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: 
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".

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

______________________ WINTER SERIES UPDATE ______________________

My Zephyr 'Slipstream's new rudder. The rudder head and permanently attached tiller are bare carbon fibre. The rudder blade is carbon fibre manufactured with a white gel coat covering 90% of the carbon fibre on the blade with a bare carbon fibre trailing edge. The white gel coat versions of these foils are easier to repair in the event of damage.
There have been 15 races to date in the Combined Clubs Winter Series. The racing consists of 3 back to back races at each of the clubs on a rotational basis. As each of the clubs are at different locations on Whangarei harbour it makes for three different, interesting venues. My placings to date have been:
10 First places.
2 Second places.
2 Third places.
1 Fourth place - for a total of 24 points.
After 15 races I continue to lead the series by 9 points.
There are 6 more races to go in the series.

After having spent the last 12 months doing a complete restoration on the boat these placings are very pleasing and justify all the hard work that went into this restoration and refurbishment.
The enhanced boat performance is due to a combination of small and big improvements in various areas which I outlined in the previous blog post.

I agree with one of my competitors who once said, "In yacht racing it's the nut behind the wheel that makes the difference and wins the races" - True enough I say, so long as it's a level playing field. I think the restoration has now created a level playing field. But the locals races are among differing classes of yachts and with different handicaps making up the mix. Although there are 3 Zephyrs that usually race I am the only Zephyr competing in this years winter series. The true test will be when I take the boat down to Auckland and race in true one design races in a fleet of other Zephyrs.
Having said that, one yardstick that is significant is the four hours I spent recently on the harbour racing against Don in his Zephyr 'Venture'. Before I did the restoration he was beating me in races by a country mile. During our friendly four hours of racing the boats were pretty evenly matched with Don (being 20kgs lighter than me) having a slight advantage downwind while I had a slight advantage upwind.

One of the main improvements has been a new set of light weight carbon fibre foils. These have made a palpable difference to the performance. The boat simply slips along without any turbulence around the rudder head at the stern and without that feeling in the tiller that the boat is dragging a small bucket. My line honours winning margins have increased significantly so that I am now able to save my handicap, something that in the past was problematic as it has been very difficult to get enough of a winning margin on the courses which are of moderate length to save my handicap.

 Above is a photograph from XPL Composites website. These are the bare carbon fibre versions of my new Zephyr foils.

 The dagger board has been finished in a similar manner to the rudder.

A good matching pair that are making a considerable contribution to the boats extra speed.

As I type this I am watching and listening to our Great Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who is addressing the nation on television regarding a new community outbreak of Covid19 and the new lockdown procedures. I hope these dark times both in New Zealand and around the world pass sooner rather than later so that we can all go sailing again - literally and metaphorically.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

__________________________ WINTER SERIES _________________________

All rigged up at the Onerahi Yacht Club today and ready for the second set of 3 races in the combined Whangarei yachts clubs winter sailing series. When sailing last week at the Parua Bay Yacht Club my placings were a fourth and two first places. Today I scored two first placings and a second - these results have me leading the winter series by one point. I am encouraged by these results because the winning margins were a lot bigger than when I previously (pre-renovation) had the odd win and also it means the last twelve months spent doing a restoration on the boat has been time well spent.
The crucial factors that have contributed to better performance are:

- The boat now weighs 59kgs down from 64kgs - a weight saving of 5kgs. A light boat is a fast boat.

- New carbon fibre foils are half the weight (3kgs) of the old wooden foils (6kgs) and are a very accurate commercially produced aerofoil shape. The boat steers better, points much closer into the wind and the feel on the helm is light and balanced. The small bucket I felt we were always towing has vanished.

- The hull has been repaired and faired, capturing the true shape of the hull minus any corrugations and imperfections.

- An adjustable mast step allows various raking angles to suit various wind conditions.

- I am now using a 'TacTic' digital compass which makes the detection of wind shifts a doddle. I should have had one years ago. The tactical usefulness of such a compass cannot be emphasized enough.

- Adjustable hiking straps makes fine adjustments during or between races very easy ensuring more comfortable hiking positions.

There are a few more tweaks that I will do to squeeze out a bit more boat speed. Overall I am pretty pleased with the performance. I haven't produced a super yacht, rather I have produced a level playing field. Slipstream is now as up to date as any of the other 'flash Harry' Zephyrs racing. The winning difference will now depend on the nut holding the tiller, time on the water and a fair old wodge of luck.

The next race in the series is in a fortnights time at the Marsden Yacht Club - I'll be there.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

________________________ TIME TO GO SAILING ________________________

 This is how the boat looked at the time of purchase.

This is how she looked half way through the renovation process.
 This is how she looks now, all dressed up and ready to rock and roll.

Yesterday the lowest Covid 19 emergency level (Level 1 of the 1 to 4 levels) came into action in New Zealand. This pretty much means that life goes back to normal except that the borders are still closed. Any special entry exceptions have to go into isolation for 14 days before fully entering the country.

I have spent a good amount of the Covid 19 lock down time finishing my Zephyr sailing dinghy 'Slipstream'. The last job has been setting up the sail controls and adjusting the rigging. Today I rigged the boat and checked everything - it's now time to go sailing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

_________________ THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT TREES ________________

Pohutukawa tree at Onerahi North Island New Zealand

...........  And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

From 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting 
the Banks of the Wye during a Tour - July 13, 1798 - By WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

Ancient Pohutakawa tree at Algies Bay North Island New Zealand

Monday, June 1, 2020

__________________ A LESSON IN PAYING ATTENTION _________________

Note the bucket floating like a blue duck on 'Scout Lake' and the water cascading from 'Scout Waterfall' in the foreground.

Well shipmates, it happened like this. Just before a large low pressure system dropped billions of tons of water on Northland I removed the cover on Scout, took the bung out of the back, drained a small amount of water out and left the cover off to air the boat. Later the deluge began. Rather than run out and put the cover back on I thought that I would just leave things as they were and let the rain give 'Scout' a good clean AND yes shipmates you have guessed it already. After draining the boat I REPLACED THE BUNG. Well, today, after a week of continuous rain I went out to take a look behind the shed and put the cover back on and the rest, as they say in all the small dramatic stories is history. It did make me smile to see the blue bucket floating around and hear 'Scout' say to me "Pull the bloody bung out you dickhead and try and be a bit more aware in the future". "Sorry Scout old mate" I muttered, "I just wasn't thinking". It doesn't pay to wander around on autopilot.

Friday, May 22, 2020

__________________________ HIGH SUMMER __________________________

High summer - looking north towards Little Barrier Island from the coast near Leigh

Summer in Northland is special. It shines with a scintillating razor sharp  brightness. If you look really closely you can see the halo of it all and hear the air sing. We are heading into winter here in New Zealand. I don't actually mind the hunkering down nature of Winter. It is a season with its own ambience, activities and pleasures; part of which is looking forward to Summer again. What would Summer be without Winter?

Sunday, May 3, 2020

______________________________ STORM ______________________________

 Maurice Griffiths old boat 'Storm' at Honeypot Island, Walton Backwaters, Essex, UK.

(Yes shipmates, honeypot indeed - for those who know, apart from the above caption, there is not much else that one can say.)

I am using this lock down in the time of Covid here in NZ to read again some of my favourite authors. One of these is the late great Maurice Griffiths (Author, yacht designer, editor for 40 years of the 'Yachting Monthly' and Sailor - 'Sailor' rather than 'Yachtsman' - he liked to make that distinction.

To date the books I have re - read are the classic 'The Magic of the Swatchways' and:
- The First of the Tide.
- Swatchways and Little Ships.
- Round the Cabin Table.
I include in this enjoyable journey the thumbing through and musing over all of Griffiths design books, his biography and autobiography and the viewing of various designs I have of his.
To supplement the flavour of this East Coast coast and its rivers I have included the inimitable Charles Stock ('Sailing Just For Fun' & 'In Shoal Waters') and Tony Smiths 'Sea Country'.

Also the book 'Swin, Swale & Swatchway' by H. Lewis Jones first published in 1892 and re-published recently by Lodestar Books has again given me a very interesting historical background to Griffiths, Stocks and Smiths writings.

Adding to the list, as always that legendary publication 'East Coast Rivers - Cruising Companion' (19th Edition - Wiley Nautical) by Jane Harber has been a truly excellent crew member on a journey such as this.

I found this very interesting information about 'Storm' from the OGA site (Old Gaffers Association).

"Storm was built in 1910 by Bundock Brothers at Leigh on Sea, and when built she was originally called "Lady Myra".  Myra was the wife of the first owner, Mr C Horstead.  In the 1911 & 1912 local newspapers Lady Myra was reported doing very well in races.  She was sold in about 1912, and sold again before 1914.  The third owner was Norman O Searle, and architect, who also designed a similar boat "Ripple" which was later owned by the marine artist Fid Harnack, who later illustrated Magic of the Swatchways, and the Yachting Monthly, for editor Maurice Griffiths.  By a co-incidence, Norman Searle was then part owner of Charity (see entry in OGA Register) 1924-26, then a gaff cutter but now bermudian, and owned by the sister of East Coast Gaffer's Clare Thomas.  Lady Myra/Storm was built as a yacht but with the scantlings of a shrimping bawley, but was never used for fishing. After the first World War she was sold again, had her first engine installed in 1920, and relocated to Burnham, and later West Mersea where she was found and bought by Maurice Griffiths, who re-named her Storm.  She was owned twice by Maurice Griffiths, past editor of Yachting Monthly, and he describes her in his books, in particular 'Magic of the Swatchways'. In 'Dream Boats' he describes her as 'My little 7 tonner Storm was built as a miniature bawley yacht, but with somewhat finer lines, and I always regarded her as one of the most endearing little craft I have ever owned.' He had to sell her and vowed he'd buy her back which he did six years later.  The owner between 1924 and 1930 when MG bought her back, was a Mr Eustace Mason, who founded the Claygate Cement works.  MG sold her again in 1931, and she was re-located to Poole, to take part in races organised by the Parkstone Sailing Club.  The owner then was a Col J M Hulton, a veteran of the Boer Wars, the First World War, and the Irish troubles in the 1920's.  There are records of her not doing too well in the 1935 round the island (IOW) race.  Storm drops out of the Lloyds Registers in 1937, and the next record I have found was the hand written receipt included in her paperwork, when the then owner John Derrick of Fareham sold her to David Cade in 1962.  John Derrick appears to have been an actor in the Portsmouth area, but the record is cold between 1937 and 1962 - I would love to find out where she was in those years.

David J Cade passed away on 17 July 2002, when serving as OGA President having owned Storm from 1962. Badly damaged in a northerly storm after the 1975 Solent Race in Cowes it took David Cade 18 years to rebuild her. Alison, his widow kept her on until her death in 2014.

Much of Storm is still original, although the cabin has been lengthened/the cockpit made shorter by about 18".  I have found and had restored a "Jack Tar" stove, the same as MG had, the elderly Kelvin diesel replaced with a more modern Beta, and gradually planks have been replaced, the hull re-fastened, the usual on-going process for an old boat like Storm."

So there you have it shipmates - Lock down in the time of Covid has its interesting diversions.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

____________________________ METAPHOR ____________________________

Photograph taken by our son on the streets of Ponsonby yesterday.

Up Covid creek without a paddle, or water, or in fact a creek.
Let's make Solidarity as a community our canoe,
 Common sense our creek,
Self distancing our water,
and our brains as our paddles,
Let's all pray for the nurses, doctors, care givers and all others who are working in the eye of this storm.

Friday, April 24, 2020

_________________ A POHUTAKAWA TREE AT ALGIES BAY _______________

Algies Bay is a place of good memories.

 The Pohutakawa trees that line the shore are big, old and beautiful. If they could talk, what stories they would tell.

This old one is called Mr Very Big Tree which I thought was an original name.

I asked Mr Very Big Tree politely and he let me have a whooping, swooping good swing.