Real Life

Best friends Carly and Lucy’s next chapter ‘There’s always a way forward’

Through health scares and treacherous solo sailing trips, best friends Carly and Lucy are navigating uncharted territory together

Challenges are sent to build our characters, which is something English ex-pats Carly Waddleton and Lucy Te Moananui know better than most, because they have survived their fair share of trials.

After a chance meeting at a party in Christchurch 13 years ago, the friends clicked instantly. “And not just because we’re both from small landlocked villages in England,” says Carly, “but because we’re also eternally optimistic, with a mutual love of cheesy music, travel and the ocean.”

As part of Lucy’s passion for the ocean, the daring Brit has been a competitive surfer and, more recently, a long-distance solo sailor. Based in Kaikōura with her husband and whānau, high school teacher Lucy entered the Solo Trans-Tasman Yacht Race in April.

Cabin mates: Lucy with husband Alan and pooch Ahi.

This was her first attempt at this rigorous event, but the stars did not align and four boats, one of them Lucy’s, had to turn back when a massive weather system came through. “But even in those scariest moments, the ocean is incredible, so I’ll definitely give the race another go in three years time,” Lucy, 39, says determinedly.

As for her qualifying expedition for this famously tough regatta, she survived a six-day, 800km solo sail also in heavy weather. “For a couple of hundred kilometres along the west coast of the North Island, I sat for two nights in six-metre seas and 45-knot winds. I didn’t get much sleep as I hadn’t been in those conditions in my boat before and I didn’t know if she would handle it.”

You wouldn’t read about it! After failing to finish the perilous solo yacht race, Lucy is taking inspiration from Carly’s kids’ book.

Lucy kept a cool head, even though she admits it’s incredibly difficult to deploy a life raft when waves are crashing over your boat.

“In the morning, the sun was just coming up, and the sea and sky were purple-y orange. The wind had died down, but there were still these vast mountains of water. And that is why I love offshore ocean sailing, for that combination of incredible highs and lows.”

But Lucy’s not the only one who’s been navigating stormy seas. Her best pal, tech start-up entrepreneur and mother-of-two Carly, 37, has also felt her pulse race lately, although in her case, it was health-related.

“I was born with a heart abnormality, which I just used to call my bubbly heart because I thought it was normal,” she explains. “But it was actually a thing called SVT – which stands for supraventricular tachycardia – which is like a super-frantic heartbeat. It used to come on at all sorts of times, including when I sneezed or had hiccups. Suddenly my heart would beat almost out of my chest, so when I was 21, I had surgery and that put a lid on it.”

At least it did until a few years ago, when the SVT came back and Carly’s cardiologist recommended a repeat of the previous operation because, if left unchecked, it could be fatal. Luckily, the procedure was a success and with Carly reminded how precious life is – she’d already lived through the Christchurch earthquakes, the Port Hills fires and the pandemic – she quietly steered toward her own goal. The result is Dreams Of A Moa (Little Love, $25), a heart-warming illustrated children’s book.

These close friends believe people can achieve almost anything when they put their mind to it. “I had my first poem published when I was eight, but I never told people I wanted to be an author,” Carly shares. “Instead, I was always writing stories in secret and letting life get in the way, but the book really started to take shape after I took my two sons to the Christchurch Museum.

Lucy and pregnant Carly at the beach in 2013.

“After seeing the moa, they had so many questions about what happened to those giant birds and to answer them, I made up all these stories about the moa following their dreams.”

Lucy tells how she has taken the book’s philosophies to heart.

“Solo sailing is high risk and I definitely struggle with self-doubt. Even though I want to be out there alone on the ocean, I took a lot of strength from having Carly, one of my closest friends, believing in me and telling me I could do it. And that’s what Dreams Of A Moa is all about – having the confidence to follow your dreams and give things a try no matter what.”

Even though their dreams are quite different, the friends agree that supporting and inspiring each other is central to their friendship. They share a smile when they think of all the pep talks they’ve given each other over the years.

Carly points out, “There is always a solution. No matter what you’re facing, the only way through is through. Even if that means a change of direction or the passing of time, there is always a way forward as long as you’re out there doing it and giving it a try.”

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