It was about four years after the sale of Reveries that I managed to buy another boat. In the meantime I’d graduated with my Masters in geography, moved from the North Island to Christchurch in the South Island with the windsurfer on the car roof, married and separated, and then transferred with the then Coopers & Lybrand up to Auckland.
Auckland – City of Sails! Gotta have a boat in Auckland! I dragged all my pennies together, borrowed some from my parents at a fair interest rate and hit the For Sale ads in The New Zealand Herald. I bought a Raven, a 27-foot NZ class design by Owen Woolley. And I went for a fiberglass hull rather than wood. Ouch, but with my work schedule, easy-care glass was necessary to get the most out of my sailing.
Houdini was everything I wanted – flush deck, four berths, full headroom and then some, 15hp diesel, wee galley, large cockpit, and all the sails. She even boasted a spinnaker. I transferred her from a swing mooring I’d had laid in Orakei Bay to a rented marina berth up at Gulf Harbour in Whangaparaoa – nearly an hour’s drive in those days, but much closer to the cruising grounds of the Hauraki Gulf (America’s Cup sailing territory!) and with an excellent hardstand and traveller for easy hauling out.
I didn’t need to do too much to the boat when I bought it – it was a bit run down but sailable. I put in new carpet, made some bookcases and a new cabinet to fit a VHF unit and a stereo, a new chilly bin and an anchor locker. And I learned how to bleed a diesel.
One morning I came down to the marina to find that friends had added some stickers to the transom. My boat was now called Mrs. Houdini. Apparently that’s what all the marina staff had been calling me.
If not solo, I’d often take friends out for long weekend cruises – I’d dive for scallops, paua or crays, and with a few bottles of NZ vino in the chilly bin, we’d be set. They were great days.
Two years later (1989), I left the country, via Westhaven Marina, on a two month yacht race from Auckland to Japan. Good friends sold Mrs. Houdini for me, good enough to realize before me that I wouldn’t be coming back to NZ for probably some time...