News from Nelson Part 1

We were hunkering down at a house sit here in Nelson, looking after the cutest dachshund and his buddy a whippet cross when the phone rang at 9:30pm.  It was the harbormaster.  My heart began to sink down to my toes when Cameron got really quiet and serious, saying “okay.. okay.. okay..” The girls and I were all gathered around holding our breath.  Banyan had been out in the harbor on a mooring.. but it seems the mooring had broken below the waterline.

A few weeks previous, Cameron had been very busy and basically living inside the cockpit lockers. He felt it was time to re-bed the binnacle (that thing that the steering wheel is mounted to) and refurbish all the steering gear underneath it. It is a system of wires and pulleys which he dismantled, fixed, or replaced and put back together. He was under some pressure to get it done as we had a looming deadline. We had to steer the boat over to the haul-out – not a long passage, but one you would prefer to have steerage for. 

Before this, he pulled and re-bed all of our chainplates. These are very important bars of stainless steel which attach the standing rigging (the wires that support the mast when it is under the huge strain of the filled sails), to the boat. They are very long and bolted with 8, 3/4” bolts into the bulkheads. These were all in great shape but I know they appreciated the inspection and re-bedding to prevent any leaking or corrosion in future.  It had been ten years since they had been installed.

After making our successful passage to the haul-out (about 100 meters), we hauled the boat for the first time since early 2020.  The mast was pulled (YIKES) and laid down alongside so that Cameron could work with the riggers to replace all of the standing rigging as well as inspect the mast step and the bottom of the mast for corrosion. We are also touching up the paint on the mast and grinding down corrosion here and there.  

While she was hauled, Cameron spent a ton of time painting the anchor chain locker, which doesn’t sound all that important until you realize that flaking paint can clog the bilge pump and sink the boat. 

One of the biggest jobs at hand was painting the bottom with anti-foul paint.  This had required a pretty serious sanding down and filling here and there before the paint went on. For our splurge, we polished up her topsides (the green bit) as the paint was beginning to oxidize.

So, with all the work having just been accomplished, it added insult to injury when we listened to Cameron talking to the harbor master.  Images of Banyan broken up along the aptly named boulder bank which separates the Tasman Bay from the Nelson estuary, or aground in that very shallow estuary were running through my head.  Finally, Adelaide moaned audibly and ran down the hall, this shook Cameron out of his conversation with the harbor master. Realizing that we all thought Banyan was a loss, he called out to Adelaide down the hall that Banyan was alright!  


She had drifted to the tanker dock and was towed back to a safe mooring. It was unclear how much damage was done as it was so dark. After a terrible night of sleep, Cameron and I went at the break of dawn to see her. We headed out there, expecting to see other boats with big long green scrapes along their sides. We expected damage to the rig or the steering vane and no doubt dents and scratches along the side where she would have rubbed brutally against the unforgiving commercial dock during the windy evening. 

As we motored around her and drug our eyes all over her we couldn’t find any damage… not even the merest scratch (okay, I think there is one scratch but Cameron disagrees and thinks that was already there). We boarded, checked the bilges, looked around, and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving that Banyan survived her late-night romp without any notable damage or even evidence!  

She had drifted through the mooring field, missing the other boats, then, having caught the eye of some employees on a ship, landed softly on the commercial dock where they dropped her fenders and called the harbor master to tow her off.  We had several people comment to us that we really should buy a lottery ticket… that was just too lucky. Knowing better, I polished up Banyan’s Miraculous Medal which is mounted in the companionway.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! We will be celebrating here with some American friends on the weekend. I’m bringing the pies:) Stay tuned for a post about how we are getting along here in NZ and maybe some news about future plans.


  1. JAMES 'NICK' VAWTER says:

    WOW!! You are a blessed family. So thankful that everything is OK. Any idea of when you will be able to continue your voyage? I am always excited to receive your messages and pictures. Lots of LOVE, Uncle Nick

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Hi Nick,
      no idea about continuing right now… we’re considering settling down a bit while the world deals with COVID. But, if nothing works out we may sail on in June. Stay tuned!

  2. Marianne McGriff says:

    Thanksgiving Blessings, Banyan Crew and what a story of Thankfulness…yes, and the Miraculous Medal was a part of the story…sending much love, Marianne

    • Erin Bernhardt says:

      Awesome, so fortunate! Happy thanksgiving to you guys! Stay safe, strong, hopeful and loving. We love and miss you guys! Enjoying our thanksgiving with my parents. Godspeed!

  3. Jan Jopson says:

    Happy happy Thanksgiving … we did have a Thanksgiving dinner last night with another American and quite a few kiwis. Does sound like you have a lot to be thankful for too !! – Whew Banyan!! Confirming we are going to stay close to home over the end of the year, but you should see Michael. Going to be a different Christmas for us… love to catch up over that time via technology though. Every blessing, Jan and Nev

  4. Deanie says:

    Happy Thanksgiving!! Sooo happy to hear that all is well…was missing your updates!! Think of all of you often and as always…hope to see your smiling faces again soon! I have left the Napa Valley after 30 years, and living at Kathy’s in Green Bay!! A story to share when we are together down the road…take good care! Until then ❤❤

  5. Douglas Vawter says:

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! Glad to see a new post and look forward to future news. Raining and chilly in Indiana. Enjoy your upcoming house sitting! Love to All!! Mom and Dad

  6. Scott Gerber says:

    Holy Moly!!! Your are clearly, lucky, being watched – over and if you ever prayed before – keep doing it, because those prayers were answered!! I love when good things happen to equally good people!! Greetings from St Barts, on the first vacation in 2 years!! You would love this Island!! Maybe put it on your Bucket List!! Enjoy and relax! Cheees Scott Gerber – Late Harvest ⛵️

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Thanks, Scott
      ENJOY St. Barts! We’ll have to swing in there on our way back to the US… whenever that might be!!! And yes:) lots of prayers are prayed in this family! Cheers!

  7. Drs. Tim and Toni Carlton says:

    It is wonderful to hear how members of the boating world look out for each other and come to the aid of strangers. Who knows if this is good luck, good karma or divine intervention but it could not have happened to a more deserving family.

  8. Libbey McKendry says:

    Heart in mouth! So glad to hear Banyan was unscathed! We hope you had a fun Thanksgiving with your American friends. We are flying home from Montana today. It has been a wonderful visit and vacation. We have lots for which to be thankful. We love you all! Nana

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