A journey towards No Man’s Land

A journey towards No Man’s Land


It began with two precious words, the two words of all great adventures – imagine if. I do my best thinking by the sea. I’m a writer and water seems to be, for me, my trigger release to ‘great’ ideas. Imagine if I had my own boat? My very own boat? What would that feel like? Look like? Who would sail with me? Would my friends be interested? Very few sail. Am I mad. I was away travelling at the time of this ‘watershed moment’. I was by the sea. It was the middle of the night.

I’m at a stage in my life where the kids are in their early 20’s. I am self-employed. I am fit and motivated and while I enjoy catching up with mates for coffee, I am the kind of person who enjoys more meaningful, connected experiences. I like having goals. I’d been watching the 2019 AWKR unfold on Instagram. And here I was, in a moment of clarity, it all made sense. I had a dream and a goal – I’m going to have my very own boat and sail her in the 30th AWKR with a group of friends.

 The idea of my very own boat felt so logical, the steps so clear and obvious. I called Mark.

Mark has his own boat – the 65 year old, FAIR WINDS, 43 foot, classic timber sloop – well actually she is ‘ours’. Together and as a family we have sailed and cruised her widely, but I guess emotionally, she really is his. We keep her at Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Williamstown. We always have, our kids grew up running on the lawn. Archie had his 3 year old pirate party in the travel lift where my brother famously walked the plank.

Strangely, or not so strangely, Mark was in a boat yard at the time of my call. I put my idea out there. From the very first moment, without an ounce of hesitation, he was into it. 100% supportive. And not just supportive, excited for me. Really excited for me and super keen to help.

Together, sailing is what we have always done and shared. Our early married life was spent working for a sailing holidays company in Greece. I did a pregnancy test in the heads of a boat, in Hobart at the end of a Sydney to Hobart (note: I was shore crew!). Last summer we circumnavigated Tassie. We’ve sailed extensively in New Zealand and taken part in Hamiliton Island Race Week and Magnetic Island. So there is some knowledge.

And so here we were about to become a two boat family. 

One with varnish, the other plastic.

But how big should the plastic boat be? I started at around 25ft with a crew of 4. That lasted a day. I began a spreadsheet called Sal’s Boat. That made me smile. Mark was looking. I was looking. Mates of ours began looking. Farr 28. Mumm 36. Farr 30. Northshore 36. Bull 30. Elliot 10.5. Adams 10. Older. Newer. Faster. Twitchier. Sleek. Mad. Fast. Slow. Sydney. Perth. Brisbane.

It’s funny how often the answer is right under your nose. Bruce Taylor’s Chutzpah38 about 100m away from Fair Winds. We’d heard she was on the market, though not officially. We contacted a brilliant guy called Terry. We had a chat. This was a possibility.


She wasn’t locked. I stepped aboard, Chutzpah38 on a freezing cold, sleety Melbourne day. Her board cockpit welcomed, she felt incredible under my feet. I liked the way she gently lulled, there was something about her that felt like I’d just climbed on a giant, tethered horse raring to go. Down below, a plethora of stacked sails. So many sails.

I looked around the boat. She was neat and tidy. Filled with man junk and clever ways – bits of tape and notes and Velcro on this and that and textas and calculations. Holy cow. This was a serious machine and with a bit of luck, she was about to become my serious machine. 

Three things would follow – A negotiation. A Club. And a Crew.

Part Two in the next edition of Breeze.