Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Opua: Warwick Tomkins, Jr. and FLASHGIRL


        As I was preparing to sail GANNET from her mooring a few weeks ago, a man on a handsome red hulled boat on the next mooring called to me.  I couldn’t quite hear what he said and replied that I was going sailing, but would be back in a few hours.
        I noticed, as any sailor would, that his boat, FLASHGIRL, is obviously a sailor’s boat.  About 40’/12 meters long, very tall rig, bendy mast, clean lines.
        A courteous interval after I had sailed back onto the mooring, I heard the call, “Gannet”, stood in the companionway, and found the man from the red boat in his dinghy along side.  He introduced himself as Warwick Tomkins.  I asked, “The Commodore?”  He smiled affirmation.
        Many of you will know the name.  This Warwick is Warwick Junior and he became a Cape Horner at age four when Warwick Senior sailed around Cape Horn from the east in the 110’ German built pilot schooner, WANDER BIRD, with his wife, two small children, two crew, and four paying guests.  
        I have since spend some time with Warwick and have been given a tour of FLASHGIRL as he has of GANNET.  FLASHGIRL’s took longer and was done standing up.
        It has been decades since I’ve shared a harbor with someone who has sailed more than I have.  I’m ahead on circumnavigation 5-0.  But Warwick has no interest in circumnavigating and has surely done more miles.  He is a decade older than I and, of course, having made a much better choice of parents, started more than two decades younger.
        I believe we both found it interesting how much we share in common and how similar our views on boats.  Boats have tillers, not wheels; dinghies are rowed, not outboarded.  We disdain insurance.  We like ocean passages.  When compromises are made on a boat, sailing performance is primary.  And that is only the beginning.
        We don’t agree on jib furling gear:  GANNET has it; FLASHGIRL does not.
        I have seldom seen a boat that I like as much as FLASHGIRL, with her open interior, double berth in the stern, and clever ventilation with air moving naturally from forward hatch through the cabin and out a hatch in the transom, which also provides light aft.  And, as I mentioned, tall mast.  Essentially the same size a hull as EGREGIOUS and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA,  FLASHGIRL is my kind of boat.  But then it would be, it was conceived and finished by one of the world’s most experienced sailors.
        It was a pleasure and an honor to meet Warwick.
        Here are links:
         an article about FLASHGIRL.  
        All provided to me by Larry, for which I thank him.

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        The low associated with the front that passed two or three days ago is well east of New Zealand, but still causing gusty winds that are howling around the mast at this moment and a few brief passing showers.  Possible hail was forecast for Auckland today.  
        Worse than the gusts is that the wind is from the south to southwest.  The places I’d like to anchor, Russell and Roberton Island, are both exposed to the south and southwest.  So I’ll wait until tomorrow.  Or Friday.  Or maybe just go for a daysail and return to the mooring one day.