I have always loved messing about in boats. I was fortunate to have spent a lot of my childhood on the gulf waters in South Australia; fishing, boating, sailing and snorkelling were a great part of growing up in this region. Since then I’ve always felt an overwhelming sense of peace and wonder whenever I am on the water. Sailing and boating is a great passion of mine, over time becoming an obsession for me.
My first sailboat purchase was a Mirror sailing dinghy (or rather my dad bought it for me). We spent a lot of time scraping out rotten marine ply, filling with epoxy, and laying GRP matting to strengthen the flooring and gunwales. I read a few books from the library on sailing (this was way before You Tube) and taught myself how to sail. Finally I mastered the art of turning a corner (I’d later discover the term tacking) without ending up in the drink.
Quite a few years passed between boats, in the mean time I had completed a fixed keel sailing certificate in the US, and then went on to do RYA day skipper certificates in the Solent. Still no boat though. Finally I got back into sailing in Hong Kong and bought a Hunter Sonata sailboat to get back into the game. The Sonata was not a great boat for me, she was very technical to sail (as she was set up as a racer), very tender and needed a few people on board to get some ballast going. I sold her after one year, keen to perservere.
The next boat I purchased was a Nor’sea 27, a true gem of a boat. Beautifully built, traditional lines, solid, simple systems and rigging, and so forgiving. I really got my confidence up learning to single hand on her. You really could safely learn from you mistakes on a Nor’sea. I remember the first time I (naively) sailed into a squall with full sail up. The wind speed reading jumped from 10 to 25 knots in a heartbeat. She flattened for a second whilst I hung on for dear life, and then rounded up beautifully. Now I know all about squalls, and how to douse sail quickly!
After my Nor’sea I fell in love with the lines of traditional sailboats; Alajuelas, Hans Christian, Tayana 37’s, Lord Nelsons, Bristol Channel Cutters, Baba’s.. these are all my dream boats. I guess I am surprised to find myself now with a Hallberg Rassy. But after some further thought this choice makes sense, as the HR352 really is a perfect blend of tradition with an updated performance profile. The HR 352 retains a near full keel (no keel bolts!!), a solid skeg hung rudder which is reassuringly seaworthy, and simple sail plan and simple systems. So far so good. I can’t wait to get Wanda going again!