June 2019 Newsletter

Dear Friends;

As this story shows, my itchy feet have me on the move again.

“Push her a bit more to starboard,” I call to David.

“I’ll hold her while you start up the windlass,” Marcus calls to me.

I run the length of the boatyard at my Kawau Island home base in North Cove, then begin taking the strain on the hauling line. The big windlass grinds and whirrs and slowly my little Herreshoff keeler Felicity comes clear of the water. Her specially fitted trailer keeps her keel centered, her hull well supported as she rolls up the stone ramp and onto the flat ground. I enjoy the camaraderie as the three of us work together to ensure she is settled perfectly, trailer sitting level, wheels jacked up and tires clear of the ground. But at the same time I feel a little sad. She is just the first of five boats we are storing away for what could be more than a year.

One last gathering of friends from North Cove before we packed up to run away from winter.

When Felicity is settled in place, her mast removed and hung under the eaves of the boatshed, covers secured to ensure she doesn’t fill with rain water, we’ll turn our attention to the others. Two sea kayaks, Cheeky, the eight-foot-long Fatty Knees Class rowing dinghy and finally Jay Dee, the 4.5 meter fizz boat. They will all come out of the water and be prepared for what, at this moment, feels like their abandonment.

            I’ve spent the past two months using them in rotation as, during the majority of each day I worked on finishing what was supposed to be an update of one of my older books, The Self Sufficient Sailor. As has happened in the past, an update turned into a serious re-write, and then an expansion of the original book. But as I worked in my little studio overlooking the tranquil cove it didn’t really feel like work as I knew that at some point most days, David would suggest the weather was perfect for a bit of sailing on Felicity or a practice session on the kayaks. Or a friend would sail in and drop anchor and I’d decide to row Cheeky out to invite them in for dinner or drinks. On other days, if the weather wasn’t perfect for sailing or paddling, the two of us sometimes hopped into Jay Day to buzz across the bay to walk on a different track so I could show David new secret places on the far side of the island. And every week there was the rush to pack Jay Dee with shopping bags, rubbish and whatever else needed to be taken to the mainland. Then that little speed boat really paid her way as we buzzed across 5 miles of open water.

Paella, my pan is supposed to hold enough for 18, but maybe it was the cold weather, or maybe it was the mussels that grow on the jetty, but 14 people didn’t leave on bit for our next day lunch.

            It is interesting how each boat seems to fill a special space in my life. The kayak provides the balance training and exercise I definitely need after sitting at a computer for too long. Felicity provides fresh air and tranquility as she skims before a fresh zephyr or drifts slowly homeward on a dying breeze. Jay Dee, as utilitarian as she is, provides the exhilaration of windblown hair, speed, a sense of control. And on days when the wind blews up as we cross to the mainland, she tests the skill of her driver as one or the other of us tries to keep up her speed yet not nose dive into the chop that will drench us in heavy spray if we time things wrong.

            Now the manuscript is written and edited. Steve Horsley, the designer whose family is so closely associated with North Cove, has turned the script into a well-designed book.  The book has now been sent off for an index, a final proof check. So now I am free to leave.

 Felicity’s rig came out first as we prepared to haul her and all the other floating objects out of the water.

Winter is showing its first truly cold breath as we carry the kayaks into the shed. As the three of us work together, I plan how I’ll gather firewood before I go into the house to boil up some tea and cut some homemade fruit cake to send home with Marcus as a small bit of compensation for the afternoon he has spent helping us. Then I’ll finish packing for a trip, 2/3’s pleasure, 1/3 work. It is a trip that will take us right around the world before returning us to yet another of the boats that help me get out on the water where I really belong. Sahula, David’s 40 foot (12-meter) sloop sits winterized and waiting for us in Tasmania. She carried me away from Kawau more than a year ago. In the not too distant future she’ll carry me back here to join the little fleet I’m putting away today. If all goes to plan, well before November 2020 when the America’s Cup turns this quiet island into a hub of waterborne activity, we’ll have sailed back to North Cove. Then I can once again launch my little fleet and share it with the friends I know will arrive from all parts of the world. If you happen to sail in, stop by and say hello.

Fair winds,

P.S. By the time you read this, the new edition of the Self Sufficient Sailor will be at the printer. It has been expanded by almost 40%, including information on the Lessons Larry and I learned from sailing south of Cape Horn and beyond.  As I will be in the US in September and October to present seminars at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival and then the Annapolis Sailboat Show, special arrangements have been made so those who wish to have an autographed copy. If you are interested, click here. Copies must be ordered before September 15. This 3rd edtion will not be available through other outlets until November.