Monday, October 26, 2015


Lion New Zealand waits for her crew at the Viaduct Basin in Auckland.

My good friend David came with me on this adventure. He often crews for me on 'Mariner' (As pictured). He was a great addition to the Lion NZ crew. He winched his heart out all day on the coffee grinders and proved his cast iron stomach when he went below in 25 knots of wind as night fell, and as we lurched and crashed our way through the night to help prepare the evening meal. He thoroughly enjoyed himself (He got to helm Lion NZ over the finish line at Russell) and now wants to do an Auckland to Fiji race on Lion NZ! Good on you David, you are a real sailor.

Tooling around waiting for the start. David is one up from the bottom of the photo on the left.

The race has started and every bit of weight to windward helps. I am sitting fourth from the left in the photo. We all wore compulsory harnesses at night and when it got rough and life jackets all the time. (Hold that thought about the life jacket).

Off we go storming along with an inner stays'l set under the roller furling jib.

This was the closest we ever go to our nemesis the great 'Steinlager 2'. She was crewed by high school students from Kings College Auckland.

The large fleet of over 100 yachts left in three divisions. This is the first division that started at 9am.

The mighty trimaran 'Vodaphone' that was first boat to Russell in the Bay of Islands. She started as we all did on Saturday morning and was in Russell by 7.30pm Saturday evening. We arrived at 7.30 the next morning. She beat us by about 14 hours. To win like this (and counting the extra distance because of the amount of tacking) she must have been averaging about 18 knots all the way.

Steinlager 2 in all her glory with her huge ketch rig all powered up. She made a great sight on the harbour.
The gun has gone for our division, the last to depart. The small inner stays'l is being prepared for hoisting, North Head is the high point on the port side in the distance. As we took this point to port and headed up the coast we could see large numbers of spectators taking advantage of the elevation to get a good view of the start of the race.

'Steinlager 2' creeps away from us. Fundamentally a faster boat this was to be the pattern for the whole race. She finally beat us in by 4 hours.

The big downwind flyers enjoying the last of the westerly winds. It wasn't long before the direction of the wind changed dramatically.

A well known mark on the Waitemata harbour.

Heading north with Rangitoto Island disappearing in the distance.

Moving fast through the fleet with Whangaparoa Peninsula in the distance.

Passing Whangaparoa Peninsula. This blue yacht is a Cavalier 40, one of four owned and operated by the Royal NZ Navy. There were two navy yachts  in the race, one crewed by a party from the NZ Army. The navy crewed yacht won, very much I imagine to the huge relief all round of the navy.

Here I am in my life jacket; pleased to be part of it all, enjoying the sailing and the sun (Hold that thought about the life jacket).

Well on our way now with Kauwau Island in the distance. At this stage the we were still close reaching in a westerly wind.
One of the smaller yachts has some fun surfing on our wake as we pass.

Off the small harbour of Leigh and Omaha beach. On the horizon just to the left of yacht ahead of us is Bream Head and the entrance to Whangarei Harbour.

The Auckland yacht 'Anarchy' keeps pace with us off Leigh.

An emergency knife is kept taped to the boom vang on Lion NZ - just in case.

Game Changer! - The wind changed suddenly to the North and we caught up briefly with Steinlager 2. To windward of Steinlager 2 is Bream Head and to the right of this headland the entrance to Whangarei Harbour. This headland marks about the halfway point in the race up to Russell in the Bay of Islands. Part of the fleet continued directly to windward passing close to Bream Head, the rest headed out to sea.
To the left of Steinlarger is 'Sail Rock' a prominent and unlit rock right in the middle of Bream Bay. To the right is 'The Hen' (Taranga) Island. Steinlager 2 is heading out to sea on a very long tack that has her passing the Hen and Chicken Islands to seaward. We followed suit.

The wind veered to the North and began to strengthen. Here we are romping along at about 12 knots.

With the wind increasing Lion becomes overpowered, so in went the first reef.

Well heeled over and heading east at a great rate of knots.

Concerns about some cracks and flexing around the vang attachment to the boom.

With the wind still increasing, in goes the second reef.

Second reef going in. To the right the Northland coast is receding in the west as we head out to sea.

Well to the east of the Hen and Chicken Islands and heading back towards the Northland coast we watch as the sun sets into the west. It was a long, cold and very windy night. Luckily there was almost a full moon which meant that along with the moon the stars were very vivid and visible. I love being at sea at night and coincidentally when I arrived back I continued to read an article about a very famous yachtsman and first editor of the American Rudder magazine .......... who captures the enchantment of night sailing offshore thus:

"Except for the sound of bow treading down the overtaking wave, nothing was audible save for the faint rustle of the canvas - the song of a wind satisfied sail. Such a night puts into your being that life-love, that affection, nay passion, for existence that gives the earth enchantment, so that all things assume the aspect of immutability, when the soul in longing to share, cries out in ecstasy "Let me live forever". - Thomas Fleming Day.

Early morning and we have closed the coast. Piercy Island to the left, Cape Brett to the right.

Earlier in the morning I had an interesting round of fisticuffs with my life jacket. I am shipmates, susceptible to a bit of sea sickness. I was armed with sea sick pills but in the end didn't take them because they make me drowsy and I wanted to be fully conscious not only so as to be able to enjoy the trip but also for safety considerations - a half asleep crew is no crew at all. Well, early in the morning as the wind reached  new heights to coincide with the ever increasing rough seas I was seasick. I was lying on my side on the windward deck so I rolled over onto my stomach and pulled myself out under the life rails to be sick over the side. As I was doing so the little plastic ball on the air canister rip cord that inflates the life jacket got caught between the deck and the weight of my body. The life jacket inflated as if in slow motion and squashed me unceremoniously between the deck and the first wire in the life rails life lines! Bugger. LOL. It took some time to struggle my way out of this predicament, but with a big push and the twang of a very relieved overstretched life line wire I rolled back onto my prone deck position and tried to sleep with my head now elevated somewhat off the deck by the inflated jacket. Bloody Nora.

It was dark and windy and Lion NZ was fair belting through the night and I don't think anyone else noticed at all. BUT - As the day broke there I was, the only crew resplendent in a bright day glow coloured  INFLATED life jacket, all corpulent and bulbous, like the brilliant coloured markings on the fat fleshy arse of a baboon.  Later, one of the crew made the stunning observation that my life jacket had inflated. He said knowingly, "I see your life jacket is inflated".  Not wanting to sound like I looked - (A complete dork) I affected a deeper than usual manly voice and replied, ' Yeah, bloody new fangled technology, goes off when you least expect it".

Journeys end. On a mooring off Russell Bay of Islands with the onset of rain and more wind.

The formidable Vodaphone anchored with her crew no where to be seen (They were in the pub celebrating).
Saying farewell to Lion NZ. There were 22 crew on board on the trip. Less than half of the crew left Lion at Russell, so there were plenty of people left to crew her back to Auckland.

Up the Russell wharf gangplank and off to the Duke of Marlborough pub for some breakfast. Thank you Lion NZ , skippers and crew and the New Zealand Sailing Trust that keeps these boats up and sailing. Thanks for a stunning and memorable experience - We'll be back!

Sunday, October 18, 2015


If you are a consistent reader of this blog you may remember a story about a harbour race I participated in on board  Steinlager 2 on Auckland Harbour.  If you would like a reminder of this story, you can read about the race here:;postID=2179814401295258950;onPublishedM
Along with my friend David I am now about to participate in a race that is a lot longer in distance. It is the annual Coastal Classic. David and I will be racing crew on board 'Lion New Zealand'.

'Lion New Zealand' is an 80 foot Maxi sloop that was raced around the world in the Whitbread Around the World race in the 1980s by the late Peter Blake and his crew. It is now owned by 'The New Zealand Sailing Trust'. Opportunities are available for crewing in various coastal and overseas races.
The race starts this Friday the 23rd of October and we race from Auckland to Russell in the Bay of Islands. This photograph shows the coast that we will sailing along. Here Lion is returning to Auckland. Cape Brett is in the distance. If you hang a right after this headland you will enter Whangarei Harbour where I live.

Here is Steinlager and Lion rafted up at the Viaduct Basin in Auckland. Steinlager is also competing in the Coastal Classic so it will be an exciting time competing against her. If the wind is anywhere aft of the beam I think that 'Big Red' as she is nick named will be faster, but if the wind is forward of the beam and there is a lot of hard on the wind work then I think Lion will shine. The long range weather forecast for this Friday is for Northerly winds so we might well have a great race on our hands - Can't wait!

Friday, October 16, 2015


In response to these postings about the Rozinante my good friend Ben from the Netherlands emailed me and reminded me of a Rozinante being built 140kms away in Helensville just north of Auckland. Ben visited the builder Marco Scuderi when Ben and his wife Renee were in New Zealand in 2013. I remember now Ben telling me about their visit and talk with Marco, but I had forgotten about the Rozinante build. You can see a large number of photos of the early stages of this build here:

Thank you Ben : > )

No doubt some time in the future I will take a drive down to Helensville and take a look.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


"Sprite" An L. Francis Herreshoff 'Rozinante' Canoe Yawl Design.

Simple Sailing Values  - From 'The Compleat Cruiser' by L. Francis Herreshoff
"Goddard was the only other one who had read Don Quixote, so much of this explanation went over the heads of the Rozinante's visitors, just as much of the wit in Cervantes' book goes over the heads of the average modern reader.
Goddard remarked; "I think Rozinante is a splendid name for a boat whose owner has an appreciation of romance, for I am sorry to say romance is a rare thing today and some people even laugh at it, whereas it used to be the incentive that carried one through fog, calm and tempest. It even seemed to make one enjoy the hardships which occur in cruising. But the modern cruiser has to have a vessel so cluttered up with mechanical gadgets and electrical devices that the cabin no longer is fit to live in and the boat has to be served by a mechanic, whereas a sailorman in the old days could take care of everything if he had a spark of romance in him. I suppose most modern cruisers are so unromantic in looks that all romance is killed as you board them..........

........... Miss Prim then spoke up: "Pa, just what do you mean by a boat or object being romantic?"
"Why, Prim," he replied, " when a thing is out of the usual and pleasing to contemplate it is romantic. When an object is nicely proportioned and has retained some well proven ancient quality, it is romantic looking. I  suppose to a sailor a romantic vessel is one that looks like a good sea boat, one which has a good sheer and nicely proportioned ends; in short, a vessel that he falls in love with at first sight, as we all did when we saw the Rozinante."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


I am currently half way through a wonderful book well known to sailing aficionados - THE COMPLEAT CRUISER, The Art, Practice and Enjoyment of Boating, by L. Francis Herreshoff (Obviously an American hence: Compleat / Complete)

L. Francis Herreshoff was the designer of the 'Rozinante' as well as many other sublimely beautiful sailboats.

I grew up with this book as it was part of my fathers somewhat large library of sailing books, but I never read it mainly because I was put off at the time by the tone of its didactic approach i.e. it is intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive. This approach often comes across in a patronizing way which is unfortunate but if you can put that to one side as I have now done, you become caught up in Herreshoffs wisdom and the wonderful values regarding sailing that Henry Thoreau himself would approve of. The values are from a simpler time but are absolutely able to be embraced today in an approach to sailing.

I shall let L. Francis Herreshoff tell the significance of Rozinantes name:

"In the first pause in the conversation, Miss Prim inquired the meaning of the names Rozinante and Sancho Panza. Weldon explained; "Rozinante was the name of  Don Quixote's steed. She was a long, thin animal but every time the Don mounted her he had remarkable adventures. Perhaps seven-eighths, of the romance of these adventures took place in Quixote's mind,  for he was a great reader of romance who rather looked down on the times in which he lived. Like Don Quixote, every time I venture out on this Rozinante I meet with great adventure and romance. Perhaps, also, seven-eighths of it takes place in my mind, but each point that I round opens up new vistas with all sorts of possibilities. Each rock or shoal which I clear has its adventures for me, for I am a very timorous sailor. As for my tender, she is named after Don Quixotes squire or companion, who followed him faithfully in his exploits and often saved him from disaster at the last moment. Sancho Panza was a short, stout individual of a dark complexion, and so is the dinghy."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 40

The first job after the glue had cured was to clean off the excess glue and smooth the surfaces with a wood plane.

 I used a wood plane, surform plane (green handle top right) and sandpaper to shape the tiller. The original square section has been retained on the right hand end. This end goes into the rudder stock. The tiller has then been tapered on the bottom face towards the left hand end.

The tiller is now ready for final fitting to the rudder stock, the drilling of fastening holes, varnishing and the making, fitting and bolting on of the tiller extension.

This evening I went to the Onerahi Yacht Club and watched their racing programme in operation. Here are a couple of the Starling Class yachts enjoying an evening sail. I talked to some of the skippers before they launched - it gave me a good boost and a determination to keep the rebuild momentum going.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 39

Laminating up the new tiller. A tiller was the only bit of gear missing when I bought the boat. I have laminated five alternating layers of white pine and mahogany. This alternating of contrasting colours always varnishes up well.

With the painting of the hull completed the  boat is now right side up all and all the hardware is being fitted.

A final coat of 'Storm Grey' finishing gloss paint makes the cockpit look smart. To protect the varnish I  taped out the cockpit slates and the cockpit beading at the deck level. I am now able to count the number of jobs to complete on both hands, which is a good sign.