Plenty of water has passed under Dragon's keels since I last wrote to you not long after Dragon was launched in 2004.
In January 2009 Dragon and I left I our home port of Durban, South Africa for New Zealand. We had stops in St Helena, Fernando de Noronho, Forteleza and then a month in Grenada in the Caribbean.
We then sailed to Panama and through to the Marquesas islands. We spent 3 months in French Polynesia from Taihiti up to Bora Bora. After stops in Tonga and Fiji we arrived in the bay of islands, New Zealand at the end of November 2009.
Whilst in Papeete we met up with Hans Klaar on Ontong Java and John Jamieson on Taraipo (his well-travelled Tangaroa). We were joined by a French family sailing a Pahi 42. We had a barbecue on Hans' boat and raised a glass to JWD for providing us with the inspiration and the boats to get us where we were!
The only damage that Dragon suffered on the trip were a couple of chafed batten pockets, a cracked coffee cup, oh and I managed to lose the Jordan series drogue over the stern in a storm (I used the spare anchor warp and chain in a byte attached to the stern tube which proved to be much better!).
Dragon has proved herself to be a magnificent boat.
Shauna and I have now settled in Auckland and Dragon is moored up the Turango River near Whitford.
In reality our trip was more of a delivery than a cruise. I would love to have taken a couple of years to have done it rather than one. Shauna was anxious to start her new life in Auckland so the pressure was on!
Don Brazier has Katipo moored nearby and we share a beer and a meal from time to time! He tells me that Spirit of Gaia was moored not far from Dragon when you were in Auckland.
Shortly before I launched Dragon, a friend of mine built and launched a Tiki 31 'Just Mable'. The two boats were moored one boat apart in Durban. Unbeknownst to me, Just Mable was sent across to Auckland in a container in 2009. Just Mable is now moored two boats away from Dragon in Whitford! So Dragon is in good Wharram company.
I sail Dragon most weekends, summer and winter, often single-handed around the nearby islands. We are blessed with great sailing water.
The Bay of Islands is a 130nm north of us and we sailed there last Easter and after Christmas this year to meet up with friends there. We do it as an overnight sail which makes it a tad challenging but Dragon is up to the task.
The heroes on the boat are the self steering vane (ala Hanneke), solar panels keeping a fridge cold, her simplicity and her sailing ability. On our long trip we sought out markets whilst our mates were looking for spares to repair the myriad of systems on their boats.
I believe there is as much of my soul in Dragon as there is in my body!! So a big thank you to the team for designing my soulmate!
- Dave Vinnicombe