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January 2005
What if the spell of a place falls upon a youthful heart, and the bright horizon calls!
Many a thing will keep till the world's work is done, and youth is only a memory.
When the old enchanter came to my door, laden with dreams, I reached out with both hands.
For I knew he would not be lured with the gold that I might later offer, when age had come upon me.

Richard J. Mac Cullaugh, Viking's Wake

Here is Thelma, on the tidal grid next to our boatshed, waiting to be surveyed and hoping we will adopt her.

Dear Friends:

The past month, though spent on shore, has reminded us strongly of one of the most frustrating and difficult aspects of voyaging - being harbor bound. I remember a dozen times during our voyaging lives when we were eager to sail toward a new destination, the boat outfitted, charts on board, food lockers bursting at the seams, but the weather just wouldn't cooperate. It happened to us in Fremantle, Australia when we wanted to set sail for Africa. Frontal system after frontal system delayed us for three weeks. Each day we'd wake up and hope the weather forecast of the night before had changed - but it hadn't. Winter was drawing closer which meant even more gales would form - we'd partied and said our farewells and wanted to get on with it all - but we couldn't. In the south of England it was similar, fog banks keeping us in port day after day - not a book we hadn't read left on board, days of playing cards to waste away the time. We know of cruising couples who have been through all sorts of marriage-stretching situations - only to find being harbor bound for three or four weeks was one they couldn't weather. Like sailors waiting for fair weather to head out on a new voyage, we have had to find other projects to do as we waited for dry conditions so Larry could put on the two small planks required to repair damage to Thelma caused by collisions in her past. It rained or blew gales or storms for 22 days in December, almost a record wet month out here at our island home base.

Now that the weather has broken with five straight dry sunny days in a row, Thelma is starting to look just grand. And with luck, by the time you are reading this we will be out sailing her for the best fun regattas of the local summer, the Mahurangi Regatta, where usually almost 100 classic yachts turn up, and the Anniversary day Regatta where over 1000 yachts all race from 8 starting points to converge on the city for a big night out - fire works and all.

It was hard not to fall in love with such a sweet little lady.

Being responsible for a 109-year-old boat that is an irreplaceable part of New Zealand heritage is both special and at times daunting. Several New Zealand sailors have taken time to come over and encourage us, and one wrote a lovely email after seeing Thelma nestled onto the tidal grid next to our shop, covered in tools and wood shavings:

Dear Thelma
Congratulations on being so clever and finding your own private boat builder to take care of you.
           Chad Thompson

Our holidays were busy, with friends and work coming into conflict because of the fact that summer vacations and Christmas holidays all happen at the same time down here. That means when one of our best customers and favorite friends broke his boom a few weeks ago, it would have ruined his holidays if he couldn't use his boat. So most of Christmas week was taken over by repairs to this spar ( 26 foot long, 6 inch diameter and weighing over 200 pounds). As Douglas fir, or Oregon Pine as they call it down here, is not available off the shelf. We had to use recycled timber, which meant laminate up the timber in six separate steps, then reshape it all to blend in. When you consider our workshop is only 33 feet by 12 feet and all work had to be done inside due to weather, you can imagine that long boom created a traffic hazard. But Peters boom is now back on Sorceress, and Thelma is getting full attention from Larry and half attention from me. I am enjoying refinishing her hatches, upgrading the noise reducing insulation in her tiny engine room so we don't resent having it there, and doing an awful lot of hunting for bits and pieces to keep the upgrade going smoothly.

So soon she settled in to become part of our fleet - in the foreground is Jay Dee (no we did not name it after the whiskey, that was its name when we acquired it as a thirty year old with an ugly old outboard on it. We use Jay Dee for moving boats around and for transport to the mainland. On the floating dock is the collection of dinghies that seem to have moved in on us, Our Fatty Knees, Cheeky cubed (the third one we own), plus Rocky, the little red work skiff and Thelma's tender, with the blue stripe.

Now the holidays are over my mornings are spent working on magazine articles and getting ready for the video shooting we will be doing late this month for the new DVD project. What about the holiday celebrations? Full of friends, with Xmas eve spent in the Bay of Islands with Doug and Helen Schmuck. Doug is an old friend from Newport Beach, California who, 25 years ago, helped get us a bargain on lead for Taleisin's ballast keel. Then he helped us melt down the lead and pour it. He sailed his Bristol Channel cutter down here to New Zealand to see our home base back in 1987, three weeks later he met Helen at our New Years Eve party and now he owns and runs Doug's Opua Boatyard next to the Customs dock and helps cruisers who sail in from overseas. On our way home from Opua, we stopped in Whangarei to rendezvous with Doug and Jackie Truscott - some of Larry's oldest sailing friends from Vancouver - I mean like from when he was 17 or 18. Jackie's sister lives in Whangarei. Doug and Jackie have cruised all over the Pacific and now live in the Gulf islands of Canada. He is a boat builder - so Larry had a good fill of boat building talk.


John Gorter owned Thelma for 18 years and not only raced her a lot but took his wife and three children cruising on her for a month each year. Got to be a bit of a pinch as his children reached full size as she is quite small inside.

New Years Eve was lovely, clear weather, almost everyone in the arm of the cove where we live, exchanged visits as we all slowly made our way to John Pryor's house which had been designated "Barbeque Central". At midnight about 40 people ranging from 18 to 75 raised a toast, then it was proposed we have a dinghy regatta the next day - with everyone sailing any kind of boat they could float. Race day brought more wind than bargained for and of the 15 starters 4 did spectacular capsizes. But all, including first me, then Larry in our Fatty Knees 8, were glad we'd shaken off the cobwebs and gone out for a sail.


And Larry's gift to me last year, outrageous until you learn it is 30 years old. Choose it because it has been stored inside all its life and looks about two years old. Makes a grand cargo machine for our once a month trips to the big smoke. Goldie waits under a canvas cover at the parking lot on the mainland to be used about once every two weeks. Real bit of luxury - makes me feel like Janis Joplin when I drive it.

I got an email from one of the folks who read these newsletters asking if I could send him a copy of the poem that he remembered from reading our first book, Cruising in Seraffyn. He said it had influenced him and his wife and changed their lives. It is the quote I have at the top of this letter. We are enjoying this time away from Taleisin, enjoying being in one place for more than a month or two at a time because it gives us a chance to look back and see that this quote also directed our lives on a very rewarding path.

I get a kick out of these Pukeko, These birds are common along the edges of farm fields - with their bright colors and large size (like a nice sized chicken) they add to the beauty of the landscape here.

We hope the year ahead is a good one for you, full of pleasures and creativity so when, some day, you find yourself harbor bound for one reason or the other, you can look back on the memories you create, to carry you through the restless hours.

Sincerely,
Lin and Larry




POSTCARDS

Warkworth, the nearest town, eight miles from where we leave Goldie, is very much part of our lives as there are no shops on this island.

The Kawakawa public toilets were designed by a world famous Austrian artist, Friedrich Hundertwasser, and built by him and the local school children, using recyclable materials, plus pottery and tiles the children made as school projects. It was a gift to the town he adopted. Now the Hundertwasser loos have become a tourist attraction on their own right - in the otherwise rather plain village just 20 miles south of Opua in the Bay of Islands.














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