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November 26, 2012

A Light Hearted and Somewhat Rambling Story
by Dan Streech

A Light Hearted and Somewhat Rambling Story

Since its inception in 1974, thousands of boats have been sold by PAE. Unfortunately, we have lost track of how many, but counting new and brokerage Nordhavns, new and brokerage Mason sailboats, as well as the new and brokerage Ta Chiaos and Transpac 49s sold in the early days, the number easily exceeds 2,000 boats- probably a lot more.

A Light Hearted and Somewhat Rambling StorySome of those buyers pass through the system and are forgotten, but happily most of them are remembered and form a wonderful backbone of support for PAE and its culture. In many cases, those relationships and friendships continue even after the individual’s boating years come to an end.

Anyone who knows the history of PAE knows that there is a noisy subgroup of Nordhavn owners and former owners affectionately known as “The Hong Kong Guys” or “The Cathay Guys” who made a big impression and left a big foot print when they purchased Nordhavns for use in Hong Kong waters in the early to mid 90s. The time frame is “before the handover” of Hong Kong back to China and the characters involved were “expats” who were pilots and flight engineers for Cathay Pacific Airlines and were based in Hong Kong. The group included Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Brits and even a mysterious guy from Rhodesia.

A Light Hearted and Somewhat Rambling StoryMost of them were ex military and all had a story to tell (think James Michener’s classic novel Drifters in which an “expat” was defined) about what they left behind and how they came to be living in a foreign land. They were rogues, gentlemen, smart, ribald, hilarious, infuriating, skilled, loyal, raconteurs, hard drinking, untamable and half crazy. They were also superb pilots and engineers, wonderful friends and had a code of honor and a dedication to their craft and to their profession that was their highest duty to respect.. and they did. To my knowledge, Cathay’s safety record was (and to this day is..) perfect during the rein of this generation- despite the famously dangerous approach to the old Hong Kong airport which claimed the planes of several other carriers.

A Light Hearted and Somewhat Rambling StoryThis is a (probably unnecessarily long) lead in to the photos attached to this story. We receive photos from owners or “spies” quite frequently.. almost every day. The great ones end up as part of the Nordhavn calendar. The others are posted on the web site under Photo Gallery.

One of those ex Nordhavn owner/ex Cathay pilots is a gentleman by the name of Peter James. Peter purchased N46 #53 (called Mañana) and lived aboard her in Hong Kong for a number of years. When Peter retired he (and his lovely wife Edith) returned to his native Australia and sold Mañana to a Spanish gentleman from Majorca.

A Light Hearted and Somewhat Rambling StoryFast forward 10 years… Peter and I have stayed in touch and he and Edith will stop in to Dana Point to say hello if they are passing through. So, it was natural for Peter to send me some wedding photos taken when his son Tim married Anne on the beach in Boracay, Philippines, on the 8th of November.

But look! What is that in the background? A Nordhavn 62 at anchor!! I asked Peter if it was staged or if he knew the owner and he said no, that it was a complete coincidence. Even more amazing is the fact that Mañana had been anchored in almost that exact same spot 11 years earlier.

There are still fewer than 500 Nordhavns in existence, but they seem to be ubiquitous, showing up in remote and far flung places around the world when you least expect it. That pleases me very much- which is the point of the story.

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