After a long flight and 36 hours without sleep, I am sitting in a lovely conference room in the offices of Circa Marine in Whangarei, New Zealand. As I type, I am wearing a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater over that, a scarf and my coat and I’m STILL cold. My thin Los Angeles blood was not prepared for the journey down to winter. Todd Rickard on the other hand, an intrepid Pacific Northwester, is working away in a short-sleeved shirt and vest and laughs at my frailty. He is bent over an electronics schematic for the FPB 97 and plowing through a long list of ensuing questions.
For my part, I have flown down here to get a tour of the build facilities, work with Todd on some aspects of the FPB program, and take part in festivities surrounding the build start on FPB 97-1. It is my first return to New Zealand in 10 years. With enough coffee, I think I’m going to like it here.
Upon arrival in Whangarei, I was whisked to a favorite breakfast spot for 2 of the best things in New Zealand: freshly scrambled eggs on toast and a flat white: a lovely mix between capuccino and latte. Full of caffeine and nourishment, I was ready to work.
The shot above is taken through the window from the second story office, looking out on FPB 64 hull numbers 8 and 9. Through the opening towards the upper right of the photo, you can see cars parked outside. The new extension for housing the 97 flows almost right to the cars. It is truly impressive.
Everyone I meet is quick with a smile and passionate about the boats. The sheds are continuously swept, and the cabinetry shop is replete with multiple air filters to keep wood dust at a minimum. In the many yards and shops I’ve been to over the years (and including my childhood, that number is high), I have never seen a cleaner, more efficient build site.
The photo above shows Terry Hardy hard at work on upholstery.
Moving on to the outfitting sheds, I have a view of FPB 64s 6 and 7 (6 is on the right, with the masts already installed). True to tradition, no shoes are allowed on board. The boats are full of men in coveralls working away in their socks.
Above, Todd and Dave discuss the galley layout on FPB 64-6. I am particularly impressed with the opening behind Todd which will house the combination oven. I love the idea of not having to bend down while underway to wrangle my pies out of the oven. (These are important issues to someone like me.)
After a nap, 3 or 4 more flat whites, and a little more great Kiwi hospitality, I’ll be ready to report again.