Updated: Oct 20, 2018
We started looking at yachts about ten years ago, but we couldn't find the right boat that we could actually afford and then other opportunities came up and we started having babies and the dream was set on the back burner. It never really went away though and so when we decided to migrate from South Africa to Australia it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take some time off and take the family sailing. We started looking at yachts again, this time concentrating the search on catamarans since we now have two small children tag alongs. Catamarans are expensive, so the search was quickly narrowed to a handful of possibilities.
The first time we stepped on Irene she felt like home and it didn't take long for us to convince each other that this was a great idea and a yacht is definitely a solid financial investment. Which just goes to show you really can justify anything if you try hard enough.
Irene is a 38 foot Prout catamaran built in South Africa, in a crazy coincidence it turns out she was built not far from our home town and Denzell actually visited her as a teenager when his mom wrote a story about her for the local newspaper. She was launched in 1996 and spent the last 20 or so years cruising the east african coast and madagascar.
She is a solid boat and had pretty much everything we were looking for, plus a few things we didn't even know we wanted. For example the cockpit is a really safe space for the children as they have to actually climb out of it to get onto deck. We have two large aft cabins, one for us and one for the kids. There's also a forward single berth, which will probably be used for surfboards. The galley is well laid out in the starboard hull whilst the port hull has a great workshop space and the head has a bathtub (yes really), small things that make extended living in a small space more enjoyable. The two yanmar engines are easily accessible one under each double bunk aft. The navigation station is in the saloon with line of sight out into the cockpit. We added a conversion to the couch in the saloon so that it can also be used as an extra double bunk, we like it so much that we pretty much leave it as a massive day bed all the time. We didn't need to do much to the electronics, just added a chartplotter and AIS. We changed out the perspex on the doghouse windows which had yellowed making visibility a problem, we also extended the fiberglass doghouse with a canvas bimini to give us a bit more protection underway. The head also got a new gas geyser for the occasional hot shower. We added netting to the outside railing to make the deck safer for the kids and bought a new liferaft.
We took about 18 months to get ourselves and the boat ready for our big adventure. Denzell spent half of that time away at work putting cash in the sailing kitty. During that time we also completed a mountain of paperwork and were granted Australian permanent residency visas. We sold our house and cars and most of our stuff. A few shakedown sails on the east coast of South Africa and then Denzell sailed her to Cape Town in preparation for our final departure.
Our plan is to sail from Cape Town up the coast to Walvis Bay in Namibia, then across to St Helena, Ascension and Brazil to cross the Atlantic. Then spend some time in the Caribbean before crossing through the Panama Canal and then onto Galapagos and the South Pacific, eventually to arrive on the east coast of Australia. Denzell has managed to arrange 14 months of leave from work and we'll see how far that takes us.