Around the world in 80 months

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So here we are, back at our starting point in South Africa.

January 1st 2010 we let slip the lines with our four children on board our new 50 foot catamaran, Banana, a St Francis 50 which had only come out of the yard five months previously. Fast forward to March 2016, 6 years later, and there are only three of us on board. Our two eldest are finishing university in Montreal, while our daughter has been boarding in high school the past two years. The youngest has continued with home-schooling on board, right till the end of our trip. He’s 15 now, and we’re going to be ashore for three years, which will give him time to graduate from high school.
As I haven’t got the space to write a novel here, I’m going to try and summarize as much as possible. Both the human and technical aspects of our adventure will hopefully be interesting to those planning to set off one day. The simplest way to put it, is to simply say “Yes, but they can”, and to carry on with your usual routine. Of course in this case you should immediately put down this corrupting magazine, otherwise you might end up taking a huge risk: you’ll set off, or at least start dreaming about a project.
Without any doubt, that’s what happened to us. One day our dreams became a project, and eventually we cast off.
40,000 miles, that’s twice the distance around the world, and way more than we had banked on doing. We had anticipated the stock of spares we would need for a year (filters, service kits, seals, pumps, etc.) on setting out from Cape Town, and replacing them as necessary as we went along. Any small problems were apparent in the first few weeks and had been resolved by the first long passage. A spi halyard block which broke, a halyard with a poor lead into the mast which wore out… but nothing to cause us to question the reliability of the boat. I have to say, looking back, that we didn’t need to make too many repairs, other than for things which we broke ourselves. And even when this happened, the yard always replied to our emails and managed to send us the parts.
And in the end, after six years everything is still in good order. Only the sails might need changing before setting off on a new trip. They have however done more than 40,000 miles without losing any shape but are starting to delaminate.

Around the world in 80 months

Banana’s crew setting off from South Africa in 2010.

And if we were to set off tomorrow on a new trip?

I would opt for a set of Hydranet sails, which are lighter and easily repairable. Membrane type sails in carbon spectra are strong, do not lose shape but are heavier and impossible to re-stitch.
As for the rigging I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything is ultra-strong, with double shrouds and double forestays. The halyards and other lines were changed as necessary depending on wear. For the deck hardware we wouldn’t change anything either: with two big electric winches everything is easy, the windlass is fantastic. After six years there are still no problems at all.
The ...

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