Tuesday, July 13, 2021

___________________________ ROCKING ON ___________________________

 Bedlam at the bottom buoy.
My definition of 'Rocking On' is to simply continue into tomorrow as best as I can, without of course repeating the mistakes of the past! - Some paths will be familiar, others will be a path less traveled. So here is a path well traveled - a screen shot from a video I found online of the heavy weather race during the 2021 Zephyr National Championships. Moi in 195. 
The caveat of course on living all these highways and by ways is having to deal with the impediments of getting older. My aim regarding sailing is to "Swallow the anchor" as the saying goes at about..... hmmmm 90 years old? Nah, bugger that... just keep going until a Viking funeral is in order.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

______________ HOW TERRIBLY STRANGE TO BE SEVENTY ______________

In 1968 Simon and Garfunkel released their 'Bookends' album. One of the songs on the album is a rather bleak little song about a couple of friends sitting like "bookends" on a park bench. The song is called 'Old Friends'. I disagree with the bleak portrait painted by the lyrics except for one line, which states  - "How terribly strange to be seventy". Yes indeed - I know, because yesterday I turned seventy. Bleak? "Rock on!" I say.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

__________________________ WINTER RACING _________________________

I raced my first winter race today - the third race in the 2021 winter series. The first race was called off because of stormy weather and I missed the second race because I had something else on in Auckland. But better late than never and there are still a few more winter races to go.

The main mission today was to try out my new C-Tech Industries produced carbon fibre sail battens - all 6 of them - they worked beautifully and are real keepers. I should have had a set a long time ago. The mains'l with its full length battens is now a whole lot easier to raise and lower. The battens pop back with the sail shape easily when tacking and the mains'l is setting really well. 

Getting the correct individual deflection for each of the six battens is a bit of the dark art and this set seems to have captured the correct incantations. The battens are also half the weight of the fiberglass set. They are worth the expense.

The forecast was for lightening, thunder, a deluge of rain and 8 - 15 knots of wind. What eventuated was enough wind (3 - 5 knots) to get three races in. The moment the racing was over the wind vanished and the rain began.

Treading my way out among the mooring boats on the way to the race course. The wind did pick up after this photo was taken and we had some enjoyable racing. I think I did ok - but are waiting for the mixed fleet handicap results. As always it was nice to be out on the water ------ Shipmates, tell that man in the yellow boat to pull the mains'l outhaul out and fix the set of the sail!!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

______________ COASTAL TRIP - TUTUKAKA TO WHANGAREI _____________

This is my friends David and Alices new yacht. Yesterday I crewed for them on a trip from Tutukaka to Whangarei. Their yacht will be hauled out for a scrub and other work by a Trav - Lift at Ray Roberts Marine.

Heading south in a variable 6 to 10 knot easterly wind with the Hen and Chickens islands in the distance. There was a big ground swell running which had been building for a week. My stomach didn't appreciate the cheeky magnitude of the easterly swells assertions and replied in a rather negative and unsociable way.

Having rounded Bream Head (astern in the distance) we sailed up Whangarei Harbour with the assistance of an incoming tide.

The two skippers enjoying their new boat.

The sun was setting on this cold winters day, but each of us were well wrapped up.

Close to our waiting berth we passed this large super yacht that is owned by some multi billionaire. The masts are so tall that as she passed by Onerahi airport (which borders the Hatea River at the head of Whangarei harbour with the river or harbour at either end of the runway) all flights were delayed as she went past. It is a moot point I guess as to whether the mast heights were a hazard, but they would certainly be a distraction (especially if the pilot was a yachty!).

Our magnificent local lifting bridge obliges as we slip through. I ride over this bridge almost every day on my folding bike in the course of my daily exercise - so I waved to my old friend Mr Bridge as we passed.

Safely moored and job completed - and well timed as well, for as we off loaded onto the pontoon the rain started to fall and chased us to the waiting car - the end of a great day on the water.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021


Shipmates, this is Kawakawa, Northland, New Zealand - Where the Kawakawa to Opua bicycle rail trail begins. When the trains are operating they can be seen troundling down the middle of the main street.
The skipper of the Brompton folding bike. Some say that he shouldn't be steering a conversation let alone a bicycle - but my lips are sealed.

The rail trail sometimes runs parallel to the old tracks but most often (as in the above photo) follows the old rail way lines. Some times the railway lines are buried underneath the track, sometimes they have been completely removed. Railway embankments are usually built quite high giving good views of the  surrounding country.                                                                                              

 On the right is the only rail tunnel on the trail. It was closed because of falling bricks. There was a detour to the left over the hill.
This long section of bridge crossed wetlands that surrounded the picturesque upper reaches of the Kawakawa river.

A team of amateur locomotive restorers run their train from Kawakawa and back to this small station during the holiday season.

In parts the trail runs alongside the upper reaches of the Kawakawa river. This river  leads to Opua at the head waters of the Bay of Islands. 

The first of the two main folds of the Brompton folding bike is useful as a bike stand.

Moored boats began to appear as the river widened and we (Brompty and me) approached Opua.

After a relaxed ride we arrived at Opua. It took an hour of reasonably easy riding to get there. Total return time including a lunch break was 2 1/2 hours. After lunch I hopped back on Brompty and returned to Kawakawa. A great first ride on my new bike. Looking forward to the next trip.

Bike Suitability Review: Although the Brompton took this rail trail ride in its stride and performed well it was obvious that a ride on a bike with bigger wheels (The Brompton has 16 inch wheels) on this rail trail would have been more comfortable. The small wheel diameter means that when riding on anything other than smooth urban streets and pathways any trail irregularities are transmitted directly to the rider. The laws of physics means that bigger wheel diameters absorb shocks better. Although I intend to use the Brompton again from time to time on selected rougher tracks my overall plan is to use the Brompton more as my dedicated city street and city bike path exploring (So easy to fold and pack when going away on trips in the car) and use my big trail bike for the more rural off road rail trail type rides. This of course means mounting the bike rack on my tow bar when using the full size bike and all the faffing around that this involves but it's the horses for courses solution. When holidaying the choice of two types of bikes to use depending on the terrain makes a lot of sense. Having said all that one of my considerations is that my Brompton is brand new, expensive and at this stage I don't want to risk wrecking the bike. When the shine wears off the bike you may find me boulder hopping and ski jumping Brompty all over the place.

And....  you only need to go on UTube to find many dedicated Brompton fans who have ridden the Brompton almost everywhere on all sorts of different surfaces. Many Brompton owners ride all over the UK and Europe and one guy has a Utube video showing his ride from the African coast to Morocco. 

Anyway I have to go - my long awaited book from the Book Depository has finally arrived from the UK - its title? "BROMPTON BICYCLE by David Henshaw 3rd Edition" and I see on page 157 a photograph of someone towing a sailing dinghy (about the same size as my Zephyr yacht) with a Brompton........ hmmmmm.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

_____________ I COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF _____________

Today I did two good, good things. First I went for a sail, crewing for my good friend Don on his Flying Fifteen yacht. We did a couple of club races and as usual the Flying 15 punched well above it's weight. We won both races on handicap. This included beating over the line boats much bigger, faster and newer than a Flying Fifteen - these are boats that actually give us time on handicap and we beat them boat for boat-  AWESOME! Of course we sail the boat well but the way this little boat can keep up with and on occasion beat larger boats, is a testament to the boats 70 year old design - Thank you Mr Uffa Fox.

The second activity that I have just completed about 30 minutes ago was to go for a night ride (a couple of loops of the road around where I live). I don't usually ride at night, but this ride was to try out a couple of lights I have bought for my Brompton Folding bike (A headlight and a tail light). Both lights have multi light settings (various flashing options etc) and it was these functions that I tested especially the headlight which on full non flashing mode lights my way on the road excellently. 

It's an overused word and a cliche but I'm going to use it again - The Brompton Folding bike is AWESOME. It's so easy to use that it makes my daily cycling exercise very easily accessible and hassle free - and use it every day, I have, since I purchased it.

Above is a Utube Review of the Brompton by Everyday Cycling. There are a large number of reviews and stories of biking adventures on Bromptons but in terms of summing up the virtues of this bike, this review is one of the best - I couldn't have said it better myself.

Friday, April 30, 2021

______________________ EMAIL TO MY DAUGHTER _____________________


 Moi posing with my new 'Flame Red' Brompton folding bike with my feet resplendent in my "Digital Aqua' Crocs.

Photo Credit: Your Mum

Hi Charlotte,

Please find attached a couple of photos of me with my new awesome little Brompton Folding bicycle. I bought it in Auckland a couple of days ago. They are an iconic piece of excellence in British engineering.

Although they are quite expensive, that is VERY expensive, I think they are worth every cent and so easy to use and fold up and put away afterwards.

I have just gone for my first ride, that is my first ZOOM, around the town basin 'loop walk' with a side trip to the Whangarei Yacht Club.

Brompton owners say that owning and riding a Brompton puts a smile on their face - and I can assure you that this is true. In fact I think doctors should write "One Brompton Bike" on the medical prescriptions of all unhappy and depressed individuals - owning and riding this bike would be a sure fire cure.

The colour of the bike is officially 'Flame Red' but it looks to me more of a 'Lacquered Bronze' colour. Anyway with my flame red lacquered bronze Brompton paired with my new (can you believe it?) "Digital Aqua" coloured Crocs, I must say I cut quite a vivid picture of zippy Brompton competence around the environs of the Whangarei Town Basin - (Even if I do say so myself, he said modestly).

Lots of love - Dad XXXX
Photo Credit: Your Mum
 This guy gives a great biased take on making the choice to purchase the iconic Brompton folding bicycle. Among his Brompton musings is a number of claims that are fully affective rather than logical and in doing so rests my case for me (and him).


Monday, April 12, 2021


With two National contests under our belts 'Slipstream' and I are now old mates in all of this.

Here are some screen shots (with unfortunately the lower image quality) from the Zephyr Owners Association website of the 2021 Nationals held at the Manly Sailing Club over the last 4 days. My Zephyr 'Slipstream' 195 can be seen (on the right) in the above photo at the start of one of the 3 races that were held on the first day in heavy wind conditions (18 - 20 knots with gusts up to 30 knots).

This screen shot is taken from a video on the website and shows moi in deep mains'l contemplation mood - not that it helped much. 

The only two yellow boats in the fleet - to leeward of me is Zephyr 200 'Big Bird' from Wellington.

                                        There were always obstacles at the leeward mark.

Photo of the contest. Tony Millar wipes out in the heavy weather race.

Preparing to gybe - always a game of Russian roulette.

On a big wind day racing off downwind is the most exciting point of sailing.

My cunning plan was to slay the fleet with my secret weapon which was a set of home made wooden sail battens. They worked well in the survival conditions of the first days racing but unfortunately were a disaster on the second light air days racing.

Day One - 20 knot north easterly wind, gusting 25 - 30 knots, with a big sea running. I reveled in these conditions and was in overall 34th place out of 70 boats after 3 races. I only capsized once (losing one place as a result). The windward legs were exhausting - the awesome downwind rides were thrilling and slightly unnerving.

Day Two - 25 - 35 knot NE wind - sailing canceled for the day.

Day Three - Light, patchy wind which never got above about 4 knots. Very shifty with big holes in the breeze. My battens and my crap sailing skills let me down. Big shifts meant that if you picked the wrong side of the course in the early windward stages you lost big time. My position dropped to 46th overall.

Day Four - Seafog, no wind. Racing cancelled - prize giving in the afternoon.

I am pleased and positive about a few things:

- I was determined to improve on my last Zephyr Nationals result (60th out of 73 entrants) at Worser Bay in Wellington in 2018. My over all position this time was 46th out of 70 entrants), a reasonable improvement.

- In the Masters section of the competition (Ages 60 - 69years) I was placed 5th out of 12 old buggers - so that was a positive result.

- I learnt a great deal, talked to a lot of interesting and talented sailors about sailing in general and tuning Zephyrs in particular, gaining a lot of new insights to try out over the next 12 months.

- Despite only two race days I enjoyed the sailing immensely (especially the first day) and are determined to do better again next year when the Nationals return to Worser Bay in Wellington - I'll be there.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Thursday, October 15, 2020

_______________ WILLIAM ATKIN DESIGNED ERIC JUNIOR _______________

 "The principal dimensions of this new double ender are as follows: L.O.A. 25 feet, 2 inches; L.W.L. 21 feet, 6 inches; breadth 7 feet, 7 inches; draft 4 feet, 0 inches. The freeboard at the stem is 2 feet, 11 1/2 inches, at the stern 2 feet, 2 inches, and at the lowest point, 1 foot, 7 3/4 inches. The displacement is 7,000 pounds. There will be 3,400 pounds of iron ballast on the keel and a matter of 200 pounds inside. So you see this Eric Jr. (Design) is a little boat. But what a lovely little ship to sail."  - Designer William Atkin  (Circa 1940)
If you want to know more about the 'Eric Junior' design you can read about this boat here: http://www.atkinboatplans.com/Sail/EricJr.html 
In this Utube video (below) the boat and sails look as though they require a bit of work and the videoing does the job in a shaky rudimentary kind of way - But the song requires no work at all; especially the last line:
 "When you lose yourself you find the key to paradise". 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

__________________ SAILING PRACTISE FOR 49'NERS __________________

 This is Olympic Gold Medal champions and Americas Cup Winners Peter Burling and Blair Tuke sailing their Olympic class 49'ner.

The link below takes you to a training regime for 49'ners that is used by a couple of members of the Pigeon Bay Boating Club on Banks Peninsula, South Island, New Zealand. 

Why the crew is wearing white underpants is anyones guess.

Click the link below and don't forget to switch the sound on (bottom right) to get the combined technicolour and stereophonic effect.



Thursday, September 24, 2020

_________________ Naviguer sur le bateau à French Bay __________________

Last weekend I got up at 4am and was on the road at 5.30am for the 3 hour drive to French Bay on the Manukau Harbour on Aucklands west coast. When the racing started at around 10am there were 13 keen Zephyr sailors ready to enjoy the breeze in a series of 4 back to back races.
The first race was a drifting lottery of a race as we waited for the easterly sea breeze to fill in from across the Auckland isthmus. A couple of us (Moi in the yellow Zephyr 195) are taking the opportunity to stretch our legs.
When the breeze came it was fresh and steady making the remaining three races very enjoyable. My placings were at the tail end of the fleet but I was pleased not to be last in any of the races and in one race was in the middle of the fleet placings. Many of the Zephyr skippers are the creme de la creme of New Zealand sailors with former national champion and Olympic representatives among the ranks; so I have my work cut out for me - which is just the way I like it - plenty to learn and plenty of time racing on the water to improve my skills - can't think of a better way to spend large chunks of my retirement time. Amene-le je dis (Bring it on I say).

Saturday, August 29, 2020

____________________ WHY PAINT A BOAT YELLOW ? ___________________

Some may think that painting a boat yellow is somewhat counter intuitive and some what un-nautical. Classic white, various shades of blue or grey, and black for work boats is more the traditional norm and with the modern mass production of fiberglass boats, white hulls have become pretty ubiquitous.

One day while I was restoring my Zephyr and toying with the idea of painting the boat yellow I heard on the National NZ concert programme the announcer (when introducing the next piece of music) say that whenever he hears a Bassoon sonata or concerto he is convinced that the Bassoon is smiling!

That's how I feel about yellow - it's a colour that is always smiling.
So now I have a yellow boat. The colour yellow is happy and bright and positive and cheerful and reminds me of the sun and summer. It puts a smile on my face.


To date the colour record of sailing boats I have either built, purchased or restored in both timber and fiberglass has been:

Blue -  NZ 'P' Class "Panic"
Red -  NZ 'P' Class  "Elusive"
Red -  OK Dinghy   "Okere"
Blue, Grey, White - 30' Yacht "Mariner"s various colour iterations.
White -  Restored NZ 'P' Class "Dart"
White -  Restored NZ Starling Class (Sold before I could decide on a name).
Black -  Restored fiberglass clinker sailing dinghy "Scout"
White -  Laser "Echo"
Yellow - Restored NZ Zephyr Class "Slipstream"

Other boats have included various yacht tenders (all white) a blue sea kayak and yellow and white inflatable dinghies.

At the moment I own three sailing dinghies, a 30' yacht and it's dinghy tender - Five boats which is quite enough boats to be going on with. If I had more sense I would get rid of three of these especially as I am close to beginning a new build (watch this space).

Friday, August 28, 2020


If you look closely you can see that 'Scout' has a very long painter. Today it came in very useful.

"Why is the skipper looking so happy?" I hear you ask. Because he's sailing of course!

Today I did two circumnavigations of Limestone Island, stopping off on the way to check on the 20 plus Phohutukawa trees that I helped plant and maintain a few years ago. The wind was around 4 knots, gusting to 7 which made for very pleasant sailing conditions.

On the low lying island opposite Limestone Island I tied 'Scout' to a large white steel pole with the boats long and very useful painter.

With incoming tide there was no chance of 'Scout' being left high and dry. So I put on my ubiquitous Crocs which were made for boating but not for walking in sand which irritatingly seems to find its way into the shoes with a vengeance. But I put up with the sand to protect my feet.

I was glad to see the Pohutukawa trees doing so well. They were luxuriantly green and healthy. Ten of the twenty original trees have survived.

Limestone Island is a bird sanctuary with a permanent caretaker living on the island. On the second circumnavigation I sailed close to the shore. It was heartening to hear the calls of a number of native birds.

In the distance is the remnants of the old brick works that was active on the island in the early part of last century.

Voyage completed and back at the launching ramp. Limestone Island in the distance.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

____________ SAILING, CABER TOSSING AND GROWING OLD ____________

Today was the penultimate set of races of the combined Whangarei clubs winter racing series - one more to go. The forecast was for 10 knots rising throughout the day towards thunderstorms with 50 knots plus gusts. At the briefing we were told that we could get three races in and be off the water before the big wind came. None of this eventuated and the breeze never went over about 5 knots. As I type it's teeming with rain with a rising wind. The rain will give my sailing gear an excellent rinse of fresh water as it flaps like a row of flags on the washing line.

I sometimes wonder whether small boat sailors would make good caber tossers. Some of us have had a lifetimes practise lifting various masts of varying weights in and out of small boats. In my case my ancestry goes back to the Scottish Gunn clan. Perhaps I will turn up at next summers local Waipu Highland Games wearing my Gunn tartan armed with my Zephyr mast.

Prospective skipper with archetypal boat mast dreaming of becoming a small boat sailor.

Thanks to my brother Tony I have these photos of todays sailing. It's good to have some nice photos of the boat sailing. I think she looks good on the water and I am pleased with the colour I chose for the hull, but if I was to become particularly fashion conscious I should probably change the sail numbers to a red colour. It's important for us men to be colour coordinated when we try and make bold sailing statements.

A man and his boat. Despite how difficult it is becoming physically to launch and retrieve the boat it is still the retirement activity that I enjoy the most. Note that I said "launch and retrieve". The sailing is actually a breeze, even in very strong winds. It's the pulling of the boat back up the ramp that is becoming difficult. As my father used to say to me in his latter years, "It's a bugger getting old".