It's often said that women can do anything a man can do, and sometimes better.
Sailors Annie Hill and Gail Varga are proving just that by building their boats from scratch in Whangārei, where the British duo are safely sheltering from the scourge of Covid-19.
Hill has spent the past five years at Norsand boatyard at Port Whangārei chipping away at her 26-foot yacht, which features a Chinese junk rig, and hopes to have the craft ready on time for summer.
She's an award-winning sailor who's covered more than 165,000 nautical miles since she began voyaging and living aboard various yachts, starting in 1975, and she has published a number of books on sailing.
In 2010 she received one of the most prestigious awards in the sailing world, the Blue Water Medal of the Cruising Club of America.
The idea of building a boat came from a sailing friend, who forwarded her designs after years of looking for a suitable one that could creep up all creeks and go into mangroves when cyclones struck.
"It was a silly thought to build at the time. I had spare money which was a rare thing and so I decided to take it on and I initially thought I could do it in three years, but it took longer."
When she got married in the late 90s, her husband insisted they sell their epoxy/ply boat and build another one, but Hill wasn't keen on the idea.
They ended up sailing their boat and she has been on the lookout for a yacht since. Her live-in yacht will be ready at a cost of less than $50,000.
Varga will press on with her 10-foot nesting dinghy for the tender of her ship Local Talent, which is moored at the Town Basin Marina.
She is working out of a century-old shed on Punga Grove Rd owned by Barbara O'Sullivan and was one of the original boatsheds used by Orams and Davies - pioneer boatbuilders in Whangārei.
"I am just delighted she can use the shed and convert it to what it was originally built for," O'Sullivan said.
Varga met O'Sullivan through a yachtie friend about five years ago and approached the latter to use the shed.
"My husband and I have a 10-foot inflatable dinghy with a 15-horsepower engine which I find cumbersome to use. Some time ago I asked him if I built a dinghy, would he get rid of the inflatable dinghy. He said yes."
She started two to three weeks ago and reckons she'll complete it in two months.
"I've never built a boat before but I am experienced in woodwork. I'll be sewing the sails and doing the upholstery. Against the cost of a new dinghy, it will still be affordable," Varga said.