April 2017

Dear Friends:

Pundits say the best two days of a boat owner’s life are when they buy a boat and later, when they sell it. As Larry and I built our own cruising boats, I didn’t get the thrill of buying one though in each case launching day was pretty darned exciting. And when it came time to sell each boat, we were sad and reluctant and did so only because our lives had to move on. The first, 24’4” long Seraffyn, we sailed around the world for eleven years. She had to be re-homed only so we could go cruising once we finished building her replacement, 29’6” Taleisin. This bigger boat brought us here to Kawau Island 30 years ago. She took us around the world both ways and served as an amazing cruising home for almost 35 years. Only when Larry’s health became a major issue, when I found I was reluctant to take her out on my own, did it seem appropriate to find someone to adopt her. It definitely wasn’t the best day of my life when I saw her sailing away, helmed by new owners.

Taleisin reaching in towards North Cove, brand new sails setting perfectly.

Eben and Annie, young, enthusiast, relatively new to sailing, kept me in the loop as they came to know more about the boat they’d bought. They sent photos of the new sails they had built for her, invited me to come by anytime I wanted, told me of their adventures and mishaps as they learned to maneuver a long keeled, heavy displacement yacht which had no motor. And when it became obvious they couldn’t get in and out of a marina berth at Westhaven without assistance, they asked my indulgence as they added a removable bracket for a 15 horsepower outboard motor on her boomkin. I reminded them it was their boat, their decision, not really any of my business. Whenever I drove across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, I did look to the east toward Westhaven Marina, searching among the hundreds of masts for a glimpse of the distinctively raked varnished spruce spar I’d sailed beneath. But I didn’t divert and go down to the marina to see her. I suspected it would make me or her owners uncomfortable as I tried to ignore changes, or signs they were not maintaining her like I had.

Annie at the helm

On Boxing Day my phone rang. “Hi Lin. Annie and I are anchored in Army Bay. Sailing up to get you on board Taleisin again.” All morning long, holiday guests and neighbors kept popping in so Taleisin’simpending arrival slipped to the back of my mind. It was early afternoon before I headed over to the Kawau Boating Club to buy fuel for Jay Dee’s outboard motor. As I came out of North Cove Eben’s phone call came back into my mind. I scanned the horizon looking for Taleisin’s distinctive sail plan and became slightly concerned when I didn’t see it. My mind began churning. How was I going to react when I saw her for the first time in almost two years? How was I going to refrain from being critical of any changes Annie and Eben had made? How was I going to avoid being annoyed at the sight of a clunky outboard motor hanging off her handsome transom? And, did I want to be reminded of the adventures I was no longer going to have as Annie and Eben enthused over the ones lying ahead for them?

I slowed right down and drifted alongside as Eben and Annie lowered Taleisin’s sails in preparation for bringing her back onto the mooring in front of my house

Of course a quick visit to the KBC turned into two hours of catching up with sailing friends and Bon Accord neighbors and snapping photos for the newsletter I intended to write the next day. It was late afternoon as I buzzed back towards home, some nice photos on hand, my mind busy with what needed to be added to the newsletter, what I planned to take along to that evenings barbeque up at the head of Starboard Arm.  As I cleared Bon Accord Harbour, I reminded myself to be extra careful since there was far more boat traffic than usual, more fizzies speeding around at 20 or 25 knots like I was. So I took a careful look all around the horizon before turning north. I spotted over a dozen other boats, some fishing, some hauling kids on floating toys, a few sailing.

I was just beginning the turn into North Cove when something made me glance back again. Yes, one of those sailing boats was headed towards north cove, the one that I knew so well. I throttled back. I tried to remember why I had been reluctant to see her. I spun Jay Dee around and watched as Taleisingracefully heeled to the 12 knot southerly breeze. I grabbed my camera as I throttled back up to full speed.

One of the best ways to get a feel for the sudden windshifts that make enering a hill surrrounded bay a challenge,is to sail a small boat. So I sent Annie and Eben out for a spin in 15 foot long Felicity.

As I came abeam of the boat that had carried Larry and I across so many oceans I slowed down to match her speed. Annie and Eben looked utterly content as they steered her into the cove, and excited to finally be sailing away from the confines of Auckland Harbour and toward their first cruise around the Hauraki Gulf. I could actually say my heart soared as I watched them.

For the next two weeks Taleisin was at home again, sitting gracefully on her mooring just off my jetty, or leaning lightly against the pilings of the tidal grid as Eben serviced her through-hull fittings and sea-cocks. I could see small changes he’d made; things I might have done differently. I teased Eben and Annie about the “training wheels” as I dubbed the outboard motor. But at the same time I reminded them cruising engine-free is not everyone’s cup of tea. I enjoyed watching them slow down as, for the first time in their lives they realized there was absolutely no pressure to do anything at all if that suited them.

Two weeks, several quiet chats and boisterous neighborhood gatherings later, Annie and Eben prepared to set sail towards Mahurangi River, then back to Auckland. Their plan, to sell the last of their possessions and move out of their rented apartment and fully onto their floating home so they could spend several months exploring the Hauraki Gulf under sail. I was already looking forward to their eventual return when I’d watch but definitely not partake in scrubbing and antifouling their boat on the tidal grid. As I watched Taleisin run smartly out of north cove I realized this was probably one of my best days as a boat owner. I’d finally let go of Taleisin, secure in the knowledge that our dream boat was encouraging Eben and Annie to begin a completely new adventure.

May you also be enjoying or planning a new adventure,

P.S. Eben has been amazingly open as he blogs about the trials and tribulations of learning to sail Taleisin and breaking away from his previous very Hi Tech business. His blog site – www.taleisin.com