Building An Electric Boat In South Africa?
Unexpected adventure, and saying yes to strangers, are ongoing themes for us. There is rarely a plan or any grand contemplation. We’ve done things we never dreamt of, in places we have never been to…all because we said ‘Yes’ to a stranger.
Today’s tale is another one of those YES stories.
This is all about that time we said yes to an enthusiastic British guy who offered to fly over to South Africa and show us where the best Catamarans are made.
We knew our sailboat Curiosity was made in South Africa, but we had no idea just how steeped in boat building the country is.
Crazy right! In four years, we’ve gone from not knowing a lick about sailing to over 13,000 nautical miles under our keels and now we’re deep in the catamaran building mecca. Fumbling along the entire way of course…but here we are, learning more about this salty world every day.
Big Takeaways on Learning How Sailboats Are Made
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, nor what to expect. This was our first boatbuilding factory tour experience and it was overwhelming.
Both James and Rob were eager to show off every step of the process. Bobbing and weaving through each area of the factory beaming with pride. Nothing off limits, no cut corners to hide.
I never assumed building a solid bluewater boat was an easy task but my respect for my own vessel, and the ones being built today, multiplied by factors of ten.
The sheer amount of handcrafting (manual labor) that goes into each vessel is astonishing. So much fairing, sanding, polishing…days and weeks and months of it. The next time I run my hand along the hull I will imagine all the hundreds of hours someone else’s hands were there. And that is just the hull!
The excitement and pride…which should come as no surprise considering the amount of work that goes into each vessel. From the workers infusing resin to the person drilling holes where one day a bolt will go. They had a beaming look in their eyes that reminded me of a kid presenting at a science fair, “Look at this awesome thing I made”. Not exactly the vibe I was expecting from factory workers, but it was a pleasant surprise. I bet that as any of those workers see one of the boats sailing along the coast, or moored in a harbor, stops to say, “that’s one of my boats, I helped make that”.
Both Vision Yachts and St. Francis are semi-custom boutique builders. They only build a handful of catamarans a year and customer satisfaction and quality was the name of the game. Want a pantry here, a desk there, a wheelchair accessible boat? No problem, they’ll design it.
Each design request comes at a price however in the form of time. Production boats are pumped out because each one is the same. The more you change, the more time it takes to build the boat. So choose your customizations wisely if you want to be out on the water sooner rather than later.
Because of course, the real gem here…the South African coast! One day we’ll be here looking at these views from the bow of Curiosity.
Catamaran Building Friends:
- Vision Yachts: https://www.instagram.com/visionyachts/
- St. Francis Marine: https://www.facebook.com/St-Francis-Catamarans-1861775797471580/
Next up is Cape Town. We get a locals guide to being a tourist as we let Kate lead us through her old stomping grounds. Plus we have one more factory tour and this is the big one. As in the biggest in South Africa. It’s the Robertson and Caine factory and is still in the same exact spot Curiosity was born.
🙏 A SPECIAL THANKS
Thanks to both James and Rob for taking the time to show us around, not just the factories but their home turf too.
Tom, you are a character I hope to showcase again someday out on the high seas. Maybe you’ll need someone to help sail that electric Vision 44 up to Europe 😁
Thank you! Each week you show up and make this all possible. Thanks for reading, watching, commenting, and sharing. If you like what you see, there are lots of FREE ways you can show your support.
🎥CAMERA GEAR USED TO FILM THIS VIDEO📷
- All of our Photo & Video Gear: gonewiththewynns.com/photo-video-gear
🎶MUSIC IN THIS VIDEO:
- Source: http://bit.ly/artlist-gwtw
- Artists – Rex Banner, Kick Lee, Eyal Raz, Be Still The Earth, and Ian Post
hi just loved your stay in French polonesia. I travel eo moorea in 1971 and stay there for 3weeks. your video there brought back
some very good souvenir than you
Hello Better healthy in FIJI that unhealthy in USA. Arkansas is opening up casinos, hair saloon etc. Most of virus in nursing homes, front workers and prisons. Got a couple masks going to bank, grocery store. Have not been tested as I believe the testing is spreading virus due to testers not changing clothes, gloves. etc on each test. USA took 200 years to create debt of trillion dollars and has double that debt in a couple months. Healthy in Arkansas and doing great for 86years. Stay healthy and safe.
Jason is a little sensitive to sea sickness. Have you ever tried a relief band https://www.reliefband.com/? We bought the cheaper one for my wife who says that it helps with sea sickness. She and the kids fight over it. We plan to buy more next time there is a sail at West Marine. We sail a Lagoon 380.
I started watching your videos as California went into quarantine. You guys are doing a great job and your videos have helped combat the cabin fever. One comment, as an Eagle Scout, it is recommended that you walk on the side of roads against the flow of traffic. That way you can keep an eye on what is coming towards you. Can’t wait for you to get back to your boat.
One other trick your family might try. Seasickness happens because your eyes & inner ear disagree on what’s happening. If you put ONE earplug in your non-dominant ear (so right-handed people put earplug in left ear) it supposedly adds so much confusion to the process that the brain just stops trying to figure out what the heck is going on. It has worked for me so give it a shot! I just use those cheap foam earplugs for this.
Saw an interesting boat (svDelos, a 53′ monohull), which recently installed satellite internet as a test rig for Viasat.
Link to their install video to get an idea how big dome is :
Maybe they could do something for Curiosity??
Thought you might have a chance to check it out online while you have internet access in Fiji.
Best of all wishes for you both and quick return home as soon as way is clear.
I’ll bet that you are getting excited about returning to your Curiosity home and we are too.
I didn’t see anyone with masks on at the places you were at! Doesn’t look like S.A. is too worried about “19.” I was wondering if maybe they had a spare refrigerator you could take back to the Curiosity. The video work is stunning as usual and “surfing” without a board looked like a lot of fun! So did the after effects of sabering! Hope this craziness ends soon and you both are back on board your floating home soon!
P.S. Hope Singa is well and happy. I miss seeing that pretty ball of fluff and his super side-kick Chloe!!
That is because this video was filmed pre-pandemic. There was a disclaimer at the beginning of the video. At the time of filming, there were no cases of coronavirus in South Africa. If you check out some of our previous videos, we did some real-time updates letting everyone know we are stuck in Fiji trying to get back to the boat. We even survived a cyclone while in self isolation!
I bet it felt great to get your sea legs back out on the water, if only for part of a day!! Looked like fun!🌊⛵️
Enjoyed your video ( and your enthusiasm for your new St Francis 50. I wish you many happy and safe miles in her !
Nikki and Jason are not getting another boat. They were just touring the St. Francis factory and were lucky enough to be able to tag along for a trial sail.
Great video. Incredible boats. Beautiful city. Incredible water. I do like electric boats for the future.
Lots of changes coming our way like reducing fossil fuels everywhere. I was surprised but, it really caught my ear when Tom said he was flying. It is advised to stop flying and go by other means now to reduce carbon.
You guys look healthy and happy as usual, I hope your happy faces are a sign of getting back to Curiosity soon.
Looking forward to the Robertson and Caine Factory in South Africa. Kind Regards and continued Happy Traveling.
Yes, flying does indeed burn a lot of fossil fuel and has a big carbon footprint, but often it’s the only practical way to get from point A to point B. Guernsey Island to Cape Town is about 13,000 km (nearly 8100 miles). So sometimes you fly, and you can offset the carbon impact with a worthwhile sustainable project.
Minion nailed it. We also flew to South Africa. We don’t fly often as most years we’re sailing but sometimes it is the best mode of transportation, especially extreme distances. That said, we need to encourage airlines to work on ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
We don’t have a clear picture yet on when we will get back to the boat as all the islands still have their borders closed and the airlines are still shut down. But, we are staying positive and productive until then. 😉
That was so fun! I really enjoy your weekly videos. In fact I stress a little bit if your video hits my inbox later than usual! Crazy I know, I just feel like the world needs your kind of light. Anyway, I totally enjoy following you on YouTube.
Continue to be safe,
Awe, thanks for the love!
So much fun to follow you two.. Tom is great and the Boat building tour was awesome. The Pictures are stunning.
VALERIE LYNN WILLIAMS
Thank you for your shared adventures. Where ever you are in real time may God be with you. Praying you have Jesus in your hearts and on your mind. Be safe!! Hope your boat is surviving the storms in Tonga. And you will be back with her soon (I still think of all boats as her even though I thought of giving one a masculine name) .
I do the same thing…even with cars. However, sometimes I see boats with a unique, handsome look, and think “oh look, it’s a boy boat”.
Excellent and interesting video today – loved all the info, and of course loved seeing how much fun you and your new friends are having. Thanks for sharing- I love every minute doe girl with you guys on Sunday morning. Great way to virtually-escape our quarantine time. Stay safe, and keep enjoying life the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed – at full speed ahead!! 🙏🌈⛵️🌊🛥💓
Great segment you guys! Interesting, funny and informative. Thank you. Stay well 😊
Wow! Great to see inside the boutique boat building process. Who knew the hull was made of one continuous form!? That cat was amazing, inside and out, and I loved the tour! Looking forward to Cape Town. Safe travels and remain healthy!
ps – Love the shout out to Campendium.com in the RV answer. Brian & Leigh have done an outstanding job setting up an app used by us Airstreamers and others, with helpful reviews by people who love to camp!
So enjoyed your latest adventure, thanks so much for sharing. Although I should say this adventure, you two have so many.Enjoy ,be safe and God bless..
Hi Nikki and Jason,
Love you guys! My wife and I are fully retiring in 4 years and thinking of becoming cruisers. We have had a Diesel pusher and 2 houseboats. All sold yeah; best 2 days, the day you buy and the day you sell. I’m sure you can relate. Insert my crazy question here; what would it take to come spend a week or so with you on your boat? We will bring parts, good coffee and tea, and ice cream any flavor. Now if that is not a great sail lol sale what would it take? Keep up what you do as you are both just amazing people. Oh and Nikki thank god for spell check I can relate to the spelling haha.
Terry and Sondra Christofferson
You can see us on youtube (very much rookie stuff) look at terrandsondrachristofferson
Hey guys! When Nikki and Jason do open up an opportunity for “crew”, the offer the spot to some of their Patrons. If you’re not a Patron yet, you can check the page out here: https://www.patreon.com/the_wynns Patrons get all sorts of other goodies, including first access to videos, a few Patron only videos, in-person meet-ups, and the opportunity to submit the questions for live chats & Q&A’s. So surf on over & see if you’d like to join up!
“Couriosity” .. says it all about you guys. Add to that, fun loving, grateful, appreciative, engaging, glamorous (at least Nikki), great film makers and top on camera talent. So what is missing? I would like to be able to watch a Netflix channel, “Gone With the Wynns”. Texas Jack
Awe Jack, you are making me blush. If you have any contacts at Netflix let me know (because that would be neat). 😉
It looks like your still having fun 😎
Very interesting video. Your adventures are amazing. You never know what to expect next. Wonderful adventures.
For the past 6 years, I have been a full timer since I lost my house in the 08 mortgage crash. I still work, sometimes from my home base town but for the most part from my 30′ motorhome.
I’m 66 years old. Last year I had the most horrendous trip I have ever had traveling from California back to New York State. High winds, tornadoes, flooding and close calls with some ‘local’ good ole boys.
I am hold up now in a condo in Santa Fe. Hiking in the desert with my dog and cat, social distancing, which I’m use to doing anyway.
My plan is to hit the road in late August, if the market comes back so I can make an income, and head to the Canadian Rockies. Money is always an issue. Any ideas of how a 66 year old, talented photographer, passionate about traveling, logging over 60k miles, can make a living besides the traditional way?
Have you ever felt unsafe on the road? If so, how did you feel you were going to protect yourself? I enjoy boon-docking and travel with pepper spray but others who full time travel with guns. I am not a gun person.
Also, is there a feasible way to travel across Europe in a motor home? Do you buy one there?
Lots of questions, and I know you are busy, but I thought I would reach out to you since I have followed your blog from day one RV travels.
Be safe, be healthy, be happy.
So sorry to hear about your house, but it sounds like you’re making the best of the situation. Nikki & Jason are asleep on the other side of the world, so I’ll try to answer you questions (but Nikki & Jason will still see your comment of course).
1) There’s a whole section on the blog devoted to how the Wynns & other nomads make money while traveling. There are some creative solutions in there, so give it a browse & maybe inspiration will strike: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/make-money-travel
2) The best weapon you have to safeguard your person is to listen to your gut. If you ever arrive someplace and you get a bad vibe or something seems off, your house has wheels. Just keep moving. You can also check out places to stay on sites like Campendium.com which uses camper reviews and feedback. They will often mention if an area seemed sketchy or not. Your pepper spray is a great thing to have, and I know other solo female travelers who always set out 2 camp chairs, and some will buy a pair of mens’ boots at the thrift store to sit out by the steps. It plants a seed of doubt… And of course, lock your doors & use your common sense!
3) Europe by motor home is totally feasible. You have 3 good options: you could ship something small to Europe in a container. So if you’re traveling in, say, a Sprinter van now you could ship it over. But you are size limited with a shipping container. I’m sure there are more people who have done it, but here’s a link to a family of 5 who shipped their van over: https://malimish.com/blog/2018/10/28/how-we-shipped-our-van-from-us-to-europe/ Second, you could buy a used RV once you arrive but you’ll need to do some research on laws about registering it as a U.S. citizen in a foreign country. A little internet research would be in order there. And thirdly, if you’re not planning to stay in Europe too terribly long, you could lease one. Some manufacturers have programs that let you “buy” a campervan for an agreed-upon amount of time and at the end of that time they will “buy” the campervan back at an agreed-upon price. This is much cheaper than rental rates! WheelingIt has a great post about leasing and buying in Europe that you can see here: https://wheelingit.us/2018/06/13/moving-to-europe-viii-renting-or-buying-an-rv-campervan-motorhome-in-europe/
Best of luck and enjoy your travels, wherever they take you. Stay safe!