May 30, 2004
Auckland, New Zealand
After two and a half years of planning and nine round trips from Chicago, we are just two days to the handover of our new boat, Onora. We are renting a Takapuna Beach apartment until we move aboard.
When we left her last night Kelly's crew were installing the cushions, cabin sole and cleaning up. Today we will stay away and let them finish. While they tolerate us being around it is still "their boat" and we bog down their drive to meet the deadline.
Kelly is worse. He comes on for two hours and sees things through his close to forty years of boatbuilding eyes and compulsive mind and makes a list which is waiting for the crew the next morning. As we get to know them we hear the good-natured complaints about Kelly. He is blamed for taking pencils and lost tools. Jeff has great respect for Kelly but Jeff's brow furrows when Kelly comes on board. Jeff's mission is to get the boat done on time and Kelly's lists are constant emerging roadblocks.
She is a great boat. As the protection comes off the skill of these craftsmen is revealed. The finishes are perfect. The feel below decks is warm and comfortable. Above decks she is strong and serious. She exceeds our expectations.
We have three outstanding issues, the Wispergen, the Hurricane and the poles. The Wispergen is a generator for charging our batteries and it is exhausting sulfuric acid that runs down our transom in a brown etching trickle. The Hurricane is our heater that stops and starts whenever the refrigeration starts or an electric winch runs. The original poles were too short but were as long as we could get in aluminum.
Kelly is working on all three puzzles with at least three solutions for the Wispergen and the poles. He seems less interested in the Hurricane which, I must agree is an annoyance we could live with.
We have gone for three short sails. The first included the sail maker, the rigger, and Kelly. Winds were light but she picked right up to six knots. Smiles all around. "She sails like a witch!" Approving nods from all of the professionals. "Chuck Pain designs good sailing boats", from bald America's Cup racer Curley Salthouse. Kelly confided that of all of the boats he has built this was the one he would like to own.
Some time later Jim asked Kelly what he tells an owner on the first sail when Kelly realizes that the boat is a dog. After a pause and a smile, Kelly said, "Well Jim, in that case we say 'she sails like a witch!'"
We know she sails great. The proof will be 200 mile days on our ocean passages. That is all before us.