2012 – An Overview




Apart from our account of the Round New Zealand Two-Handed Race, we have been horribly remiss in reporting on our activities for this year. Our only excuse is that our sailing activities otherwise have been pretty limited, though very enjoyable. This mostly photographic account of the rest of our year is meant to make some amends and we hope to do better in 2013.


As usual there was plenty of maintenance to keep us busy on ‘Sunstone’, though she is holding up amazingly well after 48 years of hard use. For our social sailing we often still went ‘Rum Racing’ with the Stewart 34s on Thursday afternoons in Auckland, organised, indeed commanded, still by the personification of Stewart racing, Bill Miller, now in his 87th year. (That’s Bill pouring the rum!) During the rugby season we make up for our lack of a television by forays to the ‘Cav’ in nearby Ponsonby, where we can watch Super 15 games and test matches. Occasionally there is also some yachting excitement, such as when the AC 45s are racing or their big sisters the AC72s are launched in the Viaduct Basin in central Auckland.











In January and February, we also had the pleasure of crewing on Mike Webster’s beautiful ‘Northerner’ in the Mahurangi Regatta and the Classics Regatta. We joined the fleet of beautiful and hard-raced classics.















After the Round NZ Race, we flew to England for a visit to family and friends. A spot of unaccustomed gardening, helping Dave to transplant an apple tree, kept Tom busy, while Vicky caught up with school friend, Deb Reichl in Cambridge, outside their old secondary school.








We toured some of East Anglia’s sights, including Orford Castle, the tide-mill at Woodbridge, the Butt & Oyster pub at Pin Mill and Vicky’s parents’ parish church at West Mersea.







As we knew we wouldn’t see English friends for Vicky’s 60th, we held a 59 1/2th party at the RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club), which gave a chance to catch up and reminisce with sailing friends.







In one of those eccentric anomalies of British life, the ‘James Caird’, the tiny craft in which Shackleton managed to sail from Elephant Island to South Georgia, is kept not in a museum, but at his old school, Dulwich College. Fortunately a cousin’s son attends the school and so we were able to pay our respects, both to the boat and the man.










Wordsworth can say what he likes about daffodils, but it is really a field of bluebells which best captures a sense of spring in England, while Flatford Mill in the heart of Constable country is about as essentially English as you can be. For the a bit of Roman flavour there is always Colchester Castle.








At the end of May, we finally managed to gather together the whole of the Jackson clan as well as Erika’s closest friends to celebrate her life and to reunite her with her husband, Bill, in the churchyard at Frant in East Sussex.



From England, we flew on to New York. There is little in urban life quite so remarkable as Central Park in early summer. Getting lost on its winding paths in the midst of rocks and trees, it is very hard to believe that you are in the middle of one of the most densely crowded and vibrant cities in the world.


Visiting New York in summer was not our real reason for going to the States. Tom’s sister, Inge, had been sending increasingly happy and exuberant e-mails during the preceding six months as she and Rob Freeman got to know each other.


While in England she had let us know that they had become engaged and we were delighted to be able finally to meet Rob and see for ourselves how very happy they are together.








While visiting Rob’s beautiful home in Bristol Rhode Island, we were also able to revisit the Herreshoff Museum there and marvel once again at the creativity and ingenuity of Cap’n Nat. We were also able to visit the IYRS (International Yacht Restoration School) at Newport nearby. Tom and Inge also had the chance to reminisce over past the sailing exploits of their youth at the Watch Hill Yacht Club, while a visit to the Frank Hall boatyard was a reminder for Tom of two long summers spent learning how to maintain wooden yachts.









Back to Auckland for the winter, we finally had the chance to compete in New Zealand’s largest race series the Simrad Triple Series run by SSANZ for two-handed crews. In 2012 there were over 150 entries. The weather for the three race series varied from light and variable to stormy and challenging. We did not cover ourselves with the glory in the normal results, but came away with a good haul of rum in the ‘Old Farts’ competition in which boat and crew age are primary handicap factors!









We had always anticipated that this last winter would be one for medical procedures. Each of us had finally decided to take the plunge. In Vicky’s case it was for new artificial lenses, which have given her the best eye-sight she has had since childhood and have also given her back bright colours. In Tom’s case it was time to re-surface his increasingly arthritic left hip.





Thanks to the kindness of Simon and Mary Wright, we were able to house-sit their Waiheke cottage for two weeks during Tom’s initial recovery, which would have been difficult or impossible on the boat. The huge woodpile gave opportunities for sawing therapy, while the large TV with Sky gave opportunities for rugby therapy.







In the meantime Vicky had the run of a kitchen for the first time in decades and made the most of the practice for when we become house-owners and eventually occupiers.


As a prize for the two female participants in the RNZ Race, Vicky and Sally were given the chance to have a manicure - certainly Vicky’s first and most probably last!




With medical procedures out of the way and recovery well begun, we started our search for a property in New Zealand. Initially we were looking in both the Warkworth area, north of Auckland and the Nelson area at the northwest corner of the South Island. However, as time progressed we looked increasingly in the latter – a process that is still on-going.



As usual when not on a long cruise, Vicky was setting herself challenging, but achievable targets. The first was to do the Auckland Half Marathon again, which she accomplished in only just over two hours.


She had also joined with a group of cycling friends to prepare for the Round Lake Taupo cycle event. After panting along on her hybrid bike, it became apparent that nothing would do but a proper all-carbon road-bike – with all the necessary accessories. Fortunately it was ruby red and so could be considered to be her 40th anniversary present!





We knew that we would be leaving Auckland at the end of the year, so we took the opportunity of Vicky’s 60th to invite many of our local friends to a party on ‘Sunstone’. We were very fortunate with the weather and at one point had 30 people aboard, with ‘Sunstone’ well sunk on her marks.








On 24 November, Vicky completed the 160 kilometre circuit of Lake Taupo in the very creditable time of six hours and forty minutes. This a remarkable event, with over 8,000 participants in various cycling challenges, all of them arduous and some quite ridiculous – the super-enduro is 8 times round, 1,280 kms! There are not many participants for that event.





At the beginning of December we made a quick trip west to Aus – by air for family celebrations. Dave Stearn, (brother-in-law) on holiday from England, was also celebrating his 60th birthday, which was a good excuse for us to spend time with Dave and Vicky’s sister Annabel both in Canberra and in Sydney.




On 19 December we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Though older, we are little wiser, as we still live afloat after 35 continuous years and we still can’t resist the odd bit of racing in our home. ‘There’s nought so strange as folk.’