First of all, tell our readers something about you and your sailing voyage.
We are a family of three currently living in Australia. I am a marketer for a robotics company, my wife jointly runs a communications consultancy that works with NGOs and socially-focussed corporates. Our son is a sports- and school-loving seven-year old grommet.
We love travel and adventure sports. Our travels have taken us on backpacking trips to Vietnam and across South America, road trips across Europe, Morocco and America (including iconic roads such as Route 66 and Highway 1) and major hikes across the Alps, Andes and Tasmania. Sports we love include surfing, skiing and cycling but we’ll give anything a go!
And of course sailing. We’ve been sailing since we first moved to Sydney 15 years ago when we hooked up with some mates who invited us sailing on the harbour. But sailing’s always been in our blood, with my grandfather a keen sailor on the Baltic, and we recently found out that my wife’s great-uncle was an original founder of a yacht club at Botany Bay in Sydney. Our sailing has taken us to the likes of Croatia, Greece, Sardinia and the Whitsundays as well as inshore racing in Sydney Harbour and the odd offshore race.
To leave their professionals careers to see the world in a boat is a big decision. So, why this choice?
We don’t want to wait until we retire before we take on a major sailing voyage. The epiphany came while we moored off a Croatian beach, across from a boat full of older Austrian sailors. I thought that looked like the good life and my immediate second thought was, why do we have to wait till we retire? That was 8 years ago. We were aiming to leave in 2015 however my wife decided she needed to do a PhD to enable her to follow her passions (it did!), so we pushed the date for setting off to 2017 to give her time to establish her business.
Professionally I achieved the peak of my career several years ago as the head of marketing for our company. It’s now time to look at doing something new. For now, I just want to relax and enjoy the trip. One of my favourite past times is playing poker, and I can continue to play online on the trip as we will have wifi, 4G and satellite communication. For me, playing poker and sailing the open oceans sounds like heaven. I’ve been playing poker way longer than I’ve been sailing, as I started when I was in college, playing with groups of friends. I rarely get to play in person anymore, but I regularly play online. I like to use this real money online casino so hopefully I will make a bit of money to keep our funds up. We’re not too concerned about money, though, as my wife’s happy to continue working during the trip – which is entirely feasible due to our wifi. Our son will continue his schooling as well. The Australian school system is well set up for distance education, on account of all the kids in the outback living far from any schools. And this will be a great opportunity for him. Imagine learning about Roman history while sailing in Italy, the great explorers while in the Caribbean, marine biology amongst the Bahamas, Belize, or the Tuamotus reefs. About volcanoes while in Sicily and Vanuatu.
Which boat is “quiet” and why you have chosen it?
Firstly we will be buying a new yacht. While I would love to go over to Europe and spend 6 months looking for a quality old Swan or Oyster, we don’t have the time. We do have the time to buy a new yacht, spend one month during commissioning making sure everything is working and then four months in the Med putting the yacht through its paces before we head across the Atlantic.
We have narrowed our boat models to the Hanse 455 and the Dufour 460.
Our criteria for selection were, in order of importance, safety and stability, quality of hull construction, followed by price and sailing performance. We didn’t want to go shorter than 45 as we want storage and living space for the three of us and any friends and family that will be joining us. 45 feet provides a level of safety and stability we feel comfortable with.
While several yachts meet our criteria including the Jeanneau 479, we like the modern Hanse and Dufour design and comfort features such as sunbeds and integrated barbeques, and they are better priced than the 479. Dufour have a good reputation for quality vacuum-infused hulls. Hanse owners we have spoken to praise their boats.
How to prepare a boat to sail over 20,000 nautical miles? And your spirit?
We have a list of over 200 items for the yacht, covering safety, electronics and navigation, energy generation, maintenance, and general comfort. We will order all safety equipment – liferaft, lifejackets, EPIRB, PLBs, ditch bag and contents, just to name a few – prior to commissioning and handover. Energy generation – we’re looking at a hydrogenerator and bimini-mounted solar panels – will ideally be installed during commissioning, however if there’s no installer available at that point then we will do it while still in the Med. Necessities like tender and tender motor we’ll organise to coincide with handover, while other necessities like surfboard and inflatable stand-up paddleboard we’ll be bringing with us!
As mentioned, we will spend a month commissioning the yacht and then four months sailing the Med – consider this the shakedown cruise. Anything that goes wrong should be easily resolved before we head across the Atlantic.
Important to note is we want system redundancy – hence having a hydrogenerator, solar panels and if all else fails, the engine, for electricity generation. At the same time we want to keep things simple. Therefore against all advice we won’t have a water generator, as it’s just one more thing that could go wrong. Witness what happened in the recent Volvo Ocean Race with problematic water generators. The Hanse and Dufour have more than enough water – around 450 litres – and space for another 450 litres or so of bottled water, to get us across the oceans if we are frugal with our water. That means any friends who need a shower every day while crossing an ocean will self-select out of the more challenging portions of the trip!
As for our spirits, we are very positive. Naturally we are very much looking forward to the voyage and counting the weeks before we set off.
Until recently I was apprehensive about whether we are ready, but I’ve just completed a Yachtmaster Coastal course and the highly experienced instructor (who has sailed over 200,000 Nm to date!) gave every indication that I was ready (just need to practice marina mooring a bit more – don’t we all!), so I’m no longer worried about that aspect.
The one question I have is what it will be like to cross an ocean, being surrounded as far as the eye can see with water and no land as a reference. While I’ve tried to picture it when sailing offshore and looking out to sea and the horizon, it’s difficult for me to imagine. But few people have gone crazy crossing an ocean so we should be fine!
Finally, our son was not so keen on sailing until recently whereupon reaching the age of seven we gave him the helm and got him working the winches, and now he loves it!
Finally, our classic question: what does it mean “sail” for you?
Sailing captures many of the things we value – a love of travel, exploring new lands and cultures, adventure, overcoming challenges, self-reliance, and getting away from it all. And best of all, sharing the experiences with friends and family.
For more on their preparations for the sailing voyage, please visit the website and our youtube channel www.youtube.com/tranquilome. Photos of their past sailing adventures can be found on Instagram @sailing_tranquilo