A Q&A Session with Kate & Dan on Another Way of Life

Jun 23, 2022 | Passages

What made you decide to go off on a sailing adventure around NZ? 

Well, it actually all began as Kate and I had a one-way ticket to Europe booked on the day that the first lockdown came into action. As it was something we had been looking forward to for some time, we were devastated! This then led to many months stuck in the house and probably too much time spent on the laptop watching videos (there was only so much yoga and inside jogging we could do!) A few suggested videos later we stumbled across Sailing La Vagabonde (might seem a bit cliche as it seems many fresh sailors got inspiration from these guys – they made the dream of sailing seem realistic for our age group). So after watching a few episodes we thought to ourselves, we both love the ocean, we both are addicted to surfing, we were getting into freediving…. It all seemed to line up perfectly. How about we go live in a floating home and learn to sail! This is where the brainstorming all began!

Why did you choose an H28? I assume you looked at a few different boats but what drew you to the H28 in the end?

This is a funny one. So when we actually committed to this new plan of moving onto a yacht, we originally were looking at another type of 28 foot yacht at the time. It was moored in the bay closest to our house and it was called Another Way of Life.. AWOL (hence where we got our name from!) It seemed perfect, well at least the name did and we were adamant we were going to buy it! We would watch videos all morning on sailing, “How to hoist a main sail?”, “What is heaving to?” etc etc and then we would bike down to the jetty close to this boat every afternoon and stare at this boat and pretend we were on it about to sail away.. This went on for weeks. We pulled all of our travel money and rang the lady to say we wanted to buy it. She said we would have to wait for lock down to finish to sort out the purchase and see the boat. We waited and waited for the green light and then it happened… She messaged, “Hi guys, thanks for the chat the other day, it is with regret that I inform you that the boat has been sold, many thanks”… We could not believe it! Our dreams were crushed… again. With Kate in tears I had to try keep her positive and I said “don’t worry there will be many more!!”, I anxiously got back on trade me and hunted day and night. Exactly one week lately, I stumbled across a pure beauty. An H28 named “Halley”! To my untrained sailing eye it had some awesome advantages – an IPIRB and flares, hard dodger, auto tiller, a TV even! And for $10,000 less. I then researched ” What is an H28″. From the Herreshoff definition of having shallow draft, being a family cruiser and being a popular safe and slow boat I thought this is the perfect boat to learn on! We wasted no time and the next day we were proud owners of an H28!! Woohoo

Having sailed your boat, do you feel the decision above was the right one? 

We obviously had a lot to learn to start with. Quick question why are ropes called sheets!? Nothing in sailing seemed to make sense but we knew we had to learn and we had to learn fast. On our first voyage we sailed down wind to Mayor Island with our friends who convoyed on their Davidson 28. We left Tauranga Harbour slightly after them. We put the sails up, turned off the engine and it was silent. But we were moving! 5 Knots getting up to 6.5, we grabbed a beer put on the auto tiller and started laughing.. This was too easy. We passed our friends and by the time we made it to Mayor we had not touched a thing and their boat had completely disappeared behind us. Although, it wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows as we learnt when we bashed into 30 knots of wind dead on the nose on the way back, ripping our head sail and making us feel less in control (you can find this voyage on Episode 2 if your interested!). We have now spent over 1 year living within our small cabin and travelled thousands of nautical miles up and down the coast and I can tell you we have loved every minute of it- well not every minute! But most.. haha.

What 3 things do love most about your H28?

i. Shallow draft. We love to be the closest to the beach in any bay! Sometimes we get side ways looks when we come in late in the evening past all the bigger yachts stuck out in the wind and go sit right in by the launches basically on the beach. It allows us to get out of the weather as well as have a short swim to the beach. We love it!

ii. The hard dodger. A previous owner Casey had sailed into his late 80’s, doing most of it single handed and often big trips to Barrier (I believe he did 8 a season one year). His son was a boat builder and had fitted a hard dodger to help make the sailing more comfortable and to keep the weather out of the cockpit. Kate and I have sailed many miles huddled under the dodger and love the comfort in cylclone’s when friends with soft dodgers have had to take theirs down. With the bimini it makes the cockpit feel like another room on the yacht. Truly an amazing feature!

iii. The auto tiller. Without an auto tiller we would really be exhausted every sail. It allows us the opportunity to sail hands free in almost all conditions, allows us to reef, go to the bow to watch dolphins or even simply put on the billy while on the move. 

Were there any scary moments where you were glad you chose an H28 – what were they, and how did the H28 look after you?

An H28 is a tug boat of the oceans. Solid, straight and rigid. We have sailed in 3 metre plus waves, with 35+ knot winds and surfing, getting over 10 knots of boat speed. We have also lived through 3 cyclones (60+ knot winds) and have learnt that these boats aren’t necessarily slow if you have them trimmed and balanced right. We took a wave over the stern while night sailing around the needles at Great Barrier Island. We were very glad to have the draining holes in the cockpit area as it quite quickly went from dry boat to spa pool in a matter of seconds (explained in Ep 33). We love knowing our drive shaft is protected by our full keel in any conditions as we have sailed past logs and floating LPG bottles (unfortunately!) where we have thought… Wow that was lucky… Great protection and solid boats!

Did the H28’s lack of speed bother you at all? 

We have found that our boat performs best when reefed in 20 – 25 knots allowing us to cruise at 7-7.5 knots. Moving at these speeds we often are able to slide across the waves instead of stop-starting. The rolling boom and furler allows us to reef quickly and easily as well, when the wind changes suddenly! Which happens almost EVERY long sail! ha. I think that these boats get a lot of slack for being slow but we are generally able to motor at 5 knots and 6 knots in calm conditions and can comfortably sail at 6-8 knots with good wind. I would say the biggest downfall is they take a bit of wind to get going (sometimes you have to result to using the iron spinnaker to make any appointments you may have).  Aaaand also we get “these boats are bad at pointing”. I do agree with little wind they are not very good, however we have found in good wind and with reefed head and main sail we get good angle or even I find I can get 6 knots going almost directly dead into wind with the motor and full main up (you just need that small touch of heel).

You have a bigger engine in your H28 – would you recommend this to others? How did you find the Nanni Diesel?

The Nanni is beautiful. It was brand new in 2021 and is 20HP. It starts first kick, is quiet and would move us along nicely. Some days we had to motor or motor sail for up to 16 hours and it was great to know we had a motor we could trust. I don’t know if I am allowed to do shout outs but if you need any work done on your H28 head to Pacific Coast Marine in Whitianga! Tim and the team are amazing when they installed the engine as well as servicing, and they have been so kind to give us mechanic advice out on the water also. 

You have a fair-sized dinghy and outboard – did you find this tricky to lift up and out the water whilst cruising? Why did you go for a bigger combo?

We love our tender. We dive from it, explore new places, go up rivers to find waterfalls etc. The tender is 2.4 m and fitted perfectly between the mast and the hard dodger. We also had an almost new 8 hp Mercury. This would get Kate and I up on the plane with all our dive gear which was a requirement for us. We also just lift this on to the stanchen at the back when underway. To be fair, I looked at the tender as a life raft when we were out wide. We basically towed it most of the time as I knew that if anything went wrong or we hit something at night at least we had a big inflated boat to hop into (it probably took less than 0.5 of a knot off our speed… but whats your life worth I guess).

Would you add anything else to your H28? / do you wish you had taken anything different in your cruising inventory?

We have seen that there are seats attached to the rear stanchen on many H28s and this allows you to sit and sail while looking out over the hard dodger. I would definitely look at doing this. Also we didn’t have a table in or out. I am not so keen on having a table inside that is always in place but folds down as I really enjoy the open gangway and so I was brainstorming a way that I could possibly mount a table on pulleys that comes down from the roof. The prototype is being worked on in my head… haha.

How do you feel about spinnaker sailing in your H28 – awesome fun or scary as hell? Is this a great way to get more performance out of the boat, in your opinion? Should more owners use their spinnakers?

Spinnakers are scary… Especially with just Kate and I onboard. I think we should have done more racing to get more comfortable with putting up and down spinnakers. Go check out Ep 29 – Best Bay of Island Cruising if you wish to see us learning how to use it. I think if you are all over using them they would be so handy and awesome! We just found that we were probably too inexperienced and the conditions always seemed wrong (big rolling seas from the side) to use them. But yea the less the motors on the BETTER!

Having sailed around NZ in your H28, would you contemplate sailing her to Fiji or Tonga? An H28 has circumnavigated, so would be interested to know if you thought she would be up to the journey?

This is a tricky one. I think of course these boats could do it, they are so tough. However most boats are coming on 40 years now and with age comes wear and tear. If I was to ever embark on a worldwide journey in an H28 I think I would strip it back to bare bones and start again with all new components, mast, sails, full survey, reinforcements… etc. You really do need to know that every inch of the boat is sound as the big seas hold no prisoners… And the smaller boat.. Generally the more thrown around you get. I think it would be cool to circumnavigate NZ in an H28 however to do a passage I would prefer something larger and newer. But in sailing that (play on words), I was watching a doco on a guy who paddle boarded the atlantic so hay, anythings possible!

Many H28 owners are slightly older – do you think an H28 is good for younger sailors, and why?

I think the H28 is the perfect boat for young sailors. I guess watching our videos explains this answer the best. We didn’t know a halyard from a clew when we started sailing and we also were struggling to pay our rent. The yacht allowed us 7 months of cheap living (we lived aboard at our marina), many sunset sails up the harbour with friends and ultimately 5 months of the most AMAZING sailing NZ has to offer with all activities including surfing, diving, tramping, racing and exploring. Seeing NZ from the Coast is something else! Watch our videos to see it for yourselves..

Did you create a YouTube channel for yourselves and your family, or do you plan to keep it going and continue to grow your viewer numbers and continue with more adventures?

The Youtube channel began as a way to capture our sailing journey. It was more of a personal memory bank to start with (and I love making short videos so it gave me something to do when we were parked up for a few days). However now we have some keen followers who are coming along the journey with us and who keep tuning in every week and commenting. Our Subscribers seem to grow week on week and our views have just ticked over 6k in the last 28 days so it really is growing. We know that there is a very saturated market of really good sailing channels so we are just doing it our way and if it works it works.. if it doesn’t then no worries we have lots of memories to look back on! I guess the main thing is to keep it as Kiwi as possible and show how amazing sailing can be. 

We haven’t really explored this in our videos (you heard it here first) but our goal is to begin sailing from Europe to NZ in the coming year or so. Unfortunately not in an H28 but this boat has been the building blocks for all our sailing knowledge thus far! So if you did read this.. And got this FARRR! please do go to our Youtube channel “Another Way of Life” and subscribe as we would love any Kiwi support to push on and do bigger things!

Many thanks to you all and safe sailing in your beautiful boats!

Note from the H28 Association

We are grateful to Ben and Kate for their insights and stories. Their channel is a wonderful mix of adventure and inspiration. We have loved getting to know them through their channel and getting insured to explore our own coastline much better. This channel showcases not only the wonderful country we live, but also how anything is possible with a little inspiration, a lot of determination and a wonderful boat underneath you. 

Please support them in Dan and Kate in their future endeavours by following their YouTube channel.