28 February 2009


I have to resist the temptation to title this 'Robyn.'

When we moved to New Zealand, we, being Yankees, were surprised to find males with the name 'Robin' (I don't think I had ever heard of Christopher Robin at that time - more's the pity). Then we discovered that there were just as many females - but spelt 'Robyn.' I still can't hear the difference (in case that was too subtle, it was intended as humourous).

My sister was born (sorry, dear, in the age of the Internet you can't hide) 1 May, 1946.

And, according to my father, he laid the keel of the 40-foot ketch he built in our back yard in the near-desert climate of Bakersfield near the date of her birth - and called the boat the 'Robin' in her honour.

That's as may be. The boat moved on from any relation to us, at least, long ago, but my sister is still around.

Well, 'around' as alive, but she lives in Hawai'i.

Again almost certainly due to my self-centredness I don't remember much about Robin when we were small children in Bakersfield. There was, after all, nearly four years' difference in our ages - and when you are 12 (as I nearly was when we left Bakersfield), four years is a very large difference indeed.

What I remember with great pleasure is times when the three of us - me, Peter, and Robin - were at sea ... on the Robin!

The yacht was launched in 1950, I believe. My father had to have it trans-shipped, dismasted, to San Pedro Harbour across the Ridge Route - I believe he had to get all sorts of permissions and such. Peter may know more about this than I do.

We left Bakersfield in 1954, so for what seems to me in retrospect a vast number of years, but was in fact only about four, we had this boat for holidays. We sailed to the various California offshore islands - Catalina, of course, but Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa and the rest of the Channel Islands.

Robin used to enjoy poking things :-) - sea anemones, the insides of mussels, and so forth - to watch them squirt. I remember our main use of mussels was as bait - I don't think I could have believed it if someone had told me at the time that one day I would be a greedy eater of them!

I don't know when Robin began playing a musical instrument. Was it when we still lived in Bakersfield? I don't know. I myself did, I know, take piano lessons for a short while in Bakersfield, but soon switched to playing the cornet. I love music now and am an amateur horn player.

I don't know if Robin had started music then, but I would not be surprised. It would be a harbinger of great things to come. She is now an awesome musician!

But that's a story for another time.

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