As part of the plan to travel overseas for 6 months we needed to buy a boat capable of making the trip.
Five years earlier I had instigated the plan of fulfilling a 40 year dream. One of the first steps after discussing it with Joy was to break the news to our parents. I made sure that I had my mother’s full attention then I told her that in 5 years time we intended sailing around the South Pacific. ‘That’s very nice dear’ she said quickly. ‘Have another piece of cake’.
The rest of the family didn’t express any reservations immediately although I heard subsequently that some members, who shall remain nameless, tried to find some way of stopping this madness with only 3 months before departure. Thus, according to plan I started looking for a suitable vessel in August of 1997. Around Tauranga I didn't find much credence from the boat brokers. One who was recommended by a workmate as being honest blotted his copybook when I told him that he was purported to be honest. He said 'He obviously doesn't know me very well.' Another who I visited on a rainy day pointed from his office vaguely towards the marina and said 'There's one over there you might be interested in' and left me to it.
Partly in disgust and partly to check out a bigger slice of the market I telephoned an agent in Auckland and explained in detail what my needs were and when I would be arriving in Auckland to view the selection. I have found that this is the best way to do business.
Robin Brown, who was working for Busfields, got the task of showing us around. On the first trip I took my oldest daughter, Corina, who was also busy planning her wedding. Unfortunately she would not be on the trip with us. I say unfortunately because she is a good crew member. Anyway she had her priorities right and was a great help. On the first day, a wet Friday, we had a look at 15 boats. Almost all of them were almost suitable although several of the less suitable literally stank. How the owners had the gall to put them on the market in that condition beat me. Robin had done his homework well and was not pushy. The only scary part was being driven in his car which badly needed a new wheel-bearing. It made a terrible noise when we went around left turns. In order not to waste time we did not dally over unsuitable craft. The first one we saw was on the hardstand. I did not like it initially but as it filled the criteria I placed it on the possibles list along with three others.
The following week I took Joy back with me to look at the four. One of them had sold so another possible one was viewed. Eventually it came down to a Herreshoff and the Cavalier 36’ that I had seen first. The Cav was in the water by then and as the Herroshoff required some maintenance we made an offer on the Cavalier. After some bargaining all that remained was a test sail. I will not bore the reader with all the details of hull survey etc. On the 31st October Joy and I went for a test sail on the Waitemata harbour. We arrived late because I took a detour via Kawakawa Bay. On board was John Miller (owner), Robin Brown (agent), Mr Donaldson (diesel mechanic), Joy and I. It was a nice sunny spring day with only 8 knots of breeze and at one stage we climbed to 6 knots with full main and No.3 up.
We arrived home after finalising the purchase of 'Ruben Jane' again 1/2 an hour late to meet a very pleasant retired couple who were interested in buying 'For Sail' our Kestral (18 foot trailer-sailer) which we had owned for a dozen years. I took Bill and Miriam Broad and their friend out for a sail on Tauranga Harbour. Upon our return Bill and I bargained for 15 seconds to arrive at a price satisfactory to us both. A week later it was a morose couple who watched their friend being towed down the road for the final time. We wish them many happy times with her too. Many happy memories remain though.
Over the months of preparation, especially the last month, I became increasingly amazed at how many people wanted to come on board the dream - not to make the trip themselves but to encourage me to hold the dream tightly, or maybe it was for a multitude of other reasons.
Therefore I would like to thank Bob and Carol (Elyxir) for their encouragement, advice and help; Ken and Tiffany (Copout) for friendship and trysail; Bob and Ngaire (Taisia ) for their trysail which we eventually took; Mike McCormick for the safety inspection; Tony Thornburrow for help regarding sails and other smaller matters; the staff at Burnsco for their help.
There were many others such as family and friends who in many and divers ways helped to make the dream a reality. The three children deserve a big mention. They endured the loss of privacy in a confined area for 6 months before departure time to get used to the limitations of their personal space especially Susannah who's bed became the communal sofa during the day. The lack of privacy was an issue. To have 3 daughters on board during the trip, did involve some adjustments. We all had to consider others more than usual including when we had our feet on the table and someone wished to go past, we all had to sit up straight until they were past us. Surprisingly we all adjusted well and were fairly harmonious. Having a TV on board before we departed certainly helped.
Last of all I would like to thank Joy, my wife, for the many sacrifices both great and small and the trials of living in confined quarters, not only with a dreamer, but also coping with extended family pressures; for doing all the seemingly insignificant tasks; for growing in confidence through all the preparations. I hope in some small way to repay all the time, effort and expense by giving the family the trip of a lifetime.