1999 New Zealand - published newpaper story PDF Print E-mail
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1999 New Zealand - published newpaper story
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The following is an article that I wrote for the Newcastle Herald at their request.

It appeared in the Weekend Magazine on the Saturday 13NOV99 together with 5 of my photographs. The article that appeared in the paper was much edited. They had cut it down to about a quarter of its size. I have included it as submitted. I have also added some at the end. It is the extra stuff that the article didn't need to address.
Happy reading!

Looking back the last week has become just a blur. The plan had been to take the Ivan's yacht Gadjet to Auckland and leave it there for him as a base to watch the Americas Cup. I would only stay a few days then fly home. Charley was going to be a tourist for a week or two.

The idea that we might end up calling for help, losing the boat and having to be rescued was not even considered. We had all the correct safety gear, of course. A 6 man life raft, jackets, two Epirbs and harnesses, but we only had it because we were supposed to have it. We weren't going to really need it. All that stuff is for other people.

Finally after a few delays, we were away. We didn't get away as cleanly as we would have liked, but New Zealand lay just over the horizon, about 1000 nm and ten days. I had said goodbye to the boys several times over the last few days and each time the departure day had been put back. This time the hug and kisses were for real. We threw off the ropes and motored our through Newcastle Harbour. Charley tidied up the ropes off the deck and I tied the anchor down securely. We wouldn't be needing it again.

There was a marina berth in Auckland waiting for us. We were well on our way past Nobby's when too late I remembered that Sandra, Josh and Rhys were going to wave to me from Horseshoe Beach. I looked back and it was too far to tell if they were there or not. Oh well, nothing to be done about it now. It would be dark in about an hour and I wanted to have everything well organised for our first night. I didn't want to be doing to much until I had got my sea legs.

The full moon rose just on sunset and while Charley had one of his precious cans of black beer for happy hour, Ivan used up the last of his phone battery sending cute messages to his wife Sibylle. The full moon was going to make the first night very pleasant. The wind was light and so we motor sailed, just so we could be well out of sight of the coast by morning. The second night out we dodged thunder and lightning storms all evening.

We were just having dinner when a front came through and laid the boat on its side. Charley was steering while Ivan and I ate down in the galley. Our food went everywhere, while we rushed up to dump the sails. The boat was laying virtually on its side. There was no time for wet weather gear or harnesses.

The rain pounded down and we were soaked in seconds. After the mainsail was reefed and the headsail was furled we scraped the remains of our dinner off the wall/ floor and finished it up cold. By midnight the moon was high and the storms were heading away from us. It turned into one of those beautiful nights, when the sky is so clear you could touch it.

Our steering arrangement, was two hours on watch steering and four hours off. This is how we passed the next week. Some days were hot with little wind and we made only about 80 miles.

These days were extremely frustrating, but it did give us a chance to lay around in the cockpit and tell some good stories. Some days I laughed so much my face ached.
Ivan had us trying all sorts of sail configurations just to get a little more speed out of the boat, but mostly it didn't help much. We snacked to pass the time and the other guys did a bit of reading. Our goal was to clock up an average of 100 nautical miles per day. That would make it ten days to the northern most part of the North Island, then about two more days down the east coast to Auckland.

Our first two days were a bit of a disappointment from the point of distance travelled, but were a real hoot as a social occasion. Then on about the third day out the wind swung solidly around and came out of the north. This was the sort of weather this boat was build for.


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