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December 2004


Holiday greetings by Jeffrey McGough - of Marathon, Florida

Dear Friends:

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 4.5 tons.

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




POSTCARDS

Scenes from our Island base - painted by Sue Watts - Whangaparoa, New Zealand









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