Saturday, April 11, 2015

Opua: Speech! Speech!

        The Ocean Cruising Club awards ceremony was held late last month in London.  Obviously I was here and did not attend.  So the club graciously arranged to have the Jester Medal presented to me at a luncheon in Whangarei yesterday.
        I was asked to prepare a brief acceptance speech that I assume someone read for me in London.  I spoke the words myself here:

        GANNET and I thank the Ocean Cruising Club for awarding us the Jester Medal for 2014.  That this is in a way from one small boat to another is especially pleasing.  
        I have never owned a boat larger than 37’, nor one costing more than a mid-priced car.  Yet I have owned three great boats, and two of them were small.  CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, a Drascombe Lugger, an undecked 18’ yawl built in Devon; and GANNET, a 24’ ultralight Moore 24 sloop from California.
        I have great affection for small boats which are capable of far more than many expect, with an immediate and intimate experience of the sea—sometimes too intimate.  And as I learned while sailing CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, once you arrive in port, the view is the same from an 18’ boat as one many times that size, and the mooring charges less.
        GANNET has only two feet of freeboard.  What I like to call her Great Cabin has little more than three free of headroom and a maximum beam of 7’2”.  I am a relatively tall man and can sit upright only on the cabin sole.
        Solving how to live in that space has been an interesting and satisfying exercise.  Thanks in part to technology—I carry more than three hundred books and six hundred albums of music in my iPhone and iPad mini, which are also my chart plotters, I can live indefinitely on GANNET and, by my standards, live well.  I can sail, write, read, listen to music, take photographs.  I can fit every important part of my life aboard, except Carol, my wife, who doesn’t want to fit aboard anyway.
        Once I likened CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE to a small, brave dog:  the terrier, if not the terror of the seas.  GANNET is perhaps most like her namesake birds who I enjoyed watching hunt in late afternoons from the mooring on which I kept my previous boat in The Bay of Islands:  beautiful and, as any who has seen them dive knows, capable of stunning acceleration.
        A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind.  I wish all of you the joy of creating your own masterpieces.