The journey before the journey (the five year plan)- From Dreamer to Doer.
Many have told us how much we inspire them to follow a dream, and to try to make it a reality. Many think we are crazy, and perhaps we are in some way.
We have put together a brief story of how we have come to sell everything and move on board Southern Star.
The journey began.. Jenny-
We had been living in NZ since 2002, after spending time in London and the US. We had bought property in Auckland, a home to live in and an apartment as an investment. We brought our 40ft sailing yacht Defiant over to Auckland on Dock Express. We had a comfortable life with our lovely harbourside home, and our yacht which we spend wonderful times on – for the first few years in exploring Auckland waters, and then moving her to the Bay of Islands 3 hours north of Auckland where we purchased a marina berth at Opua. Our long term plan was to upgrade Defiant over time and then take her to the South Pacific islands for the NZ winters.
In 2010 Ted was working in California, and I was driving up to Opua to check Defiant every month. One Saturday I was walking around the docks there – it was June and not many people around. I saw a large motor vessel which I hadn’t seen before and walked up to look at her. She was called Ice Dancer 2. A head popped up from the cockpit and said hello, and I was meeting Dick and Gail Barnes who introduced me to their Nordhavn 57. I was blown away by this boat – by the space, accommodations, level of comfort and finish, and even the engine room was impressive. I wished that Ted was with me to see this beautiful vessel. Ice Dancer 2 was en route to New Caledonia, and I wished them bon voyage.
I was working in the city and would sometimes walk through the Viaduct marina close by and look at the boats. Some time after seeing Ice Dancer 2, on one of those lunchtime walks, I saw a similar looking boat – grey hull, white superstructure and that big impressive bow, with an N47 plate under the anchor. She was called Southern Star. Her transom showed her home port as Auckland. And she was for sale.
When Ted arrived back from California, Ted contacted the agent and we went to see her. Although a bit neglected, she still had the look and feel that I remembered from Ice Dancer 2. We both fell in love with Southern Star, and spent the following months reviewing whether we could make it work for us. She remained for sale for a long time. We did eventually contact the agent again and submitted a very cheeky offer. He told us the boat had been sold. We were disappointed but we knew the time wasn’t right for us.
A few weeks later, we saw Southern Star out of the water. Her antifoul had been done, her topsides had been polished and she looked a different vessel. We were happy that the new owners were giving her the love and attention she deserved. A few days later, we were walking through the Viaduct marina and saw her again, this time with people on board. We were envious of them, but excited for them too. We thought that would be the last time we saw Southern Star.
We were on Defiant in the Bay of Islands over the Easter break the following year, when we heard a VHF call from Southern Star. Later we pulled into our marina berth, and saw Southern Star sitting at another dock. We walked over to look at her again, and as we were standing there, Jo and Robbie Ashton came up and introduced themselves. They were waiting to leave NZ for the Pacific and invited us back for a drink later, and we spent a wonderful evening with them, looking at the boat again, now very well maintained and ready to tackle international waters. Over the next two years we followed their adventures and travels on their blog.
Meanwhile we had made contact with Jeff Merrill who was a broker at Nordhavn’s Dana Point facility in California, and when in the US in 2012 looked at a 43 (Island Magic), a 46 (Navigator), a 55 (Starfish) and a 57 (Zia). When we returned to the US in 2014, we looked at another 43 (Kosmos) and a 47 (Sea Turtle). We spent our weekends at home scouring the Nordhavn websites and knew every boat for sale. We ran a spreadsheet of each boat – equipment, configuration, specs, etc. We knew them all. And if we ever saw a Nordhavn in either Auckland or Opua, we would introduce ourselves as “Dreamers”. We were on the Nordhavn Dreamers website. During this time we met James and Jennifer Hamilton on N52 Dirona, Phillip and Gerri Bradshaw on N52 Mermaid Explorer, and owners of N60 Oceanzpirit and N60 Spirit of Adventure. Everyone was so welcoming of us and understood the journey we were on.
We also met Randy and Rebecca Tisch on N68 Argo while they were in Auckland which led to a turning point in our journey. They returned to the US and their crew – Tyler and a professional Captain Paul Mabee were taking Argo to Fiji where Randy and Rebecca would meet the boat. Ted offered to take time off to make up a third crew member and with Tyler’s endorsement and the approval of Randy and Capt Paul, Ted joined Argo for the six day passage from Auckland to Denerau. This was the most fantastic experience for Ted and a wonderful opportunity for him to learn about how a Nordhavn handles, its systems and intracacies, and to draw from the collective and considerable expertise of Capt Paul and Tyler. And it cemented and strengthened our determination to eventually find our own Nordhavn.
This happened in July 2015 and we still thought we were at least two years away from selling up everything and seriously searching for our boat. But 2016 brought a chain of events, starting in February with an email exchange with Jo and Robbie on Southern Star, who were considering selling her later in the year and returning to Australia. Southern Star was now in the Canary Islands where they were preparing to cross the Atlantic. We remained in touch with them over the next couple of months, and in the meantime we found a buyer for Defiant. After reaching verbal agreement with Jo and Robbie, we scheduled a trip to the US to undertake the surveys in August.
As we had expected, the surveys showed we were taking over guardianship of a very well cared for vessel, thanks to Robbie being a qualified diesel mechanic, and Jo being a meticulous first mate. We returned to NZ to sell our home, and almost all our possessions, quit our well paying jobs, wrap up our life in NZ and pack up to head back to Florida at the end of November.
The transaction went smoothly on 2nd December, and as part of our purchase agreement, Robbie had offered to provide some intensive training for us over the next five days. This proved to be absolutely invaluable for us – Ted has a lot of boating experience, but a Nordhavn is a complex organism and the time spent with Robbie has given us such a great start on our adventure.
Robbie returned to Australia, and here we are, sitting in Old Port Cove Marina at North Palm Beach, with about a dozen other Nordhavns, getting provisioned, attending to some minor maintenance and upgrades, and waiting for a weather window to set a heading for West End, Bahamas.
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