T-Minus 21 Days and Counting
Well, we think so anyway… The muppets at Selden masts have somehow managed to screw up the delivery of our beautiful carbon fibre mast and so our sail away date of September 14 has just been buggered. Manufacturing problems apparently. I just think they left everything too late. So thanks a bunch guys! I’ll be sure to endorse your over promising and under delivery all around the world… You’re welcome.
Anyway, my bitching aside, time for and update and perhaps some personal thoughts and commentary as to how we ended where we are today.
The decision path to buy a yacht…
Last year Jacqui and I thought that we wanted to get a holiday home, somewhere to escape the cold winters of Queenstown and to be close to the ocean. We chose Waiheke Island for our search (for those offshore readers it’s a beautiful island off the coast of Auckland New Zealand, in the north). After months of looking and our 3rd failed attempt (primarily because of the eye wateringly ridiculous prices on Waiheke and crap value for money), we were sitting in a bar on the island having a beer overlooking the bay. While wallowing deep in our depression trying to decide whether to proceed with our quest for an island escape, out in the bay we spotted two beautiful yachts at anchor and I looked across at Jac and joking said “why don’t we get a floating holiday home”
The rest is history. I’ll spare you the details of the ups and downs, back and forth, the yes the no, the have we done the right thing, the do we know what we are doing or are we just fucking mad. But here we are today, on our way to Helsinki to start to process of final preparations before launching Coco. However, in the final wash-up we are stoked that we have done this, and the appeal of having an adventure sailing around the world far surpasses kicking the barbecue into life at the holiday home for the next 10 years!
What’s it like to build a yacht?
Let me say this; anyone reading this who has built a house? That’s a walk in the park compared to building a yacht. I absolutely underestimated the amount of work, attention to detail and focus this process would take. The timelines for decisions aren’t flexible, the number of decisions are mind blowing. Decking, rigging, masts, booms, sail plans, anchors, safety equipment, water makers, cabin layouts, navigation equipment, communications, radar, AIS, generators, interior design, international yacht registration, sail numbers, MMSI registration…
The list goes on. And that’s all before you even get the damn thing in the water! The only real similarity between building a yacht and building a house are the budget blowouts. Everywhere.
Do we know what we are doing?
Hell no. If we did, that would take all the fun out of the adventure wouldn’t it! On a more serious note, we have a lot to learn about sailing a yacht around the world. We chose a Swan because the are arguably the most sound ocean going yachts you can buy. Safe, solid and well equipped. So we’ve tried to mitigate risk with that choice (well, and they are just drop dead beautiful yachts as well, let’s be honest here).
Having done a bit of sailing over the years without any formal training we thought it was important to get something a little more technical under our belts. So we’ve passed with flying colours our VHF certificates, our New Zealand Boatmasters and we are half way through our RYA Ocean Yachtmasters course. Every little bit counts!
We’ve also found some great crew to work with us for the first part of the trip through to St Lucia in the Caribbean (it’s nearly 6000 nautical miles so I say “first leg” flippantly). However we are currently short of a skipper, the guy we had hired from Sicily bailed on us yesterday (was probably mafia anyway), the same day we found out the mast was going to be late. So it wasn’t a great day. Self medicating with 2 Negroni’s and a bottle of Brunello helped somewhat. I’m starting to understand that trying to stick to a plan with yachting is an unsatisfying quest. However, we have some other options and we will find a new skipper to guide us.
So we are really focused on surrounding ourselves with some highly skilled salty old sea dogs through to the Caribbean for some deep immersion bluewater sail training!
Daring to leap (and the reactions…)
I guess the primary reason we are doing this is the one that’s always driven our desire to get out into the world so that’s a simple one to answer; our thirst for adventure, to see remote places and experience them first hand. Resort life and lying around the pool; it’s just not our thing. I’m totally supportive of anyone choosing to do this, personal choice is important. It’s just not our cup of tea.
The reactions from friends, family and complete strangers has been varied. To be fair, 95% of people have been on the “oh my God that’s so awesome” side of the ledger. A small percentage of people have just given us the “you’re batshit crazy” look. And yes, there have been a handful of critics who have been pretty negative and believe we’ve made an unwise decision – without taking the time to ask, or understand why we are doing this. That’s been somewhat disappointing. However, everyone is entitled to their opinions.
We also got to a point our lives where we needed some change. Change is something I’ve always embraced, it’s a concept that offers the ability to have, and most importantly, exercise the right to make choices, good or bad. But that’s okay because without making mistakes learning is impossible. More importantly, accepting change builds a platform for growth and learning. This journey will bring us that learning, and new experiences. It will also be an amazing experience for our kids as they join us in various places around the world.
It’ll also be a journey of personal discovery and getting back to core beliefs. It takes courage to be different and make big changes in your life if things feel out of balance, and I’d encourage anyone questioning a current situation or feeling a sense of dissatisfaction, to make a change before it’s too late. As Margaret Thatcher said “standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides”.
So we’ve taken the leap and we feel incredibly lucky and privileged being able to embark on this adventure. And quite honestly, we are excited as hell, nervous, we have a huge sense of anticipation and we know there is still a lot of work to do once we hit Finland before we set sail.
“You’re off to Great Places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!”
I’m so excited for you brother… Karen and I speak of you and your spirit often, and I’ll be thinking of you as we break ground on building our home on land we are securing in Ohakune… Heard of it? It ain’t on the shore, so you’ll have to drive over to say howdy. Love ya, miss ya, wish I was on that damn crew! (PS: I did my MBA in Helsinki… That town is FANTASTIC. Let me know if you want recommendations)… Be well Peter Pan.
No way, you’ve bought property in NZ? I know exactly where it is! How exciting. Please stay in contact and keep me updated with progress. I’ll be back in NZ from time to time and would really love to catch up. I’m liking Helsinki… really good to hear from you Charlie.
We are anchored off Giardini Naxos let me know if you want a made man contract negotiated on your reluctant skipper. Couldn’t imagine a better investment of time or intellectual horsepower what an experience!!!!!!!!!
That it’s bloody hilarious Clappers! Glad to see you’re enjoying life. Carry on….
Just been reading your blog and catching up on your news Alex, I wish you all the best on this new adventure and when you do finally make it back to NZ and sail into Oneroa on Waiheke Is, you’ll have to drop the pick in Sandy Bay and come visit the Simpson’s.
Dennis, really nice to hear from you. Thanks so much for the best wishes. And as for that invite? I can’t wait. I’d love to catch up in Sandy Bay. It would be a pleasure. All the best. Alex.
Nice to heard you are most there, I don’t know if you remember but we also build our catamaran and sailing it for about four years from Brazil to New Zealand. I assure you after a few months sailing you will not remember the construction time, well you will remember but glade have you done it. Sailing safe and fast. Hugo
Hello Hugo, really nice to hear from you and thanks for the positive words! Yes I do remember your story, it was an inspiration! Alex.