Extreme Cruising

Owner's Story

Oyster 62 Uhuru

When James Ashwell and his friends set out from the UK to head to the Caribbean in 2017, they had no plans to go any further. Crossing the Atlantic and spending time cruising around the islands would be living the dream. But this turned out to be just the start.

In searching for a boat, James came across the Oyster 62 Uhuru, a boat that was already well-travelled after her previous owner Steve Powell had taken her down to Antarctica and back. 

Refitted and recommissioned and three years after setting out from the UK, Uhuru had 17,000 miles under her keel and had visited 34 nations. And then the global pandemic struck, forcing James and his crew to sit out the crisis in New Zealand. At the time, they had no idea as to when they would be back underway, but in keeping with the positive approach that characterised their trip from the start, they used the time to their advantage and got stuck into a refit of Uhuru.

The stop also gave them time to reflect on what they had achieved, in particular their Pacific crossing.

“After our time in the Caribbean, we sat down and asked ourselves what we had learned to carry forward for our trip across the Pacific,” said James. “And there were three things. The first was to maintain our four-to-one ratio of time under sail to time on land. And that meant that whatever we did, we had to drastically cut down the number of planned visits, or dramatically increase the time that the trip would take.

“The second was to be a lot more relaxed about visitors and not committing to a specific time and a place a long way out, which risked putting us under pressure.

“And the third thing we realised was that our best adventures had been the ones that were off the beaten track.

“So, our plan for the Pacific was to get away from the main cruising route as much as possible and it proved to be spot on.”

Among the islands that they visited along the way, a number stood out.

“We wanted to go to Isla del Coco, but the problem is that to go there you have to leave from Costa Rica which means heading something like 500 miles north first. We also had to go there to pick up the scuba diving instructor that we had pre-booked. It is a legal requirement to have one if you’re going to dive in Isla del Coco.

“It was well worth the effort though. There was no one else there, just us and our boat on this uninhabited island. We were diving around three times a day and each time we’d be with amazing sea life, including huge hammerhead sharks, bait balls of fish and Galapagos sharks.

Crew changes meant that Galapagos was the next stop for Uhuru.

“We spent a month there in total which was great. But during our stay, we met a couple, Simon and Pippa, who inspired us to head to Easter Island in Pitcairn. This was in contrast to most boats that were heading to the Marquesas.

“After 17 days sailing, we got there to discover that Easter Island is not what people had led us to believe.

“The popular impression is of desolate views and huge statues, but the reality is that that is only a part of it. Instead, there are beautiful beaches, palm trees, wildflowers, hibiscus flowers and little cafes and bars, it’s absolutely beautiful.”

From there, their trip took them to Pitcairn and Ducie, before heading to the Cook Islands and then on to New Zealand.

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