The Oyster World Rally fleet arrived at Cape Town in the beautiful yacht charter destination – South Africa for the festive season to celebrate Christmas as well as New Year with plenty of friends and family in this magical city.
Stephen and Debbie Gratton have sailed just two-handed on their Oyster 53 sailing yacht Amelie, living their greatest life ambition – sailing around the world. The couple have been sailing Amelie in the Oyster World Rally unaided, save occasional visits from family and friends.
Life at sea for the couple involves a watch system. At 8pm Debbie takes the watch until midnight and Stephen takes the watch until 4am. Continuing the pattern during the day, cat-naps make up for any extra sleep required. A full breakfast of bacon and eggs at 9am and a main meal at 4pm, before it gets dark, are fundamental to the rhythm of living at sea.
“In my previous life as an accountant, we didn’t see much more of each other but now we are together all of the time. We have had to learn to deal with differences of opinion, which we are getting a lot better at! Before we had separate working roles but now we are sharing the same life all day, every day,” commented Stephen. “We take it in turns to cook, in fact we share all of the jobs on board. Debbie has grown in confidence since the start, she was always a capable sailor but now Debbie has the confidence to carry out any of the tasks on board – she believes in herself. This makes the sharing of the roles much easier, Debbie is just as likely to be in the engine room as the galley.”
Debbie Gratton is an experienced sailor but prior to the Oyster World Rally, she had never really had all of the responsibilities that two-handed sailing requires.
“Sailing on my own with Stephen has really shown me how much I really can do,” commented Debbie. “I know I can call Stephen up on deck whenever I need to but those times are now few and far between. I like to be involved with everything from sail changes to engine servicing and I do love this life, I can’t ever see myself going back to a normal lifestyle. I have really fallen in love with living on Amelie, I have brought up my children and I have had a career, now it is time for our great adventure. We still have to do the mundane jobs but we can sail our home to so many exciting places and that is a great way of life.”
The British couple had a rough passage to Cape Town from Durban as Stephen Gratton explains. “It was the worst conditions of the whole rally, with some big waves which really tested us and Amelie. Initially we had a favourable wind behind us and we were very comfortable but we knew that the wind would begin to go forward. We were sailing so well, we decided to crack on and get into Cape Town before the change. However, the waves became enormous and on several occasions we had waves breaking into the cockpit, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
New Year’s Eve was celebrated in great company with over 50 sailors from the Oyster World Rally with a spectacular firework display marking the new year,” commented Stephen. “It was a fantastic atmosphere, everybody has known each other for a year and we have all been making this great adventure together, even though we were in Cape Town, which many of us have never been to before, we really felt at home through the common bond of the Oyster World Rally.
Amelie is now our home and after the Oyster World Rally, we intend to go around the world again but at a more leisurely pace, having more time to spend exploring some of the wonderful places and really establishing ourselves.
We specifically commissioned Amelie to sail around the world. We decided on an Oyster 53 after looking at a number of boats. We were really impressed during a test sail but we were really taken with the whole Oyster approach. They really do stand by their products with superb after sales service and buying hull 51, we were confident that Oyster would have fixed any gremlins.”
The Oyster World Rally fleet will be leaving Cape Town soon, with the next planned stop-over on the remote island of St.Helena, deep in the South Atlantic. Oyster World Rally Project Manager, Debbie Johnson and Customer Care Manager Eddie Scougall are in Cape Town with the Oyster fleet, having accompanied the rally right from the start.
“The priority now is to make sure everyone is as prepared as possible for an ocean crossing” commented Debbie Johnson. “The services in Cape Town have been fantastic, even though it has been during the festive season and everyone has worked so hard and been so helpful. Cape Town is an amazing and stylish city, there is so much to do here and the quality of produce, compared to some of the islands we have visited is excellent. All of the yachts are stocking up with super wines and meat, the Oyster fleet has not had access to such great quality of supplies since we left Australia. Over the next few days, thoughts will turn to the weather before heading out into the South Atlantic.”
For 2014, the Oyster World Rally will enter the Atlantic Ocean for the first time since the rally started in Antigua almost exactly one year ago. The last ocean passage of the inaugural Oyster World Rally will take the fleet to the remote island of St.Helena before arriving in Salvador, Brazil.