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We had very little exposure before we knew we wanted to get involved with sailing. One day, on a whim, we had a sailing lesson on a 25-foot keeler and by that same evening we were part of the race crew for a rum race on a 50-foot yacht (which apparently had a price tag of $4.5 million).

After that day we were hooked. Previous to sailing we were involved with a powerboat syndicate giving us access to a Rayglass 2500, and then Paul who runs that syndicate gave us access to the Rayglass 2800 instead. What a top bloke! If you are in Auckland and don’t own a boat but want a low-risk way of starting check out Concept Marine.

The powerboat gave me the confidence in the rules of the sea, and becoming familiar with the local area. We decided we had to buy a sailing boat because no one would let us go out on theirs without an instructor! We didn’t want to pay $200-$300 for private lessons each time we wanted to go out, and with our sometimes conflicting schedules signing up for regular classes wasn’t an option either.

We got lucky and found Scarpa online (TradeMe!). Scarpa is a 25ft Spencer Stiletto. Cadi went on a week long hiking trip and said it was up to me how high we went on the auction, which started at $2000. I only told her once she was back from her trip and about to fall asleep, that we’d won the auction. She woke up pretty quickly knowing that she owned a boat!

Now we could practice and learn on our own boat, and we could still get an instructor for a private lesson if we wanted to. The great thing is we have friends who sail and they showed us a thing or two. We played around with different sails and had a little training area just a mile or so from our mooring where we could go out and try new things without getting ourselves into too much trouble.

Motoring home one day the outboard decided to die so a call to the Coast Guard went out and they put us back on the mooring. A handful of people asked us why we didn’t just sail back onto the mooring but the issue for us was if we missed it we would easily hit 3 other boats without trying. Sometimes you need to know your own limitations, and we just didn’t have the sailing experience.

We lost a little over a week of sailing due to replacing the outboard as fixing it would’ve cost more than the 20 year old dinosaur was worth.  We managed to get lucky with TradeMe again, finding a brand new outboard still under warranty and never used in the water for about $1500 less than it would’ve cost from the dealer. I’ll save the story of how we managed to get a brand new outboard onto Scarpa (while she was on the mooring) for another day…

So now the sailing bug had definitely bitten, and we were getting so sick of renting and not being able to afford to buy a house in Auckland. We had talked about one day taking some time off work and doing a season or two of cruising, and so we thought why wait until then to enjoy the cruising lifestyle? Even if we still had to work and live at a marina, at least we would own our own “home” and we could head out every time we had a spare moment. We started looking for boats at brokers and online, and once again TradeMe came through and Cadi found Sognare.

We went out on Scarpa only eleven times before saying goodbye. Scarpa is now in good hands with our friend Gavin but she taught us most of what we knew. We didn’t want to see her go but at the same time we knew Sognare would provide us a home and we definitely felt we had the basics in place to continue learning to sail on a larger boat.

We spent a lot of time getting to know how Sognare handles; practicing getting into tricky berths, coming alongside the dock in tight quarters and difficult winds, and learning how to do everything without thrusters! In the beginning we came back late a few times, just to get used to operating in the dark in case we were running late one day. We are yet to play with our spinnaker and hope to get a sailing friend on board to help show us the basics. Anyone learning to sail on their own and trying new things can appreciate this learning curve!

Each time we go out we push ourselves and the boat a little more.  We are very aware of our limitations and currently, without an autopilot, we are finding that with only two crew it can be quite high workload, especially when the wind really starts to pick up. We have been out in weather that has challenged us but we take the time to ensure we aren’t going out in weather we shouldn’t or are putting ourselves in a situation we can’t handle or control. It seems that too many people in Auckland end up doing something stupid each weekend out on the water. Just ask Auckland’s Coast Guard!