“This is breaking the usual sailing lifestyle mould of waiting until retirement to take on such an adventure.”
“There are not many other lifestyles where you meet new friends, have a BBQ, get on the drinks and end up nudey swimming with 10 people off the boat in the middle of the night in a busy anchorage.”
These are just a couple of excerpts from a chat we had with Michael Hoult, an Ocean Engineer turned vagabond, traveling the world with his brother and their partners on an open-ended adventure throughout some of the world’s most untapped locations – all on board Michael’s Spirited 480 cruising catamaran ‘ROAM’.
Michael, his partner Liss (Larissa) and his brother Andy are all from the east coast of Tasmania and are also traveling with Andy’s partner Holly, who is from England.
Over the next few weeks, Down Under Sail will take you on a journey through the lives of the ROAM crew and share with you some of their movies created to inspire the average Aussie water lover with an adventurous mind to get out there and live their dream.
After watching the video, be sure to scroll down and check out our interview with Michael about what the last 11 months have been like.
Here’s episode one from October last year titled: “Home, Packing and the Journey Begins”… Stay tuned in the coming days for more episodes from the ROAM team.
Down Under Sail editor Harry Fisher interviewed ROAM skipper, owner and builder Michael Hoult
HARRY: So how did Sail Surf ROAM come about? Where did the idea originate and how did you develop a passion for such a unique lifestyle?
MICHAEL: Sail Surf ROAM has been a dream of mine since high school. It’s the means to travel indefinitely, to remote locations chasing surf and adventure with your family and friends. ROAM (our boat) is the end result of this dream and six years in the shed at home building her. The seed for this type travel was probably planted when watching my dad surf in Indonesia when I was about five years old.
HARRY: How many of there are you involved? What role do each of you play? How do you know each other and is there anyone else involved?
MICHAEL: Originally it was three people but now we are four. My partner Liss and I, and my brother Andy. Since we left Tasmania this season we have been joined by Andy’s partner Holly. That’s the core crew and then our third cabin is almost a revolving door of our family and friends. We want to share our adventure with as many of the important people in our lives first hand, or anyone else we meet along the way for that matter.
HARRY: How long have you all been on this journey? And how long do you intend to do it for?
MICHAEL: We have been living on board for about a year now. The boat went in the water in April 2015 and we first left Tasmania in October 2015 and we intend to cruise for as long as possible. I consider myself to have succeeded in most of my life goals already so everything from here on is a bonus. My career as an Ocean Engineer was chosen as it allows me to work a lifestyle that provides me at least six months off a year, FIFO style. As I am still working, the “ROAMing” lifestyle is open-ended, which is a great feeling. Liss, Andy and Holly have chosen to take some time out to embark on this adventure with me, putting their careers on hold for the time being. This is breaking the usual sailing lifestyle mould of waiting until retirement to take on such an adventure.
HARRY: I’m sure there’s plenty of amazing places you’ve seen. Where are you currently? And what are some of the coolest places you’ve visited, and why?
MICHAEL: Right now we are in the Lau Group in Fiji. Our two favourite places have been Port Davey in Tasmania and Fulaga Lagoon in the Southern Lau Group, Fiji – totally different but equally amazing. Port Davey for its stark beauty almost totally untouched by man at what feels like the end of the world and Fulaga for its completely idyllic tropical scenery and amazing locals who can make you feel at home in one of the most remote places in the Pacific. Both of these places are almost only accessible by private boat, which makes this type of travel so special as you can get well off the beaten track and experience places that not many people do.
HARRY: I love the concept of this aqua vagabond lifestyle, but what is the ethos behind it? Is this a way of showing people there are other lifestyles that can be lived rather than the 9-to-5 norm, living off the elements and soaking up what nature has to offer?
MICHAEL: The whole idea behind ROAM was to be able to take a “base” with you to remote places that allows you to stay as long as you like. This required a vessel capable of accommodating my family and friends and all our surf gear while still being a sustainable platform. By this I mean we must primarily be a sailing vessel so a lot of focus was put there but also in regards to systems. We put a lot of effort into solar energy to allow us to be at anchor indefinitely without having to use a generator or run an engine every day to top up power. We didn’t necessarily set out to show people an alternative lifestyle, however as the journey progresses and we develop more of a following, a lot of the feedback we are receiving is along these lines. Since we have been in the Pacific we essentially live off the fish we catch and fresh food we can purchase from local markets. Trying to have as small a global footprint as we can is an important aspect of the ROAM adventure.
HARRY: What are some of the classic stories from the trip so far, maybe some stuff we haven’t necessarily seen on the blogs? I’m sure there’s plenty of banter and mateship on a trip like this.
Well this trip has definitely created some great mateship. As a group we couldn’t have had experiences and bonded like this in any other form of travel. We have also met so many amazing people in the cruising and surfing fraternity – the cruising mates are awesome. There are not many other lifestyles where you meet new friends, have a BBQ, get on the drinks and end up nudey swimming with 10 people off the boat in the middle of the night in a busy anchorage. Or on another evening you could be partying on a surf resort island as unofficial guests only to create an unforgettable night.
A funny quote of the trip so far was from some of our new Brazilian friends, who said to Andy with amazement; “you surf so good, but you are so bad at volleyball.”
They were not referring to Andy’s surfing ability but the fact that he could spend his whole life at the beach and be totally hopeless at beach volleyball. Turns out in Brazil, surfing and beach volleyball go hand in hand.
ROAM’s shallow draft also allows us to push the limits of inshore exploring. This has created some of our more memorable one liners such as…
“There is less than one Larissa under the rudder.”
All visual/physical checks of depth are now scaled in Larissas rather than metres, as Larissa is only 1.57m tall, which isn’t a great depth.
“You haven’t seen shallow until you have been to the Bunga Arm.”
All inshore anchorages are now compared to the Bunga Arm in the Gippsland Lakes, Victoria.
“Umm… the anchor isn’t sinking it is still sticking out of the water.”
We anchored in the dark tannin stained water of Maleluca Creek in South West Tasmania and nosed in a little close to the bank. When we deployed the anchor although the bows were still floating the anchor was in 10cm of water, which can also be measured as 0.06 Larissas.
HARRY: Lastly mate, what does the future hold for Sail Surf ROAM? Where do you want it to go?
MICHAEL: I guess I already consider Sail Surf ROAM a success, so the future is wherever the winds and waves allow us to travel. We used to make mini surf videos of our mates in high school, so we started to do the same with our travels on ROAM for our friends and family to watch. What has been surprising and humbling has been how many amateur boat builders and cruisers have got in touch with us thanking us for motivating them with their boat building projects and keeping the cruising dreams alive.
Having done the hard yards in the shed building ROAM I can relate. If, by editing and making these movies, we have only helped one other DIY boat builder make their dream come true by finishing their build, then it is all worth it. As the series progresses and we start to develop a bit more of a following it is really nice to see how many people are enjoying watching the movies. But we also really enjoy documenting the stunning places and people we come across. Pretty much as long as we are having fun and putting out a product we enjoy ourselves, then we are happy. If other people enjoy even just one part of what we are sharing then that is an amazing bonus too.