Report from GANNET 2015

October 8, 2015

Whangamumu Harbor, New Zealand

What is that old man doing?  Or not doing?  And why?

Pertinent questions that I will answer.

I am writing in what I like to call The Great Cabin of GANNET, my Moore 24, in Whangamumu Harbor, New Zealand, which I have to myself this evening.  No one lives here.  The only sign of man is the ruins of an old whaling station on the north shore.  Two other boats were here when I sailed in yesterday in blustery conditions, but both left this morning.  There is a satisfying difference in being alone in a harbor rather than in company, the difference between being on a truly deserted island and on one in which you can only momentarily not see other people.

Something unpronounceable in my left shoulder rotator cuff was almost completely severed in a fall when a dock line rolled beneath my foot on one of the three days GANNET was tied to a dock late last year.  More reason for being on a mooring or at anchor.  

Not wanting to endue a long post-operative recovery, I opted for physical therapy and it, along with my own work-outs and being on GANNET where I think rowing to and from shore from her mooring is among the best therapy possible, has resulted in improvement beyond my expectations.  I can again do my age in push-ups, which even my physical therapist did not think possible, and am almost asymptomatic.  

However, early in the year, when I was one armed as well as one eyed, I made the decision to keep GANNET in New Zealand this year and not to sail on until next.  That decision was made easier by New Zealand recently extending the period that foreign vessels can remain in the country from one year to two.  

Keeping GANNET in the Bay of Islands, where I based my last boat, THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, and is one of my favorite places, has not been a hardship.  I first sailed in here thirty years ago.  I love it here.  And when I sail away this time I may never be back.

I’ve been on GANNET now for four weeks and will fly back to the U.S. to spend the holidays with Carol, my wife, in four more.

On this trip I reconfigured the cockpit, removing a bridge that held the mainsheet traveler that was always a nuisance to step over and at sea sometimes a hazard, and relocating the traveler to the cockpit floor.  

The idea for this came from photos I saw online of other Moore 24s that have made the change, and I was greatly aided by Gilles Combrisson of GC Rigging in Point Richmond, whose firm made the pod, provided me with the Harken track, risers, bolts and G-10 backing plate cut to size, and advised me of the Harken Duo-Cam that solves the problem of running the under deck backstay control.  I note that Gilles gives credit to Scott Easam for first devising this configuration. 

I did the work myself over a period of four days.  It would have taken less but this being New Zealand I was often interrupted by rain, interruptions I expect those of you in California would welcome.  

The result has been dramatic.  Living on and sailing GANNET is easier in many ways every day.  This is one of the best modifications I have made to the little boat.

I also just took delivery of a new G1 gennaker from North Sails Opua loft.  My old gennaker is fuller cut and good for broad reaching but slows the boat as the wind moves forward.  I have a vision of setting both gennakers wing and wing on an ocean passage and watching GANNET fly under clouds of sail.

About March 1 of next year I’ll return to New Zealand, haul and antifoul GANNET and sail on when the cyclone season ends about May 1.

I’ll go west to Australia.  I’m not sure of my port of entry, but I’ll make my favorite coastal sail in the world from Cairns to Cape York inside the Great Barrier Reef for the fourth time in my fourth different boat, then west to Darwin, Cocos and South Africa, with a possible stop in Mauritius.

Time and chance permitting, I expect to be in Durban, South Africa about this time next year.  That will be 10,000 miles in five months.  Depending on the condition of GANNET, myself and my marriage, I’ll decide then how quickly to push on.


When we sailed into Opua in a gale a year ago, GANNET was beginning to unravel.  All the tiller pilots were dead.  The port floorboard was broken and the port pipe berth had jumped out of its cradle.  These were more important than they might seem because they left no place to brace my foot in the cabin while the little sloop was heeled far to port as she was in the last forty-eight hours of that passage from Tonga.  

        One of the lessons learned from investigations of airline crashes is that they are often the result of a cascade of small failures, none important in themselves, but collectively fatal.  I did not know what might break next on GANNET, and I did not want to find out; so I hand steered and pushed hard to get in before the wind backed, headed us, increased from 40-45 knots to 50-55, and closed the door, forcing GANNET to remain for several more days at sea.

        Not long after our arrival I unravelled some myself when I fell and all but severed something in my left shoulder.  

        I do not claim to be better than ever, but I am better than I ever expected to be earlier this year.  I know that a torn rotator cuff does not heal, but it feels as though it has.  

        GANNET definitely is better than ever.

        The boat yard here made new floorboards.

        I have new tiller pilots and great hopes for the mostly under deck Pelagic.

        In port the pipe berth was easy to pop back in place.  In a gale at sea it was not. 

        And in the past two months I’ve made a half dozen improvements.  

        The greatest of these was removing the traveler bridge and reconfiguring the cockpit.  This brings me satisfaction and pleasure every single day, and will at sea be significantly safer.

        I cleared the deck beside the cockpit by removing unused genoa tracks.

        Added a North G1 asymmetrical.

        Added a TackTick wind system.

        Improved the sound of music dramatically with the two Megaboom speakers.

        And have bought and paid for a ProFurl Spinex top down furler.  My final price for that in New Zealand was $1250 US.  The best price I found online in the U.S. was $1701 and that did not include shipping.

        Though some of these are far from essential—I’ve often sailed without an electronic wind instrument, but it is nice to have—all will enhance life aboard and sailing oceans in GANNET.


Another Moore owner wrote that he thinks GANNET has the nicest interior of any Moore 24.  If true, that should not be surprising when, as far as I know, GANNET is the only Moore 24 that is lived aboard.

        I do so easily now, but I realize that since my arrival in Opua I’ve been living on the level.  Next year life will again tilt.

        The Moore 24 is a truly remarkable boat that has attracted highly talented sailors and craftsmen for four decades, and still does.  

        It has been said that an artist should always be seeking to create a masterpiece, even though he likely never will.  Yacht designers and builders are artists as well as engineers and scientists, and in the Moore 24 George Olson and Ron Moore created a masterpiece.

        Moore 24s exceed expectations.  Most still day sail and race as originally conceived; some race successfully to Hawaii.  And for one sailor who loves to enter the monastery of the sea, a Moore 24 is the perfect monk’s cell.






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