Treasures of the South Seas

sailing for pearls
The 1965 Abeking & Rasmussen Dancer

In the last 27 years the owners of the 1965 Bill Tripp-designed, Abeking & Rasmussen-built, Dancer have put around 100,000 miles beneath the keel of the robust aluminium cutter as they constantly tour the globe. The last 15 years have been spent exploring the more hidden areas of the Pacific Ocean, where the following tale took place.

Dancer is currently for sale through Sandeman Yacht Company.


sailing for pearls
Pearls, the treasure of the South Seas

“You have no pearls?” she said looking at Jeanette. We were in a small store in the Tuamotus and the Polynesian lady at the register had caught me staring at her beautiful necklace, which was composed of small black pearls on gold posts that looked like a miniature bunch of grapes.

We had sailed east from New Zealand through the Southern Ocean and were back in French Polynesia. We love long ocean passages and this one is still one of our favourites. Carrying full sail for most of the trip we did the 2,500 miles to Raivavai in the Austral Islands averaging more than 180 miles per day. Once there, we checked in with the Gendarmes and were off to the Tuamotus for three months of diving in the mostly uninhabited atolls that are at the top of our ‘top-ten’ list. We were there to film the annual grouper spawning where on the full moon thousands of groupers come out of deep water to mate. The groupers are one per square foot, for as far as you can see in the 200ft visibility, for as far as you can swim. Absolutely incredible.

But nothing compared to the Polynesians. The lady left the store and went next door to her house. She returned with a small box that was full of pearls, everything from odd shaped baroques to nice 6mm black pearls, and couple up to 12mm. Jeanette picked out a 6mm pearl for a souvenir, but the lady said “no, they are all for you.”

Sandeman Yacht Company

Brokerage of Classic & Vintage Yachts