Friday , August 6 2021
Breaking News
Home / National News / Around the world in 80 days at sea: Couple ‘yacht-hop’ their way home

Around the world in 80 days at sea: Couple ‘yacht-hop’ their way home

“We thought, ‘You know what? People sail the ocean all the time’,” Mr Shephard said.“’Why not cross the Pacific? I’m sure people do it.”

“We’d never sailed before,” Ms Ilic said. “I couldn’t swim until three years ago.”

The pair downloaded a marine traffic app, and after seeing the number of private sailing boats moving through the Panama Canal, realised it was their best chance of hitching a ride home. In January they flew from Mexico City to Panama, where they spent two months trying to find someone heading in the right direction who could use some extra hands on deck.

Eventually, an Australian came through who was willing to take the pair. They set off on an 8000 kilometre trip, with the man who – unbeknown to them – had twice before attempted to cross the Pacific, unsuccessfully.

”On his second trip he ended up busting his sail and his motor and spent 28 days floating between Panama and Galapagos before the Ecuadorian Coast Guard towed him 300 nautical miles to the Galapagos Islands,” Mr Shephard said. “But we didn’t know about this until we were already in the middle of the ocean.“

Things also took a turn on the captain’s third trip, with the couple on board. The yacht took on water, lost all navigational systems and power. The scary episode is documented in one of the couple’s many vlogs on their YouTube channel.

“We ended up dumping out 356 buckets of water because the bilge pumps didn’t work,” Mr Shephard says.

After 39 days at sea, and a three-day emergency stop in the Galapagos Islands for repairs, the trio finally made it to Hiva Oa, the second largest island in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.

Their next ride to Fiji was found via a Facebook page with a more experienced American captain. So after a quick flight to Tahiti, the pair again set sail for another 19 days, arriving in Fiji last month.

Now the pair are awaiting a ride for the final leg of their trip – either someone sailing to Australia or alternatively to New Zealand, from where they could fly home under the TransTasman bubble (currently suspended due to outbreaks in NSW and Victoria).

Jake and Tamara somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, vlogging about their yacht taking on water.

Jake and Tamara somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, vlogging about their yacht taking on water.Credit:Youtube (Lockdown Travellers)

“We’ve still got to find a boat, but we’re a hell of a lot closer to Australia,” Mr Shephard said.

By the time they finally return to Australia, the couple estimate they will have spent $15,000 getting home from Mexico – including short flights, food for boat trips and coronavirus tests.

“We actually worked out that we spent a third of what we would have if we booked tickets [on flights from Mexico] and that’s if those tickets went ahead, they could have been cancelled,” Mr Shephard said.

Although they’ve missed 18 months of family milestones, they count themselves luckier than many other Australians stranded overseas.

Tamara two weeks from land in any direction.

Tamara two weeks from land in any direction.Credit:Facebook (Lockdown Travellers)

Despite the hair-raising moments along the way, the pair have given advice to other stranded Aussies thinking of taking the high-seas home, including a man stuck in Hong Kong.

“He has a family of four and it’s going to cost them 20 grand just to fly home. And he said to me, ‘I can buy a boat for 20 grand’,” Mr Shephard said. “I told him, ‘Yeah, do it man, but make sure you get someone to captain who knows what they’re doing’.”

Ms Illic, an office worker before her adventure began, said she hasn’t once questioned their methods of getting home.

”It’s essentially an absolute joke to come home by by flight right now,” she said. “There’s been some scary times at sea on our first adventure, but it’s an experience and I don’t regret it at all.“

Jake arriving in Bora Bora, the top of his bucket list.

Jake arriving in Bora Bora, the top of his bucket list.Credit:Instagram (Lockdown Travellers)

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

About admin

Check Also

Families fear students with disabilities are left behind in switch to remote learning

South-east Sydney mother Renae McNamara fears her son isn’t learning anything at the moment. The …