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Sailors Stories

One Tack Forward Two Tacks Back

A former fashion model picked up her husband-to-be’s dream of global voyaging and together they turned it into a reality. Now more than 70,000 subscribers are sharing their journey, as Dick Durham discovers.

It started back in 2015 when Adam Seeber, then 28, rang the bell of a cheap, house-share, rental block in Melbourne, Australia. The door was opened by former model Khiara Parker, a willowy redhead, then 27. It was a thunderbolt moment. “There was an instant attraction,” she said. “We hit it off immediately,” he said.

Within weeks they became inseparable and formed a scheme: Buy a boat and sail around the world.

“I’m a dreamer and an ideas man,” Adam told Ocean Sailor, “but Khiara is extremely tenacious, she took my dream and turned into a plan.”

Both jaded from their jobs: Adam, as a fledgling aerospace engineer, from Perth, and UK-born Khiara, as a team administrator with a private equity company… they craved adventure.

Every penny was saved until they had the airfares for flights to Miami, and a 90-day USA visa, now the mission was to find the right boat. They quit their jobs and arrived in the USA on New Year’s Day in 2018 and, after careful consideration, bought a centre-cockpit, 1981-built Tayana Vancouver 42, for 47,000 US $. 

They re-named her Millenial Falcon (a nod to the Star Wars franchise from their new millennial owners) then set off motoring down a shallow canal in Port Charlotte, Florida, where the boat collided with an uncharted submerged object so severely that Khiara was thrown over the wheel.

Both Khiara and the boat recovered quickly and after a thorough inspection of the bilge it was considered safe to continue, so before their visa expired, they went to sea.

“I’m a huge advocate of integral keels because of that collision,” said Adam. “Had it been a bolt-on, the dream would probably have ended there with a broken boat, a broken budget and a visa infringement.”

As it turned out, they later discovered the boat had a “big chunk missing from the GRP integral keel which went through to the iron ballast inside”, but this did not prevent her from sailing to Grenada as the shot ballast was amalgamated together by resin.

During their passage to Grenada via the Leeward islands other adventures and challenges lay across the path of this intrepid and resourceful couple.

The first was in the Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where they discovering the prop shaft had detached itself from the engine coupling. The total loss of the shaft was averted since Millie’s full length rudder skeg blocked its path to the sea bed 300mts below. At night with a failing breeze and fading light, the best option left was to sail into the anchorage at Mayaguez on the western side of Puerto Rico.

“It was scary, but the boat did what it was supposed to do and the next day we re-attached the shaft at anchor and headed for the nearest marina,” said Adam.

On arrival into the marina, and with closer inspection, they discovered that the engine driven watermaker had been leaking onto the engine and engine mounts long before they had taken ownership of the yacht. “Unfortunately, we had to fly back to Australia for a wedding. Our time and funds were now both in short supply. To top this off, we struggled to find the right parts to fix the problem. This was all compounded by the looming threat of rapidly approaching hurricane season”, said Khiara. 

At the time they decided they had little choice but to press on south. 

“We needed to transit the southern coast of Puerto Rico, to windward. The advice from the locals was to motorsail as best you could to windward in the early morning and be at anchor by mid morning to avoid the 35 knot winds that frequents the Puerto Rican coast during the day. On the morning of our departure from the marina our preparations drew us a little later than we had planned. Since we got away a little late the strong winds had already set in before we arrived at our planned anchorage. As we rounded the headland to come into the bay, to our consternation, we discovered that our propeller shaft had again detached itself.”

It was blowing at 35 knots, Millie was so unbalanced since we had only our genoa set, but without the assistance of the motor we were unable to round up to the wind to raise the slab reefed mainsail. We decided to persevere with the genoa alone and suffer the massive lee helm it created , and we gybe our way upwind into the bay .

On reflection we could have simply hoisted the stay sail and slowly tracked our way in. We filed that away in the ‘lessons learned the hard way’ folder. In the weeks that followed we had lots of pointed comments about my lack of sailing skills on the kangaroo court of the internet!” Adam said.

Having re-attached the prop shaft for a second time, their island-hopping continued with visits to both the U.S. and the British Virgin Islands, where they had a little to much fun and lingered a bit too long. On arrival to the island of Saba the locals quickly informed the pair that the first hurricane of the season was on its way.

“I knew that with the Coriolis effect as the hurricane grew it would likely swing to the north, we were directly in it’s path. We were faced with the difficult choice of staying on the unsheltered coast of Saba and almost certainly getting smashed by the hurricane or running south across the front of the hurricane out of its way, in reality we had no choice.”

“It was a flat calm as the approaching hurricane had sucked all the air out of the atmosphere in front of its path,” said Adam but thanks to careful study of the downloaded weather grib files, after four days of motoring, they successfully arrived in Grenada unscathed, and they missed the impending hurricane altogether.

By now the couple were making YouTube videos of their escapades to help finance their continuing adventure, and, leavened with the experience they were quickly gaining, as well as some solid advice from old hands, the dream began to form into a solid sustainable plan.

During their voyaging they met and befriended U.S. yachting legend, John Kretschmer. Adam told Ocean Sailor ‘Sometime later John brought Dick Beaumont and Ocean Sailor Magazine to my attention telling us that Kraken Yachts were building the type of yachts we should one day sail. To learn more I started listening to the Ocean sailor podcast’ said Adam.

I caught up with Adam in Ponte Delgarda, the capital of the Portuguese archipelago, where he told me the pair are now engaged to be married. They are planning to dock at Portimao on the Algarve to get the mast unstepped and the compression post strengthened before heading for Norway and the U.K.

So far, they’ve sailed over 9,000 miles, visited 18 different countries and have over 70,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel Sailing Millenial Falcon.

Their stand-out video, featuring John Kretschmer (watch it here), sees the legendary sailor candidly reveal his motivations for sailing and his abilities in leadership. “I never saw risk as a detrimental thing but as a positive test…a motivating factor…although I don’t want to sound like a macho jerk,” he told Adam.

John reveals how he spends 24 hours with his paying crew before setting sail. He likes to joke with them, get to know them and therefore has the measure of them before leaving for ocean depths where the ping from the depth sounder can’t find the bottom.

“Here you enter the realm of being on your own, here I feel a huge sense of relief, where you enjoy the rhythm of the ocean.” It’s also where a true bluewater yacht comes into her own, a boat which does not require micro-management but which, with minimal attention, can look after herself, he says. 

John advised Adam to meet Dick Beaumont, chairman of Kraken Yachts, to explore the qualities that go into producing a thoroughbred bluewater boat, so Adam and Khiara flew to the UK and met Dick at his Leigh-on-Sea, UK land base, to shoot three hours of footage for two future videos which will be broadcast on Sailing Millenial Falcon’s YouTube channel soon.

Dick also invited Adam and Khiara to join him and the team in Turkey on the new Kraken 50, Sophia Marie on their four day 500nm continuous passage around the Marmara Sea which forms part of Kraken’s month long exhaustive sea trails before handover to the client.  

There will soon be videos of their times with Kraken in Turkey on their Sailing Millennial Falcon YouTube Channel.

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