It was almost 40 years ago, Larry and I had been cruising for just three years when I felt compelled to write an article called, People, the Bonus of Cruising. I am reminded of that because the past few months has been spiced by an array of people we met only because we set off sailing.
I was invited to be a guest speaker at the 2016 Australian National Maritime Museum’s Wooden Boat Festival in Sydney. After the festival I spent a week extra in Queensland catching up with three cruisers we’d met in other parts of the world.
It has been almost 30 years since Andy and Sandy Peterson sailed in to anchor not far from us in Vava’u, Northern Tonga on board 53 foot Jakaranda. Larry and Andy had an instant rapport because both loved racing and sail making. Andy was a sailmaker from the great Lakes area who headed off racing with the owner of Jakaranda in the Caribbean. He and Sandy (a nurse by profession) ended up running charters on Jakaranda, then became owners of the boat and brought all Andy’s sail making gear on board. For the next two dozen years, they voyaged westward, earning their keep repairing sails, making canvas gear for other cruising boats. A few days after we met in Vava’u, Larry mentioned it was our wedding anniversary. Sandy arrived alongside Taleisin in her tender to announce we were to be their guests on board for a celebration. She handed me a notebook and said, “this is a list of all the videos we carry on board. Please choose one or two for this evening.” We dressed up for the occasion and glad we did. We arrived to see the cockpit of Jakaranda turned into a lovely lounging area with hors d ‘oeuvres laid out just for two. Andy was wearing charter captain gear, sparkling white shirt, black shorts, even proper boating shoes. Sandy was dressed elegantly, as she must have been when they had important charter guests on board. They pretended we were paying guests – it was like having our own five-star resort for an evening. Only after an amazing three course dinner, a movie, did they join us for drinks and dessert and loads of laughter. They treated me just as grandly during my two nights aboard this time, but with none of the formality as we laughed about the different anchorages we’ve shared around the South Pacific Islands, in New Zealand, and in Queensland Australia and caught up on the whereabouts and wanderings of mutual voyaging friends. I thought back about the three different places where Jakaranda rafted alongside while Andy made us new canvas covers. This floating sail and canvas loft arrangement made us a bit spoiled as we seemed to meet up just when one cover or the other gave up the ghost due to the extreme UV of the tropics. When we left the south Pacific to head for South Africa we resented actually having to go ashore and find a canvas shop when our next sail cover died. But Andy and Sandy never left the South Pacific, basing themselves near Brisbane and sallying forth from there to explore various island groups. Sandy often found work in nursing to top of their funds, but it was the sail making that kept them cruising. They have more recently settled in a low key marina near Scarborough and live aboard Jakaranda which still serves as an active sail and canvas repair loft.
We first met Jill Knight when she sailed in to Cape Town, South Africa on board an unlikely looking cruising boat. At 100 years old, New Zealand designed and built, beautiful 36-foot-long Cooee would stand out in any fleet. And so would her owner, a lithe looking golden haired Australian who was, when we met her 20 years ago a rare breed, a woman singlehanded long distance cruiser. And then there was her cat, a mischievous little creature that had not been ashore since she was a tiny kitten. I came to know and admire Jill when she invited me to crew for her during the Cape Town classic race. She shared the story of how she and her boyfriend both enjoyed cruising, but preferred very different types of boats. Peter preferring fast catamarans, Jill loving her gaff-rigged antique. Jill completed her, circumnavigation, meeting up with Peter in various places along the way. Soon after sailing from South Africa, Peter went back to work ashore to earn money for a new catamaran but by then Jill was completely attached to her floating lifestyle. She spent the next year’s gunk-holing along the east coast of Australia from the Great Barrier Reef to New South Wales while she wrote two enjoyable sailing-based thrillers, her first was published by Random House, her second, Port Dolorosa is available on Kindle. Highlight of my stay on board Cooee near Surfers Paradise in Queensland was a quiet evening spent lounging in the cockpit, eating prawns brought in by the fleet just that morning, chatting with folks who rowed by on the way out to their boats and watching the sunset while Jill’s latest cat Otto, played acrobat on Cooee’s boom.
Both of these visits reminded me of the special connection formed between fellow voyagers. Our conversations picked up right where we left them many years before. Instant camaraderie, instant rapport.
Another fun cruising connection is with the new owners of Taleisin. Eben and Annie have been in close contact as they get to know their boat, and prepare to take her on her first jaunts beyond her current home port of Auckland. As there are rules against sailing in and out of the marina, Eben has been busy designing a temporary bracket for an outboard motor, one which does not require he put any permanent holes in Taleisin. With the help of another of our cruising friends, Doug Marsden, he has come up with some good ideas using a custom made bracket which bolts across the boomkin. It has been fun vetting the drawings, adding some thoughts. (Take a look at some of the beautiful miniature carvings Doug creates right onboard the 32 foot ketch, Karie L. http://www.gallerypacific.co.nz/shop/product/41428/Doug-Marsden/He and his partner Nikki have lived aboard and cruised to the Pacific Islands while he worked.) And I am just about as excited as Eben is about the new suit of sails that have just been made for Taleisin. Can’t wait to get out and see how they set come summer. Eben has been posting amazingly candid stories about his adventures in getting to know Taleisin at www.taleisin.com.
And one of the most enduring cruising connections that have spiced the wintry weather here at Kawau Island, Keini, my Tongan cousin. We aren’t legally cousins, but when we first met Keini in Nuiatoputapo she was just seventeen and took us home to meet her family. During our stay there and later in Vava’u, we were adopted into the whole Hausia tribe. Now, many years later Keini who ran away with a New Zealand sailor and now lives in Auckland loves coming out to Kawau to spend time with us. You can read more about how we met in a few months when my new book Taleisin’s Tales –Sailing toward the Southern Cross (Click here to pre-order) is published. Keini has been helping check through the chapters on our Tongan adventures. And in a few days Keini, Larry and I will be running away from winter for a week in Tonga together with Larry to rendezvous with our Tongan family (who just happen to also be Keini’s cousins) and a chance for me to enjoy time with a few more of the very special people we met, only because we set of cruising.
P.S. I hope to meet up with some of you in September or October.
In September I will be at the Port Townsend for the Wooden Boat Festival where the day before the festival starts, I will be presenting a special seminar called – Writing, Blogging, Video, how to make it pay. You must register beforehand for this seminar –https://nwmaritime.org/lin-pardey-seminar/ . I’ll also be presenting one walk in seminar each day of the festival.
In October I’ll be at the US Sailboat show in Annapolis. Come along to my booth #M5 which is near the Gin Barge. Behan Gifford, one of the authors of Voyaging with Kids will be there with me, eager to encourage other parents to take their kids off sailing.