a fun experience and thank you to everyone who helped so that BAADS was ahead $3000 by the end of the show.  I must say by the end of the show my voice was shot, I was tired of restaurant food and thrilled when Larry suggested sailing over to anchor at Sausalito for a few days to just lay and read some books before returning to Alameda in ten days for our scheduled haul out.

Here’s just part of the crew who helped make the boatshow a wonderful, fun time for us and we hope for the folks who came to visit us.

Sausalito, it has always been a special place to us since our first visit over 41 years ago. I always worry that it will loose its special flavor, its funkiness, the feeling of being someplace truly unique. But this time as in the past I am thrilled to report that there is no place quite like this tiny, unique village by the sea.  With lots of space to anchor for no charge, easy places to land by dinghy, choice of café’s and small marine businesses it is perfect for low key cruisers. The town fathers have decided to make sure there is room for a wide variety of people, insisting that low cost houseboat homes stay put, so you see Ferrari’s parked next to rusting bicycles at the local coffee shop or places like the No Name Bar where “cool” jazz attracts folks like us, local young boat builders and the rich folks from the hill top houses most evenings. After three days of doing almost nothing, I decided to check our email.  As I sat at the local Kinko’s the man on the next computer turned and said, “I was trying to figure out how to contact you. We wanted to invite you two over to see the Wooden Boat Center and school we are creating at Myron Spaulding’s old boatyard” Mark Welther introduced himself as executive director of the center which is becoming home to not one, but two wooden boat building schools, the Arques School which has, under the auspices of Bob Darr, been teaching this skill for the past eleven years here in Sausalito, and the International School of Yacht Restoration which has its main facility in Newport Rhode Island and is now opening a smaller west coast school.

With a fresh breeze, a fine sailing boat under you, an interesting waterfront to explore, flat water and good anchorage waiting only a few miles ahead, it’s easy to grin from ear to ear.

Two hours later after a delightful visit to a truly classic part of Sausalito which, because of the generosity of Myron Spaulding and his wife Gladys, will be able to retain its wonderful flavor for the next generations, Larry and I had changed our planned haul out place and date.  Though I know we would have had a fine haul out in Alameda, we would never have met the delightful young crowd of boat builders that surround this shipyard. Never joined in for country fiddling and sausages with a gang of wood boat builders, nor gotten to know Bob Darr who grew up as crew for his father Omar Darr’s big schooners which plied the waters of Tahiti and the Tuamotos, nor Mike Wiener who manages the Spaulding boatyard and like us, went to Denmark to study boatbuilding at Walstead’s boatyard back in the 1970’s and actually got to work with some of the best that Europe had to offer.  (We tell what happened when we tried this in Seraffyn’s European Adventure.)

Almost everyone dressed up in their own versions of western garb to share an evening of country music and cruising and boat building talk only a few days after we got to Sausalito.

Not only did everyone make us feel especially welcome here, but something happened that has never happened before.  Three of the young wooden boat enthusiasts actually turned up the day Taleisin came out of the water and set to work sanding her topsides.  What a treat for us and a big help as it has been three years since she had fresh paint and the job would have taken us an extra day or two on our own. 

Mike Wiener runs a clean, well organized operation and handled the boat with kid gloves. Thanks Mike.

Now we have put the work part of our year behind us, Taleisin glows brightly once again, we have had a grand open boat party to thank everyone and the summer beckons with a wide choice of places to explore, from San Francisco to San Diego.  No schedule, truly cruising with many old and new friends enticing us to stop at each port along the way.

This is Spaulding’s Wooden Boat Center and soon to be home to two boatbuilding Schools.  Frieda, the oldest yacht in San Francisco is currently being rebuilt inside the sheds.

Hope your sailing plans work out for an early getaway.

Lin and Larry






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