There's nothing we love more than having a beer and a yarn with our mates, especially when there's an interesting story to be told. Whether you're down the road or beyond the border, our Over The Fence blog series will tell the stories of our mates near and far dedicating their lives to great endeavours, no matter how wild, difficult or left of centre they may be.
We recently sat down with The Wayward Sailors, three late 20-somethings from Perth who recently acquired a 60-foot yacht named Cape Petrel. Novice sailors with mostly snapped rudders and blown engines to show for their sailing experience, the boys plan to sail Cape Petrel around the world and back again and learn everything about sailing along the way.
Read on as we chat to these three surfers about owning and renovating a yacht, some of their adventures so far and how they plan to make it back to tell the tale.
Who are The Wayward Sailors?
We’re three best mates. Brodie and Saccy have known each other since high school and grew up surfing and diving together. Jack came into the picture not long after. We have a common vision and are committed to making it happen. And that vision is sailing around the world and scoring waves along the way…except none of us know how to sail.
Tell us a bit more about The Wayward Sailors’ mission?
The mission at the moment is to fix the holes in our yacht so we can put it back into the water. But the ultimate goal is to sail around the world. And we want all of our friends and family, as many as possible, to join us along the way. We want to explore really pristine, untouched spots and surf waves by ourselves and go spearfishing places that just aren’t accessible unless you have a yacht.
Just to be able to have friends and family come along for the ride and to share this experience is a big part of it. It's why we’ve worked and saved up for longer and bought a way bigger yacht that what most people think we can handle. Because we want to have fun, but we want to be able to share it. And not sink. Our mission is definitely not to sink.
Tell us a bit about your sailing experience. Would you call yourselves novices or seasoned sailors?
So, at this point. We should clarify that the ‘Sailors’ part of The Wayward Sailors is still a bit tongue-in-cheek. We feel a bit pretentious calling ourselves sailors still. We definitely grew up on the water doing a lot of water-based exploring on small boats, but not sailing. We bought a 20 foot trailer sailor a couple years ago off gumtree, so we could have something to learn to sail on while we looked for the real yacht.
We sailed that collectively less than 10 times and nearly every time something has gone wrong. We snapped the rudder twice. The first time we snapped it the sun was setting and we were off West End with one battery, no electrics and no way to charge it.
The motor wouldn’t start and we were drifting towards West End and had to figure out if we were going to have to swim in to avoid getting washed against the rocks, or if we were going to spend the night bobbing around at sea. The last time we sailed it the rudder (which we painstakingly fixed) snapped again, in a different spot, and the keel fell off. So we're highly experienced.
What do you like to do when you’re not working on the yacht?
We all work full-time, which is what we have to do in order to be able to afford the yacht and to re-fit it. We work on refitting Cape Petrel on the weekends and it feels like we all basically have two jobs. We are trying to balance that with fitting in time to play music, have social lives and spend time with our loved ones. And still making time find the occasional wave or go for a dive.
Cape Petrel has a bit of a story behind her. Can you tell us a bit about how you acquired the yacht and any history?
The history behind Cape Petrel is this Tasmanian cray fisherman named Ian built it in around 2000-2002. He lived and sailed on it for 15 years. He was a wild man. From chatting with him, we know he sailed from New Zealand to Chile and it took him 46 days. He spent a year in the Chilean archipelago and got iced in. At one stage he was so deep in, he was 400 nautical miles from the ocean. He walked across the ice and chopped down trees and kept the pot belly stove going and waited until it thawed out before he could sail back.
Jack was working in Geraldton and spotted the yacht in the marina and it fit the bill. We started chatting about how we were going to afford it. We were originally going to get a loan. Then around Christmas 2018 Ian was driving up to Geraldton from Perth and had a head on collision and was killed, along with his partner. Their little boy ended up in ICU. We had been meaning to meet him to finalise the yacht sale, and we couldn’t get a hold of him.
We didn’t know what was going on until Brodie’s mum saw his obituary in the paper. 6 months later, we put an offer on, but it got knocked back. The broker said to us “you’ll never own this boat, you should go back to your day jobs.” So we did. We started looking at other boats about 18 months later and found out Cape Petrel still hadn’t sold. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, they finally accepted our offer in March 2020.
How did you feel knowing you were the proud owner of a 60-ft custom built yacht?
Brodie found out and kept it a secret. Actually he said our offer had been rejected. Then on Saccy’s birthday he whipped out a laminated picture of Cape Petrel and a couple bottles of champagne and said happy birthday and that he was just messing with us and that we’d got the yacht!
What is the roughest part about renovating a yacht?
Not being able to renovate it full-time...and being injured. If we could just rip into it and didn’t have to go to work and could work on it during the week, we’d be done already. But we can only work on it during weekends and have to juggle a million other commitments and it makes it a lot slower.
Also just not really knowing what we’re doing and just guessing. Instead of doing something right the first time, we do it wrong 6 times and get it right the 7th time. And Saccy injured his back so we’ve been a man down for the last couple of months.
What are one of the funniest, wildest or scariest moments you’ve had in the ocean?
Aqua turds are always hilarious, but there’s probably been too many to mention. Saccy and Brodie have had plenty of sketchy diving encounters but one of the best moments would have to be when after years of dreaming we finally got the yacht to the Abrolhos and were surfing glassy waves with just out mates and looking back at Cape Petrel bobbing around at anchor.
Sailing through a pod of humpback whales that were breaching on either side of us was pretty epic too. But nothing compares to that first “holy smokes we did it” moment.
How do three friends in their late 20’s afford to own, run and renovate a yacht?
Working full-time, weekend Reno’s, doing the work ourselves and getting our friends and family on the tools in exchange for future sailing trips. We’re a lawyer, engineer and instrumentation electrician which bring an interesting dynamic to the work.
What are one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned since owning a yacht?
Time management and perspective. Because at the end of the day what’s the point if you’re not having fun! And we’ve learnt heaps about rust. What are your thoughts on tropical storms and pirates? We’ll cross that bridge when we get there…
How has buying a yacht during COVID affected your plans?
We’ve had to lower our horizons and focus on what’s in front of us rather than where we want to be in a couple of years. We’ve really been excited about sailing the yacht up the north west coast and up into the Kimberly and exploring all the reefs and atolls up the top end. We're accepting going with the flow a bit more, rather than trying to lock anything down.
It’s tricky to set anything in stone when your yacht is in pieces and you don’t know when the borders will open. But we’re digging it, because to be honest we have no idea how to plan a long voyage anyway so COVID is a good excuse not to do any planning!
Where do you hope Cape Petrel takes you once the international borders are open?
The first stop will probably be Indonesia, unless the timing doesn’t work out and we go around the bottom, then it might be New Zealand, who knows. Ultimately, we want to end up in the Chilean archipelagos one day.