Sunday, May 27, 2012


Yacht 'Tawhiri" (Which means 'Wind' in the Maori Language)

This is the William Atkin designed gaff cutter yacht 'Tawhiri' which was built in Whangarei by Smiths Boatyard circa 1985. I remember seeing it being built amongst the sweet smelling wood shavings in the little boat shed by the Hatea River. She was planked with 2 inch thick heart Kauri planks. I remember the trouble they had laying the planks where the hull shape demanded both bending and twisting. As a result of this the hull was festooned like a hedgehog with large 'G' cramps that held the planks in place as they were fastened with big bronze screws.

I love this design, the small cabin that terminates at the mast, the generous deck room and the sense that this is a small ship rather than a 34 foot yacht. This is a serious small cruising yacht. If you catch her eye she will talk to you of deep, sheltered anchorages, her stern tied so close to a Pohutakawa tree you can easily step ashore, of the relentless sway of mast and sails below moonlight and stars - of warm trade winds, flying fish and dolphins. There is no nonsense about a boat like this.

I once read that the reason people garden is multi- layered. There is the aspect of the love of flowers, but there is also an aspect of design and a quest for perfection - a way, mainly subconsciously, of gaining control, of projecting ones will onto an aspect of the external world when so much of the external worlds larger aspects seem to control you - a balancing compensation of sorts; a way to gain mastery and a way of trying to create something as close to perfection as one can in an imperfect world - the creation of ones own 'Garden of Eden'. The key of course is to guide the innate ability of the garden and let it grow. Perhaps much of what we do has echoes of this psychology of gardening.

There are similar elements of this projection in my own love of boats. I am always looking for the 'Perfect' boat. I think this search is similar to the search by people who continually change their car in an attempt to find the perfect automobile. - It's a dopey kind of search, but kind of fun and there is nothing distressing about it at all. Sometimes I have about six perfect boats all lined up at once and it gives me great joy to see so many contenders for the crown. Of course it would be silly to project some sort of holy grail of happiness onto the search. The joy is looking at the changing parade of beautiful small yachts; the joy is in the journey rather than the destination.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Hi Alden,
This looks like a very sturdy yacht. With no references on the picture it is hard to imagine the yacht is only 34 feet. It looks much greater. And 2 inch (5 cm) planks is for me an awesome thickness, certainly when you have to form them in a ship’s hull.
The search for perfection, indeed the journey is the joy and the destination changes over time. Once I was designing the perfect soapbox car, then the most perfect racing bike and now I am trying to define the perfect very small camper van.