Portrait of a Cruiser – David Frost and Kris Adams of SY Taipan

The sixth in our “Portrait of a Cruiser” series, this month we are profiling an Australian couple who set off to circumnavigate Australia 13 years ago and now find themselves in Northern Europe. With no set plan, this couple loves the independence and self-sufficiency of cruising.

Published 7 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Names of Owners: David Frost and Kris Adams

Nationality: Australian

Boat Name: “TAIPAN”

Boat Type/Model and Size: Kaufman 49. 49’

Your Home Port: Albany WA . Australia

Blog: http://svtaipan.blogspot.com

When did you start cruising?

In 2001 we purchased Taipan in Sydney and spent 6 months bringing her back to Fremantle. From this time until 2004 we used her as work commitments allowed; Darwin to Fremantle return one year and Esperance to Fremantle return another.

Describe what sort of cruisers you are:

Long term, live aboard, slow circumnavigating couple.

What type of cruising are you doing currently?

Leaving Fremantle in 2004 with the idea of circumnavigating Australia, the plan has just sort of escalated. We found ourselves in Asia from 2006 to 2012 when we decided to start west for new scenery. We spent a year in South Africa. Rounding Cape of Good Hope we decided to head to the USA where we cruised and did a bit of land travel between there and the Bahamas for a couple of years. In 2016 we thought we would head east for a look at Europe. Here we are now, with plans to head west again across the Atlantic. We have never had a set plan.  Maybe we are doing a Circumnavigation – in a roundabout way!

What were the key reasons you selected your current boat?

She is a proven offshore fast cruising boat, very well built and sea kindly. With David a past racer her sailing ability was critical. She sails very well.

What other boats have you owned?

Sparkman and Stevens 39’.

What changes have you made to your current boat?

We have made extensive changes to Taipan for blue-water cruising. We added a hardtop dodger and bimini and davits. One of the aft cabins was turned into a workshop with washing machine and freezer, and the original bed was incorporated into a large cockpit locker. We added a Generator, several autopilots, water-maker, and much more electronic stuff.

Most useful equipment fitted:

Washing machine!! Obvious reasons.

Equipment regrets, or things you would do differently:

The forward seeking sonar was a total failure from day one. It has never worked.

List the countries you have cruised:

Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia (including Borneo), Thailand, India (Andaman’s), Rodrigues, Mauritius, France (La Reunion), Madagascar, South Africa,  Grenada, Bequie, St Lucia, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Bahamas, USA, Bermuda, Portugal (Azores), Ireland, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway.

Future cruising plans:

We are planning another Atlantic Crossing in 2018 and then maybe on to the Pacific. Always write (your plans) in the sand at low tide.

List the oceans/seas you have crossed:

Indian Ocean, South Atlantic, North Atlantic, North Sea, Baltic, Southern Ocean, Bass Strait, Java Sea, Timor Sea, Arafura Sea, Gulf of Carpentaria, South China Sea, Coral Sea.

Approximate sea miles:

About 55,000 in Taipan.

Scariest day on the water:

Just after we purchased Taipan in Sydney in 2001 we left to sail around the top of Australia to Fremantle. We were about 5 days out on a very unfamiliar boat. We had been having fuel problems as you do in a “new” second hand boat.

Off North Stradbroke Island a severe winter storm hit which had closed Sydney Harbour.  During the night the running backstay tail went overboard and wrapped around the prop shaft, disabling the motor. We had to sail over a bar into the breakwater at Mooloolaba Old Australia, because it was too rough for the rescue boat to come out and tow us in. We touched crossing the bar and then the main halyard jammer jammed as we tried to drop the main, so we cut the halyard. We were picked up by rescue and towed to a berth. Five people lost their lives that night in 2 separate boating accidents. Another boat in the area recorded 70 knots.

We had gusts up to 70 knots again off the West Coast of WA. This occasion was preempted by our inexperience when we set off with a rally fleet in 2002 from Fremantle, without checking the forecast. We believed the rally would not be leaving into bad weather. How wrong we were. Several boats were dismasted, one grounded, another went over a fringing reef and one person was almost lost when he was thrown overboard. It was a quite a small fleet, but we had a good crew and when we turned around to run under just a small staysail, Taipan was surfing down waves at 14 knots. The worst thing was that the WA west coast has very few safe harbours, so we had nowhere to go. We entered Denham early in the morning in furious weather unharmed and unbroken, but very wet. Over half the fleet either returned to Fremantle or made Denham. The earlier departing race fleet made it into Geraldton.

Best cruising moments:

Interaction with locals: Spontaneously sharing food and music on a remote beach in Indonesia with Indonesian fishermen and their live-aboard families.

Interaction with wild life: A small sea lion boarded us and made himself at home in the cockpit in Namibia and a female sea line calved in our dinghy!  Not so good but amazing! Swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas.

So many incredible experiences cruising, it’s impossible to catalogue them all.

Favourite cruising area and why:

Kimberly, Northern Western Australia – Remote and Spectacular.

We love the history and Aboriginal Art Sites along with the total solitude. Weeks can pass without another boat in sight. The secret is the self-reliance. There is no boatyard or even a store for 400nm in each direction.

Favourite anchorage:

Crocodile Creek, Kimberley, WA Australia (see photo).

Favourite cruising apps:

Predict Wind. Garmin Blue Charts. OPENCPN.

Favourite cruising websites:

Noonsite of course! Windyty. Google Earth.

What advice or message would you want to pass on to anyone new to cruising or thinking about casting off the dock lines?

Get a well found, proven offshore cruising yacht with a fixed keel and a skeg hung rudder. Go for the heavier rather than lighter boats for comfort and stability. Make sure you have a good auto pilot and spares. Go now. Don’t wait until everything on the boat is perfect or you will never leave.

Why inspires you to keep cruising?

We love the independence and self-sufficiency. We are not “greenies”, but do derive a lot of pleasure from leaving a very small footprint on the planet in this day and age of excess and waste. We love the freedom we have to change the view and the neighbourhood/neighbours.

Cruising implies swanning about, sitting sipping gin. We don’t do much of either, but keep busy with the challenges of maintaining the systems and equipment of our boat. There are constantly new things to be learned, both technical and mechanical.

Changing countries involves a lot of research. It’s often daunting, even frustrating, getting to grips with the basics in a new place, not just physically but the legality as well. Bureaucracy is our biggest single frustration.  The rewards and satisfaction however are immense.

Exciting discoveries in amazing places and of course wonderful new friends.

Favourite Quote:

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

Sterling Hayden

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  1. November 16, 2017 at 10:18 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    I recognized that quote from the first few words. Sterling Hayden has written so beautifully about life at sea. And your story fits in so perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

    Fair winds,
    Daria Blackwell, Rear Commodore, Ocean Cruising Club