The DIY surf trip of a lifetime


We've just stumbled upon this article on ABC News Tasmania about two Tassie brothers (who happen to charge like hellmen) who have spent the past 6 years building their own catamaran in their back garden and are now setting off on an adventure of a lifetime.

The best thing about this? The boat, although originally a kit boat, was tweaked and custom built to sustain the strains of long term travelling. 100% solar powered electricity supply and ergonomic design for maximum wind energy efficiency make up for some low impact travelling. Let's add one more thing, one of the crew members is a healthy eating guru and provides everyone with a healthy diet made from locally sourced food, wherever they are.

Needless to say, we had to share this.



Surfing brothers Michael and Andy Hoult, from the east coast of Tasmania, have embarked on an open-ended voyage on a catamaran Michael built in a shed near his Beaumaris home.

The 15-metre vessel is named ROAM — and she was not built in a day.

The yacht represents 15 years of dreaming, 10 years of working to finance and build, and six years in a shed putting it all together. Now complete, it represents the very best kind of old school adventure, the most enviable of lifestyle dreams, and about a million dollars in value.

The first international stop will be New Zealand, where the crew of four will surf the world-famous Raglan Bay, go mountain biking at Rotorua and sail the Bay of Islands.


Yes, this Michael Hoult. Photo Stu Gibson.

After that, they will sail north to Fiji for winter, where they can anchor close to arguably the world's best wave, Cloudbreak, surfing as much as they can until the southern cyclone season looms in November.

Then, they will head north into the lesser-travelled Micronesia, where more world class waves await, along with the possibility of discovering something entirely new.

We spent six years in the shed, putting it together. It's a kit boat at the outset that we've re-designed to suit our needs.

Michael Hoult

Michael, with help from his father John, spent more than 10,000 hours piecing the dream vessel together. Now he is living on it.

"We spent six years in the shed, putting it together. It's a kit boat at the outset that we've re-designed to suit our needs," Michael said. "But it's no small task. You just keep chipping away at it and you end up with your own vessel.

"You're standing on a 48-foot sailing cat built out of composite epoxy with a balsa core. There's a bit of foam and a bit of carbon. "It's designed just for travel, to be able to travel long-term, indefinitely, wherever we want to go, in a sustainable fashion. It's our home now."



To test the waters, the ROAM crew headed off on a circumnavigation of Tasmania, surfing great waves in perfect isolation, exploring Port Davey and the Gordon River. Last week, ROAM sailed north to Eden in New South Wales, tired of waiting for a break in the wild westerlies so they could make their first open ocean run to New Zealand.

They have crept further north to Port Stephens, still watching for the right window to begin the NZ leg of a voyage that is totally open-ended. If all goes to plan, Michael will spend many years living on the vessel, exploring the Pacific and surfing "until his head falls off".

A marine engineer, able to earn good money from short-term contracts, he will fly to and from the yacht when he needs to cash up.

Also part of the crew is Michael's brother Andy and Michael's partner Larissa Brill.

Larissa is a keen mountain-biker and a nutritionist by profession, and her influence ensures that everybody eats well, and that the vessel will never visit a port without checking out the local food markets.



"We call her Laristos Brilliant. She just goes down to the galley and rummages around in the dry stores and comes out with a very tasty feed every time," Michael said.

Andy concurs that the healthy diet completes the dream of long-term voyaging sustainability.

"If we catch a fish, we can still have chips, but they'll be sweet potato chips," he said.

For the first leg of the trip they have been joined by English traveller Holly Cova.

"She was crewing on an American yacht, doing a lap of Tassie, but Andrew convinced her to jump ship," Michael said with a wry smile.

Andy plays a key role in blogging about the crew's exploits, posting regular videos and stills that by turns inspire vicarious pleasure and insane envy. Those interested also are following the journey on the Sail Surf ROAM Facebook page.


Boat designed to suit lifestyle needs

The base design for ROAM was by Spirited Designs in NSW. The Hoults tweaked almost everything about the interior and other design points to suit their specific and often hedonistic needs.



A large separate compartment has been included in one hull, acting as a surfboard locker and workshop as well as a way to keep the smell of wetsuits from permeating the living space. The onboard galley has been dropped down low, allowing for a large main lounge. A barbecue area has been built into the stern where a pragmatic bench seat would normally be.

"If you got this built by a professional boat yard in Queensland, you wouldn't get it for under a million dollars," Michael said, stepping into the spacious lounge where laptops and ukuleles occupy the bench space.

"We've spent probably close to two thirds of that. It has been probably 10 years since I first pulled the trigger on it. It's a process of going repetitively broke for 10 years, building a boat.

"Once you're out sailing, the sting goes off it a bit. Lucky enough I've got my partner and my brother travelling with us and we're at the perfect stage of our lives where we don't have kids or commitments.

Career-wise I was at a point where I could probably start looking at a house ... but I only thought that for about five minutes before I realised this is a once in 10 lifetimes opportunity.

Andy Hoult

"We're going to try to do it as long as we can and see how we go."


Brothers born for a life on the water

Michael and Andy grew up sailing in sea scouts and spending every spare minute surfing along the beautiful east coast of Tasmania.

"We literally only went to uni to get jobs that would allow us to afford to do this, really," Michael said.

"As surfers we would travel to Indonesia, Pacific Islands, Samoa, looking for waves.

"The idea of being able to take your own boat there and stay indefinitely, hunt waves away from tourist areas, all sort of came together in this plan."



Andy, who normally works as a pharmacist, felt no anxiety about joining his brother on an open-ended expedition into the Pacific.

"Career-wise I was at a point where I could probably start looking at a house and things like that, but I only thought that for about five minutes before I realised this is a once in 10 lifetimes opportunity," Andy said, noodling on a ukulele.

"There's no end point. There is a money issue in there somewhere, but I think I can come home to work for a couple of months a year maybe. We'll see."

Source www.abc.net.au

 


Gordon Fontaine
Gordon Fontaine

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