About Ray

Let me introduce myself.  My friends, acquaintances and others will have their own opinions about me, either good, bad or in between I suppose.  But for those who don’t know me I will give a brief introduction.

Ray Penson aboard Yacht Truce
Ray Penson aboard Yacht Truce

I first went to sea in the Merchant navy many years ago after leaving school.  My first trip lasted 11 months and 20 days, things were very different then.  I remember joining my first ship in Portland, England on a dark, wet and windy day.  We had to take a launch out as the ship was at anchor, as we neared the ship I was overwhelmed by its size and shocked by the industrial level of rust coating its cold grey exterior.

After the initial shock I took to the seafaring life, it suited a young man looking for fun, adventure, independence, responsibility and a certain degree of mischief.  The fact that it came with a pay check made life even better.

Over the following years I took my examinations and progressed to obtaining a Masters Ticket (Certificate of Competency) and eventually having my own command.  I worked on many different types of vessel in different trades. There were tankers, coasters, bulk carriers, liner ships, general cargo tramps, offshore supply boats and anchor handlers, tugs and tows, oil rig moves and some I will be happy to forget.

There were good and bad crews but mostly good people doing what they enjoyed and providing for their family.  Of course there was bad weather, but I only remember a handful of moments of disquiet.

Later I was encouraged to ‘go ashore’ and work in the office and have a home life or ‘proper job’ as my shore based friends would say.  Going ashore led to working and living in the UK, Africa, Middle East, S.E. Asia and Australasia.  I have visited more countries than I can recall, stayed in thousands of hotel rooms and flown the worst and best airlines.

I have been in, on or around ships, boats, other floating stuff and maritime activities all my working life.  I am happy in the marine world and enjoy the company of other marine related people.

Over the years I have also developed deep respect for the marine environment.  In some respects, you could call me an environmentalist, I believe we need to preserve our environment from harm while at the same time maintaining a practical balance with human needs.

I do not class myself as a sailor, I am more of a seafarer or seaman.  I derive pleasure and satisfaction from sailing a boat that is propelled by natural elements, using wind, tides and currents to travel.  In the past I often dreamed of sailing my own boat to distant places at my own pace.  That opportunity has come and I hope to become a better sailor.

FATE AND CIRCUMSTANCE

Many people don’t believe in fate, some consider fate an alignment of coincidences, others don’t believe in coincidences.  Whatever.  In 2015, a group of factors conspired to lead me towards buying ‘Truce’ an excellent little cruising boat.  Briefly, here is how it happened.

In July 2015 I was on a trip from my home in Auckland, New Zealand to Vancouver in Canada, the purpose of the trip was to join a tug boat (Pacific Hickory) and take her across the Pacific to Shanghai to pick up a tow.  Whilst waiting to board my flight in Auckland I took advantage of free Wi-Fi to go online and check out Vancouver, it had been many years since I had last visited that beautiful city.

By chance I came across a sailing yacht for sale, it caught my eye and roused my interest and imagination.  Now you must believe me, I wasn’t looking to buy a boat, it was pure coincidence that I saw it online (my wife, Ngozi, still doesn’t believe me).

Pacific Hickory Tug
Pacific Hickory

Upon arrival in Vancouver I was quite busy taking over from the departing Captain and preparing for the voyage ahead, but I managed to contact the owners of the yacht, she was called ‘Truce’.  I found that the boat was lying at Vancouver Island.  Unfortunately I didn’t have time to travel over and inspect it.  I sent an email to the owners letting them know I was interested in looking at the boat and if it was still for sale I could visit in a few months after returning from China.

In September I returned from China on the Pacific Hickory with a barge in tow.  Upon arrival I contacted the owners again and they confirmed Truce was still for sale.  Wonderful, I left the Tug in Vancouver and took the opportunity to have a look at Truce and do a bit of exploring on Vancouver Island.

Pacific Hickory returning from China with a barge in Tow, September 2015. Photo Ray J Ordano
Pacific Hickory returning from China with a barge in Tow, September 2015.
Photo Ray J Ordano

I took the ferry across to Vancouver Island and hired a car to get me up to Ladysmith where Truce was berthed.  The little boat didn’t disappoint me, to my eyes she was beautiful, thoughtfully laid out and obviously well-constructed to a high standard.  She looked a little tired, maybe in need of a new owner who could give her a good work out and maintenance schedule.  Could Truce be the boat to take me in new adventures?  I thought so and mulled the idea of buying her.

Vancouver Island is a beautiful place and I took the opportunity to have a short tour around for a few days.  So nice and tranquil after the rock and roll of a pacific crossing.

Peace and tranquillity on Vancouver Island – welcome after a North Pacific round trip
Peace and tranquillity on Vancouver Island – welcome after a North Pacific round trip.  Photo Ray Penson

Months later, in March 2016, after my offer for Truce was accepted, I was able to travel back to Vancouver island from New Zealand and conduct a pre-purchase survey and inspection.  The survey was positive and I made an offer, the offer was accepted and I became the second owner of Truce.

OUR FIRST YACHT

Our first boat in New Zealand was a Bob Steward designed Matangi Motor Sailor called Rangatira.  She has Kauri plank construction, built in 1964, solid build like a little ship.  We sailed the East Coast of New Zealand, mainly in the Hauraki Gulf and had many wonderful family holidays on board.  Rangatira is still going strong, looking fantastic and once again sailing out of Golden Bay at the top of the South Island.

Yacht Rangatira sailing on Auckland Harbour.  Photo Ngozi Penson

THE INSIDE PASSAGE

The Inside Passage
The Inside Passage

I have transited the inside passage a few times on ships between Prince Rupert and Vancouver. The first time I did the run as Second Mate I was impressed by the scenery, narrow channels (for a big ship) and abundance of wildlife.  After a few transits it became a bit boring, from a fast moving ship you can only see water, trees, rocks and some distant scenery.

I always wondered what the Inside Passage would be like close up from a small boat where access to remote and sheltered nooks and crannies was possible. The Inside Passage is about 1,500 miles long and provides a mainly protected route for shipping between the Puget Sound in Washington State to Skagway in Alaska. Due to its sheltered nature and stunning scenery the passage one of the world’s best cruising destinations during the summer months.

The inside passage was to be my first cruise on Truce.