Search This Blog


In Greenland

Iron Bark

Iron Bark
Under full sail


At Russell Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta

Blue Water Medal

Blue Water Medal
Blue Water Medal

Books By Annie Hill

  • Brazil and Beyond
  • Voyaging on a Small Income

15 July, 2013

It was the end of January before I'd finished my refit, and I was spurred on to leave by the thought of going to the Mahurangi Traditional Boat Regatta.  Now a Raven 26, even one that's over 25 years old (and therefore, so I'm told, a 'Classic' Boat) could not by the wildest stretch of the imagination be described as a traditional boat, which meant that we couldn't enter.  However, as I am not keen on racing at the best of times and would hate to race my own boat, this was far from being a drawback.  So I decided to go as a spectator.

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.

From Waiheke I went junk hunting, meeting up with friends in Tamaki and Herald Island, who were busy getting their boats ready for launching.  Shoestring had been well and truly neaped many moons ago and it was looking unlikely that she would get off the mud in order to meet up with some other junkies in a few weeks time.  Fortunately, with a lot of effort, and a little luck, Roger got her back afloat and we met again off Waiheke, to have a little junket.  Arcadian also joined us, as did Pugwash - all 7ft 8ins of her.

 We didn't get much sailing done - again, there was hardly any wind, but had a fine social time of it.  It was fun to see such unusual boats together:

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, (, 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. (

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 (  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 (


Mark Elliot-Ranken said...

Hi Annie I have followed your travels etc since first reading cruising on a small income 20 years ago. You make a good case for junk rigs & small simple boats, perhaps I'm finally learning the lesson of simplicity. If you ever sail to Sydney I would love to catch up.
regards Mark

Anonymous said...

Annie, is your book still available?

Annie Hill said...

Anonymous: yes, my book is still available, directly from Tiller publishing (US) or via Amazon. Second hand from www.Abebooks.

James said...

Where do I start looking for a small boat that is junk-rigged in the U.S.? Have searched the Internet and have found only one boat in the U.S. And it was 36'. Enjoy your books and philosophy,

Unknown said...

Hi Annie

Have just purchased plans for Gary's "Shoe Horn"

Heading back from working in Wanaka to look for a shed or barn around the Mahurangi for the build.

Used to be moored close to "Footprints" when we lived on our Ketch Rigged Harry 28.

Always admired her.

Will keep a weather eye out for you and get you up for a feed.

P.S. Worked on the plug and mould for the Raven and we owned one for around 3 years back about 2005/8.

Cheers: Lynley and Mike

Annie Hill said...

Oh, well done. I was very tempted to build her myself, but in the end decided that I really need less draught, when I come to build The Next Boat. (Read all about it at David Thatcher, a member of the JRA, has lots of space at his place near Mahurangi and is thinking of building another boat ... Maybe you and he should have a chat about joining forces.

Interesting that you worked on the Raven. I'm still trying to find out who mine was built for: originally named 'Small Change' and fitted out in mahogany.

Unknown said...

Hi Annie

Ref Fantail

Get hold of Mick Elmes at Eastern Beach, Auckland. 1 the Esplanade I think.

Mick and his business partner Don Mossley built most of the Ravens at "Glass Yachts.

Cheers: Lynley and Mike