Girdling the world starting from Perth - Part III
When leaving Tahiti behind I also parted from my encounter with the past. My next call was scheduled to be New Zealand, a place where, in spite of being my wife`s family country, I never had been before. Even though my stop over would be short lasting, only five days in Auckland, I anticipated great pleasure in being in Aetearoa, since we were sailing bound for New Zealand in 1969, when we interrupted our voyage in Tahiti because of the birth of our daughter. Notwithstanding, as a small compensation for missing to reach the port of destination, there is a saying that after calling at Tahiti everything else is anti-climax.
But New Zealand had also been embedded in our dreams. I intended growing roots there and establishing a boat building business somewhere in the North Island, since this was my favourite country to open a workshop in my trade.
If I would be well succeed or not, this I will never know, but for what I saw, the great majority of boats I observed in Auckland`s marinas and moorings don`t differ much from the sailboat and motor yacht projects belonging to our list of stock plans.
There are many classic wooden boats in West Haven Marina, a huge nautical compound close to the Auckland Bridge. Most of these boats being kept in Bristol fashion. It is a sight for sore eyes to look at them.
This ketch rigged double ended motor-sailer flying the American flag is available for charter and can be booked in the spot in downtown Water Front.
B & G Yacht Design has already a few clients in New Zealand, but we must admit that in general we still are absolute strangers to the Kiwi sailors. For that matter my first interest in this visit was to see the largest number of boats possible, to discover what profile of pleasure crafts fancies the local community. New Zealanders boast their country is where there are more pleasure crafts per inhabitants in the world, the ratio being one boat for every three inhabitants. Visiting West Haven Marina, as far as I know, the largest in Auckland, and perhaps the largest in the whole country, I discovered that there are heaps of cruising sailboats of an older vintage, and that the average L.O.A being around thirty foot, or so. It seems that little importance is given to status or fashion, functionality being the main concern.
This classic ketch is one of the many available for charter. Tourists have plenty of options to hire a crewed sailboat in Auckland.
Nobody is qualified to express opinions about a country after spending a few days on its main city. Besides, during those few days I didn`t have the chance of talking with a sole member of the local nautical community. But, for what I saw, what seems to be the prevailing taste and the main goal of the local average sailing enthusiast is owning a safe and sound offshore sailboat intended for family cruising.
This specific boat is a smaller size replica of the America`s Cup former formula racers. The professional crews involved in this competition used these cheaper to build lookalikes for training purposes.
The performance oriented crafts are basically one design classes. Authentic top gear offshore racing machines, this sort of sailboats I saw only a bunch of them. Our amateur clients who are building from our plans in New Zealand chose exactly the type of boats I had the chance to observe in large numbers in the places where I had visited, what boosted my optimism in pleasing New Zealanders with our line of stock plans in the future.
Modern art monument. Not that this is particularly my taste, but I must admit it is a creative piece of art.
After having a sneak peek on the pleasure boats fleet, it was missing a stroll around the city so I could claim I had been there. (I admit I am boat crazy, but not as much as not wanting to see anything else).That experience was fantastic. How lovely Auckland is! I would like to live there! Fortunately our family is planning a longer visit next summer, possibly renting a motor home, which would allow us to travel from tip to tip of both islands, highlighting a visit to Bay of Islands, one of the places I always dreamed in visiting, and calling at Oamoru, in South Island, where Eileen`s mother was brought up and where she has cousins living there, and finally meeting our clients Howard and Noelle Bennett, who are in the last stages of construction of their cruising yacht Smocko, a Multichine 36 which is being built with extreme proficiency in Dunedin.
Howard and Noelle Bennett are building a MC 36 in Dunedin, South Island. If we manage to travel to New Zealand this summer it is probable that we can see the boat already concluded. Courtesy: Howard & Noelle Bennett.
In may 2014 Smoko was in this stage of construction. Howard was intending to slow down the progress of the work during the coldest months of winter, since epoxy doesn`t cure below 13o Celsius and the South Island is freezing cold in winter. As he intends to finish the building this year, it is possible that the boat is looking very different from the photo above. Courtesy: Howard & Noelle Bennet.
Auckland is a blend of twenty century and twenty-first century architecture with some nineteen century Victorian style buildings that today are historical monuments. What an attractive combination! The glass walled skyscrapers are second to none in architectural creativity.
A charming Baptist church in Gothic style not far from the heart of downtown. The whole city is a pleasure to be seen.
Another building of modern architecture. There are many others in Auckland downtown cohabiting side by side with older constructions. I wish this doesn`t change in the future, even though admitting to be quite improbable.
I visited the Maritime Museum in the Water Front. This museum deals mainly with the saga of the first immigrants who travelled without the foggiest idea if they were going to survive or not. This model represents one of the liners which regularly brought immigrants from the UK and the continent. The new wave of immigration now comes from Asia.
The next day after my arrival was a Sunday, and was when the Auckland Marathon was taking place. These competitors are from the rear group, but for my surprise no Kenyan held the cup, this glory being given to a Kiwi.
The last day in Auckland I made two trips by ferry, one to Devonport, in North Auckland, a ten minutes travel across the Auckland Gulf, and the second one to Waiheke Island, a beautiful National Park where I had the chance to see the typical bush vegetation of the country, resembling a Jurassic landscape crowded with ferns and other ancient botanical species.
The Sky Tower, the city`s reference, is a benchmark in Auckland`s skyline. You don`t need a cell-phone with GPS to get oriented.
From Auckland I flew to Sidney, and then took a plane to Perth, the town where I am living at the moment. This quickly accomplished round the world trip was useful in my pursue to understand the wishes of sailors who live in different countries out of America and Europe, which we are more familiar with. The conclusion I arrived is that our work in developing offshore cruising sailboats and trawler projects has everything to do with the desire of most sailors, never minding where they are from, the wish of cruising with friends or family in safe and comfortable yachts capable of enduring harsh conditions.
Following our clients work from a close, as we enjoy doing, is a two ways road, helping our builders in solving their doubts, and teaching us what our clients consider being necessary to get better explained in the plans` details and in our building manuals.
Eileen and I in Perth, Western Australia. After a round the world trip we are joined again!