Review: Why do so many Kiwis own a boat but never go to sea?

Westhaven Marina Auckland
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New Zealand claims to have more boats per head of population than any other country in the world. In Auckland alone, nearly one adult in eleven owns a boat. Surprisingly though, as Matt Vance reveals in his coming book How to Sail a Boat, the vast majority never take them out to sea.

‘Ninety percent of boats are rarely, if ever, sailed. Some are taken out of the water for servicing once every year or two, and spend the rest of the time sitting forlornly on their moorings. Others do not seem to have moved for years,’ he observes of the boats moored in the Banks Peninsula bay that is home to his own yacht, Siward.

Tinkerers and Sailors:
Vance, a writer, artist and filmmaker specialising in the South Pacific, Southern Ocean and Antarctica, notes that the ten percent of boats that do hit the water have two very different sorts of owners - tinkerers and sailors.

‘The tinkerers don’t enjoy sailing but enjoy boats,’ he writes. ‘They keep their boats in immaculate condition. 'You could eat your dinner off that' is an expression you will often hear of their handiwork.

'They love getting lost in the detail of diesel engine installation and the labyrinth of electronic gadgetry that their boats seem to propagate.’

How to sail a boat
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The true sailors are ‘distinguished by their ability to handle their boats under sail and to have been over the horizon in them. Their boats are in working condition, well-loved and sailed, but you probably could not eat your dinner off them.’

Vance, himself a passionate sailor, stirs the blood with stories of ocean racing and South Pacific cruising, and reprises the fascinating stories of some solo sailors who have lost the plot while at sea.

In this captivating book, Matt Vance takes you inside the mind of the sailor, from the first scary moment of handling a boat solo to the exhilaration of sailing across oceans and discovering new worlds. His stories and those of his fellow madmen will captivate sailors young and old - and if you're a landlubber you may just find yourself yearning for the blue horizon.

How to Sail a Boat is the thirteenth book in Awa Press’s much admired Ginger Series, which also includes Justin Paton’s How to Look at a Painting and Steve Braunias’s How to Watch a Bird, both of which have gone on to become TV series.

If you can't find this book at your local marine store, you can purchase it online from AWA Press in New Zealand by http://www.awapress.com!clicking_here, or online in Australia at Boat Books by www.boatbooks-aust.com.au!clicking_here.