got her usual share of attention as Larry prepared
her for the regatta season. She is nestled securely
alongside Larry's boatshop. Tidal range is about
10 feet at our place.
There is nothing I enjoy more than watching Larry work
with timber. And if that timber is going to become a
spar, it is especially interesting to observe his careful
planning, layout then each step he takes to turn a square
timber into a handsomely tapered, rounded item. With
the summer regatta season approaching, Larry used his
spare time (once he'd finished building me a kitchen
with indoor/outdoor seating, to continue our upgrade
of Thelma. One of the important upgrades (especially
for me) was to replace the ugly, heavy and bent 16-foot
long whisker pole that had come with her. Spruce, our
preferred timber for spars, is not available here in
New Zealand, but good quality Douglas fir is. So Larry
carved out two lovely lengths to form a 3-inch diameter,
tapered, hollow spar that weighs just 11 pounds compared
to the old spars 20 pounds. For three days his shop
was filled with the aroma of freshly planed timber and
my garden got a good layer of mulch from the shavings.
What a treat this new spar has been during the past
month as we raced Thelma in winds ranging from 5 knots
to 50 knots
is Larry at work on the new spar.
One thing our cruising life has taught me is to be
flexible when it comes to food. That is fortunate because,
for the second year in a row, Craig and Kaye Compton
decided to take a break from the Seattle winter weather
and fly down to crew with us for the three-day Mahurangi/Auckland
Anniversary Day regatta weekend. Then we got a call
from Diana and Alvah Simon saying they were sailing
south from Whangerei to take part in the Mahurangi regatta
and do sea-trials on Roger Henry, their 34 foot steel
sloop, in preparation for their departure towards the
far north latitudes later this year. This definitely
gave us an excuse for a party. So invites went out and
I prepared to make a paella dinner for 12, while Larry
did the final bits to make sure Thelma was race ready.
The draw of this fun regatta, the fact that our home
base is in one of the most sheltered bays anywhere on
this coast, changed things a lot. Sailing friends began
anchoring in the bay three days before the planned event
so by the night of the proposed Paella dinner the crowd
had swelled to 24. With no shops on the island, I added
more sausages, more rice, more chicken bits and depleted
the lettuce supply in my tiny greens garden. The combination
of sailors, sunshine, a dozen bottles of wine and amazingly
active bird life in the trees, shrubs and water surrounding
our deck made the evening one to remember. From the
far north of Alaska, to very tip of South America, from
the tiniest Indian Ocean Islands to the delights of
Europe's inland waterways, sailing adventure stories
from every part of the world seemed to flow into the
Herb McCormack, former editor of Cruising World,
now editor at large, joined us for the Mahurangi
weeked. With all of his offshore and onshore racing
experience, this was a first for him - never sailed
on a gaffer before.
February disappeared in a flurry of racing, interesting
visitors and a bit of work. With all of us, including
Kay and Craig, more familiar with Thelma, she seemed
to love the light winds we had for three days of racing,
taking a first and two seconds. But it wasn't the racing
that mattered, it was the amazingly beautiful boats
and people involved in this classic sailing fleet. Then
there was the fun of having soon-to-be cruisers with
us for a week. Kay and Craig are preparing their boat
"Little Wings" a BCC 28 for its first foray
offshore. Sharing ideas with them, showing Craig how
to splice wire, it reminded us of the excitement of
our first offshore voyage.
85 classic yachts on the line, the racing was often
close - 47 foot Sorceress is crossing our bow and
yes, she is as close as she looks
A special aspect of having overseas visitors is the
excuse they give us to explore some of the things tourists
normally do. We've had a home here in New Zealand for
22 years, though we've probably only accumulated 7 or
8 actual years in residence. But we've never seemed
to take the time to see this country. With Craig and
Kay we finally got to one of the places "everyone"
loves - the Kauri Museum near Dargaville (an hour north
of where we keep our car on the mainland.) What a wonderful
museum - a place where you could spend two days, all
put together by the local people without government
funding. Magnificent examples of wooden furniture building,
a complete workshop manned by local folks who are rebuilding
some of the oldest engines I have seen
go on but suffice to say, if you visit New Zealand,
put it on your list.
put two reefs in Thelma's mainsail for the first
legs of the windiest racing. (credit Will Calver,
The second big regatta of the season for classic yachts
like Thelma had us in a quandary. Our normal crew had
been offered jobs in England. So we asked the race organizers
if they knew of any good crew. Turns out the Australian
Classic Yacht Association was sending over representatives,
all of whom wanted berths. We asked for a couple if
possible. Mark Chew and Sally-Ann Balharrie a handsome,
eager young couple from Melbourne signed on. They are
restoring an Alden 43 footer. Mark has raced several
Sydney-Hobarts. The two of them were perfect, fully
enthusiastic, but had never set a topsail. Boy did we
get a workout. The first race, a 14-mile harbour race,
started in 25 knots gusting 30 and ended in 40 knots
gusting 50. All of this on a 111 year old boat with
only 11 inches of freeboard. The second and third races
started in far lighter winds, so we got the topsail
up and pulling, but then had to get it down in a hurry
when we saw boats ahead of us getting knocked badly.
By the end of the third race, Marks sailing pants, which
had been new when we started, were shredded at the knees.
When we offered to supply him a new pair he said, "I
love them now, I earned every scuff the hard way."
Our favorite joke of the weekend:
Larry - "Mark, get some tension on the peak halyard."
Mark - "Which one is it"
Larry - "The blue and white line"
Mark - "Okay, that leaves me a choice of 8, which
one is it?"
Calver sailed in to New Zealand three years ago
from the UK with his wife and two children. With
just the inflatable from his cruiser he got into
business taking sailing photos. Here he is at work.
Now his photos have become part of a grand studio
exhibt he and his wife manage right at the Viaduct
next to the Auckland Maritime museum. Cruising onward
is still part of his long term plan.
On the last evening of the event, four very tired sailors
from Thelma joined 200 very tired sailors from the 50
other participating classics to share stories of too
much wind, too much sun and a grand regatta. Thelma
took a respectable 3rd equal place in class, proving
as we knew from the beginning that she is a light wind
flyer, but we have a lot to learn about getting her
around the course in heavy winds. Mark and Sally-Ann
have us eager to join them at the Melbourne Classics
some year soon and parted with the words, "Now
we know why they invented marconi rigs."
classic Auckland sailing scene on race day two.
Thelma in front of the Sky Tower
So now we have sailed Thelma back to our home base.
We are hard at work on the next edition of Storm Tactics
Handbook. And in only a few weeks we look forward to
seeing some of you at Jack London Square for the Sail
only boat show. Be grand to have Taleisin under our
feet again and no topsails to reef in a hurry.
Lin and Larry