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Saturday, May 16, 2015

LOOKING BACK ON THE UNIQUE PLEASURE OF OUR VERY FIRST BOAT

Envoy is currently located at Lefkas marina, Greece.
We have fond memories of all six power boats we’ve owned, each one being a great experience and serving us well during different phases of our lives. But one stands out in our minds as extra special; our very first boat purchased in 1982, a 5.3 metre Seacraft Valencia powered with a Mercruiser 140hp petrol sterndrive. We still remember seeing this boat for the first time in the Seacraft showroom, thinking how big she looked sitting high on her tandem-axle trailer and admiring her rugged no-nonsense GRP clinker-hull styling.

Mokruiser on trailer

Then we met Seacraft director Lionel Sands and discovered this boat was special as she’d been built for his family use and included many optional extras. The boat was called Mokruiser, and Lionel explained the unusual name was based on the contraction of Mercruiser and Moko Hinau Islands (off the north-east coast of New Zealand’s North Island), where Lionel made regular fishing and diving expeditions from the family beach house near the Whangarei Heads. These Moko Hinaus, some 35 miles out from the Heads, can be a rough trip but the rewards are excellent fishing for snapper and kingfish as well as diving in the clear waters for large crayfish.
Mokruiser’s pedigree was sufficient to convince us that she would meet all our needs at that time, and during the two-year-long steep learning curve we owned her we logged 154 days cruising Auckland’s greater Hauraki Gulf, as well as trailering Mokruiser north to explore the incomparable Bay of Islands.
Most of our leisure time with our two kids was spent boating, our son introduced to boating from just a few months old strapped into a car safety seat adapted for use aboard Mokruiser. John obviously got a healthy dose of salt water into his veins as he later became first mate on a super yacht cruising Mediterranean and North American waters. After our skills and confidence grew we joined Coastguard’s volunteer Search and Rescue Group, and Mokruiser became a familiar volunteer “Rescue Cutter” back in the days before dedicated rescue craft.
We remember a day when our kids were building sand castles on a beach in Northland as we chatted with an older and wiser man who advised us to make the most of these special boating days as you don’t get a second chance. How right he was, and we never forget those early boating days and our various firsts – our first cruise around Kawau Island, the first time our kids rowed the dinghy and the first time they caught a fish with infectious excitement.

A family day out with Mokruiser in the early 1980s

Mokruiser on the right - we wouldn't be doing this with Envoy

Thirty two years later we meet Lionel again. Of course time changes us all, but there is instant mutual recognition and we express our gratitude to Lionel for putting us on course for lives which have largely revolved around boating, logging thousands of days skippering various boats in seven different countries. Lionel proudly guides us around Seacraft (now called Seacraft Miller Moyes), and explains the various stages in the production procedure for the highly respected Haines Hunter range of outboard-powered GRP trailer boats consisting of six core models ranging from 4.85 metres up to the flagship 7.25 metres.
This is an occasion for some reflection, and Lionel recounts how they started producing wooden boats. All the early boat shows he attended comprised only wooden boats. Then GRP boats first appeared during the mid-1960s, and within a short time there were few wooden boats to be seen. Later along came the rise of aluminium boats and RHIBs, so that today’s market has a wide diversity of offerings including imported boats.
These days Lionel goes to sea in a Haines Hunter SP725 and still sometimes ventures to the Moko Hinaus, but showed us some recent photos proving that he can always catch plenty of excellent snapper much closer to the Whangarei Heads largely negating the need for such a long round trip.
We enjoyed our time with Mokruiser so much that our next two trailer boats retained the same name, and it was both satisfying and intriguing for us to meet Lionel again to be reminded of our boating roots which have stood us in good stead for many years.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

ENVOY’S FUTURE CRUISING PLANS

Envoy is currently in Lefkas marina, Greece while we’re home in Auckland, New Zealand.
Although we had planned to continue our Med cruising aboard Envoy this year, circumstances are keeping us home until late August. Bearing in mind it takes around two weeks to prepare Envoy for the cruising season and that the weather turns wintry during November, we’ve decided to skip cruising this year. However we plan to visit Lefkas for a few weeks from September to check on Envoy, do some maintenance and explore some of the nearby Greek mainland by car – something we’ve not had time to do during normal cruising years. Meanwhile our friends at Sailand have arranged to lift Envoy from the water onto the hardstand where they will continue regular inspections, battery charging and dehumidifying.
We plan to keep the blog updated every 10 days or so with material related to cruising and to Envoy, so keep watching this space meantime.
Next year we’re planning to spend from late February to late November aboard Envoy, a longer period than usual, We’re intending to cruise up to Corfu, cross to southern Albania and cruise the Albanian coastline north (bypassing Montenegro) to Croatia, fairly quickly transit the southern half of Croatia’s coastline that we’ve already visited to explore the northern half, visit Venice and other areas of Italy’s north-east coast, call in at Montenegro on the return journey to take advantage of tax-free diesel and end up back at Lefkas once more.
If you’ve got a dream to go cruising, do it sooner than later while circumstances allow. As Mark Twain said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the trade wind in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.”
Fortunately, from our home we look out across Auckland’s constantly changing Manukau Harbour, so are constantly reminded of our strong connection with the sea.