Bucket-list sailor makes the most of life
Pensioner Tom Shepherd was told in 2006 that he had terminal cancer, so instead of waiting to die he decided to learn to fly a plane and to sail a yacht.
He has had flying lessons and one year ago the 84-year-old set sail in his new yacht from Whangarei. He is currently moored at Greenpoint near Bluff.
In 2006 Mr Shepherd underwent an operation to remove cancer from his stomach. Now he has only half a stomach and describes himself as skinny as a hat rack.
"I decided to do something rather than wait around to die."
Mr Shepherd learnt how to fly a plane and then wanted totry an extreme sport.
He had never set foot on a yacht before but last year decided to sell everything he owned, including his home in Dargaville, to buy one. The 10-metre yacht Cabochon is a Cavalier 32.
"It's easier to fly than it is to sail a yacht. I'm very, very pleased I've done this," he said.
The first challenge he faced was getting the yacht to go forward, and he practised for about a month in Whangarei Harbour.
Another was when his yacht tipped near Kaikoura, but luckily it did not sink, he said.
"I don't worry about things. I don't have any fear of anything."
Mr Shepherd has so far sailed from Whangarei, across North Cape, through Tasman Bay and down the east coast of the South Island.
But high waters and winds blowing in the wrong direction have left him stuck in Invercargill for the past six months.
While waiting for the right moment to set sail for Fiordland and back to the North Island via Tasman Bay, Mr Shepherd bought an old car.
He has since travelled 4000 kilometres and seen a substantial portion of the South Island.
He praised the kindness of people in the south and hoped to set sail within the next month. Mr Shepherd has had flying lessons and hopes to get his pilot's licence when he returns to the north.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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