Family bonding on the Oyster World Rally

Another yacht already on their way to the start of the Oyster World Rally is the Oyster 54, Talaba who recently finished the ARC+ ahead of a fellow entrant Oyster 56, Sea Flute. Read more about Talaba’s story below:

Hailing from Holland but living in the Philippines, Robert van den Enden, had cruised widely including going transatlantic in the ARC. To celebrate 30 years in business with a break away, he turned his mind to sailing the world with his school-aged family. Renamed Talaba, Oyster 54-18 was set for a second circumnavigation. Robert picks up the story…

We bought Talaba through Oyster Brokerage in Palma. She’s been around the world but was in very good condition, she was obviously surveyed and anything that wasn’t right Oyster changed. But then once you start to look into doing the Oyster World Rally, naturally different things come up, complete new rigging, new sheets, halyards, battery replacement, and that was only the beginning! Anything that runs and turns has been changed this winter. Oyster Palma has been very busy!

You have to at some point, every magazine you read, every seminar you go to, you come back with new ideas and another work list. You have to stop. So we sailed across to Ibiza, then Gibraltar and Lanzarote where they have a good RYA school. I flew back to Holland from there while the family had extra training. When I’m on board naturally the family tends to point to me but if I fell overboard I would appreciate them turning around! It’s good for them to have more experience on their own, without the captain being on board, so it will be interesting. I was born by the sea so sailed and did other watersports but when I started my company I stopped everything; too busy and travelling all the time. Then with the kids a bit bigger, we started chartering.

Everyone liked the lifestyle and five years ago we bought an XC45, first cruising the Mediterranean. In 2013 I crossed the Atlantic with the ARC and then, with the family, we did the whole Caribbean trip through to spring. So they have done quite a few miles but it’s been two or three nights at sea max and now it is going to be a little bit more!

We were thinking of doing the long trip and we had chartered cats as well so I gave Marie Jane, my wife, and the kids the choice, a cat or yacht? They said it depends, if it’s an Oyster, then yacht… I mean! We had been planning to do this a few years ago when Sarah and Robbie were nine and 11, (they’re now 15 and 17) but started to worry about taking them away from friends and school. In the end we just did the three months in the Caribbean and realised it didn’t have any real impact. For now, we are only booked on to the rally through to Auckland so we’ll be away a year and we’re home schooling. We have friends in the Philippines who do this. It’s interesting, you actually lose all the wasted school hours so you normally need only about four hours a day. To make a head start and reduce pressure on the trip, we started with a teacher at home trying to make full days to get as much as possible of the hard-core subjects, like maths and sciences, out of the way.

It is such a great opportunity. Since the children were born, because my companies are all over the world, I travel half the year and then when I’m home we have great family time. I take them to school, I pick them up, we cook every night together but then I’m gone for six months. So I miss them a lot, and sailing for our family is a bonding time. Unlike some teenagers, my kids always say they can’t wait for us to go to the boat. I have also had some training onboard with Eddie Scougall who’s been with Oyster for years and was on the last rally team. After a year’s sailing I know most of the common things but with Eddie we went into the jobs you might have to do yourself in the Pacific and really understand where everything is. It was very, very good. Valuable sharing of the knowledge he has from the last Oyster World Rally and also just understanding so much more about the boat.

Biggest worry now is what to bring in spares. I have ordered a lot but I mean there is a limit to what you can take and at a certain moment you have to stop otherwise you have to bring a second boat!

Most important to me is making sure this is an enjoyable trip for everybody. That it’s the experience we’re all dreaming of and that we can look back to it or forward to more adventures because the world is still big and I’m only 53. I’ve got a long way to go!

Click here to follow the adventure.

Words by Mike Owen.