Having completed the ARC in 2012 on one of the smallest boats in the fleet, a Beneteau First 36.7, Joakim took a stroll along the dockside and had his head turned. After chatting with some of the other crews, he soon realised that there were more comfortable ways to cross oceans and it was the Oysters in the fleet that stood out. Their build quality, comfort, natural light below decks and the security of the cockpits stood out.
“I made a pact with myself and said that if I was going to cross an ocean again, I would do it more comfortably,” he said.
Owning an Oyster was by then firmly on his radar. Joakim and Cecilia have sailed together since 2006 but began planning for a circumnavigation in 2014.
Visits to Southampton and Palma followed and via the Oyster Brokerage, a 56 built in 2010, one of the last of that very popular design, was sourced. This was a significant step up in size for them.
“When we first went aboard a 56, we thought this is too big for us, but we soon got used to the size and now we usually sail with just the two of us.”
A thorough shakedown in the Baltic took place in 2016, and then in 2017 the pair cruised to Norway, Shetland, Fair Isle and Orkney, finishing at Ipswich, where new Coppercoat was applied, before returning to Stockholm.
June 2018 saw Joakim and Cecilia saying their goodbyes to friends and family. The Brittany coast was thoroughly explored, with La Rochelle and San Sebastián particular highlights.
After Madeira, they dropped in on the tiny Savage Islands, before heading on to the Canaries and Cape Verde. Then it was across the Atlantic where they made landfall at Tobago on Christmas Eve.
Their first ocean crossing together had gone well.
“We like it when it is just the two of us,” said Cecilia. “It’s easy as you don’t have to cook that much food, you take turns with night watches, and we’re used to there just being the two of us. We’ve had some friends and relatives visit us in some places but not for the long passages, which we wanted to do by ourselves.”
They have fond memories of the Caribbean, including taking part in the Oyster Regatta in Antigua, but you sense that it is the Pacific that has caught their imagination.
“The Galapagos Islands were wonderful and we can recommend Easter Island,” she continued. “But French Polynesia, where we spent 18 months in total, has been our favourite place so far”.
They were sorry to miss Pitcairn, but the outbreak of the Covid pandemic scuppered those plans. Nevertheless, the lockdown didn’t impact them too much other than an enforced stay of three months in the Gambier Islands.
“Our original plan was to see French Polynesia but there must be worse places to be stuck,” said Joakim.
A stopover in Auckland was followed by a passage north to Fiji, Vanuatu.
“To be able to stand at the rim of an active volcano and to see the lava was amazing,” he said.
After that, it was off to New Caledonia and from there across the Coral Sea to Bundaberg Port Marina in Queensland.
“The onshore facilities here are the best we’ve found so far,” he said.
In the five years since leaving Stockholm, there have been a few issues requiring attention, hydraulic seals on the in-mast furling and the backstay and a new anchor windlass, but otherwise, they have been able to enjoy these paradise destinations in their own time and with no deadlines.
Next, they will be taking part in the Sail 2 Indonesia rally which begins in July and has been recommended to them as cruising the Indonesian archipelago independently can be fraught with administrative hurdles.
Then they will cross the Indian Ocean, with Mauritius and Madagascar on the wish list, and then on to Cape Town before heading to the Caribbean in 2024.
Joakim is glad that he followed his instincts from St Lucia all those years ago.
“It’s simple, an Oyster “looks better, feels better, and is better,” he says.
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