Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Cygnet Project (Part 5) - First Sail

Cygnet and I get together for our first sail together and the memories came flooding back. It was so good to get this little boat back in the water again. It has been over 40 years since I have sailed a little P class yacht like this - but I have to say shipmates it was a bit like getting back on a bicycle after not having ridden one for decades - except that bicycles don't talk like Cygnet did - " Nice to have you back" she purred, "We do this soooo well together don't we? " - "Yes", I replied smiling, "We most certainly do .......... it is so very, very good to be back, it feels a bit like a home coming".

One of the reasons why all this restoration took place can been seen above - it is all about memories - happy memories. But the main reason can be found by searching my blog archive (Older Posts, below) for "The Cygnet Project Part 1" and reading about the original Cygnet and her gallant skipper.

In this photograph I am representing the Pleasant Point Yacht Club ( Canterbury, South Island NZ ) in my bright red P class "Elusive" in the 1966 'Tauranga Cup' National P Class contest on Evans Bay in Wellington. I was 15 years old. Where have the last 42 years gone? - blowing in the wind that's where! - I don't look back and want it all again. I just look back and celebrate it all - such happy, happy sailing days.

Who was this much slimmer and oh, so serious sailor? It was a very heavy weather contest that year and I broke this mast in the fourth race. I can remember being dog tired after every race and sleeping soundly every night with a smile on my face despite every bone in my body aching.

2009 and aged 57 years - much older, much tireder, and a lot wiser? hmmmm. Well, wise enough to know that happiness and delight can come with simple pleasures - a small yacht, an open expectant heart and a good breeze blowing.

Cygnets first sail was on the waters of Parua Bay Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand.

After a couple of hours of sailing in an oscillating, fair to moderate breeze we called it a day.

"Thankyou", said Cygnet as we headed towards the boat ramp, " It was great to get out on the water again, I could feel that you were really enjoying yourself, we will have to do this again some time." - I looked at her with a very, very big smile, "Yes" I said, " if there is one thing you can count on, it is that we will be going sailing together again soon."



Delwyn said...

this is a beautiful love story-
a man and his little boat...

You must feel a good sense of accomplishment as you sail cygnet coupled with the resurgence of those old memories - blowing in the wind...

Alden said...

Yes I do feel a sense of accomplishment at having restored this great little boat.

The biggest worry I had was how was I going to transport her to the water? In the end I did what I thought might be a bit percarious i.e. transported her on the roof rack of the old Honda - which turned out to be no problem at all.

She sails well and everything works ok, so it looks like a great partnership has been consolidated.

Dan Gurney said...

I have truly enjoyed your series of posts on the Cygnet Project, this one, especially. I was very serious about sailboat racing in the exact same time frame. I was crewing on 505s with the fleet that had the North American champion, Dennis Surtees and some others who were almost as good as he. Dennis imported his crew, Pip Pearson, from Australia. His boat, Fair Dinkum, was built in Australia.

Your P class boat carries a lot of canvas for one her size. I'll bet she's a blast to sail.

I hope you find a OK dinghy that needs your TLC.

Alden said...

Thankyou Dan, I have certainly enjoyed myself on this project.

I remember the 505 dinghy well although this is only in sailing magazines, they never took off in New Zealand at all. But from what I can tell they were certainly a fast and exciting boat to sail, and took a fair amount of skill to sail really well.

I am now on the look out for an OK dinghy to restore.
I thought I might get a fibreglass one and just sail it, but I think I will look out of a wooden one and do another restoration. An OK dinghy with all that deck area, especially if it has a varnished deck, has a quality of a Steinway piano that can be sailed!!!

I will keep you posted on my progress.

Katherine said...

Neat story Pal! I'm thrilled that she talks, too ;-)

Alden said...

She sure does talk Katherine AND she whispers in a light breeze, sings in a fair wind and laughs in a storm - Now isn't that just too good to be true? but then again, you wouldn't expect anything less from a real lady would you.