Australia's most exclusive Yacht Club with a membership of just ONE !
(don't spoil it by joining!)

Strict dress codes apply:

Life-jacket and tie for gentlemen and inflatable bikinis for ladies.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Jack and Jude live aboard SY "Banyandah" which is the Aboriginal word for “Home on the Water”


Jack and Jude, from South Ballina and honorary members of the Nelligen Yacht Club, left crowded Pittwater a few days ago and just phoned from Eden where they stop before heading down to Tasmania. Unfortunately, they passed Batemans Bay and didn't stop over at "Riverbend" as the winds were too good to miss out on. Maybe next time, Jack?

Jack and Jude are doing what I thought I would be doing once I had saved enough money. Of course, as with so much else in life, by the time I had saved enough money to do the things I wanted to do, I was too old to do them.

Jack and Jude grabbed hold of their dream in 1974. To quote from their book Two's a Crew: "When we came to the sunburnt country of Australia in 1969, we found space everywhere with a feeling of “she’ll be right” that encouraged us to not only start a family, but also to start the construction of a 12 metre sailing vessel. That arduous project took three years of really hard work and our two sons were walking by the time it was completed. That’s when we grabbed hold of our dream to share adventure and Nature with them before what seemed mandatory school years. Leaving our rented digs, we moved aboard our new yacht, naming her Banyandah, which means “home on the water.” We then boldly cast adrift our small business and friends. In 1974, with sons aged two and three, we began a journey into the unknown. Starting with no sailing experience, frightened and unsure, we overcame many obstacles while our sea roving life eventually took us around the world touching eighty countries in an odyssey that lasted not the one year imagined, but the next fifteen. When our sons were toddlers, they frolicked with dusky natives on sugar white beaches. When others their age were just starting school, they played and stayed with the Muslims and Hindus of Asia. And when nine and ten, our sons soaked up the culture of Japan before enjoying the good life in Hawaii and the South Pacific as they entered puberty. And when still a bit wild, but now reliable sailing hands, we shared long night watches during a three year circumnavigation of the world on “voyages of education.”"

Read more about their sailing adventures on their website:

Click on image to enter website

They've produced a series of interesting DVDs and also written several books. I've ordered the DVDs and two books, Two's a Crew and Where Wild Winds Blow.

Jack Binder, master mariner and ship's engineer, homebuilt Banyandah with his wife Judith in Sydney. Launched in 1973, a year later, with two infant sons, they embarked on a magical life encircling Earth in ever-increasing circles, taking sixteen years to visit more than eighty countries. In 2007, Jack and Jude, then grandparents and married forty years, circumnavigated Australia aboard that very same craft. Once back on dry land, they wrote the inspirational book Two's a Crew, detailing that adventurous voyage.

It seems Jack and I have more in common than just a love for sailing: he used to live in Germany - where he met Jude in the Frankfurt Youth Hostel - more than fifty years ago, and in 1974/75 he worked for Bougainville Copper on Bougainville Island - as he writes, "I was in my office when the riot took off and had to be evacuated. Were you there then?". (By that time I was already in Burma, Jack)

And he also subscribes, as I do, to Mark Twain's "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

It's a small world indeed and you can see it all from the deck of your own yacht!


P.S. Where is SY Banyandah now? Follow their circumnavigation of Australia here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Wandering the world yet sleeping in your own bed

Steve arriving at Gizo in the Solomons in November 2011. Note the "PT 109 Gizo Yacht Club", named after the torpedo boat commandeered by JF Kennedy and sank off Gizo during WWII


I first heard of Steve Gates, owner and captain of the Searunner 37 trimaran Manu-O-Ku, when I became involved with Villa Mamana on the tiny island of Telekivava'u in Tonga through its previous owners Joe Altenhein and Matt Muirhead - see here.

Steve had lived in Hawaii for 31 years, raised two children, and been building one-off epoxy composite boats in his own Tradewind Island Boatworks (a long name for a small company), before sailing to Tonga in late 2003 to become the paid caretaker of the very remote 40-acre private island of Telekivava'u in the remote island group of Ha’apai.

Steve's trimaran Manu-O-Ku anchored off Telekivava'u

Think of spending whole weeks at a time totally alone on an idyllic, pristine island with your yacht anchored in the lagoon ... no wonder, Steve sat it out for a whole three years. It was a wonderful lifestyle but, as he said, "security is overrated, and the nomadic lifestyle was calling ...", and so he sailed north to the Vava’u Group where he ran a charter business for the next 4½ years.

Steve Gates on Telekivava'u in Tonga

For nearly eight years Tonga gave him an incredibly comfortable life which he lived "one moment at a time" and which he found very hard to leave. However, he did so finally in June 2011, first sailing back to the Ha’apai Group for a week to revisit the remote island he had lived on for three years, and then singlehandedly to Savusavu, Fiji, where he arrived on July 1, 2011. On to Vanuatu in September, then the Solomon Islands in November. In February 2012 he made the 2000 nm passage to Palau in western Micronesia before finally arriving in the Philippines on New Year’s Eve 2012.

His trimaran is his only home. As he writes, "This lifestyle works for me, a nomadic self-reliant lifestyle, on the oceans, among islands, sailing your home, wandering the world yet sleeping in your own bed."

He's been in the Philippines ever since, running his charter business Manu-O-Ku Sailing Adventures out of Port Barton, one of the last few untouched gems of the Philippines. It's a 45-minute flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa, and from there an easy ride to Port Barton, a sleepy fishing village, unspoiled and authentic, where life goes at its own pace and which Steve is in no hurry to leave.

Joe Altenhein, the creator of Villa Mamana on Telekivava'u, described Steve as "a nice man, doing what I wish I could do" --- and so think all of us. The nearest I ever got to Palawan was Boracay and, oh boy, am I itching to go again!