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Meet the Jeffery family

Updated: May 1, 2023

The Jeffery family - Glen, Nicola, Leo and Blake have all grown up with sailing and adventure as their way of life. Glen is quick to point out that it was his parents and siblings who set the precedent - sailing a Noelex 25 as a family of five, cruising the Hauraki Gulf over the summer months. "It's as if history repeats, as we as a family are doing the same" says Glen.

When he was younger, Glen had his own stellar sailing career, winning numerous high profile titles in an Oracle 32. His competitive sailing highlights were in 2016, winning the SSANZ Short Handed Winter Series, and in 2017 the Round North Island Race, and 2nd in The Coastal Classic in 2018.

The time came for a bigger boat, and the criteria was simple: a boat big enough for a growing family and a yacht that sails well. At the time there was nothing ideal on the market in New Zealand so the search went global, which expanded their options, and with the family up for a blue water adventure to deliver a boat home, there were significant savings to be made.

With a suitcase each, the Jeffery’s flew to Croatia in July 2019, which is an active market for second hand boats, particularly from ex-charter. Although a list of 10 potential boats prior to departure came to very little, it did lead them to a Grand Soleil GS50R, a yacht belonging to a charter company’s owner. As the boat had a racing pedigree with a deep keel, tall rig and no electric winches, it didn't suit the charter market, and didn’t get any bookings - just the boat for the family.

The delivery home to New Zealand was always going to be eventful with an unfamiliar boat, an eight thousand nautical mile rum-line journey, and getting through the COVID lockdown in a foreign country. Despite the delay, the latter proved a blessing. When the Caribbean lockdown was announced, the boat was on the hardstand in the Caribbean Island of Saint Lucia. Determined not to spend an unknown period living aboard on a hardstand in a foreign country, there was a scramble to get all the boat work completed and back in the water within days.

Once fully provisioned and back in the water, Bequia - a small group of islands south of the Grenadines - was their lockdown destination for six months. The Islands are famous as a holiday destination for the affluent, with clear warm waters, great fishing and superb cruising. Glen was still able to run his engineering business remotely and the children continued with their homeschooling - all in the best possible surroundings.

Having got through COVID with relative ease, the hurricane season was upon them. After enduring two storms and one hurricane, the decision was made to put the boat on the hard In Grenada and head back to New Zealand until commencing the journey in the next season, early December 2021.

After provisioning in Martinique, making the final boat checks and clearing out, including COVID tests for Panama, Nicola unfortunately stepped back into an open hatch breaking her ankle. However, with an ideal weather window for a 2.5 day trip to the Curaçao Islands, Nicola had to endure the discomfort until medical assistance could be sorted (Curacao had a fantastic new hospital).

With Nicola now in a cast and after 10 days recuperating they sailed onto Santa Marta - a good place to take advantage of the more favourable Colombian pricing of literally everything including food, chandlery and local tourist trips. Shelter Bay was the last port to get the boat measured for the Panama Canal and get any last provisions before the Pacific crossing.

The Galapagos Islands was - as expected - a trip highlight, and although expensive to get there, ashore there was a surprisingly cheap and thriving tourist market, with 2-3 plane loads of visitors arriving daily. "You will never see this on the nature programs, it all seemed so surreal and out of place for such a special and treasured natural environment' says Glen.

From Galapagos on to French Polynesia, via the Marquesas Islands they enjoyed perfect downwind sailing, 3000 nautical miles of sunny days and great fishing. Then Tahiti, Society Islands, Bora Bora and on to Musket Cove in Fiji, before heading home to New Zealand. The total distance traveled was 19,000 nm.

Both Blake (13) and Leo (16) are also competitive sailors. Blake recently placed 6th in the Starling Nationals out of 118 competitors, and his older brother Leo has also placed 4th in the RNZYS Secondary Schools Keelboat Championship sailing Elliott 7s, and recently won the New Zealand Teams Racing Association 420 Series for Westlake Boys High School.

It's as if history repeats

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