What have we been up to so far?

Since we completed our refit in the Summer of 2018, so much has been going on that we have rather neglected to write anything about our adventures. We have now resolved to do better and so this post is to bring things up to date before we start posting properly.
Our trips so far have included:

  • Norfolk (Virginia) to Charleston (South Carolina)
  • Charleston to The Abacos (Bahamas)
  • The Abacos to the Exumas (further south in the Bahamas)
  • Exumas to Punta Cana (Dominican Republic)
  • Punta Cana to the British Virgin Islands (BVI)
  • BVI to Antigua

The main event that rather interrupted our lives in the midst of all this fun was Tom suffering from a sudden burst disc in his cervical spine a few days after our arrival in the BVI. He was completely incapacitated and unable to leave his bed for 5 weeks, leaving Alex to learn a lot about the boats systems rather more quickly than planned…

Tom being offloaded in Antigua…

We decided to hire a very experienced Nordhavn training captain (Bernie Francis) who flew into the BVI from Florida to help Alex get the boat over to Antigua where better medical care was available. Over the few days he was with us, he trained Alex so well that she was able to dock the boat in Jolly Harbour Marina in Antigua by herself – quite an achievement given that this was the first time she had docked anything, let alone a 72ft, 100 ton monster!

Alex in full control!

As of the start of May 2019, we were in Jolly Harbour, Antigua and ready to begin the next phase of our travels…

The big refit!

When we bought Alchemy in January 2018, she was in truly exceptional condition. The previous owners Kathy and Bradley were meticulous in their maintenance, frequently replacing expensive but critical systems well before there was any sign of a problem. Certainly she was by far the best maintained Nordhavn we saw on our search that included South East Asia, New Zealand, the UK and both the East and West coasts of the US.

Alchemy as it was back in 2010

Despite this, we wanted to update a few more things before going too far away from the US, where parts and expertise are plentiful (although certainly not cheap!). We therefore decided to carry out a significant refit to make the boat as close to “as new” as possible and to adapt a few things to suit our tastes.
The refit included:

  • Replacing or refurbishing all the furniture and most of the fittings in the saloon. This included a brand new dining table that we shipped from Italy, six new custom made dining chairs, new upholstery for the sofa and new light fittings.
  • Re-upholstering the sofa in the pilothouse and the headboard in the master bedroom.
  • Replacing the carpets and ceiling headlining throughout the boat.
  • New custom-made blinds throughout the boat.
  • New stone worktop in the pilothouse heads.
  • New bathroom sink taps throughout the boat.
  • Replacing three of the Vacuflush toilets with brand new units.
  • Replacing the coolant circulation pump for the air conditioning system (not because it was broken – it was just getting a little old!).
  • Re-painting the two Awlgrip stripes around the pilothouse.
  • Re-caulking many of the seams around the outside of the boat.
  • New HD CCTV system throughout the boat.
  • Two new navigation computers, two new autopilot systems, backup satellite compass.
  • A new 4K TV for the saloon TV lift, a NAS based media server system and a boat-wide Sonos audio system.
  • Removing almost all the unused wiring throughout the boat – we filled at least 10 large black rubbish bags!
  • Running new CAT6 network and two NMEA2000 backbones throughout the boat.
  • Installing the beginnings of a full Maretron monitoring system that will allow us to monitor many systems automatically and detect potential issues before they develop into anything serious.
  • Replacing all lighting with energy efficient LED versions.
  • Replacing the 4x Lifeline 4D engine start batteries.
  • A new offshore liferaft to replace one of the two already on board.
  • And much more, including a full wash, polish and wax, new zincs, new bedding, new windscreen wipers etc.

Here are a few photos:

James unbolting the saloon coffee table so that the old carpet can be removed
Alex hard at work refinishing the cockpit BBQ cover
The glamour of boat ownership – Alex helping to run new CAT6 and NMEA2000 cabling
Just in case you thought Alex was doing all the work – this is Tom re-wiring the boat
External stripes being newly Awlgripped (we went from red to grey)
New worktop for the pilothouse heads being prepared (it was previously bright blue!)
New carpet in Master Bedroom (it was previously dark blue with gold bits – original to the boat)
New dining table and chairs – the table is made of steel with a ceramic top and we bolted it to the floor
New saloon sofa – it needs some scatter cushions but they will have to wait until we have another burst of energy!
New lamps, table, chairs, sofa, carpet, blinds and headlining
Newly upholstered sofa in the pilothouse – this is where we eat when underway
James looking pleased with the results! (the photo frame hadn’t yet been fixed to the wall)

Our story

The Reed family in New Zealand, October 2017

We are Tom and Alex Reed, wandering around the world by boat with our son James who is 7 and home-schooled. Boat ownership for us started in July 2015 when we bought the Oyster 56 sailboat “El Mundo” in Lymington, England. After a comprehensive refit (new standing rigging, spars resprayed, Lithium batteries, new electronics etc.), we set off across the Atlantic (Canaries to St Lucia) with the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) in November 2015, enjoying near perfect conditions for the 17 day passage.

Our Oyster 56 “El Mundo”

After a season exploring the Caribbean from Grenada up to the BVIs, we then took the opportunity to join the second Oyster World Rally, starting with 28 other Oysters from Antigua in January 2017 and taking in Panama, the Galapagos, the Marquesas, the Tuamotus archipelago, the Society Islands, Palmerston Atoll, Tonga and Fiji on our way to New Zealand where we arrived in October 2017.

El Mundo in the remote “Lau Group” in Fiji

Having made it from the UK to New Zealand, Alex (who is very prone to seasickness and not keen on big mid-ocean squalls) put her foot down. If she was going to continue with the boating life, it would have to be on something bigger, more comfortable, that did not heel but that could still cruise the world’s oceans in safety. After much research, we found the perfect solution – a Nordhavn trawler.

Fortuitously, we managed to get in touch with Kathy Clark who, with her husband Bradley, had spent the last 7 years cruising the US East Coast and the Bahamas in their Nordhavn 72 “Shear Madness”. By strange coincidence, they had previously spent time cruising the Pacific on their Oyster 56! After a brief visit to see them in Washington DC and a bit of negotiation, Kathy and Bradley agreed to sell their boat to us and we became the proud owners of Nordhavn 72-02 in January 2018.

Nordhavn 7202 – then known as “Shear Madness”

After a brief trip back to New Zealand (by plane this time!) to sell El Mundo, we returned to Morehead City, North Carolina to start learning about our new floating home, now renamed “Alchemy” (chosen primarily because of our son’s obsession with chemistry and Harry Potter).

James loving his new home!