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Gift of the stars celebrates epic blue water sailor Larry Pardey

Lin and Larry on board Taleisin near North Cove, Kawau island.

The stars have guided voyagers across the vast oceans for millennia, including one seafaring Kawau Island couple who chose to sail using traditional navigation for nearly 50 years.

Now a gift from an old friend is being used to show youngsters the secrets of the night sky on the island with an observatory being built at Camp Bentzon.

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Like ocean voyagers before them Larry and Lin Pardey used traditional navigation like the stars when they sailed.

Lin and Larry Pardy's adventures building, then sailing the globe on their small wooden sailing boats Seraffyn and Taleisin have made them legends of the sea and household names, particularly in US sailing circles.

Go simple, go small, go now. Their motto saw them sailing off with the bare basics on board including no motor, and using no modern electronic navigation equipment.

For 45 years they sailed, wrote and made videos on living the kind of life others could only dream of – sailing and working their way around the world.


Larry and Lin Pardey in 1968 aboard the newly launched Seraffyn.

They fell in love with Kawau Island 25 years ago and made North Cove their home base.

A Canadian, Larry was working with Kenny Thorall repairing and delivering boats in Newport, California when he met 20-year-old Lin in 1965.

The two friends lost touch with each other as Larry and Lin headed off on the first of their adventures a few years later.

Lin and Larry Pardey enjoying a music festival on Kawau Island in 2014.

Five years ago, a message from Ken on their website querying if they were his old friends saw them back in touch, with Lin and Larry visiting Ken and his family in Alaska. 

Now well into his 70s, Larry's health has deteriorated in the last few years and he is now in-care on the mainland.

To honour his friends adventurous spirit Ken donated $10,000 as a tribute to him.

With no children of their own, Larry and Lin had enjoyed hearing the sounds of happy children at the camp nearby.

Bentzon camp managers Erin and Peter Hyde had long thought, with no light pollution, the island would be a perfect place for an observatory.  

With Lions and Rotary chipping in to build decks and housing, the telescope will arrive soon.

Now, another generation of youngsters may be inspired to head off on adventures of their own using the stars as their guiding lights.