It’s a privilege to introduce my guest, Ms. Viki Moore of Astrolabe Sailing.com fame, a sailor and business women from New Zealand who’s also an accomplished writer. I’ll let you read her website, especially her “About” page to learn more about her. Someone who sails, writes, has an RYA Offshore Yachtmaster Ticket and speaks conversational Māori among her other language skills is pretty impressive. Read on:
After a tough up-wind COVID enforced slog, Island Cruising NZ is changing tack and has a new owner at the helm.
Nigel and Amanda Richards purchased the long established business in 2017 from former owners John & Lyn Martin. They ran three very successful rallies before COVID border closures made sailing to the Pacific impossible, and then had to get shore based jobs to stay afloat. “We purchased a house just prior to lockdown, and our plan was to continue running the business from our home instead of on board our yacht Varekai, but COVID scuppered those plans.” Amanda says.
Island Cruising the business has been around since the 1980’s. Formed by Don and Jenny Mundell whose aim was to attract more cruising sailors to Tonga. Brian & Joan Hepburn were next to take the wheel, followed by John & Lyn Martin who enjoyed a number of years running the business before selling to the Richards’ in 2017 so they could concentrate on their popular cruising guide work. Over the past 30+ years of operation, the name Island Cruising has become renown world-wide in the sailing community. The main aims are to provide advice and training courses for people planning on sailing on long coastal or overseas voyages, give assistance to cruisers visiting New Zealand, to help promote the NZ Marine industry, to provide social networking, discounts and other events for their members and to run yacht rallies.
Over the years Island Cruising has helped to facilitate hundreds of New Zealanders on offshore voyages and has successfully attracted numerous international cruisers to come to New Zealand, where many of them undertake significant maintenance and refits of their vessels, providing a substantial income to the NZ Marine Industry and economy.
“There’s a saying among the cruising community that plans are best made in the sand at low tide, meaning that anything can happen, and COVID certainly did that” comments Nigel. “We had a few fantastic years of leading rallies to the Pacific, but now it is time for a sea-change for us and we are happy to hand over the wheel to the new owner.”
Nigel and Amanda approached Viki Moore earlier this year to discuss their plans to sell the business and gauge Viki’s interest. “While we hadn’t actually met Viki in person, we had heard a lot about her and the work that she does for the sailing community and thought she would be an excellent fit for the business going forward.” Explains Amanda.
Viki is based in Christchurch and has been sailing all her life. “I am really excited about the opportunity that Nigel and Amanda have given me to take over the business” she said. Her background certainly speaks for the experience she will bring to the table.
Viki’s career began in the Travel Industry, initially with leisure and corporate travel, then representing cruise lines and as a guide, hosting group tours for the Tourism Authority of Thailand. She speaks conversational French, Japanese & Te Reo Māori and enjoys experiencing other cultures and arranging complex itineraries. “My travel & guiding background has given me some excellent logistical skills that will most definitely come handy when it comes to planning yacht rallies.” She explains.
From there she went on to work in Parliament for The Rt Hon Sir David Carter as his electorate representative. “My role was to help our constituents with their complex issues, which at the time were mainly earthquake related problems. Often people would get passed from one Government Department to another and it was my job to help them navigate their way through the process and to provide assistance where possible” Viki comments.
The advocacy experience she gained in this position has recently benefitted international cruisers here in New Zealand who have also been affected by the COVID border closures. “I was approached by a sailor in our marina who said that her visitor’s visa was expiring but with all of the Pacific Islands closed, she was worried that they’d be forced to leave with nowhere to sail to.” Viki’s concern for the plight of them and other international sailors, lead to her setting up a Facebook group called ‘Sailors with COVID immigration issues NZ’ which now has over 300 members. Viki provides advice on how to lobby policy makers and local politicians to help influence policy decisions. “We have been relatively successful requesting to get visas extended for those who are here, and have encouraged a pathway for sailors in the Pacific to gain entry to NZ when their boats require maintenance and refit work. However we are still working hard to get those sailors who are stuck overseas and separated from their boats which are still here.” Viki explains.
Viki finds this kind of voluntary work extremely rewarding. “I simply get a great feeling from helping people.” She says. This isn’t the only voluntary work she does. Last year she ended up on One News when Canadian solo-circumnavigator Bill Norrie sailed in to Lyttelton just after lockdown. Viki had met Bill’s wife Cathy in a Facebook group and Cathy had asked if anyone would be able to help Bill with repairs and reprovisioning when he arrived. “It was amazing to meet Bill and to be able to help him while he was here in New Zealand” Viki says. “We have become great friends, and I can’t wait to catch up with him and Cathy again when we are allowed to travel.”
Viki has been President of the Little Ship Club of Canterbury since 2014. The club was formed in 1961 after a group of friends did a navigation course together and decided to continue meeting on a regular basis to discuss all things nautical. When Viki got involved there was a small dedicated group of people who’d meet once a month and have a cup of tea with a guest speaker. Events were advertised with a notice on the pinboard at the yacht club. “I asked them one day if they had a website or a Facebook page I could look at to get some more information about what they had coming up” Viki says. When they replied that they didn’t, Viki volunteered to set one up and their next event had about three times the number of attendees. She was promptly elected as President and is very proud of the fact that The Little Ship Club has gone on to become an incredible success story. With over 1200 people on the newsletter list, they regularly fill the yacht club to capacity with guest speakers, social events and boating education and training courses.
Passionate about encouraging more women to get in to sailing, in 2014 Viki started a Facebook group called Women Who Sail New Zealand. “The purpose of the group is to connect with other local women and encourage them to get involved in sailing, cruising and racing.” Viki says. With many online sailing forums having negative ‘keyboard warrior’ comments these days, Viki and her team of moderators ensure that the group is a safe and supportive space for women to ask questions without getting rude and un-wanted responses. It is an extremely popular network with over 1600 members regularly celebrating their members sailing success.
It was the forming and growth of these sailing networks that lead to Viki being presented with a Yachting New Zealand Service Award in 2016, and in 2017 she was elected to the board. As a Director of Yachting New Zealand she helps to oversee the work that the governing body does for the sport and recreation of sailing in New Zealand. “I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of this dedicated organisation.” Viki comments. “Yachting New Zealand works alongside yacht clubs supporting every aspect from the very grass roots level of helping people experience sailing for the first time, right through to supporting our high performance and Olympic sailors. Everyone involved in the organisation is extremely passionate about promoting and inspiring the greater good of sailing in New Zealand.”
Viki is also a passionate writer, has a sailing blog and owns a marine public relations business called the Marine Voice. She has written numerous articles that have been published in many different boating magazines. She ran the social media campaign for one of the yachts in last year’s Round North Island Race and has recently been appointed as the Akaroa Port Captain and on to the media and communications team for the Central Triangle SSANZ race coming up in March 2022.
In between her various roles, Viki enjoys sailing her Young 88 with her teenage son, either racing or cruising around New Zealand and sailing with friends further afield. She has recently completed her Offshore Yachtmaster exam and has grand cruising plans for the future at the helm of Island Cruising NZ. “While there is still much uncertainty about what the future of cruising looks like with COVID, there is plenty to do now to assist sailors prepare for the borders reopening” Viki says.
She plans to continue and build on the wonderful work that Nigel and Amanda, and other predecessors of Island Cruising have achieved over the years. “The business relies on the support of marine partners and sailing members, which I hope to be able to grow through providing lots of exciting opportunities, training, advice, informative newsletters, discounts, events and rallies.” She says. “We also have so many fantastic cruising destinations in New Zealand, so if the Pacific opens up or remains closed, I’d like to encourage cruisers to explore their own back yard too.”
The Island Cruising membership offering is relevant to racing sailors, coastal sailors and those cruising further afield globally as well. “Often the number of steps required to prepare the vessel and crew for a longer coastal, or offshore voyage can seem overwhelming.” Viki says. “I hope to be able to work alongside members to break down these tasks in to more manageable bites, providing advice, assistance, and support while they are overseas to help them achieve their sailing goals.”
Viki is proud to now be at the helm of Island Cruising NZ and there is certainly a bright future ahead. “Riding on the success of the Americas Cup, the upcoming SailGP event in Lyttelton and the reported high demand in boat sales, we will hopefully see more people out on the water experiencing sailing” she says. “My aim is to carry on the legacy and ensure that Island Cruising NZ will be a relevant, dynamic and an exciting organisation for sailors and supporters to be a part of.”
A huge “Thank You” to Viki for allowing our tiny sailing and cruising site to host her writing. I hope you have enjoyed learning more about her and Island Cruising. Stick with us for a rad post tomorrow by Quincy Great Dane and then a quicky post on Monday about Cooking With What’s On Hand. LF2SF is entirely conceived and written on a cruising sailboat currently in BCS, Mexico but soon heading south toward Costa Rica and Panama…once we get our exhaust system rebuilt and reinstalled. I have spoken.
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