With a New Year comes the anticipation of another Russell Boating Club Tall Ships Regatta, and once again a number of junkies had decided to combine it with a junket.
Arcadian and Fantail briefly shared an anchorage, but a couple of days later, we came across Zebedee; Alan, Pauline and I agreed to sail up Te Puna anchor to Crowles Bay and as we sailed through Kent Passage, there was Arcadian
coming in from the outer bay. We caught them up and then had a great
sail up the inlet with a splendid chance for a photo op before coming in
Arcadian is the party boat, par excellence and the noise was soon up to acceptable levels on board. David and Rosemary always give us the impression than they like nothing better than to have a heap of noisy, hungry people come on board, eat and drink and then go home leaving them with all the washing up. Each boat always contributes something to the feast, and if nothing else, at least we take our pans home, but I always feel a bit guilty as we row away, leaving their home in a shambles!
For the next few days, each boat pottered around the area before meeting again for the Big Event, by which time we had been joined by La Chica and Pugwash.
Readers of this blog will already have encountered Pugwash in
his orange cover, oars poking out and looking like some sort of strange
insect paddling across the water. However, Marcus was dissatisfied with
this arrangement - the cover leaked, which not only makes it a bit wet
when sailing, but allows the rain into the interior, should he wish to
spend the night on board. So he had spent some time turning Pugwash into a much more sea-going boat.
The wee boat looked inconceivably cute, with its windows and - amazingly - a self-steering gear. And if the idea of a self-steering gear on an 8ft 6in boat seems unlikely, perhaps the most astonishing thing about it is the fact that it works very well!
When the day of the race arrived, Marcus had difficulties getting away from the dinghy dock: everyone wanted to know all about the boat and the conversion. They held their own in the fleet, but most people simply couldn't believe their eyes: from the stern, Pugwash looks like a miniature Endeavour
and the crews of the passing boats goggled at this strange apparition, and the sight of Marcus calmly drinking his home brew while his tiny ship sailed herself to windward! They caught everybody's attention and even ended up in prime place in the local paper's coverage of the event.
In the meantime, the rest of the fleet divided into two races. La Chica and Zebedee were obviously going to be a close-run combination. Paul had redesigned and re-built his rudder and reckoned he would wipe the smile off Alan's face, but it was an extraordinarily close-run race and they crossed the finish line within moments of one another, La Chica just ahead. Meanwhile, they were showing some of the other boats just what a well-rigged and well-sailed junk-rigged boat can achieve.
Roger had left Shoestring
in Auckland where she is undergoing rig alterations (yet to be finalised), but took this magnificent photograph of Zebedee
and La Chica
jousting for position at the start line. If you want to see some more splendid photos, please look at Roger's album here
Arcadian, Zebedee and La Chica all counted as Tall Ships, whereas little Fantail was in another class (and poor Pugwash) was too small to be entered. But Arcadian and Fantail ended up in their own race, which Arcadian finally won on the homeward, down wind leg, where her long waterline let her walk away from us.
Fantail meanwhile had had a less than happy day, for some reason unable to find her rhythm in the inconstant breeze which seemed to come round to the nose every time I hoped it might just free us. The most disappointing aspect of this was that I had a friend on board, a sceptic about junk rig, whom I'd hoped to impress. But it was not to be. However, we all enjoyed the fine party after the race and I think both Alan and Paul were very proud to realise how well they had done in the Tall Ships fleet, where they were placed 9th and 10th on handicap. Fantail's only consolation was that although she was last to cross the line, she did cross the line before the final gun, unlike a lot of the competitors who had long since given up.
The Regatta might be over, but the junket carried on and a couple of days later, Zebedee, Pugwash and Fantail had a splendid sail in company together: Zebedee and Pugwash looked quite wonderful as they sailed side by side.
But Pauline and Marcus had to head back to work, so we all went our separate ways, with another splendid junket under our belts. In truth, I'm not sure that any of us had the stamina for yet another wonderful party aboard Arcadian. But we were all very pleased to have had no fewer than 5 junk-rigged boats at the regatta: the wonderful Christine Hall even let us have a class of our own for first across the line - won by La Chica.