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October 2002

Dear Friends:

"New Zealand for the winter? You must be crazy," a lot of our friends said. "Why didn't you sail north to the tropics and avoid the cold and rain?" We had our reasons and now feel we couldn't have made a better choice.

It had been almost ten years since we spent a winter at our cottage on a tiny island 30 miles north of Auckland. We wanted to know what it would be like to settle here when we feel sated with voyaging (don't want to say retire as not sure we know how to do that), wanted to be around when our friends would mostly be in town instead of off sailing as happens during summer holiday time, wanted to recoup our cruising funds by taking in some boat repair work at Mickey Mouse marine, and finally needed to find a good editor and editing suite for our video project. We figured that once Americas Cup racing began, the international media would snap up all the best help.


Yes we know, if they find out we will have to change our name. But this is where Larry spends most of his working time.

Now winter is almost over. We enjoyed the weather, even though many said it was a harsh winter. It did rain three or four days every week, and the cold meant we had to have our wood burner on most days, but that gave us good reason to work inside. It also made us take a good look at the kind of boat repairs we could do out of our little shop (it is 12 feet wide and 33 feet long and lies right next to two tidal grids on our jetty). We definitely cannot depend on doing paint and varnish work, nor major deck repairs during winter. So we will specialize in wooden boat repairs of the type other yards don't want, the small detail jobs such as fitting new cabinets, fixing broken woodwork, sprucing up rigging, the type of work that tends to make boat owners smile and doesn't build up budget breaking bills.

Only 70 people live on this island full time, but another 100 or so come to their weekend houses all year round. Decided to watch the polling results for the recent election together so had a P party. Had to dress as something that started with a P. Here is "Pretty in Pink" and Pamela Anderson.

The Mahurangi Cruising Club, a group of classic boat sailors, tend to find excuses to sail out and anchor off our cottage, then come in for shared meals and pool playing. Last week we had a fine addition to the group. Thies and Kiki Matheson sailed in on Wanderer III, (originally built for Eric and Susan Hiscock and sailed twice around the world). Thies and Kiki have owned, upgraded and sailed Wanderer for 20 years, including a voyage to South Georgia Island where they were married in the seaman's chapel by the famous Tim and Pauline Carr, themselves small boat voyagers and now curators of the worlds most isolated Whaling museum. (To see a wondrous book, look up Antarctic oasis by the Carr's, published by W.W. Norton.) After a grand dinner together with crews from all the boats on Saturday night, we woke to find one of those winter days that make us love this place, crisp, bright as a new penny, so calm you could see the reflection of every boat in the cove and hated to disturb the water at all. We rowed out in Cheeky 3 (sister to Cheeky 2 the Fatty Knees 8 footer we use on Taleisin) and had coffee on three different truly classic yachts, soaking in the sun, the friendship and feeling sure that we could enjoy spending a lot more time out here.

Priscilla of the Desert definitely stole the show


As you may have noticed, we have tried to avoid any commercial content on these pages provided to us by our book distributor, Paradise Cay Publication. The following is, in many ways a commercial. But it is also what we have been doing, so thought we should include it.

The project that has really made the winter fly is one we started almost ten years ago, making a video to be a companion to our Storm Tactics Handbook. Ever since we learned about video cameras in Australia, we have been trying to find a way to demonstrate getting boats to balance and lay hove to in true storm conditions. Back in 1994 when we were in Gordon's Bay, South Africa back in 1994, we got some friends to take their Lavarnis 37 (Sparkman and Stephens style, 1980's fin and skeg sloop) to go out and heave to with and without a para-anchor in 35 to 40 knots of wind. I took video shots from the local rescue boat (we paid to fill their fuel tanks which they really appreciated as they did not have money to keep the boat running otherwise.) When we set sail to head north, we found it was difficult to get shots in rough weather because video cameras are really sensitive to moisture, storms usually happen at night or when we didn't have enough sunshine to keep our cameras charged or, we didn't have any sustained storms as we voyaged up to Norway and across the Atlantic twice. We can think of dozens of reasons it didn't happen before. Then, just as we were setting sail from Mar del Plata bound for Cape Horn, Larry said, let's buy a new Hi8 camera and try to get some photos to add to those we took before and put together a seminar on video, with any shots we took as illustrations.

Two otherwise rather staid types dressed as Playboy Bunny and Pavarotti

We did get stormy weather as we voyaged south through the roaring 40's and screaming 50's, most of it at night of course. But we got enough footage to show folks extra tips on heaving to and using storm sail and felt we could present a program that was concise and easy to watch if we found a good film editor to help us. As soon as we mentioned we were looking for an editor who understood sailing and could work with video amateurs and help keep the costs within our budget on this self-financed project, Ross Blackman, head of Team New Zealand, put us in touch with Chris Gurr, a real pro who does all the work for the team. We have become Chris pet project as he is a keen sailor himself and seems to find this whole thing interesting. We have sat beside him in the studio for forty hours so far, watching in amazement as his Avid editing suite displays dozens of video clips at the same time and he cuts and pins and stitches it all together. If all goes well, we should have the program finished by November lst. Our distributor convinced us to put the same program on DVD for sailors who have laptop computers on their boat. All of this has been a tremendous learning experience for us.

Yours truly, we said we were dressed as a Playboy and Party Girl, others used less flattering names.


Our island has no shops, no roads and to go out for a meal (other than at another friend's home) we have to take a ferry across 6 miles of sometimes turbulent water. So being in town for three or four days, every second week has been a real fun part of the project. We stay at a sailing friends home, right in downtown Auckland, indulge in first run films, live entertainment, fine eating and city friends. By the time our Editor has to take a break to work on his regular projects, we are glad to get back to the quiet of our road-less, car-less island where one of the many projects we have on our list includes building a new wind vane frame for Taleisin. Yes, we do miss her but know she is being well cared for by a paid hand in Puerto Montt.


And here is the wonderful toy we use while we are here in New Zealand, Jonquil, a Nat Herreshoff designed Buzzards Bay 25. We maintain and race her for the owner who joins us for major regattas. Jonquil is 32 feet long, a center boarder, and vastly over-canvassed. We have added two more reefs to the mainsail so we can enjoy day sailing more between regattas.

Sincerely,
Lin and Larry from Kawau Island, New Zealand






 

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