We had a fine sail down past Kawau Island and into Mahurangi Harbour, where we anchored amidst the fleet, not far away from Gary and Beryl Underwood's recently restored Mason Bay. I ended up joining in the racing and with junk rig - when David Thatcher kindly invited me to sail on Footprints. We seemed to have far less drama in the gusty conditions, than those on the gaff and bermudian-rigged boats. Gaff rig is undoubtedly beautiful, but I will stick with junks, thank you very much.
We had a wild sail back to Whangarei, with a very fresh easterly that had us averaging well over 6 knots: including three hours of tacking, we sailed the 57 miles in 11 hours. Fantail can pick up her heels when she wants to. I drove the boat quite hard - normally I'd have put more reefs in - to give the rig a proper trial. I have made a new yard, this time out of Douglas Fir, and was pleased to see that it gave no problems.
This was the last time that I had to sail in more wind than I'd ideally choose, all summer, because from then on we had the most glorious weather and predominantly easterly winds. I spent quite a bit of time ambling around and exploring the Hauraki Gulf. I attended a wonderful RCC Meet in Waiheke, where we pottered around to various anchorages and had some interesting visits ashore. Fortunately, the distances were short, because we had very little wind. Mike Robinson took some lovely photographs of Fantail.
Shoestring sailed back to Herald Island and Pugwash went off on her car back north. Arcadian and Fantail had to dodge a nasty blow for a day or so, but we had a splendid sail back to Whangarei, with Fantail giving the much larger Arcadian a good run for her money for a while.
Sadly, for David and Rosemary, this would be their last good sail: David has a heart problem and long-distance sailing is no longer feasible. Arcadian is now on the market and looking for a good home.
Another boat that we missed at this year's junket, was Pacific Spray:
her owners were in Germany. Pacific Spray is also for sale, (http://www.apolloduck.com/feature.phtml?id=304587), but for happier reasons: Rob and Maren are planning to downsize and build one of Gary Underwood's Shoehorn designs: a 26 ft version of Shoestring. This is a boat that I find very attractive, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing her under construction. She will, of course, have a junk rig. (http://gary-underwood-designz.co.nz).
The final highlight of this wonderful summer, was seeing the re-launch of Paul Thompson's La Chica.
Paul has spent over 7 years completely rebuilding the 32ft Tahitiana and plans a non-stop circumnavigation, to start in 2014. He is completely deaf and is hoping to raise awareness about cochlear implants (www.sailingwithoutasound.com). The boat is now sailing - I went along for the maiden voyage - and her teal-coloured junk rig looks quite magnificent.
(Sorry about the small size of the photo - I filched it from the Junk Rig Associations Photogallery (http://www.junkrigassociation.org/photo_gallery).