Lane Finley

Lane was practically born sailing. His family owned a beautiful 48 foot wooded staysail schooner when he was a little boy in Southern California. His father, Morris Finley, was an avid sailor, who believed that the best Sunday church was out on the ocean on a sailboat. After many years the schooner, Albatross, was sold and Morris bought a 55' wooden ocean-racer called Topaz. She was originally built in 1938 of mahogany and teak and always turned heads when she sailed by.

By eighteen, Lane had his US Coast Guard six passenger captain's license. He worked at the Isthmus of Catalina Island as a shore boat driver for several years as a summer job while attending the University of Oregon in the winters. At twenty-one he became the youngest person in the US to receive their USCG Ocean Operators License.

Lane began delivering boats to all sorts of places up and down the West Coast of the US, Canada and Alaska. He started a yacht brokerage in Seattle, Washington in the late 1970's, which specialized in offshore cruising boats. The name of the company was Cruising Yachts, Ltd and it was located on Lake Union in Seattle.

In the eighties, Lane bought Lord Nelson Yachts, Ltd and continued to build these fine offshore cruising boats in Taiwan. Under his guidance the Lord Nelson 35 was developed, which proved to be an exceptional offshore cruiser for two people. However, when the Taiwan dollar sky-rocketed in 1989 Lane sold the boat building company to the yard owner, Tommy Chen.

By 1991, Lane and his wife and son were ready to head offshore again. Only this time, instead of another delivery trip, they wanted to go on their own boat, Mai Tai, an Annapolis 44, that they had purchased and lovingly re-fit for the cruise. They sold the yacht sales company, Cruising Yachts Ltd, and set off on a circumnavigation. Their son, Scott, was eight at the time.

Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and most of the South Pacific Islands were all visited on their journey. Nearly fours years went by before they arrived in New Zealand. They had been severely battered by the Queen's Birthday Storm in 1994 and by the time they arrived in the Bay of Islands, NZ, Lane's now ex-wife, Sandy was ready to fly home and leave the boat. (It is not that unusual for this to happen in New Zealand. Many American cruising boats are sold in New Zealand after couples make the sometimes difficult journey across the Pacific.)

Lane and Scott stayed on in New Zealand and Scott attended school for a year. With their visitor's permits about to expire, they were forced to leave New Zealand in May, 1996. Scott went to Portland, Oregon to live with his mother and continue his education. Lane took Mai Tai up to Tonga with a New Zealand friend. They sailed from Tonga to American Samoa, Western Samoa, Wallis Island and then to Fiji, where they spent the next six months.

It was here, in Fiji, while re-painting Mai Tai's hull in Latoka that Lane decided to apply to New Zealand to live there permanently. He was accepted and now has a New Zealand passport as well as his US passport.

New Zealand had recently won the America's Cup and on his return to Auckland, Lane was hired by the New Zealand Marine Export Association to assist their marine industry in building an international brand and leveraging the media exposure from the America's Cup toward achieving greater export sales for New Zealand. Lane's term lasted eight years and spanned two America's Cups and two Millennium Cup Superyacht Regattas.

During this period of being on center stage with the most exciting sailing activities of recent times, Lane met a Kiwi lady with many years of offshore sailing experience as well. Appropriately, the two met at a yacht club function in Auckland.


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