Wednesday, February 1, 2017

_________________ PLEASANT POINT YACHT CLUB __________________

Amongst the pile of books I usually have on the go is: 'Memories of Pleasant Point Yacht Club - 1921 - 1980' by Ray O'Brien. Ray is an old friend and stalwart of the club who now lives in Whangarei not far from where I live. The book is a history of our old yacht club on the banks of the Christchurch cities estuary, in the province of Canterbury, in the South Island of New Zealand.

So far as sailing goes the PPYC is my Turangawaiwai - ( A Maori concept of relatedness and belonging, meaning "The Place where I stand" ).

My formative sailing years in this stretch of water provided me with many life long sailing skills. The lessons learned sailing in the famous Canterbury Southerly 'Busters' and screaming Nor - Westerlies are not easily forgotten.

I sailed a P Class (Elusive) and an OK Dinghy (Okere) at the PPYC in the 1960s and I represented the club in the national P Class inter club 'Tauranga Cup' series in Nelson (1967) and Wellington (1968).

In 2010 and 2011 Christchurch was hit by devastating earthquakes wrecking much of the city and changing parts of the physical landscape. The land on which the Pleasant Point Yacht stood sank several metres. On the first high tide and every subsequent high tide after the 2011 quake the yacht club was inundated with water. This was to be the end of the road so far as this site was concerned for the club.

One sad day the demolition crew moved in at low tide and the yacht club that had stood on this land for nearly 100 years was demolished.

This photograph of the PPYC in its prime (and at half tide) is how I remember the way it once was. I did a lot of sailing at low tide. Cruising around the winding channels among the sand banks as far as the estuaries bar entrance to Pegasus Bay and the Pacific Ocean at Sumner was as interesting and testing as any fleet racing at high tide.

The good news is that new club rooms are being built in the South New Brighton domain in the area of the pine forest on the left in the above photograph. I wish the club well in this new beginning.

A future goal is to take my Zephyr 'Slipstream' back on a pilgrimage of sorts to my Turangawaiwai sometime and sail again on the old proving ground of the Christchurch estuary. It will be good to visit the PPYCs new club rooms and facilities on its new site. Perhaps they won't mind an old club member racing his boat with them. I will certainly be exploring the area where the old club once stood.


Dan Gurney said...

Having an old salt return to sail in their estuary ought to please them greatly. Sad to see the earthquake damage. Glad to know they're rebuilding.

Alden Smith said...

Yes it's great that a new clubhouse is being built. I don't know how far they have got with the construction but I do know that at the present time they have a launching ramp, parking area, access to a jetty and a couple of old shipping containers to store gear in. Also Brett de Their an old Finn sailor and hero of mine (in my youth) has offered to design the new clubhouse - Brett is a former Auckland Institute of Technology lecturer in design who now resides in Oxford, close to Christchurch and the estuary, so they are in very good hands so far as the planning and design aspects go.