Holiday greetings by Jeffrey McGough - of Marathon,
By the time we had enjoyed our third wooden boat festival
in the Pacific Northwest, we concluded it would be wise
to put Taleisin away for the winter and fly to our home
base in New Zealand for several reasons, one - I have
a writing project I want to do, two - there is affordable
editing available in New Zealand to update the four
videos we made in the 90's and put them on DVD, third,
after all of the traveling we'd been doing in the past
few years we both felt the need to slow down and be
in one spot for a while to take care of essentials (boring
things like dental work) - and fourth, there was the
call of a new siren.
Introducing Thelma, our new addition. She is racing
in Auckland in this photo, about ten years ago.
We balanced our options as to the best place to leave
Taleisin. Various friends urged us to chose places near
them, but after careful consideration we took the relatively
easy option - sailing her right back to Victoria harbour
to nestle up behind the floating school house in Hidden
Harbour because the folks there took such loving care
of her for us. Then we flew back to meet up with the
lady who had been trying to entice us, and get us into
some real trouble for a long time.
And the siren I mentioned? We have become the proud
owners of one of the oldest racing yachts in New Zealand,
37 foot Thelma, designed and built by C and W Bailey
109 years ago in 1895, only 30 miles from here in Auckland.
She is in remarkable condition for her age, with about
96 percent of her hull being original. She is built
of Kauri with copper rivets, triple skinned from keel
to bilge stringer, then double skinned from there. Through
the years her deck has become somewhat of a hodge-podge,
but her hull has been kept intact and watertight. Her
rig is the original one, restored about ten years ago
with pretty good life left in the sails. Her racing
record under several owners is darned good for a sliver
of a thing. She is only 7"6" beam and displaces
Thelma holds her own against much larger boats in
light winds, here she is at the Mahurangi regatta
three years ago.
Why did we do it? She needed us. We needed a good project,
an excuse to spend more time at this lovely spot we
have here. She was caught up in a divorce - sitting
unused with a few small problems that are right up Larry's
alley. We did a thorough survey, including hiring an
outside surveyor to go over every inch of the hull with
us. Plan is to do only essential work this month, get
her back in full sailing condition for the summer and
autumn sailing and racing season, get to know her well,
then gradually upgrade her to a state her original builders
would be proud to see.
She has already nestled nicely onto the pontoon
here at our home base. Fortunately we have room
for both her and Taleisin as the mooring just to
the left of the pontoon is ours also.
No this does not mean we have forgotten our lovely
Taleisin, we plan to return to Victoria BC in May or
June and spend the northern summer enjoying her graces.
If our program works out, we might just have nothing
but summers for several years - with two completely
different types of sailing to fill our days.
Life here has not only been about Thelma and work,
it has also included meeting up with lots of old friends
and new ones including an array of itinerate cruisers.
Beth Leonards and Evans Starzinger stopped by on board
Hawk for two evenings of cruising talk. They are bound
south to the southern parts of New Zealand and if weather
permits, even farther south to Stewart Island, David
and Annette who we met in the Marquesas, sailed in on
their Swan 47. They had dinner ready and waiting for
us when they arrived here in our cove. As there are
no true restaurants on the island, it is grand fun to
be invited out for dinner unexpectedly.
Larry is at the helm of the boat we used to race
in these waters, our cove is just beyond the small
island under the boom. Wonderful local cruising
here in the Hauraki Gulf.
Then there was Thanksgiving which we decided to celebrate
on the 27th as New Zealanders could not take two week
days off even if they had been born or raised in the
USA. Larry and I kept inviting any one who had American
connections. Several of them in turn called and asked
if they could invite along another American friend.
The crowd grew to 24 folks so I decided to get the biggest
turkey my butcher could find. (Turkeys are not a Kiwi
tradition and a big bird here is 12 pounds). The only
available bird over 15 pounds, was a 33 pounder. Never
do that again - I had to borrow a roasting pan from
the local children's camp to fit it. I had to call Larry
in every half hour to baste it as it as once stuffed,
it was too heavy for me to move. Then bringing it to
the table took two strong men. But it was a grand hit
and since 8 people stayed overnight and came for lunch
(a reprise of dinner) there was only enough turkey left
to make a soup. (For those who wonder - 9 hours at 325
degrees - white meat very good, dark stringy, skin too
tough to enjoy. Next time its two more docile, more
tender 15 pounders instead).
Thanksgiving down under - Larry gets ready to carve
the 33 pound turkey, yes those are candied sweet
potatoes in the foreground. I had to substitute
a local vegetable, called Kumara - worked wonderfully.
We wish you a fine festive season and may your New
Year be filled with good friends, health, good sailing
and the time to enjoy it all.
Lin and Larry