Ahoy - Guest column

by David Perillo

Editor's note: The following was originally posted on Dave Perillo's website.
Thank you, Dave, for allowing us to share your thoughts here.


Why have I created this website?

That question has been asked way too often as the days have passed since these pages initial launch just a little over three weeks ago.

The reason is simple.

In a world filled with with jet skis, windsurfers, kitesurfers and various hi-tech wonders of which I have owned a few I am lucky to have rediscovered the joy of cruising on an open dinghy and I want to give others the opportunity to see the light as I have.

As a youngster and right up until quite recently, my personal belief was that a better boat was a faster, bigger and more expensive vessel.

Obsessed with multihulls from an early age, I owned many of them in various forms of one sort or another culminating in the worst possible investment of my nautical career, a third share in a Ketterman Trifoiler thinking that sailing at 40 knots would some how satisfy my aquatic yearnings.
Of course it was good fun if your idea of fun is scaring the proverbial out ones self, hurtling along so fast that the spray is literally injected into your eyeball sockets necessitating the wearing of motocross goggles, and a helmet to protect ones skull should the spindly over stressed biplane rig come crashing down on top of you as did happen on more than one occasion with ours.
Ahh, those were the days, yet I was still unsatisfied and I needed more.

The final pre-openboat rediscovery purchase was a magnificent 10 meter catamaran. A cruiser/racer from the pen of Malcolm Tennant capable of speeds well into the 20 knot arena.

That boat admittedly had a lot more going for it than the Trifoiler however it was a HUGE expense to buy, own and operate and the monies spent on maintaining that gulf rocket could have easily built me the luxury length version of John Welsfords awesome new Pathfinder, a boat that had I built instead of squandering thousands on new sails, insurance, moorings and the like on other lesser craft I would no doubt still own and enjoy the enormous benefits of.

Of course the Pathfinder was not around around in those days yet there were plenty of similar on the market and one which I new about and had even considered was the famous Drascombe Lugger.

So what happened I hear you ask, what was the catalyst of change. Well one day I was at work flicking through a recently purchased Boat Trader magazine, I still had the 10 meter catamaran but I just knew I needed something else, and there was a small ad complete with a grainy black and white photo of a Navigator for sale in Wanganui.
Three days later that boat was mine and I'm cruising down the harbour here in Auckland having a ball. Three weeks later the cat was sold and I was cruising Fiji; shattering the typical offshore cruisers image as to which is the perfect boat for tropical voyaging.

I know for a fact that many offshore cruisers who I met in Fiji were really envious of my carefree ability to up anchor at a moments notice and sail from beach to beach, across reefs and into mangrove forests when ever the mood took me while the unfortunate skippers of larger craft looked on knowing full well that I'd be at my next destination before they could even raise there anchor, let alone a sail (or three).

But lets forget about Fiji for the moment, sure its all white sand beaches, coconut palms and warm weather over there but I have been having as much fun, if not more, here in Auckland, New Zealand during this past winter with my new Navigator, Jaunty.

Just this last Monday, a beautiful day here in the city of sails, I left work early and towed my boat down to Okahu Bay and headed out to find the source of the Tamaki Estuary. As I sailed in on the flood I passed hundreds, no, thousands of boats sitting there looking quite lonely waiting for their owners to turn up for a sail. Many of these craft were totally neglected and needed thousands spent to get them into some sort of sailable condition.
What a waste.

Sure there were a few keen punters and I do mean a few out enjoying the beautiful evening as was I and good on them. They were people who obviously have their priorities right. Stay home and watch another episode of Coro St, or go out and live the dream. I know which offer I'll always choose. Sailing, TV, internet, playstation.

Of course its sailing.

So back to the point of my website.

It is to get you people out there motivated, sell that bloody twenty thousand dollar jetski ( I hate those things) or that almost totally unnecessarily large boat and buy a small yacht like mine. You don't have to have a Navigator or a Pathfinder or a Drascombe (though it does help). I spent many happy days cruising the gulf on a 12 ft Sunburst which was perfect for a youngster as I was then and I'm sure in NZ there must be plenty of similar such craft sitting in garages or gardens around the country no doubt going cheap that would be perfect for starters and consider the benefits.

1. Comfort. Yes incredible as it sounds I feel very comfy reclining back in my Navigator, gliding down the harbour with my family/friends aboard as we gaze across at the many poor unfortunate souls forced to endure the high speed antics of their partners desire to go full blast out to their favorite fishing spot in their glass or aluminum speed boats, their hulls slamming the engine screaming the fuel burning. oh lovely. You can't even talk on those machines let alone pour yourself a wine and prepare food and coffee as I like to do often.

I have many friends with fizzboats whose kids have grown to hate boating and quite frankly I'm not in the least bit surprised. Yet when these same kids see my Navigator they are begging for an opportunity to sail on her. To me that says it all.

2. Almost no fuel requirements, or even none at all if you like. My Navigator has a 4hp O/B but a 2hp is plenty for most craft around this size and 10 dollars gas goes a very, very long way should the motor be needed at all.

3.Trailability. This is where big boats owners could learn a thing or two. My Navigator sits at home undercover in the garage when she's not in use. I love to see her there every morning when I go to work, get the paper or put the rubbish out. Quite often I'll stare at her planning what might be needed for the next cruise and if I think of something needed its just a matter of popping into the garage and placing whatever it is aboard. And of course when friends or acquaintances come to visit she is truly a magical conversation piece. And when I'm ready to go I just hitch her to the car and I'm off. Very cool.

4. Affordability. When one considers how much many fishing/speedboats cost a boat like John Welsford's Pathfinder looks positively cheap. When comparing the price against a new thirty or forty footer, well you could buy everyone in your family a Pathfinder each. And if you did your summers would be the most memorable ever, you would be the envy of everyone and you and your kids would learn some fantastic new skills and you'd also be saving a fortune in marina fees.

5. Adventure. You can pretty much go anywhere a big boat can and many, many places a big boat can not including small boats with big engines. My Navigator will sail in just over a foot of water off the wind. I can explore rocky coasts at unbelievably close quarters. She surfs well and carries a fair load. I am a keen fisho and I have caught many great fish from her whether trolling lures or bottom fishing she's a perfect platform. And at the end of the day when you end up miles from home as happens often I can set the boom tent in a jiffy. From the dry storage area under the foredeck I'll grab a foam mattress, a sleeping bag and a big feather pillow I stole from home and sleep in total comfort. Sleeping on any boat is usually pretty comfy but on the Navigator it takes on a whole new ambience. So close to the water, usually pond still as you've found your way into into a little nook or cranny of the bay or estuary no other type of craft would even lightly consider and be woken by the sun or the birds.

If that does not sound like heaven to you then you're at the wrong website (try personalwatercraft.com) if it does then get out there tomorrow cause you are missing out on some of the the finest entertainment available.

Theres plenty more reasons and I may add to the list as I remember them. In the mean time.


Dave P