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Going with the wind

Going with the wind

by March 31, 2021

Article  by Caroline Strainig

When Craig and Kerry Margetts were searching for a name for their new Seawind 1160 catamaran, they didn’t have to hunt long before they decided on the name Scarlett.

One of Kerry’s all-time favourite films is the classic ‘Gone With the Wind’, which stars Vivien Leigh as sassy lead character Scarlett, and Clark Gable as her turbulent lover Rhett Butler. “I have seen the film more than 50 times and just adore it to bits. I even nick-named a much loved but cantankerous old car I once owned, Scarlett,” Kerry said.

Scarlett is also a bright shade of red, which tied in with the fact that the yacht would initially be working in the Cumberland Charter Yacht fleet in the Whitsundays, whose fleet colour is red. In addition, their previous Seawind 1000 was called Indigo, so the name was continuing that colour theme. Last, but not least, the connection to the word “wind” was a nod to the brand name Seawind.

The name and movie connection have turned out to be almost prophetic, particularly the phrase “going with the wind”, a twist on the book and movie name which the Margetts had printed on the yacht’s distinctive red spinnaker. From their canal-front home at Raby Bay just south of Brisbane, where Scarlett is berthed at the foot of their garden, they have literally lived those words, going with the wind, and riding the ups and downs of life.

 

Craig is a doctor and Kerry an emergency department nurse, so they know all too well life is finite. When Kerry was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, they reassessed priorities and put making the most of every possible second of their lives top of their list.

One dream was to sail around Australia. As soon as Kerry’s treatment would allow, they set sail in 2011 to do just that with their two young boys, Stephen and Lachlan, aged eleven and nine at the time. Both say the 353-day, 9,073 nautical mile adventure was everything they had hoped for, and more. Not only were the anchorages and places they saw amazing, but it was a fantastic experience to go through as a family.

“Our advice to anyone else is to do it, and do it sooner rather than later,” Craig said.

“We have met a lot of people cruising when they retired, and while they were enjoying it, not a single one said to leave it until later in life,” Kerry added.

“Everybody said they wished they had done it earlier.”

Craig thought the trip had made their relationship with their boys even stronger.

It also established a family habit of talking about the day and issues together at night instead of just relaxing in front of a television. The game Bananagrams was a hotly contested favourite pastime.

Homeschooling on the boat with the help of the Brisbane School of Distance Education was a challenge in remote areas without internet coverage and no post offices for hundreds of kilometres, but they managed it successfully.

However, their advice for anyone following in their wake was to look seriously at just repeating a year of school instead of trying to study while cruising, unless your child had high-level academic ambitions, and this would leave them too far behind. “That would maximise your time enjoying the adventure and you learn so many life skills that the trade-off is more than worth it,” Craig said. “There were some times it was hard to study because it was rough or we were at sea. Then, we would get somewhere beautiful, and they’d have to study.”

Because so many overnight passages were required, they also used six adult crew to help for different legs, using the website Find a Crew and backpackers, or other people they came across who wanted an adventure. Apart from the help with the sailing and everyday chores, Kerry said she really appreciated having female company occasionally.

Both said the Seawind 1160 catamaran was a good choice for extended cruising, with two hulls so they and the boys and crew had privacy, plus lots of room to spread out. “When you wanted space to chill out and read a book by yourself, you could always find somewhere,” Kerry said.

Before the Seawind 1160 they owned a Seawind 1000, which had two outboard engines and was more set up for local cruising. “The 1160 has diesel engines and is bigger and more geared for extended cruising, and she really was ideal for a circumnavigation,” Craig said. “With modern solar panels and lithium batteries, we can even run an air-conditioner in remote areas with limited access to diesel fuel.”

One feature they particularly love is the model’s trademark saloon doors, which fold up under the cockpit roof when not required, turning the saloon and cockpit into one big al-fresco area.

Craig said he had a philosophy he liked to employ cruising, and which came to the fore in their circumnavigation, which he called “managed serendipity”. “If you plan for what you want to do and just wait, it’s surprising how often something will come up that fits that plan,” he said.

Today, Kerry remains thankfully in remission from breast cancer. They still make the most of every spare minute to head out on the boat, which is vital re-energising time for them from their busy lifestyle.

They also enjoy sharing their passion for sailing and cruising with other boat owners. Together, they are joint chairs of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron cruising sail division and go on monthly sailaways with other members of the Manly-based club.

“We have been right around Australia, and can say definitively from our experience this has to be the best place in Australia to sail,” Craig said of their home cruising grounds. “Moreton Bay is an amazing cruising ground. There are some tricky sand flats, and it can be rough in wind against tide, but there are safe anchorages everywhere, and lots of beaches and islands and lovely spots like Tangalooma and the Sandhills. You can even sail in a straight line for eight hours if you want to.

“From where we are at Raby Bay, it’s only a stone’s throw to Peel Island, one of our favourite spots. If I said to you right now, ‘Let’s go to Peel,’ from sitting here we would be sitting on a beach at Peel with a sundowner in an hour. That’s pretty amazing!” With Scarlett drawing only 1.2 metres, getting in close to the beach where it is safe to do so is a given.

They love the social side of the club sailaways, but also the cut-and-thrust of fun social racing on a Wednesday in the cruising multihull division at the RQYS, where they regularly race up to a dozen other multihulls. Social racing is something Craig thinks many more cruisers should experience. “It really does teach you about sail trim and how to get the most out of your boat, when you have another boat coming up on you,” Craig said.

They say joining a club like the RQYS is a great way to learn when you are a new boat owner because you can cruise in company with more experienced sailors and learn from them.

And Scarlett, the yacht, what is her character like? Well, contrary to her namesakes – the sassy book and movie character Scarlett or the cantankerous but much-loved car of Kerry’s youth – she has turned out to be a perfect lady, even acting as a de facto guest house when the Margetts have visitors.

Unlike the book and movie where Scarlett’s love interest Rhett Butler dumped her at the end with the famous words, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”, there is also a happy ending in this version of Gone With the Wind.

“We named our dog Rhett Butler, so this time Scarlett really does get her man,” Kerry said. “Our cavoodle Rhett Butler loves Scarlett and having a day out on the boat.”

You can read more about the Margetts’ circumnavigation in their blog, www.scarlettsailing.net