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Nick, Sandra and 'Acker'

Nick's first boat was a corrugated iron canoe he built at the age of eleven. When Nick discovered sailing, the one canoe became two canoes with a platform to make up a catamaran. With his Mum hand crafting the sails, Nick was able to sail his pride and joy on a river on his family's farm in the Ria Valley, Marlborough Sounds. "We had a lot of fun, and it was pretty quick, until it somersaulted at high speed and disintegrated, sinking to the bottom never to be seen again" recounts Nick with a wry smile.

Boat owners sitting on top of their boat berthed in a marina
Nick and Sandra, owners and crew of 'Acker'

From these humble beginnings, Nick went from Sea Cadets to trailer sailors, including a Hartley 16 and a Caribou 17. Then, like most young Kiwis, Nick went on his OE to the Whitsundays to work on a Square Rigger and 57' classic yacht, where he learnt a lot from professional sailors. “This led to the desire to go cursing further afield, destined for Europe, as crew on a pretty rough ferrous cement yacht, with a madman for a skipper. I left the boat in Darwin and backpacked my way to Singapore - known for finding crew positions” says Nick.

Nick met Sandra after Nick's new skipper insisted they needed a women onboard. Nick obliged and found Sandra in a local Chinese restaurant for backpackers, who per chance was also looking for a crew position. After several sailing adventure together, and several of their own boats, Nick and Sandra settled for a quieter life in Lyttelton.

'Acker' is the smallest boat in the Fairway Bay Marina fleet, but not without the distinction of a modern classic - a Californian Lyle Hess design, built in 2000. Nick is a great admirer of the Lin and Larry Pardey, known for their encouragement of many others to set sail despite limited incomes. The Pardeys, world famous in sailing circles, sailed over 200,000 miles together in two Lyle Hess yachts. They were both under 30 feet, and engine-less, circumnavigating the world both east-about and west-about, publishing numerous books on sailing. They coined the phrase, "Go Small, Go Simple, but Go Now".

When 'Acker' appeared on the market, and in great condition, Nick and Sandra knew this was the boat for them. They flew to Auckland, and within a week they were the new owners. ‘Acker’ is built to design with Kauri and Elm, and incorporates some artistic licence with numerous exquisite cravings throughout.

Nick and Sandra dream to retire early and explore the New Zealand coastline in 'Acker.’ Starting with around the top of the North Island and down to the Marlborough Sounds, then to Fiordland en route to their home, Port Lyttelton. There's even talk about following the Pardey's voyages and heading offshore - in their own small boat.

Wooden carvings inside a boat
Some of the beautiful carvings inside 'Acker'

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