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March 2003

Dear Friends:

We are on board Taleisin in Puerto Montt, delighted to be reunited with our special floating home, but definitely slightly worn out from the merry-go-round that has been the past month of our lives. For most of the previous year we had been looking forward to two special regattas in New Zealand, the Mahurangi Regatta and the once every three year, International Classics. Jonquil, the lovely 1914 Nat Herreshoff designed Buzzards Bay 25 we maintain and race for her owner is such a kick to sail, the two regattas are unique and the competition keen but friendly. We worked to make sure Jonquil was ready for both, practiced for these regattas getting out sailing when ever we could and did all sorts of tweaking to her gaff-rig. Then Larry wanted to buy her a brand new nylon drifter as she has only a tiny headsail (100 square feet) and very large mainsail (450 square feet). I could not really feel comfortable with spending $450 US for a sail we would use only for six days of racing, and did not feel we could ask her owner to buy it. I lay awake one night, hating myself for saying no to anything Larry wanted. Then I had a brainstorm - from memory, the head stay angle on Jonquil was similar to the staysail stay angle on Taleisin. I have always wanted a spinnaker staysail to help us ghost along in very light beam reaching conditions. Sure enough when I suggested this to Larry, he got out the sail plan and the two boats could use the same 250 square foot nylon sail.


We hated to say good bye to our Kawau cottage, just when the New Zealand weather was at its best, but hurricane seasons wait for no sailor.

For two days before the Mahurangi regatta it blew 25 to 35 knots from the south. The Mahurangi River is 12 miles south of our New Zealand base. So we waited both down at mouth with the thought of missing out. Jonquil, though 32 feet on deck, is not a sea boat. She has an old fashioned open non-self-draining cockpit, 3000 pounds of lead on the bottom and if knocked down will sink like a stone. On the morning of the regatta, we got up a 0600 and the forecast was even worse - 30 gusting to 45. But we decided to put three reefs in her oversized mainsail then poke our noses outside our cove, assuring ourselves we could just run back home if we had to. Once outside we found the sailing extremely brisk but manageable. Then we saw a squall bearing down on us. Decided to get lots of room between us and two islands to leeward then heave to through the first blasts of wind. Larry then put a reef in the little jib and we got underway in gusts to 40 knots. He asked me why I seemed a bit tense "you've sailed in a lot more wind than this," he commented. "Yes, but this is someone else's boat, there is only one nikopress fitting (Talerit) holding up this whole rig and if we heel to far she can fill with water and sink." He laughed then suggested I keep my hand on the mainsheet. Good thing because we did get one extra gust on the beam that laid her over until green water came over the cockpit coamings. Had to pump for about five minutes but we did make it to the Mahurangi River and in spite of not getting to the race start in time to register for the regatta, we went for the line. Committee yelled out "Hugh Gladwell (a good friend and commodore of the Mahurangi Cruising club) saw you coming and paid your entry fee. We shook out one reef and joined the fleet of fifty others who raced in spite of gale force winds and gusts that we all later learned were up to 50 knots. Our hard work and my blistered hands were rewarded when Larry helmed us in to take our class and the Herreshoff trophy too. Grand barbeque ashore that evening. Next day the winds dropped, the sun came out and we had a wonderful sail home, with me feeling far more confident sailing what is essentially an open boat.

But it is grand to be back on board our floating home. Now I have everything back on board, the forward cabin feels cozy and inviting.

Then we set to work on the last project at Mickey Mouse Marine, fixing a favourite clients toe rails, a job that at first looked like two days work, but unfortunately turned into 9 days of 12 hours each due to unforeseen underlying problems. This really put a rush into our lives as not only did we have to get Jonquil ready for the really big regatta but also pack for our return to Chile only two days after that five day event.

We actually got everything done and the boat packed and ready to go with half a day spare. We used that to sail her down to Auckland and lucked out as the highly changeable New Zealand weather gave us a beam reach over smooth seas. The five day regatta was one to remember, light wind sailing which Jonquil loves, grand competition with some of the most beautiful classic boats in the world among the fleet of 84, and a fine crew to boot. The Neil Bekin, the boyfriend of Jonquils owner and Sybil Bloomfield, her 18 year old daughter joined us as we raced from Auckland back to our island the first day, then did two days of racing in the area we know best, with barbeques each night on the island, then a magic race back to Auckland and a fifth race in Auckland on the final day. The new red nylon drifter worked a treat and became known as the Red Baron among the fleet as it definitely stood out against the beautiful blue skies we enjoyed. Best part of it all was showing the New Zealanders what a magician Nat Herreshoff was. Jonquil literally sailed past top local boats 20 feet longer in winds of 5 to 8 knots. Better yet, we got into five days of close competition with several smaller boats and had the fun of crossing tacks, jesting with the other crews and laughing about it all at the end of each day of racing. We were delighted to get second in our class of 45 boats at the awards ceremony. Then a month later we received an email saying, "Unfortunately in the rush to figure results so awards could be presented the same evening as the last race, there were errors made. We have had to revise the final standings, Jonquil placed first overall."


I wish the main cabin looked as organized as this all the time.


In a well orchestrated last two days in New Zealand, we left Jonquil with her owner in Auckland, caught a late water taxi back to our home on the island (complete with a car load full of gear we'd carried with us on the regatta) then packed up and closed the boatyard including pulling our pontoon ashore, relaunching the barge we had rebuilt during all this rush, moving everything into storage sheds and packing 180 kilos of luggage and getting to the mainland in time to meet with the editor of Cruising World in Auckland to discuss the seminars we will be giving in the US in January of 2004. By the time we got on the plane we were wiped out and I don't remember much of the flight back as I slept through it all.

Taleisin had been wonderfully cared for; Puerto Montt is as charming as we remembered. But we had removed everything from inside the boat and faced a week of getting it all back on board. Due to time lag etc, slept most of the first two days after our return. Now ten days later Taleisin is back to being a fully found and outfitted home, we have scrubbed every inch of her interior, Larry has built a new wind vane frame and removed her lower spreaders to fix some minor damage caused by the wear and tear of sailing around Cape Horn. If all goes well we should be ready to sail in about ten days. That coincides with neap tides at the Canal Chacao, the final barrier between us and the Pacific, a five mile pass with tides that can run at up to 9 knots.

The tide range here in Puerto Montt is up to 21 feet, at Ancud just though the pass the range is only 5 feet. Will be an interesting gamut to run. Both of us are ready and eager to be at sea so we can catch up with ourselves. Would love to spend six months just exploring Chile, but also want to sail north this year and miss the hurricane seasons along our route. So we might not be updating this web letter as often over the next few months, as there may not be internet connections at some of the islands we'll be visiting. We will however, telephone and ask our webmaster to include updates as to our locations when possible.


This photo was shot in the Chesapeake Bay by Stark Jett. Hope we can have reaching like this when we get underway.

Meanwhile, we have been asked to present some seminars and slide shows in Victoria and Vancouver in October and also Atlantic City and Chicago in January. Are going to be at the Port Townsend Woodenboat Festivals, with or without Taleisin, in September. We will keep you posted as to exact dates and details as soon as we can. (Here we go, breaking our cardinal rule about avoiding fixed dates as we cruise, now we've turned our voyage north into a race so we can have Taleisin with us at the festival.)

Wish us fair winds; we'll need them as we have lots of miles we want to cover.

Sincerely,
Lin and Larry on board Taleisin at Puerto Montt


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