Some long black coffees, an idea and two individuals – that´s all we had when we sat in the coffee shop and decided to sail around New Zealand and connect with coastal communities to promote marine restoration.
Quite clearly, there were critical items missing: We needed a vessel to make Nomad Ocean Project a reality.
When we started our search for the best yacht to sail around the coast of New Zealand, there was a lot of boats on the market. Sounds great, but actually, it can make the whole idea of buying a boat overwhelming.
If you ever find yourself in the same position, we thought it might be helpful to share our quest with you.
Our perfect boat – the criteria
I had had spent most of my younger life around the ocean and boating so I had this experience to call upon as well as family and friends. This was an advantage, however as they say:
“the final choice is your decision, and you are the one that has to live with it.”
So what were the criteria for our vessel? What was important to us and how could we find it in one package?
To be honest, I don’t think it is possible to get everything you want in one package without accepting you may have to build it from scratch.
So we developed a basic list of requirements:
- It must be seaworthy, not just float but must be sailable.
- It must be independent or at the least be able to go on an extended voyage.
- It must cost under $10,000.00 NZD
Even though the list sounds quite basic, to find such a vessel was surprisingly difficult. Especially, when the final requirement is a bit of a limiting factor.
So we hit the internet and started by checking trademe.co.nz. We started with the cheap floaters that were local. There were very few, and most were pretty much day sailors. They could potentially become independent but would require a lot of work and investment. And then you would scratch your head if is it, in fact, able to handle a blow (strong wind). After a few weeks, we were getting a little disappointed with the choices in Tauranga. We took a decision: We would travel to Auckland, the city of sails to take a look at the listings there.
City of sails and broken dreams
Doris had to fly to Bali for a month and it seems like a good opportunity to spend the week before looking at boats. So we drove up to Auckland and started at the largest marina in New Zealand, Westhaven. We had organized to see three boats there. The first being a Raven 26, then a Reactor 25 and finally another Raven 26.
After seeing the Website of the Raven Owners Association and watching a youtube video of a couple sailing up from New Zealand to the Pacific Islands and then back to Australia, we had become quite attached to the Ravens. These New Zealand built vessels also had very good reviews from past owners and seemed to be all round good boats.
The first two Ravens we looked at though were just rubbish. They were in such bad conditions, that our heart sunk faster than a rock in the ocean. It was incredible just how gutted we were in the state that these owners had left their boats in. Even more insulting was the price they wanted… It made us realize that it was going to be much harder then we anticipated.
After two quite frustrating days at Westhaven, we went east to Halfmoon Bay Marina and the Buckhand Beach moorings. As all the Raven out there were above our budget, we looked at two Australian Cavalier 26 as a next best option. Both needed some work, but one of them was pretty good: “Phoenix”, a blue and white Cav 26. After a first inspection, we decided to take her out for a day sail with their owner, an old English couple from Liverpool, and finally buy her. She was not exactly what we had wanted in the beginning, and somehow our gut feeling was not the best. But in the end, we ignored it and decided to buy Phoenix: “Great, we have a boat”.
Well, not quite. The next day, we gave them a deposit to look the boat over and work out what we needed to do to get it up to spec to what we need. We pulled her apart and checked it over and – to cut a long, sad story short: we found water under the floor. When we called the local boat builder and asked him to look at it, he said: Walk away while you still can… and that was that.
Fortunately for us, the English couple refunded the deposit. Somehow, we believe that the main reason for the relatively smooth refund was, that the owner actually did not really want to sell the boat. A lesson learned.
I know a guy that knows a guy…
Our quest continued, and time ran out until Doris´flight departed. Two more days, but no vessel in sight. We had a Raven and a couple of other boats to look at. And again they were rubbish … more broken dreams. No need to say that we were pretty much gutted tired and starting to feel over it. Sitting on the beach in the morning, we saw a listing pop up in a Facebook group: The yacht on offer was a little bigger and needed some work, but it was cheap and we were tired. So no harm in looking at it, we thought. From the distance, the boat really seemed good but when we looked a bit closer, it became instantly obvious that it would need way more work then we could have imagined. We got into talking with the owner – a guy our age – though and sure enough he was like: “I know someone at the local sailing club that has a Raven and he’s thinking of selling it.”
The minute, we got his number, we called him, left a message … and waited. Finally, after what seemed endless hours, the phone rang: Yes, he was keen to sell Kahu – but we couldn’t look at it until Saturday. No problem, if Doris wasn’t flying out on Thursday. So I would have to view it on my own.
Saturday came around real fast: I shot out to Hobsonville early in the morning, met the guy, and we rowed out to Kahu. It was love at first sight: She was by far the best boat we had seen. Yes, she was a little dirty on the outside, but the inside was great. She needed a little care and really just wanted to be sailed.
Even though, we had a hard time finding the right vessel, once we got our Raven26 we knew: It was just meant to be. She was everything we had wanted, and – you wouldn´t believe it – even ticked our three main criteria.
And that´s how Kahu became part of our Nomad Ocean Project.