This weekend we farewelled the Kelston J. It was a little bit of an emotional wrench letting go of something that you want, but just isn’t working or practical for your life. I know it is the right decision, but one can’t help feeling a little bit sad that we could not make use of her enough to keep her afloat (pun intended).
If you don’t know the story of the Kelston J, here it is:
In 2014, we were gifted a boat called the Kelston J. She was a 39ft Hartley RORC that was owned by a couple that Phil knew through his work. Rae, asked Phil if we would like to take over the boat, as they had purchased a new one and KJ, had been sitting idle and half finished inside (they were intending to live on the boat). We were amazed and excited by this offer, but also knew logistically it would be a challenge to get the boat finshed, both from a financial and time perspective.
After some consideration, we asked some long term friends if they would be interested in joining us to take her on. Our loyal crew, Peter and Jackie, Mike and Michelle and Christine climbed aboard. With a group of people, we thought we might be able to get her water ready and all share in the fun of sailing and fishing on the Hauraki.
Phil and I thought that it would be a great way to get Mitchell and Holly involved together as teenagers in a family activity. With Mitchell’s love of the wind and water, we were hopeful that by the time Mitchell had no trache and stomach surgery we could include him in being a part of our sailing adventures. I had also always had quite a romantic idea on what it meant to go sailing – champagne in hand, lying about on the deck, eating yummy food, having the wind whistling through my hair.
We took over the yacht in 2015 and she was sited in Kawakawa Bay at the time. Our first venture out to the boat in the little inflatable with Christine is recorded below in layouts I did at the time.
Pete, Mike and Phil moved the boat around to a mooring in Bucklands Beach that Christine had purchased, and we got her out of the water on to the hardstand to clean off the mussels, antifoul and make some changes to the cabin area – to get her ready for use.
Soon, she was back in the water, but not finished like we hoped. Like all things time and costs got away on us, and we needed to all get back to work. We did have some fun while renovating her, but it would have been ideal to get everything complete.
About the same time, Christine and I took a Learning to Sail course. Did we learn to sail? I can’t say that even though we graduated that we had become sailors. I still can’t tie a knot and I never really worked out how to adjust the sails for the wind. We did have a good time doing this, and on the last lesson, with a windy, windy day we were challenged in difficult circumstances. Surely, ready to take on the deep water.
Our first sail as a group, took place without Jackie. That’s a story I can’t really share here. I’m sure it’s still a bit raw. Let’s just say there was drama on shore and eventually all was forgiven. (I think).
After our first sail, we were full of stories and fizz, and remained optimistic.
We however, soon realised that it was not all going to be plain sailing. The inflatable boat and motor was an underachiever, and as we could not afford a marina berth, we needed to invest in a better way to get out to the boat. A new inflatable (courtesy of another friend, Neil) and an outboard motor and trailer were added to the purchases. We were broken into twice onboard, and although there was not a lot stolen, it was disheartening. Then our garage at home has been broken into twice, losing all the fishing gear and the outboard motor both times. It seems owning these items makes you a target for others to steal from.
Four years later, and we have probably only managed a handful of outings. There was so much good intention, but co-ordinating ourselves and the team to find the right day and the right weather and tides proved elusive. In 2015, Mitchell had his major surgery then in 2017 was decannulated, but it wasn’t until 2018 that his trache stoma was closed and we could even think about getting him out on the boat. There were so many barriers to our time, largely, we had no caregivers who could care for Mitchell solo, and when he went to the Wilson Home, there seemed to be bad weather or no one else available. It really just didn’t come together for so many reasons.
It was disappointing that we never got Mitchell out on the water in her, but he has started Sailability and is going on Saturday mornings. This might be more manageable, and there is always ‘one day’ in the future that we could try again, but maybe with something a bit smaller.
But we do have stories – like the time the steering wheel came off and we couldn’t get the anchor down and nearly shored her. Or the time the motor stalled in the inflatable and we had to get rescued and Christine had to step from the inflatable to the rescue boat and I managed to fall in the water trying to step onto the ladder. Or when I dropped all the fish we had caught in the water as I stepped on to shore and fell. I was kneeling watching them float away, and had to catch them again with my hands.
There have been some laughs and there have been some tears and it is hard to let go of possibility. But it’s time for us to adjust our sails and look for new opportunities.