Friday, November 30, 2018


Staying at Akaroa on Banks Peninsula for a few days last week provided us with a base for daily trips to the many bays that indent Banks Peninsula. We visited for the first time Le Bons Bay which is now one of my favourite places. It is beautiful and remote. A small settlement of houses are snugly contained close to a beach guarded by twin headlands that frame the Pacific Ocean to the east.

A small river to the south of the beach opens to the sea.

Quiet and tranquil on our visit, it would be interesting to see this beach when a winter storm comes rolling off the Pacific Ocean from the east.

Sand dunes and native grasses provide a buffer between the beach and the houses and farmland that lies to the west.

 A stand of pines trees (which are not native to New Zealand) guard the southern end of the beach.

 The small river that is open to the sea is flooded by salt water at high tide forming an inland estuary.

The housing is a mixture of smart looking new builds and older housing.

The ubiquitous southern penchant for planting thick shelter belts of Macrocarpa trees indicates something about the peninsulas weather.

The attraction of these bays that girdle Banks peninsula is their beautiful rugged individual character which is preserved to a large extent by their relative remoteness from the big city of Christchurch which lies about 65 miles (100km) to the northwest.

This is a place to enjoy the easy solitude. We'll be back.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

_________________________ AUNTY MOIRA ___________________________

Last week we flew to Christchurch to celebrate the one hundredth birthday of my Aunty Moira, my late mothers sister. There were cards and messages from HRH  Queen Elizabeth, Patsy Reddy the Governor General of New Zealand, the local member of parliament and family and friends. It was a very happy occasion and a great time to catch up with the Christchurch branch of the family.

Aunty Moira had always been 'as sharp as a tack' and it was great to see that attaining the age of 100 years had not changed this one iota. She immediately recognised me, called me by name and said how lovely it was to see Christine and I as we chatted away. It was certainly lovely to see her again and to see her surrounded by the love and good will of her immediate and extended family.

To live to 100 involves enduring the vicissitudes of existence in terms of mental and physical health, accidents and disease. In Aunty Moiras case the odds were compounded by the fact that she was a regular cigarette smoker well into her 70s!

Aunty Moira you defied the odds and lived a rich and fulfilling life through the years 1918 - 2018 and were witness to one of the most tumultuous centuries in human history - Happy Birthday.

Monday, November 26, 2018

___________________________ MEANING ______________________________

This is an old post that I have posted again. When I originally posted it I don't think I fully understood just what Lewis was getting at, but now I think I do. Consciousness is complex, multilayered and the exact substance and structure may well be something other than what we think it is, or what and who we exactly are. Opposites are part of the deciphering.

"If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning." - C.S.Lewis

Sunday, November 25, 2018

________________________ LONE GULL 2 __________________________

A Gull has a number of appealing attributes. It can fly, it can float and paddle itself around on the water and it can walk fast and upright on the land. 

This classic Maurice Griffiths design yacht 'Lone Gull 2' which he had built for himself in the 1960s can't fly (although she can "fly" downwind in a sedate and steady manner when sailing), she can certainly float and sail herself around on the water and although she can't walk on the land she can sit upright on the sand or mud when the tide goes out. So she has I suppose what could be called Gull like tendencies. Griffiths named her 'Lone Gull 2' because she is a development of the first gaff rigged centreboard keeled 'Lone Gull' which was of similar size, although her displacement was much heavier,

'Lone Gull 2' has a number of interesting attributes (including the above mentioned) that set her apart from many of the 'run of the mill' type yachts that abound. These attributes appeal to me greatly.

- She is of raised deck construction which vastly increases her internal volume both in visual and actual terms.

- She has twin bilge keels (as well as a central lead ballasted keel) which allows her to sit upright when aground. These bilge keels combined with her deep forefoot and long keel allow her to steer herself for long periods of time.

- Her hull form which has deliberately flattened bilges means she is very steady downwind without any rolling action at all. Griffiths wife who was very susceptible to sea sickness was never ill on this boat. She is not a racing machine and makes no concessions on that score, but her hull form allows for a steady six knots or more in whatever direction you point her.

- Her mast is designed to be used in a tabernacle which would make any maintenance easier.

- She solves the perennial problem of what to do with dinghy. She carries her rigid dinghy 'Baltic Style' over the stern is a pair of sturdy davits. At 28 feet long Lone Gull 2 is the smallest size of boat that is capable of carrying a dinghy in this manner without the whole outfit looking silly and out of balance. She is able to do this by having a nice broad stern; a seven foot dinghy on this boat doesn't look at all out of place.

Over the years I have collected a few sets of complete building plans. Many of them I have inherited from my father. The building plans for 'Lone Gull 2' are perhaps one of two sets that are my most prized of all. 

With her easy docile manner, ample accommodation, ability to sit upright on the mud and the dinghy problem solved in such an inspired manner, I would call this boat a great retirement option for old sea dogs.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

_________________ CROSSING OVER TO THE DARK SIDE ________________

I have never really had much time for the International Laser. I have referred to them as floating fridge doors and been scornful of their lack of freeboard, the oddity of their sleeve mains'l that fits over the mast and their ubiquitous looks that seem to lack any individuality. I have been confirmed in my opinion by skippers who tell me they are difficult to sail and because of their low freeboard they have to sit in a slightly awkward manner with their knees up higher than in most other boats. Generally I have always been dismissive of the Laser.

Today I went out and bought myself a Laser.

 My reasons for purchasing a Laser are:

- My Zephyr (In the foreground in the above photos) has developed a crack in the planking and the keel and is leaking badly. I have always intended to do a complete restoration of this old girl and now it is imperative that I do so.

- While I am completing this restoration I need a boat to race in the same way I need oxygen.

- There are two fleets racing at the OYC on a Tuesday night or on weekends. I have been racing the Zephyr in the slow fleet, which has now diminished in number to about four boats.

- The fast fleet is mainly comprised of Lasers, either the Radial or Full Rig. To take part in the racing in this highly competitive fleet I need to be sailing a Laser, simple as that.

So it's a pragmatic decision. To get the 'one to one', one design competition with the local fleet I need to be sailing a Laser, end of story. I will be able to indulge in 'one to one' competition again in the Zephyr at the Nationals next year in Tauranga if I get the restoration completed in time.

Weekly competitive yacht racing is my gym workout for the week, I love it and look forward to it with a relish. Hopefully with time I will come to regard my new boat with a bit of affection although admiring a floating fridge door is going to take a bit of a turn around - but, well, hmmm, when I got the boat home and stood looking at the velocity of her sleek lines and her hungry breaking bad 'go get'em' attitude,  I am feeling a softening in these old nautical bones and I am looking forward to embracing a bit of the dark side.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

__________________ NOT SO NEIGHBOURLY TREES ____________________

To climb the fence I used a ladder. To cut some of the trees I had to sit or stand on top of the fence. I fell off the ladder a couple of times, but luckily I didn't fall off the top of the fence.

As is the case in many other towns and cities around the world, here in Whangarei there are no bylaws restricting the height of trees or hedges. Issues with Monkey Apple trees on our back boundary have been an on going issue for decades. A previous owner of the Monkey Apple house grew hedges on two sides of the property to a height of of over 60 feet. Any pleas by neighbours to trim this forest was meet with volcanic eruptions of that universal human condition IDGA - FAAEM (I don't give a fuck about anyone except myself).

The current owners of the property are far more reasonable. Discussions resulted in their agreement to allowing the trimming of the face of the wildly prolific growth that overhangs our side of the fence (something that we can actually currently do by law) and the topping of the trees next Autumn. Of course all of this would have to be at our expense.

 Looking along the fence line to the end you can see how far the growth had overhung into our property.

Expense is an interesting topic. We got two quotes. The first was from a bloke who said it would take him 3 days by himself to complete the job. His price was $800. He looked a bit diffident as he gazed at the height of the trees.

The second quote was from another strappingly fit young man who said, "Jeez, sweet as mate, cut it out in a day and we'll wood chip everything on site. He was working for a larger gardening organisation. Their quote was $1800. Before he left this honest trader told us quietly that he and his mate could come on the weekend, use the bosses wood chipper and do the job for $1000. We'll think about, we said.

I thought about all this for a week or more. I thought about a number of jobs done around the house, and completed (if that's the correct word), by so called tradesmen and handymen, and how when I looked at the quality of the work they had completed (there's that word again) I wished to fuck I'd done the job myself. So I decided that I would do the work myself.

 The hedge trimming has lightened the backyard up considerably. New growth will green up the exposed trunks.

I found doing this work at the age of 67 pretty exhausting. I used one of my sturdy wooden saw horses, an aluminum ladder and a strong cross cut hedge cutting hand saw. It took me about half a day to cut the trees back away from the fence. I fell off the ladder twice. I got lots of scratches and cuts until I changed from a T shirt to a stout denim shirt on the second day and drank copious quantities of liquids. At the end of the first day I had a huge pile of branches lying on the back lawn.

On the second day I hired a trailer with a cage on the back and worked for a full day loading the trailer with huge loads for my two trips to the dump where the trailer was weighed and payment made accordingly. Wife Christine worked like a trooper helping with one of the loads when she had returned from her work and when we had finished we both needed Nana and Poppa naps in the late afternoon.

1st TRIP  TO DUMP -  $41.40
2nd TRIP TO DUMP - $32.40

TOTAL COST          -  $129.00

I am not stating that had we got this job done commercially we would have been ripped off in any way - businesses have to pay wages and make a profit. My only problem with commercial firms is that they charge a lot of money, the quotes can vary widely and the workmanship often leaves a lot to be desired.

My main point is that you can save a lot of money by simply doing things yourself.