When I got up Friday morning I checked in on the wind forecast and saw that it was northerly with gusts expected up to 25 knots. This bodes well I thought, if the breeze stays in, with any luck the committee will give us a blat to Somes Island and back. Not only will we finish the race, but we’ll be in with a shot for the rum. And that’s how it turned out, more or less. The wind backed off a bit, but I’d picked the course. Yay for me.
My boat is Oyster, a cruising yawl built by Charles Bailey Jr in Auckland, and launched in Nelson on New Year’s Day, 1903. Being an old girl, weighing in at around 8 tons, Oyster doesn’t really like stirring from her mooring for anything less than 15 knots, and really prefers something more like 20-25 before she’ll lift her skirts and go for a canter (I don’t think she has ever been up for a gallop).
On board with me was Ocean Sports grad Joe Furey and his partner Vivienne. Joe was a ring-in for the final day of the Line 7 regatta, during which we were both crewing on board Wailea. Wailea has a pretty basic mainsheet traveller arrangement (ie none), and when after racing, and finding he is training to be a surgeon, I felt pretty bad about getting him to stick his fingers into the mainsheet track to set a pin each time we tacked. Joe is a smart guy, picks things up quickly, and gets involved – which is why I was stoked to have him along on Friday.
In less than a week Joe has bracketed the fleet with first on line, last on line, and come away with a win on rum handicap. He seems to be enjoying himself.
It turns out Vivienne is a natural on the helm, so I hope she can get away from her own surgical studies to get her out sailing more also.
Oyster is a storied boat which has always been associated with the waters between Wellington and Nelson. She had a brief 20-year sojourn at Lyttelton, which is where she was when I bought her two years ago. When pottering about on her at Clyde Quay I’ve often had people aged between 30 to 90 come up and start reminiscing about her. She was registered with RPNYC from 1926, when she was owned by Commodore and Sanders Cup champion Nigel Blair, through to the 1950s when she was known briefly (and rather ambitiously) as Ariki.
The photos here show her in Clyde Quay, the exact same spot, in 1926 and 2021.