Blue water sailing

Under restoration at River Brede Moorings

With their boat back in the water after a lengthy refit, Ros Osberg and David Hartley are getting ready to set sail on a voyage that could last five years.

I was intrigued by their story and about how they came to this point of up-sticks and setting off on a blue water adventure that would take them across the world’s largest oceans.

Ros grew up in South Africa and developed an early love of ocean sailing. Her first real taste came when she crewed for a friend out of Durban to Mozambique and back in the year 2000. Three years later in 2003, she competed in the National Championships Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, racing from Gran Canaria off north west Africa to Saint Lucia in the eastern Caribbean.

Her spirit of adventure led her to Nicaragua, where she met and married her husband David in 2006. Together they set up an international architectural design and build business, with an office in London, involving much commuting. Then eight years ago she relocated to England and bought a house in Tunbridge Wells. It was a Rye Jazz Festival event one August that brought them to Rye, and planted the thought that here is a place they could hear the call of the sea.

Not long after, she and David were on Southampton Water, looking for a boat to buy at a reasonable price. From a water taxi, they saw the yacht named Border Collie, trot-moored fore and aft on the River Hamble. Built to a design by Laurent Giles, the world famous firm of naval architects, it was a case of love at first sight. Its condition, virtually unchanged since first built in 1976, was for them no drawback, but a challenge.

They brought it round to Mike Roud’s River Brede moorings and had it craned on to the bank for restoration. David has done a lot of the technical work himself and had some surprises. When investigating the water tanks, he found two dozen tins of Fray Bentos corned beef, possibly 20 years old with their sides split open and contents congealed, not a pleasant sight.

Five years later, after stripping out, replacing plumbing and electrics, and installing modern electronic navigation equipment, it is back in the water, ready for re-commissioning with a surveyor’s report – necessary for marine insurance. They are applying to the UK Ship Register to change their boat’s home port and re-register as Border Collie of Rye.

From now on, all plans are flexible, even the departure date set for late summer or early next year. There is no given route, possibly a visit to the Mediterranean followed by the crossing of the Atlantic, calling in wherever the winds take them. “We want to return to Nicaragua” says Ros, ”because we own a plot of land there with its own beach. We’ll stop and refit and then through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific to the Japanese islands. We might even visit David’s brother in Borneo whose house I designed.”

En route, they will be encountering all sorts of people and places. David will keep a journal and Ros, artist and portrait painter currently with a studio at the Creative Centre on New Road, will make a painted record of their journeying with the intention of mounting an exhibition on their return.

How long will their journey take? “If we’re back within five years, then it will have been a failure”, says Ros. So it only remains to say: “Bon voyage!”

Image Credits: Ros Osberg , David Hartley .


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