This story depicts fifteen years of the author’s life as she explores the world of sailing. Initially things are set in motion when Joy and her husband, Dennis, go looking to buy a boat.  

At thirty-two years of age she steps onto a yacht for the very first time, being completely naïve about the nautical world.

With a husband that loves sailing it isn’t until Joy meets other cruising couples that she learns to share some of her husband’s passion.

From her first apprehensive feelings of self-doubt and seasickness Joy embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

This story depicts the angst and heartache she endures until she finally accepts that sailing is going to be a big part of her life. To her surprise she eventually begins to enjoy the world of cruising yachts but her journey of self-discovery is long and convoluted.

Huge struggles and small accomplishments in everyday life make this a heart-rending story.

In Store Price: $AU23.95 
Online Price:   $AU22.95

ISBN: 1 921118 76 8
Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages: 207
Genre: Non Fiction


Cover: Clive Dalkins
Original picture - ©Sandra Rogers

Author: Joy Hobbs
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2006
Language: English


About the Author  

Joy Hobbs was born in the Thames Hospital , a large building located in the midst of a picturesque little country town, in New Zealand . A few years later her parents moved to Auckland and her early years were spent living in the suburbs of Manurewa and Papatoetoe, with her two younger siblings.  

Even though this metropolis became known as the City Of Sails , Joy was blissfully unaware of what she had missed out on. She never once stepped upon a yacht whilst growing up in this land which has such close proximity to the sea.  

In 1985 she moved to Australia with her new husband and their initiation into sailing began when she and Dennis purchased a boat.  

She continues to live in Brisbane and they frequently sail their present yacht Molokai around Moreton Bay . Sailing for Joy is her first book. 

To view photos of their trips visit

Chapter 1

Nautical Growing Pains (sample)


                                                                                                                                   Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.

                                                       Dion Boucicault 1820 - 1890



It was four o’clock in the morning and I woke from a very deep sleep. It was a pitch-black night but I could just make out the silhouette of a person standing over our v-berth bed, watching us as we slept. I automatically shut my eyes and thought, I must be dreaming, then I opened my eyes again to find that the dark shadow of a human form was indeed a reality.

I sat bolt upright in bed and shouted to Dennis, “There’s someone on our boat!”

Unfortunately my husband is one of those individuals that take about half an hour to wake from a deep slumber. By the time he had stirred enough to begrudgingly pop his head out the front hatch of the boat I had chased the dark form through the saloon, up the steps and out into the cockpit.

As the intruder frantically scrambled over the lifelines of our boat into his dinghy, I had vengeful thoughts of giving him a push into the murky waters of the Mackay Harbour . However, even with my mind racing at a chaotic pace my practical nature cautioned me that if he could not swim, I would have to dive in and save him.

It’s far too cold to be swimming in the middle of winter at this early hour of the morning all for the sake of a drowning trespasser, I thought.  So I stood there and yelled expletives at him in the manner of a livid fishwife, as he rowed his tender speedily away into the darkness. The first and last thing I heard him say was, sorry lady – wrong boat.

I shook my head, only half believing him, and wondered how on earth I had got myself into this crazy predicament? Here we are out on a completely dark night, the two of us living aboard our yacht, with only a handful of other boats around. My heart was still pounding and my mind reeling from the drama when I felt my legs buckle and I sank down on the deck.

“I’ll get the jug boiling,” Dennis said, “I think you need a hot cup of tea.”

Moments later when I sat in the galley with my hands encircling the warm beverage, my mind wandered back to the day it all began.




Dennis and I both arrived home after having a stressful day at work. It was one of those balmy Brisbane evenings and we decided to sit outdoors and enjoy a glass of white wine. We relaxed into the deckchairs and felt the calmness envelop us when out of the blue Dennis said, “I want to buy a boat.”

I automatically turned my head towards him and scanned his face for any clues regarding this totally unexpected statement. Unfortunately Dennis had an earnest intensity about him, a look I had seen before, and I knew without a doubt that he was deadly serious.

 A boat I thought, but I don’t know anything about boats! That was possibly the craziest idea I had ever heard him suggest; however, I knew if I took a negative stance he’d only dig his heels in more. Perhaps I was over reacting and he only wanted to buy a small tinny that he could go fishing in.

Time seemed to stand still as a multitude of harried thoughts raced through my mind. I carefully adjusted my stricken facial expression to one of nonchalance and took another sip of wine before replying with great decorum,

 “Hmmmm, how nice.”

After that I changed the subject hurriedly, hoping all the while that the ‘boat dream’ might just be a passing phase, and that Dennis would soon tire of the idea – after eight years of marriage I should have realised that my husband’s stubborn nature was not to be taken lightly. Shortly after that conversation we took a ‘Sunday afternoon drive’ which just happened to end up near the harbour.

“Perhaps we could have a wee browse through the yacht broker’s window, while we’re here,” Dennis said. Subtle as a sledgehammer, that’s my husband.

By this stage I had come to the conclusion that no amount of wriggling was going to get me out of this ‘boat dream’ dilemma.


As the months drifted by I was surprised to find that I quite enjoyed the boat-hunting exercise; it appeared to be just another form of shopping, and as that was my most favourite of hobbies I quickly picked up the general gist of things.

I learned how to ask the boat brokers the relevant questions.

“What draft does this boat have?”

Only a few months prior I would have thought ‘draft’ was associated with beer, now I knew it was that protruding boat-bit under the water.

Another reliable question was, “Does this boat have a fridge?” In later years, when I repeated this exercise, I adapted my question to ‘Does this boat have a working fridge?’

I was beginning to realise that this seafaring world had possibilities and I was kept busy trying to absorb as much information as I could. My nautical learning curve had only just begun to develop.

During this period Dennis worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and spent a fair amount of time in Sydney. Unbeknown to me, his spare time was also used up perusing the waters of Sydney Harbour for prospective boats.

One afternoon at Chesney Yachts in Sailers Bay , Dennis found his dream yacht. He then proceeded through the maze of negotiations, until his name appeared on the ownership papers.

His next step was to get the yacht trucked up to Brisbane and then find a yacht club, followed by a marina berth to store our new boat. Dennis was on a roll – he had so many things to organise.

Oops, back up – perhaps he should tell Joy that they now owned a boat.

The phone rang and Dennis, using his most cajoling voice, said “Darling we’ve bought a boat.”

“Ohhhh,” I answered, “how deep is its draft?”

“Four-foot six.”

“Does it have a fridge?”


No! That was entirely the wrong answer – what was my next step? Think shopping I deliberated, could I make him take the boat back and get a refund? Unbeknown to me, my nautical learning curve had just increased up a very sharp incline. I was now a boat-owner and it followed that I might possibly have to learn to sail the darned thing.

The new boat was a thirty-foot fibreglass yacht. It was a Clansman design and was named Tamba 4. Dennis took an instant dislike to the name and promptly decided to change it.

He had grown up in the South Island of New Zealand and was fond of the name of a famous sheep station. So the new boat was re-named Erehwon, which was actually the word ‘Nowhere’, spelt backwards. However, when naming a boat it is a good rule of thumb to keep it simple and easy to pronounce. Erehwon was not a simple name to pronounce and Dennis was about to find out the hard way – he too had his own steep nautical learning curve.


In Brisbane , there are four yacht clubs in the Manly Harbour and Dennis had decided that he wanted to join The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron (RQYS).

Upon arriving at the entrance gate, he rang the bell and was invited in.

“I would like to join your club,” he said. “My yacht will be pulling up at the entrance, on a truck, very shortly.”

The poor gentleman had never met anyone quite like Dennis before and tried to explain how things usually worked.

“But sir – that is not the correct protocol. To join this particular club your name has to be proposed and then it has to be seconded. You see, we don’t know exactly who you are.”

“Well that’s fine,” said Dennis, “you’ve met me, why don’t you put my name on the list and then get one of your friends to second it.  Now let’s get down to practical things, which berth is my boat going into?”

To give the RQYS its dues, Dennis became a member shortly thereafter. He had been proposed by the Chairman of the Membership Committee and seconded by the Secretary. Dennis has continued to be a member since that time and has found it to be an excellent club, in every respect.


I felt a mixture of emotions the day I arrived at the Yacht Club for the first time. I was excited, nervous and curious all at the same time. My heart was pounding as I walked down the long pontoon and I noticed that the floating walkway was moving slightly under my feet.

I’m not even on the boat yet, I thought, and I already feel seasick. How on earth could I have got myself into this predicament? After all I have no boating experience what-so-ever, I didn’t even like boats and I certainly have no affinity with the sea. What was I going to do?

Luckily when I first saw Erehwon my initial thoughts were positive. I decided that she was a very pretty little boat with a sleek, traditional hull line. She seemed clean and tidy from the outside, with a shining white fibreglass hull and powder blue coach-house. The inside was another matter, and once aboard I mentally went through a list of things that might spruce her up.

Psychologically this was a good step, as I had now accepted the idea that we owned a boat and that she was going to be a part of my life, regardless. Unbeknown to me I had taken the first baby step of a gigantic leap of faith – I was on the road to becoming a ‘sailor’.

Inside Erehwon the walls were grubby and dark, the cushions and curtains were a faded colour and the floors were dingy. Over the following months I painted the walls white, made bright new curtains, and got an upholsterer to make brand new nautical-coloured cushions. Erehwon took on a new persona and it was a pleasure to then go below decks.

During this period Dennis was also very busy, acquainting himself with such things as the engine, the sails, and charts of Moreton Bay .

One afternoon he spread a number of the sails out on the lawn. I noticed that one particular sail was very small in size.

“What a cute little sail, when do we use that?” I asked.

“It’s a storm sail,” Den replied, “and it’s used when there are very strong winds.”

Hmmmm, I thought, I’ve changed my mind and gone off the idea of using that cute little sail, after all.


Dennis and I gradually started taking our new boat out onto Moreton Bay for day trips. We had no one to teach us how to sail and so we had to learn by ourselves. Our very first jaunt was around Green Island – probably a journey, all of five nautical miles.

However, that first day I was in awe of absolutely everything. I constantly perused the charts to understand the meaning of the different markers, I watched the depth sounder as the depths of the seafloor changed, I noticed the changes to the colour of the sea as the sun came out and I tried to learn about the intricacies of the wind. All that occurred before we had even put a sail up!

During this timeframe, I also came to understand the dreaded art of berthing the boat back into its marina pen. Many a wife has despaired at the very thought of this much-maligned task, I on the other hand was blissfully ignorant of this fact.

The idea being that Dennis would ease the boat gently into the berth and I would then jump gracefully to the ground with a couple of lines to hook around cleats.

The first try made Dennis ‘lead foot’ Hobbs re-think his speed tactics. As we approached our berth Dennis was steering and I was standing ready to jump, with the ropes coiled in my hand. Even I could understand that Dennis’s approach was too fast but I was unsure what to do.

“Should I jump now?” I yelled, trying to make my wobbly voice heard over the throbbing engine noise.

 At that moment Erehwon came to the end of her berth and endeavoured to climb up over the pontoon. Her smooth bow was cushioned by the rubber edge and she rode up slowly and then started going backwards out of the berth again.

“Jump, jump!” Dennis demanded.

Luckily I have long legs and so I flew over the water gap onto the pontoon, just as the boat started to pick up momentum again. I wrapped my rope around a cleat and we were tied to the pontoon once more.

“Was that a good berthing?” I enquired innocently.

“Perhaps we might try it a bit slower, next time,” Dennis replied sheepishly.

Once he had mastered that part, Dennis then had to make sure he brought the boat close enough to the pontoon, so that I could jump onto it.

The next time Erehwon entered the berth we were gliding in slowly when I noticed with horror that the pontoon was too far away for me to get to.

“Jump!” Dennis demanded.

“No, I’ll end up in the water,” I wailed.

“If you don’t jump now, I’ll have to back the boat out again.”

By this stage the wind had taken great delight in blowing us in the opposite direction to which we wanted to go and we were even further away from our pontoon. Luckily our neighbour’s boat was out for the day and I noticed that their finger was much closer than ours and so I made an instant decision and jumped over that way.

“What did you do that for?” Dennis asked, after we were safely tied up to our berth again.

“Look,” I said, “you have to bring this boat in close to our berth or else you can reverse her out again. I will never ever jump a distance that I know I can’t make.”

Even as a novice I had made my first decision on the boat. Dennis had also learnt that he might not always be able to boss me around and that this game was going to involve some team effort.

Eventually, with much practice, we finally established a ‘method’ of berthing that seemed to work – most of the time.


Unfortunately it had to happen. The day arrived when I became frightened while out on the boat.

We had arranged to meet our friends, Rients and Donna, for lunch down at Horseshoe Bay . They were going to put their trailer sailer in at a boat ramp close to Peel Island , whereas we had to sail across the bay from Manly to meet them.

It started out as a perfect day – the skies were blue, the sun was shining and best of all the wind was very light. Dennis and I enjoyed a leisurely three-hour sail across the bay and as we came around the corner of Peel Island , into Horseshoe Bay , we were greeted by a multitude of boats already there. I smiled happily at the beautiful vista before my eyes, the pristine-white sandy beach, the shimmering aqua waters and a mass of boats bobbing gently at anchor.

 Rients and Donna could wind up the keel on their boat, so we saw that they had taken it right in close to the shoreline. We anchored Erehwon further out in Horseshoe Bay and Dennis then started getting the dinghy off the deck. I found the oars and also packed the Esky for our picnic lunch. Dennis then rowed us ashore, to the lovely white sandy beach where we met up with our friends.

We chatted for a while and then decided to have our lunch but as I moved up the beach I happened to glance down Moreton Bay to some sand hills in the distance. I saw great plumes of sand being hoisted into the air.

“How strange,” I commented. “I wonder what’s causing that?”

As the others glanced in a south-easterly direction also, we were hit with a blast of wind. A southeast wind change of twenty-five knots had come through early, and unfortunately Horseshoe Bay was wide open to that particular wind direction.

“We have to get out of this bay fast,” Dennis said.

“But what about our picnic?” I wailed, not understanding the urgency of the situation.

Dennis had already gathered up our belongings and was running down the beach towards our dinghy. I followed at a fast pace and as I glanced over my shoulder I noticed that our friends were packing up their things just as rapidly. Dennis piled everything into the tender, jumped in and grabbed the oars.

“Great day this has turned out to be,” I muttered, as I followed suit.

As the wind strength increased little wavelets formed making it very hard for Dennis to row, but with adrenalin giving him an extra boost, we finally made it back to our boat.

It felt like hours instead of minutes since we’d left the beach and I noticed with alarm that Erehwon was now heaving up and down with the wave action.

We looked back to our friends and saw that they had their own problems trying to get their trailer sailer out beyond the surf, as they kept getting pushed back onto the shore.

Our dramas weren’t over yet either – we still had to get the anchor up. As Dennis attempted to pull the anchor up by hand, he yelled to me, ‘steer the boat in that direction’, as his arm furiously jabbed in a westerly direction. That’s all very well, I thought, but my dear Captain Bligh, you haven’t taught me how to steer yet.

What’s more the boat had a tiller and not a steering wheel, so when I thought I was pointing the boat in the direction of his hand signal I ended up steering in the opposite direction.

By the time we managed to finally get the anchor up I was astonished to see that the bay was almost completely empty of boats. As we had struggled to get our boat free, hundreds of vessels had departed at a very fast rate.

I had learnt another valuable lesson – when the wind was blowing your boat onto a lee shore, you got out of there as quickly as possible, otherwise you might end up as flotsam and jetsam on the shoreline.

Unfortunately the trip home was not to my liking. The wave action had increased with the wind, and even though we flew home with the ‘cute’ small headsail up, I came to the understanding that I was going to be one of those people that suffers from seasickness.

While Dennis sat there with the rain plastering his hair to his head and the wind screaming through the spreaders, he had the biggest grin on his face.

He’s actually enjoying this, I thought. Is that possible?

The feelings I was experiencing were queasiness, cold, fear and anger – quite the opposite end of the spectrum from enjoyment.

I shook my head with amazement and came to the conclusion that men were very complicated creatures.


After that trip I had some serious thinking to do. I had been quite shocked at how quickly the seas changed with a weather disturbance. Maybe this ‘boaty thing’ was not for me? I suggested that Dennis take up racing, as I’d noticed a lot of men seemed to enjoy this competitive hobby, and luckily women rarely seemed to participate.

To give him his credit Dennis did give this a try for several months, as ‘crew’ on a friend’s boat.

“I’ve learnt a lot from crewing,” he said, “but I’ve decided that racing is not my scene and I really just want to cruise around on my own boat.”

At that stage I had lost any small confidence that I might have gained in the sailing arena and felt I’d just be content to stay at home while Dennis went off by himself.

As each Saturday came around I would make Dennis a packed lunch and then wave goodbye to him as he drove off to the marina – alone. Then I would promptly go inside and have a good cry. The trouble was I really wanted to be with him but I was just too scared to give it another try.

Amongst Dennis’s skills, I think I would place manipulation quite high on the list.

He never once tried bullying tactics, nor wheedling nor pleading methods, to get me back onto the boat. He endured months of learning how to sail our boat, all on his own, while I wimpishly stayed home alone.


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