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1999 New Zealand
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1999 New Zealand Saling Adventure … almost ...

By Rod Flannery, Australia

I won't even try to catch up on a day to day basis for the last month. So much has happened and I will just cover it as it comes to mind.

The last entry on 'Diary #22' was dated 07OCT99 and stated that Ivan had ring me the previous evening and asked if I wanted to sail his boat to New Zealand with him. The proposed departure date was about two weeks hence, being the Wednesday, 20OCT99. It seems the following two weeks were very busy. At least that seems to be why I didn't write anything in that period.

I seem to recall that Josh and Rhys had a great time up at the farm, but I don't recall much else. There was plenty to be done to get the boat ready, but with Ivan's new found financial resources, he just paid the shipwright to attend to it all. There was work on the autopilot and the boat had to be slipped. I was not included in any of this and didn't miss it.

Everything was geared up for us to leave on the afternoon of the 20th October 1999, Wednesday. Then there was a problem. Self steering not ready? I can't really remember. It was put off until the next day, and then finally until the Friday. I had said goodbye to Josh and Rhys each day when they went to school and each day they came home and I was still there. Friday rolled around, so Sandra and I headed down to the boat. Charley Morgan was now a member of the crew. While Ivan ran around and did the Customs paper work, Charley and I did a few jobs on the boat. Stitched a sail and cable tied a cable to the back stay.

Sandra stayed as long as she could and then had to leave. She said goodbye and headed home.

I went up the road and bought a big bottle of Duty Free bourbon.

The real drama started when Ivan arrived back at the boat. We were all ready to go. He told us, that all he was waiting for, was a call from his insurance agent. Apparently, he was told when he first insured the boat, that if he wanted to go right 'off shore' then all he had to do, was give them a phone call and clear it with them. It seems that he didn't call them until midday on that very Friday, and then he found out that there was a bit more involved than he had been led to believe. The boat needed to be inspected by a Naval Architect and a special 'off shore' insurance rate had to be agreed on.

Well, at 5pm on Friday, there was no way in the world that he was going to get hold of a Naval Architect. Ivan had a big argument with his insurance agent and said that he had been misled. The agent said he would be pleased to insure us when we arrived in New Zealand, but there wasn't anything he could do for us on the crossing. Ivan told him to cancel the policy altogether and that he had been a good customer for about 4 years, and that he would find another company when he got to NZ and that we would go without insurance.

Having said all this he was fired up to leave and so was I, but Charley had reservations. He asked Ivan, what insurance he had for us, the crew. Ivan told him that when the boat was comprehensively insured, we had plenty, but with him cancelling the policy, then he had no liability insurance, to cover us. Charley didn't think this was good enough and I didn't want to make waves. Ivan was getting a bit stroppy with him and I was just trying to keep out of it.

Then Charley said the key words. "What happens if there is an accident, you have a family man here! (pointing at me). This hit me fairly solidly. What if there was a problem, would Sandra have any recourse to financial help to raise two kids? I started to see where Charley was coming from. Finally, when Ivan asked me what I thought, I had to reluctantly agree with Charley. Charley said that we should wait until Monday and get the boat inspected, get it insured and then take off.

Ivan was in a bad way. He had been so keyed up with organizing for the departure and then having to wait another 3 days. It was agreed that we would all meet back at the boat the following Monday. I caught the train home and wandered into the house at about 7:30 pm, much to Sandra and the boys surprise.

Ivan rang up a little while after I got home and asked me what I really thought about "all this bullshit'. I'd had time to think about it a bit, and told him the following.

  • He wouldn't have a worker on one of his building sights, without insurance.
  • He wouldn't drive a car with people in it and not have insurance.
  • Insurance wasn't just for use as a financial safety net for Sandra and the kids in the event of an accident, it was also for his and Sybille’s protection in the event of a lawsuit by my estate.

If Ivan, Charley and I all drowned, with no insurance and a big legal battle eventuated, Sybille might lose everything that they had both built up and worked for. In the end it was only a few extra days wait and surely he would be happier if the boat was insured. I was no happier than he was with the extra delay. My holidays were ticking away.

Sandra and I spent the weekend with Josh and Rhys. We went out for dinner one night to a really nice restaurant called Valentinos at Greenhill’s, with the boys and had a great night. We also went down to Mum's in Belmont on Saturday, and I forget what else we did, but it was good because we were all together.

Monday rolled around and the call from Ivan came. The guy had inspected the boat at a cost of $500. He had pronounced it 'a well founded boat, and that he would be prepared to go to sea on it himself'.
It was insured for $230K and the premium was $2300.

We were ready to go. Sandra was looking after 'day care kids' and so we enlisted Geoff and Norma to drive me down to Newcastle. Sandra drove our car with the 'day care kids' and I went with Rhys and Josh in the Page car.

We all met at the pier, Customs checked us out again and then left. I gave Sandra the bourbon, so I could get another cheap bottle on the way through the airport on the way home. This somewhat breaks the Customs and excise laws, but too bad.

I hugged and kissed Sandra, Josh and Rhys for real this time and at 5:30 pm we were on our way. Apparently they drove up to Horseshoe Beach to wave, but I was busy on the boat and didn't see them.

The finale to this story is, that we suffered structural failure around the skeg area that started to let in water. The steering was damaged and we had to eventually abandon the boat about 200 nautical miles from New Zealand. We set off an EPIRB and a New Zealand Orion aircraft came out and supervised our rescue by a cargo chip. It was a Japanese freezer ship destined for the area below Chile to pick up a load of frozen krill for Japan. The ship was heading for Lyttelton Harbour to refuel.


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