"Pussyfooting" story 1979
Pussyfooting's voyage 1980-81 from England to New Zealand.

Stephen Holland was original buyer of “Pussyfooting” in 1979. This is his story about “Pussyfooting”.  

I became the first owner in late 1979 having sold up house and home etc in order to sail the world in search of a better life style and escape the gloom and doom of the first real oil shock.

Several months were spent in the (new) Brighton Marina fitting her out and doing the endless list of things, which even a well-designed cruising yacht needs.

A new SL555 manual winch with 10 mm chain and two CQR 45 lb anchors, the best radar reflector available, and lots of extra hand holds to name just a few of the ''extras''.

Following close after the Fastnet Disaster of 1979 we made the decision not to take a life raft but did have two dinghys equipped with survival gear including a mast and sails.

I took the train down to the Isle of Wight and purchased an Aries vane from the manufacturer, it caused several questions from the other passenger on the way back.


Finally the day of departure arrived on 28.April 1980 with the crew of Jan my wife and her two boys from a prior marriage Stuart 9 and Darren 8 years old.

We made Cherbourg ok and moved on to Guernsey, and then the fun began.

Having cleared for Spain we were beset by thick fog in the English Channel. With no radar or other effective aids navigation was totally reliant on compass, tide chart and hope.

The Bay of Biscay was before us when the thick fog finally lifted and allowed a pleasant sail down to La Coruna.

There was time to spare before the Atlantic crossing so we explored the Rias of Potugal and moved down to revisit the Algarve then it was on to Funchal in Madeira.

Much time was spent in the Islas Canaries; so far we had recorded 1991 nautical miles.


29.October 1980 it was off to Antigua, which took 25.75 days and 6 litres of diesel.

Stopping at each of the islands of the Caribbean chain we sail south as far as Grenada where we hauled her out for anti fouling at Prickly Bay on Spice Island

A bumpy fast sail brought us to the ABC islands, then on to Panama. We averaged 143 miles per day for 4 consecutive days and the boys never slept anywhere except their fore cabin for the whole trip to NZ.

Our best noon-to-noon run of the trip was 160 miles.

One of the very few problems we had was in transiting the Panama Canal, one of the two bolts in the prop shaft worked loose and fell out with the result that the prop shaft bent causing the motor to leap about alarmingly. Re bolted and a bit of heavy handed shaft straitening later, we managed with the speed wobbles all the way to NZ when a replacement was made for us.


Obtaining Visas for the Galapagos was all but impossible so we set out to sail non-stop to the Marquesas in mid April of 1981. In all it took 34.25 days at sea with about 5 days of motoring through the panama gulf calms. We logged 3372 miles on this leg.

Ahe was our next stop before Tahiti and Bora Bora.

For me the highlight of the trip was Suvorov Island, which we had to ourselves for two wonderful weeks.

Pago Pago was a stark contrast though a welcome port to re provision.

Fiji offered some interesting cruising having been granted permission to enter the Exploring Islands of the Eastern group. Unfortunately we encountered the Ngau reef on a moonless night and spent an alarming time bouncing Pussyfootings keel on the coral before motoring off each time the swell lifted us.

We continued on all that night and once inside a safe area I dived over to inspect the damage. Apart from a few superficial scratches there wasn’t any; testament indeed to the build quality of the Samantha's.


With the cyclone seasons approach New Zealand beckoned so on the 28.October 1981 we pointed the anchor at Opua.

A big fat high gave us calm seas and slow sailing until we had closed the coast when the barometer started to fall at an alarming rate so we decided to make for the spectacular harbour of Whangaroa. It blew 50 knots that night on shore.

Next morning was back to normal so we proceeded to Opua and entry to New Zealand, which has become my home.


We choose the name “Pussyfooting” because that’s the way we intended to cruise: at leisure not racing and in safety.

It was only in the American Panama Zone that other meanings were applied much to the hilarity of the canal staff.

Looking back those thirty years I am struck by all the things we managed without:


No radios

No refrigeration

No liferaft

No insurance

No electronic toys or entertainment

No radar

No laptop computer

No way of getting weather information at sea.

How on earth did we survive?


Pussyfooting was sold in 1984 to a New Zealander living in Tauranga. At some point she gained registration of NZ 611. Sorry I can't remember the person’s name. I believe she changed hands a few times and all the owners took her up into the Pacific Islands so she has many thousands of miles under her keel.

A wonderful sturdy and comfortable world cruiser, which never gave me a moments concern even in the worst storms.


Pussyfooting was the Southampton Boat-show model of 1979 and the subject of the yachting magazine article. She and her crew were also featured on the BBC kids show Blue Peter in early 1980.


Stephen Holland, March 2010.