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Sailing is a passion for Dad and I. Unfortunately, for most of our lives we have not been able to sail very much, having lived in the Midwest of the US, and having to study and work. And, since coming to live on the Gold Coast where there are not good cruising waters for keel boats, I have not sailed much until recent times, when I have been able to get away to good sailing grounds. I am now back into it, with a re -weighting of my leisure time to less diving, and more sailing. I am currently working on Project “Here Nui” a sailing marine research vessel for trips in my pre-retirement and retirement years. Why “Here Nui”? Well, a very dear friend, a Queen of the Royal Family of the Wallis Islands suggested it, as an encompassing term meaning “Love of the Sea” in the broadest sense. Please enjoy these images and comment about yachts we have seen, enjoyed, or would have liked to own over the years. Owing a yacht is never a sensible financial proposition, but if it gives you pleasure, health, happiness and the chance to fulfill your dreams, then you must do it, and the sooner the better.
On a trip back to New Zealand when a lad, I thought sailing P class yachts was the best thing ever. This doughty unsinkable sail-training boat some 8 ft long trained many a generation of Kiwi yachtsmen. Here is a picture of me at about 12 years sailing a P class. Now, it has been replaced by the Optimist Class, which is raced by my nephews.
We went off to America before I could get a P class…I was nine at the time, and remember Dad saying that I could have a P class once I learned how to swim–that I did early on. When I returned to New Zealand some 8 years later I got back seriously into sailing with first a Paper Tiger catamaran, designed by Ron Given, and built of plywood in chine construction. I was on the water for $650 which was all I had in those days. It was beautifully built with varnished decks, and white hulls, and laminated rudder stocks. I sailed that boat all over the Auckland Harbour. On one winter’s day jibed about and tipped it over off Rangitoto and had to rescued by a kind bloke in a launch. The 20 ft mast got stuck in the sea bottom and I could not right it myself. We were able to tow the boat back upright, and surprisingly it did not break, despite doing a few rolls behind the launch. On one occasion I sailed with my friend Rodney Scott, who built his own Hartley Trailer sailor, and later left Medical School to sail to Tonga, so strong was the lure for adventure on the high seas. From there I moved into a new design , the Windrush 14. I had interested my friend Robert Gunn in the new Windrush 12, and we both got 14s, an Australian design that was being built in Panmure. This cat was designed for the surf beaches of Western Australia. With asymmetrical hulls, no centreboards, and shallow rudders it was a go boat. My brother Allan and I would regularly tack up Auckland harbour into the standing waves of the tide race, on a weekend afternoon when the southwesterly wind piped up. His job was to stack out, and when she dived in, release the jib. I never managed to cartwheel that fine craft, but did on one occasion tip her over in the surf at the Mount, by Tauranga, where I worked for a year. By then the dive bug had taken over, and as I could sail with Dad on Beyond II, I sold the Windrush 14 and bought a Fyran 14 tinnie with an Evinrude 35 hp outboard.
I completed my scuba diving training in 1972 and was certified by the New Zealand Underwater Association (NZUA). This was before the PADIs and NAUIs and “whathaveyous” got in and commercialized dive certification. For the latter part of my time at Medical School spare weekends were spent diving around the New Zealand coastline, with the main interest being food, namely scallops, crays, and fish. Once I started to dive at the Poor Knights Islands, though, I was hooked on the beauty of the underwater world, and it was a short plunge into underwater photography. In future, I will post some images of diving at the Poor Knights in the seventies and eighties, but now will return to the sailing story.
During the early 1950s he sailed Mullet Boats in Auckland, and I have included some images of these. I do not know the names of these boats, and would appreciate any comments from readers.
Mum and Dad were married in 1955, and around this time he owned a cutter, the “Haerere”. Dad really like the “Haerere”; it was built for offshore trips. Apparently there were pegs to set the tiller, and she would self steer with this arrangement. He sold her to a couple who cruised her for many years. I recall walking with Mum at Westhaven marina around the time of Dad’s funeral in 1993, and have a photo of her next to the “Haerere”. My own intuition suggests that the “Haerere” is where I came into existence!
As a lad you pick up on things from your parents. A Dr. Crick of Howick,had a lovely sloop about 35 ft moored off Bucklands Beach, possibly an Alan Buchanan or Arthur Robb design. In those days their dreamboat was the “Hinemoa” and I would appreciate a picture of any reader knows of this yacht. I think Dad did make an offer for the yacht but for some reason the deal did not come together. In the early 1960s we met Mr. Wilf Buckland of Wellington, who built a 40 ft motorsailer the “Marco Polo” possibly an Athol Burns design, designed for the North Sea. The thinking was that you needed such a sturdy yacht to handle the rough waters between Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds, at the northern part of New Zealand’s South Island. I recall Wilf had a beautiful model of this yacht at his home. Dad, being something of an entrepreneur even considered importing the yacht to America when we lived there, and I think the price was $20,000. Later during the 80s, “Marco Polo” re surfaced in Auckland, where I recall it sold for the princely sum of $55,000, a lot of money it seemed at the time. We did not do much sailing in the 9 years we lived in Chicago; then in the late sixties we moved to the Bay Area of San Francisco.
You absorb your “old Man’s” dreams as a lad, walking around marinas looking at yachts with your Dad. We did this in lots of places. We frequented the Coyote Point Marina in San Mateo, with two favourite yachts, both Cheoy Lee, the Alden Offshore 50 and the Rhodes Reliant 40. I have read subsequently that the builder was not fair with Mr. Rhodes, who by all accounts was a great gentleman, and is one of my favourite yacht designers. I got to know the marinas at Redwood City, St. Francis Yacht Club, and in Sausalito. Dad crewed on a Cal 25 and raced in the Bay; I will never understand why he never got a boat for the family and we could have all gone sailing. When I was sixteen, Dad and I joined a few chaps on a yacht delivery. Dad had helped race the yacht from San Fran to Santa Barbara. After flying down to Santa Barbara we helped to crew this 40 ft. sloop back to San Francisco. We I think were off course despite the RDF in the fog, and went right out to sea in the shipping lanes. I got very sea sick and literally spewed my guts out for 36 hours, but was finally coming right as we passed under the Golden Gate bridge in the San Francisco mist. Character building stuff.
The “Yellowbird” was Dad’s dreamboat. A Columbia 50, this was his ultimate yacht, and I include photographs. A Bill Tripp design, it was one of the early production yachts to have a skeg rudder and cut away keel, and reputedly sailed like a witch. Some years later it arrived in Auckland, after a Pacific Cruise, and we revisited her acquaintance. I may have visited in about 1980 with Steve and Linda Dashew in Port Vila, on their Columbia 50. More recently I visited aboard a Dashew design, 60 ft oceangoing powerboat when at Great Barrier Island.
We quite liked the 40 ft Newporter design, as well as the Pearson 44, an Alden design. Another great cruising boat of the time was the Cal Cruising 46; and some photos are shown of Mum and Dad sailing with friends off Honolulu. Also, I will post a photo of the “Criterion” a CC 46 owned by friends Art and Marianne Stiffel; we sailed on the Bay in Miami. I was awestruck when Art offered to loan me the yacht, quite an honor for a 30 year old. This is a Bill Lapworth design, and had many good features as a cruising yacht. About two years ago I was at Uepi, Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands and met an elderly couple cruising a 58 ft Lapworth motorsailer, with definite similarity in lines to the 46.
Once back in Auckland in about 1971, we started to look for a yacht. Here is a photo of two dream yachts, side by side: A Rhodes motorsailer built of steel, named Val Kay, that sadly later saw service in the drug trade; and next door the “Kochab II”, owned by Dr. Franklin-Evans, of England. The good Doctor’s first ocean cruising yacht was an Arthur Robb design, “Kochab”. We had visited with the American couple on Kochab (I) in Tahiti in the late sixties, and this yacht is written up by Arthur Beiser, see his two books, titled “The Proper Yacht”. I have subsequently tracked down some information, and believe the “Kochab II” was originally the “Starfire of Kent” an Alan Buchanan design (actually it looks very similar to Rhodes’ “Carina”), and this magnificent design is shown in Beiser’s books. “Kochab II” was owned by an Auckland car dealer, and I saw it sailing once after a refurbishment; not only did she look magnificent, the female crew aboard were bare breasted, and this created an impression on me. Later, however, the yacht fell into disrepair and the hull was streaked with rust from the fastenings. There is a website with information on Alan Buchanan designs; apparently one in several frames was stainless steel, and this may have contributed to the corrosion.
In our price range was the Orams-built Pacific 38 in fibreglass, and a 40 ft sloop “Beyond II”, built of the best New Zealand Kauri Pine, carvel planked, with splines. There is no doubt which construction Dad preferred, but I think it also came down to price in the end (Pac 38 at $38,000 and “Beyond II” for $32,000), as by this time in the seventies rampant inflation had taken hold, and purchasing power of life-long savings was diminishing rapidly, especially in our case. I will write a separate history of our “Beyond II”,and will enlist the assistance of my brother with compilation of images. I am sure that Dad would have like to buy a Salthouse built Rhodes design, “Windrose”, a centreboard yawl of 53 ft, but this was out of his price range. I have researched Rhodes designs but do not find her listed, therefore she must have been based on another of his classic designs. On the subject of Rhodes designs I recall seeing a copy of the “Thunderhead” built in metal in the 80’s, and this design is written up by Arthur Beiser. This yacht is currently back on the market in Auckland. Dad had great regard for the Salthouse brothers, and was friendly with Bob; they later did some work on our boat. Sadly, they no longer build yachts.
After returning from an elective in Vanuatu in 1979, I went off to work in Tauranga. Needless to say, my Windrush 14 came with me, and gave much pleasure sailing around Tauranga Harbour, in the surf at the Mount, or over on Lake Okataina in the Rotorua Lakes area. There, I also crewed on a Davidson 31 design, with a nice guy named Lawrie; we raced it around; my scuba diving came in handy as I could both scrub off the boat and get scallops for the captain. Dave Pemberton (Pembo) and I sailed on his Dad’s Wright 36, out to Mayor Island and did a bit of diving also. The big boat in Tauranga at the time was the “Chance” with monel fastenings–can’t remember the design; and coming along were some Tauranga-built boats like the “Riada”. I recall seeing a little yacht, a Vancouver 26, and thinking that would do me; however, I stuck to the career path. Good thing I couldn’t afford the $14,000 price tag.
The great yachts of that era raced in the Admiral’s Cup; classics like the Sparkman and Stephens design, “Inca”.
After passing through the IOR phase of small pinched sterns and tumble home sides, racing yacht design was about to be turned on its ear by Bruce Farr; I crewed on one of the early 37s, in about 1980, a very fast boat that actually surfed off the wind. From humble origins in his mother’s house in Devonport, Bruce Farr through his own ability and acumen has done very well, and importantly is highly regarded and respected. I am going on a charter after this Christmas in a Bruce Farr design, Beneteau 57. There are two drawbacks to this other fine yacht, its draught of about 9 ft 6 inches; and balsa cored decks.
When I finished my Fellowship in Miami in 1985, I chartered a yacht in the British Virgin Islands, on a real budget charter. The fellow I hired off wanted only to give me about six foot of rusty chain for the anchor; having been well taught by Dad, I knew better. We had a great week, and even sailed through the Camenoe Passage, up to Virgin Gorda, and stooged around the lovely islands of Peter and Salt. Rum punches with vegetable samozas on the beach at Cane Garden Bay were “de rigueur”. We even went into the marina in Road town and must have broken the law many times sailing in and out of American and British territory without customs and immigration clearance.
In 1989 I left Auckland to go into practice on Australia’s Gold Coast. This is not really the place for cruising yachtsmen; but I will always remember my last sail with Mum was on the “Hammer of Queensland”; where, despite having terminal cancer, she braved it out sitting up in the cockpit as we charged along in this Maxi yacht. Mum impressed all with her advice to the professional Captain on sail trim!
I crewed a bit on local yachts, and with my partner in the Ophthalmology practice. He was later to build a tri-maran, a high speed affair, with retractable floats for trailering.
By this time, my brother had taken over “Beyond II”, and with a crew in 1993 had sailed her down the East Coast of NZ, into Cook Strait, where they got laid on their beam ends in rough seas, then across to her new home at Waikawa Bay, near Picton. Each time I went over to Marlborough we took her out for a sail, and my brother raced her in the Tuesday night twilight series, doing quite well. Ultimately “Beyond II” was sold; she still sails the waters of the Marlborough Sounds, has now been painted white, and sports a roller furling headsail. In a unique coincidence both the “Haerere” and “Beyond II” were painted powder blue. I have been tempted to buy her back for restoration.
My next serious foray into sailing was a charter of a 50 ft yacht with Captain and Chef in the Whitsundays, where a pleasant week was enjoyed by all. I do not recall the gentleman’s last name, but Cap’n Dave was great, a man of sober habits, and well experienced in sailing. My first exposure to these waters, they are the loveliest cruising grounds I have seen, and I really do not know why people race up to the Pacific Islands to find that elusive “something better”. Admittedly our yacht, a Bavaria 50, was something of a “sailing Winnebago” with wide bodied hull, fin keel, and spade rudder. Still, there is a lot to be said for such yachts in charter work, and in sheltered waters. Many people today who sail, are brought up with visions of calm waters in a tropical paradise, and a whole generation of light weight yachts including multi hulls are built with these illusions in mind.
I decided during 2012 that I should make plans for my next boat, and after some research located the Lavranos design, “Spontaneous” in Auckland. Please see my blog, “Cruise to the Barrier Isles” for an account of this excellent trip. Sailing-wise, the yacht’s performance is somewhat cranky, which mars a flawless execution in alloy. And, now in 2012 I have completed another cruise this time on a Jeanneau 53, back in the Whitsundays. Please see, “Once in a Blue Moon.” Next weekend I plan to board the high latitude charter yacht, a schooner, “Blizzard” in Melbourne for a four day and night offshore trip eastward to “The Prom” on the southwest coast of Victoria, so please be ready for a new story of further sailing adventures.