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S/V Stenella 50' Steel Schooner - Homeport: LÜderitzbucht, Namibia

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Diane & Heiko METZGER + Stefan & Oliver - Starting from Namibia this family of 4 completed a fulfilling circumnavigation juggling mixed emotions, a tight budget and an onboard pregnancy - More about the STENELLA family

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1. The biggest challenge you faced in getting out there?   7. How did you handle: HEALTH and SAFETY?
2. Is there a best age to take children cruising?   8. How did you handle: EDUCATION and FULFILLMENT?
3. Any modifications to the boat for your children?   9. How did you handle: TASKS and CHORES?
4. Any advice for would-be sailing families?   10. What did you like BEST / LEAST about cruising?
5. A typical day on board? The kids' responsibilities?   11. Has cruising changed your family?
6. A great moment?   12. A recipe for cruising families?

1. What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting out there?

It was my husband Heiko's dream to go sailing. Not being particularly adventurous myself, the thought had never even crossed my mind.

  • His biggest challenge was earning enough money to buy a boat. Once that became a reality, it remained a financial challenge to finish building the boat and to get her geared and stocked to go cruising.

    How Heiko dealt with it is really a story in itself, but in a nutshell:

    Shortly after our marriage, he bought an old purseine dinghy, cut it into three pieces – (He proudly showed me what he had just done at this point, and I thought, "Oh, hell! Perhaps marrying him was not such a great idea after all!") – then, after a lot more work, he lengthened the boat. By making do with whatever he could lay his hands on (some of it from the local rubbish dump!), he turned it into a 'diamond diving' boat.

    After a few years of successful diamond diving, he bought a larger vessel.

    10 more years of hard work bought him a steel ‘yacht in progress' – hull, deck and bulkheads. This he fitted out with engine, sails and a basic interior and then sailed her home from Cape Town, South Africa to Lüderitz, Namibia. Here she lay untouched for 2 years before Heiko made the decision to stop diving and put in the time required to make the boat seaworthy. We left Lüderitz in October 1996. We left Walvis Bay 17 March 1997.

    Finding an original name for her was the next challenge, and we eventually settled on calling her Stenella. (Stenella = the genus name for a specific group of dolphins distributed worldwide in tropical waters.)

  • My personal challenge was coping with the fear that something might go wrong while in the middle of nowhere as well as forgiving myself for living my own life and leaving my parents, family and friends behind!

    I trusted Heiko's capabilities, and part of me longed to have an adventure. Grateful for the opportunity to do something really 'different ', I hoped that in time, I would get over my fears.

    I left home feeling very unsure of going sailing at all. My father was ill with Alzheimer's, my mother (with the help of my elder brother) had to cope with this situation while I was up and leaving!

    My Montessori pre-school (Brightstart Montessori) which had just started to come into its own - then about 4 years into it, was thriving, and I was feeling very torn to leave that, too.

    Plus, our two beautiful dogs (my first children) had to remain behind, and that really broke my heart and took ages to get used to deserting them, even though they were well set up and living in our house with good friends who took great care of them. This couple subsequently rented the house to other people and came cruising too; and when we returned we took on their dog Chico - the beautiful (late now since
    Dec last year) Siberian Husky who became our instant pet on our return!

    On top of all of that I was hating the sailing, was seasick and wanted to abandon ship on arrival in Walvis Bay - (first stop after leaving Lüderitz), when, two weeks before we were about to set sail for St. Helena, I discovered that I was pregnant!


The fact that we left at all and managed 11 years of it really spells out for both Heiko and me : STUBBORN !

2. How old were your kids when you left? Is there a best age to take children cruising?

Our son Stefan (born 1990) was 6 years old when we left Lüderitz. We spent a further six months in Walvis Bay, finishing off various projects, stocking up with supplies and getting the paperwork sorted.

I found myself pregnant 2 weeks before we were about to set sail for St. Helena! Although it was a bit of a shock at the time, it was the best thing that could have happened to us.

I had the experience of raising Stefan until the age of 6 on land; and Oliver being born ashore (Trinidad) and then living aboard from the age of 3 days until he was 10 years old.

Despite never turning out to be a great sailor myself, I am convinced that it is one of the best possible places to raise children. The obvious reason is the privilege of having TIME to enjoy your children, being involved with their development every step of the way, together as a couple, and for them to enjoy you as parents! Our boys have had an amazing life. Nobody can ever take away the closeness, bonding and experiences we have shared as a seafaring family.

Stefan is now 20 and Oliver will be 13 in October this year. Like most parents, we are very proud of our boys. Over and above that, we continue to be complimented by all who meet them re: them being wonderful, stable and very capable characters.

In our experience with our kids and with the ones we met along the way, the younger they get out there, the better.

There are very few cruising kids that we met that we did not like or admire. They grow up used to dealing with real life situations and responsibilities, broaden their horizons, and end up being very capable, fun-loving and mature – a very special breed unto their own!

We think it is a little more complicated taking children in their teens away from the social structures and home comforts they are accustomed to and expecting them to adjust to life at sea.

Stefan grew up into the lifestyle, so did not have to adjust that much at all. He had only had a few years of pre-school social experience, and at 6 he was terribly excited by the prospect of going sailing and seeing dolphins, whales and other marine creatures in which he was already very interested. We'd nurtured and encouraged these interests in preparation for the trip we were dreaming of. He was not really accustomed to a busy social schedule (except at school and among a few close friends of the same age).

Stefan's television experience before our departure had been limited mainly to watching wildlife videos (National Geographic and such), so he did not feel deprived by the lack of TV entertainment. On board we watched videos and (later) DVDs when the motor was running or when there was enough power generated by our wind generator. Because this is what the children grew up with, they did not really have to adjust to these limitations as older land-based children who are more used to this kind of entertainment (TV) sometimes do.

It was harder for us (adults) to leave our friends behind than it was for Stefan. Had he already been a teenager by the time of our departure, we suspect it might have been a different story - though not necessarily so.

All questions

3. Did you make modifications to the boat for your children? Any suggestions?

We waited until we could afford what we wanted: a strong steel boat that we could call home.

STENELLA was actually a white boat but we changed that for practical reasons - it is difficult to keep it looking nice and clean when you are a fishing fanatic and do-it-yourself kind of person with projects forever happening on board.


We built a strong railing with netting.

Knowing that we would have a child aboard, we chose from the start to find a boat that would give us enough space for each of us to live and play in and also accommodate things to entertain ourselves with, for example gear for fishing, snorkeling, surfing, windsurfing, wake boarding, bicycles, guitars, books, toys etc.

We built a strong railing with netting to make it as safe as possible. Keep in mind though, that once a child is mobile, he can very easily climb over a netted railing long before he can walk!

Our biggest fear was having our child fall over the side. Stefan was old enough to understand our concerns, but we still kept a constant eye on his activities while on deck. For example, the bowsprit is the only area not netted, and he was not allowed there without an adult. With Oliver we were just as careful and never ever left him unattended while on deck, even when at anchor.

Once the boys could swim we were a bit more relaxed about them being on deck unsupervised while at anchor.

We made a lot of modifications to the boat in the 11 years we lived aboard.

The first changes involved making the interior more “open planned” than it had been before, as we really struggled adjusting to the tropical climate. Our original interior had too many walled-in areas which restricted ventilation. We also developed various wind scoops as we went along to help make it cooler inside.

Before we painted the interior of our boat white, it was really cozy. We changed it to white to give more light and to create the illusion, at least, of being a bit cooler. At home cozy was good; in the tropics it is not that romantic... until you adjust, that is.

We also had to make changes in order to accommodate a newborn baby! These changes only took shape after Oliver was about 2 years old, and due to heat, space and practicalities, we could no longer have him sleeping with us. We started off with a hammock-like bunk in our cabin, but eventually we removed a cupboard and small ‘school' desk out of Stefan's cabin in order to accommodate a bunk for his brother.

We had planned on having Stefan do his schoolwork at a desk in his cabin but found that it was much more practical having him work at the saloon table – more space, cooler and out of his 'own space'.

Our galley is very small, and we eventually copied an idea we saw on another boat, building a drip rack for dishes that could dry and hold dishes and was easy to use while underway. Being able to permanently store crockery in a rack like this is even more ideal and would be an improvement on our existing rack.

4. Anything you wish you had known before you got started? Any advice for families?

If I could have known how this lifestyle
would bond us as a family...

You need to be honest about who you are and what you are capable of.

Most sailors can rely on their partners to help them with the many responsibilities and challenges involved in crossing oceans. In our case it was a very different scenario. Unlike most of the families you feature, I must admit that I was not and never will be a great sailor! I should have accepted this obvious fact from the start.

Stefan however has grown up to be as efficient as his father. Even when he was quite little, the women I met along the way insisted that they wished they had a 'Stefan' on their boat, especially when things get complicated or challenging!

If I could have known before we started how this lifestyle would heal and bond us as a family...

... I might have been a lot more relaxed, concentrated more on 'going with the flow', and just appreciated every moment, rather than wasting so much energy on being nervous and worrying so much of the time.

If you enjoy sailing, can afford it and dream about cruising, do not for a moment hesitate regarding taking kids sailing.

All questions

5. A typical day on board? What were the kids' responsibilities aboard?

At anchor

The family buzzing along homeward to our boat in our dinghy
after a good snorkeling/spear fishing day in the Perlas, Panama! (Photo: s/y ASYLUM)


A typical day was waking up early, though at our leisure. Sometimes we would start off by having a swim and then breakfasting on whatever the local fruit choice – often bananas or mangos and also on fish - leftovers from the night before! If it was a weekday, we tried to get an early start with school work.

Very often the boys would go fishing – which meant a dinghy ride quite far out - to look for supper. (We played it by ear; if conditions looked good, they would go on school days too, and catch up on the school work later, though that was not the norm.). More often until the boys were a bit older Heiko would go off fishing on his own while we would do school.

I would get them started with their work (using a popular correspondence course - Calvert), then leave them to it while I would bake bread, make yogurt, sprout lentils, etc. and do the usual household tasks like dishes and laundry (a bucket a day!)

In the afternoons we would go to the beach, go shopping, fish or swim over the side, socialize, read, get creative, play with Lego - whatever.

The amphora treasure find

The amphora treasure find
- now that was a very exciting day!

We had a very special thing happen one day in Panama. After being out at the islands - probably Contadora or Espirito de Santos - we dropped anchor back at the anchorage in Panama. There was a problem though, because the anchor did not want to set. We lifted the anchor, and wedged firmly in it was this amphora!

Turned out to be a 15th/16th century water bottle, and apparently there are more down there!

We put it in a big drum of water and took photos of it to the Smithsonian close by. They asked what we wanted to do with it and suggested it go to the museum. So that is where it went. They took us and the "botella" there and gave us a free tour of the laboratory, indoor and outdoor museum. That was particularly interesting and rather exclusive too! They had one of these amphoras in the museum but it had all been glued together - the one we gave them was intact and they were delighted to have it.

It was tempting to bring home this beautiful and exciting find, but we figured it belonged there and would just collect dust back in Namibia!

I can't wait for someone to go and see if it is in the museum on display yet - would love a photograph of that!!!

On passage

Fishing, reading and being constructive with Lego
was the chief entertainment.
The boys caught, cleaned and usually prepared
and cooked whatever they caught.
  • We found it difficult to do schoolwork on passage. These days were usually spent taking turns doing our watches and relaxing in between.

  • As long as things were relatively calm, the boys always had fishing lines out and tended these throughout the day until we caught something.

  • Fishing, reading and being constructive with Lego was the chief entertainment. As the boys grew older and more capable, they also used this time to do maintenance on various spear guns and other fishing equipment, making homemade rapalas (fishing lures), etc. They quite enjoyed drawing and also carving things out of wood.

  • I would be baking the daily bread, making yogurt, sprouting lentils, and getting a meal together, or waiting to see what the catch of the day would be.

    If it was fish on the menu, I had an easy time of it as the boys caught, cleaned and usually prepared and cooked whatever they caught; leaving me to enjoy the feast and fix the mess that results when you let boys in your galley... definitely well worth it and good practical life skills being learned and applied by both the boys. I was roped into cleaning one fish - just so I could say I had done it too, but that was it!

    We experimented with various fishy projects, like fish biltong (jerky), sushi, ceviche etc. and had it down to a fine art. Heiko built a smoker, and we even smoked fish on board, although this was usually only done once at anchor.

  • Otherwise I would spend my time doing school projects, corresponding (would write long letters and send e-mails on arrival in various ports.) Often I would just work on music: writing songs, practicing songs I wanted to learn the lyrics of, etc. My night watches were usually spent in this way too - singing away to myself (without the guitar so as not to keep the others awake!) and managing to learn on a long passage perhaps 15 Eileen Quinn songs...

  • My boys enjoyed sleeping on the deck.
  • Initially, Heiko and I did the watches.

    Gradually Stefan took on day watches and by the time we were homeward bound, he was doing his share of the night watches too. After an early supper, Stefan would usually take on the first watch, and then wake me for mine. Heiko would do the early morning watches, though he usually slept on deck to be instantly on hand. Only towards the end of our journey, in the last three years of it, did he venture below to sleep between watches.

    Being on the late night shift was sometimes really nice. Provided conditions were safe and calm, it was a time for reflection, and I think it did us all good to have that bit of quiet and alone time. We don't often find those moments ashore.

    My boys enjoyed sleeping on the deck. When in transit we slept on the deck; when at anchor they often slept or snoozed for a bit in hammocks and then went down below.

    Greeting the early morning and watching the sun coming up is very special - especially when your family is safe and close by to enjoy it with you...

How involved were the kids in the boat?

Stefan became his father's right hand.


From a very early age, Stefan was involved with helping on deck. As he grew older and stronger he gradually took on more responsibilities and became his father's right hand.

I took care of Oliver and most of the household tasks - dishes, cleaning, laundry.

Heiko did most of the shopping in the early years, and later Stefan and I helped with this too. I was mainly in charge of organizing the stocks into the appropriate lockers etc.

Oliver helped, fetching and carrying things for his father, brother, myself, and did things like "the galley hatch" which is the name which evolved due to the container with vegetable peelings etc. being put out of the galley hatch in order for someone to throw the contents overboard while at sea!

Stefan has become quite good at sewing. He was always involved helping his dad with sail and awning projects. Later he wanted to make bags for his collection of darts, etc., and knife sheaths for his collection of knives, etc. He managed quite well and since being home continues to do various projects to contain his many hobbies.

Oliver was our 'fire man'.
My children grew up around water and fires! They love both.

To this day Oliver remains our 'fire man' and is always responsible for building the fire for a barbecue or braai as we call it here in Africa.

Stefan remains a keen fisherman and provides us still with crayfish and the occasional fish too though they are harder to find here.

He is also responsible for our more exotic fish dishes, like squid, or cutting fish really paper thin... great life skills.

6. A great moment?

There are so many special stories and incidents we shared, it is difficult to choose one that captures the best of cruising as a family.

One experience, though best forgotten, still brings goose bumps to my skin and will never fade from my memory.

Oliver's wave

We had a traumatic experience in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador (following instructions of a compulsory pilot on board!), when we ended up on a sandbank in rough conditions.

As a result of being continuously and fiercely pounded onto the sandbank for what seemed like a lifetime (but was only a matter of minutes) our rudder jammed and we were immobilized. Without steering control, we were left to the mercy of the pilot boat to get us off the bank and back into the safety of the channel. The pilot boat was not much help either, and in the end a fisherman came to our rescue.

Despite the shock and chaos of the moment, Stefan hung himself over the back of the boat in order to manipulate our wind-steering rudder with his foot. He is so my hero, this lad - so capable, though cursing like (his mother?) a sailor at the time!

Stefan's efforts helped give us some steerage. For a time it seemed we would be wrecked on the nearby rocks.

At some point during the drama going on, Oliver took himself down below. I was later instructed to go below and get our boat papers etc. in case we needed to abandon our boat. While doing this, I noticed Oliver calmly lying on his bed reading, as if nothing unusual/stressful was going down; he had complete trust in his father and elder brother to sort out the mess we were in.

The fishing boat came to our rescue, and we were dragged into the channel and then up the river to the safety of a mooring in the anchorage there.

On a lighter note, we had (for about 3 months) 2 live chickens aboard.

They were named Port and Starboard (Port was red and we though of 'food colouring' Starboard but never did!), and attracted quite a lot of attention to our boat!

They were given to us by a couple in Tobago who became like family to us. The idea was that we would have fresh eggs each day and then eat the chickens when we were fed up with eggs! (Yeah right!)

I decided they would become 'free range' chickens because it seemed cruel to have them cooped up in their cage, which we had built at the back of the boat. The chickens loved walking about the boat, but of course, they pooped every three steps, so it became a rather messy affair. I had never taken on deck scrubbing till that point, and soon the novelty wore off along with the poop.

Still it was great fun for a while. Lots of yachties popped by to enquire about the unusual pets. One lady published an article about them for a European magazine. They produced an egg each morning and that was lovely for a while, but mostly they just became our pets, and we grew rather fond of them.

One day, Starboard went onto the bowsprit (naughty girl, ignored the rules) and fell overboard. Luckily we were at anchor and Stefan quickly jumped in and rescued her. Meanwhile poor Port nearly had a fit until her friend was back safely aboard, freshly rinsed and dried. We never realised before what characters they are, and I would recommend them if not for the mess they create.

Eventually though it all became too much, and they were given to a land-based child. (No way were we going to eat them - come on - who shall we have for dinner - Port or Starboard - get real!) Unfortunately they did not last long on land, as a mongoose got into the coop and gobbled them up!




Quite often you find yourself with a passenger on board.
We even had a pelican stay for about 3 days
- though that was at anchor.

We love animals - any animals and that was a fantastic aspect for us.

Wherever we went, we kind of adopted beach strays along the way or at least befriended the ones we were never to see again. Often friends would pop in to visit on board and bring their pets along. The children even got to take care of a yachtie's dog for a day while they went off on an outing the dog could not. When we were rafted with a friend's boat, his cat came over and spent plenty time on board our boat and came and went as he pleased!

Quite often you find yourself with a passenger on board. They stay for the night, rest for a few hours, and usually leave with the first rays of the sun.

Sometimes they die - exhausted after having been blown out to sea. We did our best to accommodate these and worried about them when they left.

In Blanquilla, Venezuela, Heiko managed to catch a sparrow that had flown into the cockpit, and take a burr out of its head (close to the eye). The bird rested after that, took a drink of water from a lid we had placed nearby and took off with a loud thank-you sort of a chirp just before sunset! On two separate occasions sparrows which arrived on board while we were in transit made themselves comfortable on Heiko's head and nestled into his hair (and he doesn't have a great deal of hair, so I just don't get that one!)

7. How did you handle: HEALTH and SAFETY?

Keeping the kids safe aboard

We have a strong railing and netting around the boat which made it safer to keep anyone from falling over the side.

  • One rule was that no children were allowed on the bowsprit (which did not have netting) without adult supervision while underway.

  • Another rule was that nobody was 'allowed' to hurt themselves! Fishing gear, knives and other equipment had to be handled with care and responsibility.

    We did of course have the occasional incident, like the time, while at anchor at Espirito de Santos an island off Panama, when Heiko got a fish hook stuck in his shoulder. (It was a home-made lure that had been painted. It had been hung out to dry on our ratlines, and Heiko had not noticed it there!). He and Stefan had to get help from a neighbouring yacht, as our cutting tool was a bit blunt to cut the hook. Once the hook was out, we returned to the island of Contadora in order to see a doctor and have a tetanus shot!

  • We introduced our kids to swimming and playing in the water from an early age.

    Oliver was lucky to have nice tropical conditions, so he was in there from the beginning.

    Stefan only really got into swimming once aboard. From the first stop in St Helena, he went for it and never looked back. While in Fortaleza, Brazil, Sally and Jon of s/v Argonauta taught him the basics, at the lovely swimming pool there. He is very comfortable and capable in the water today and continues to do hull cleans, check mooring lines etc. when necessary- a very useful life skill for people involved with boats.

    My boys never wore water wings and did not appreciate having them on. Because they had lots of experience in and around the water, they usually followed their instincts or remembered instructions. Mostly they were not afraid of being in the water or out of their depth, so they were fine, and I had confidence that they would manage, should they tumble in.

    Once, when Oliver was about 2 years old; he took a slide down the railing (of a swimming pool) and plunged under the water.

    He did a slow-motion somersault and popped up before anyone had a chance to react. I had a cool drink in one hand and a plate of cake in the other at the time and just kept my eyes on him and noticed how calmly he resurfaced!

    Someone fished him out and handed him to me then; I held him close for a moment and had a quick, reassuring (mostly for me I think!), hug and then he went off to play again.

  • Heiko does not believe in insurance. Our boat was never insured; his insurance was being alert and doing things right!


    While at sea however I was paranoid about anyone falling over - mostly Heiko, because who the heck would sail the boat if he went over?

    Well Stefan, of course, and he would probably have been able to rescue Heiko too. (My standard 'joke' or jab at the time was to suggest that, even if I could have done the 'man-overboard' rescue thing, I most likely would have been sorely tempted to let the man swim for awhile!)

Caring for the kids in rough weather

When things got really rough while out at sea, we remained in the cockpit or down below. While moving about on deck trimming sails etc., we moved with caution and used common sense to stay safe.

Keeping the kids healthy, getting medical care

We had a first aid kit with all kinds of medicine in case of emergencies.

The worst we usually suffered from was the odd cold or flu, stomach upset and the occasional cut or light injury. We were lucky not to have many health issues, while eating the local fresh products and living as best we could from the sea.

Oliver, having been on board from the age of 3 days, had to go for various inoculations and this was mostly taken care of in Trinidad at the clinics provided.

Stefan once managed to get a barbel (fish barb) in his foot. Luckily, Heiko managed to get it out. Stefan had to keep his foot in very hot water, and we also used vinegar to treat it. There were no complications, and all healed ok.

Heiko got a huge sea urchin spine embedded in his foot once. He also on two occasions suffered a burst eardrum while surfing. He survived!


What was it like being pregnant out sailing and having your baby in a foreign country?

Health care

I did suffer a bit from the morning sickness, sea sickness and generally being "sick and tired!" It was difficult being hot all the time, especially in the later months as I grew a big belly.

Other than that it was all fine. Eating fresh fish, breathing fresh air, getting plenty of exercise and finding myself in paradise certainly are what kept me healthy, strong and positive!

  • I had my first scan while in St Helena. Some lovely stranger let me use her phone, and she set up a doc appointment while we were there. I saw an elderly South African woman doctor who then handed me on to a local man who did the actual scan. They were very supportive and helpful and in the end did not even charge me for the appointments! I was very amazed by their generosity and kindness.

    Also the scan suggested Oliver would be born on the 23rd and he arrived on the 21 October! (but then I knew it would be accurate being previously advised by my great home doc when having Stefan, that the first scan is usually right!)

  • In Tobago I went for another scan with a doctor there, who urgently suggested that I stop clambering up waterfalls and such and settle down "because, in case I had not noticed, I was pretty much very pregnant!" He was convinced that Oliver was due sooner, and we rushed off to Trinidad - where it was suggested be a better place to have a baby than the hospital in Tobago.

  • Stefan rows his pregnant mother ashore to the TTSA in Trinidad a few weeks before Oliver was born!
  • In Trinidad I was introduced to a place called AMICUS Maternity Centre. It is a full service centre born in 1970. It has a great, efficient and loving staff who certainly made me comfortable, it offers the choice of obstetrician or mid-wife delivery, and they are on 24-hour call with an obstetrician/ gynecologist. They also gave me all the check-ups etc, (that is from when I arrived there at about 7 months) required during pregnancy. The AMICUS staff consists of registered nurses and licensed midwives with international qualifications and professional experience.



    When a yachtie girl-friend with transport came to take us back to the TTSA and home to my boat, the midwife who was holding Oliver at the time, refused to hand him over to me unless I sat in the back seat of the car - to be sure of his safety. So sweet. Very professional!

    I loved them all and kept in touch with my professional midwife Simone for some years afterward and even saw her occasionally at the beach in Tobago Mount Irvine when she later came there with her own child.

  • I used to take a bus from the anchorage in Mt Irvine, Tobago (about 10 minutes drive) to Plymouth, where I used a small clinic to have Oliver's inoculations done. Sometimes I visited the clinic in the capital of Tobago, Scarborough - these services were all at no charge, and the people I dealt with were friendly and very efficient.

Being pregnant and raising a baby aboard is a wonderful experience.

I was not really a very happy person re: the sailing, and also my relationship with Heiko at the time was strained, to put it mildly. Still I would immediately cut loose and head for the sea if I were to be pregnant again. (At the age of 50, I somehow doubt that is going to happen though!)

Seriously - it is wonderful having time and space - no phones, no fuss, just you, your family and the baby - time to bond, time to get used to sleepless nights, time to reflect, ACTUALLY THE WHOLE CURE TO ANYTHING RELATED - TIME!

I would have loved to have my mom, of course, but had support and love from so many folk along the way - especially Simone Bothma, and my crazy doctor friend Petra Derington.

This latter lady is another walking saint as far as I am concerned and definitely saved my sanity on a number of occasions. She took care of me during my pregnancy (we met in St Helena when I was pretty fed up and ready to book a passage home!) She has a great sense of humour and helped me put things back into some kind of perspective when I got distraught or hot and bothered.

Between these two special ladies, THEY LOVED AND LAUGHED ME through the hard times, and we remain firm friends forever!

8. How did you handle: EDUCATION and FULFILLMENT?


We used the American correspondence course: CALVERT SCHOOL.

Our only complaint is that it only goes to grade 8.

Excepting for grade one, we did not take the more expensive option of having the work monitored. It was difficult for us, due to being on the move and still rather ‘technically challenged', to have assignments ready and sent back to be marked and returned.

With hindsight, I would go about it differently as we do not have any certificates now to prove that Stefan has had any education other than grade one!

However it is a very comprehensive course and well worth using, and they also now have an online system, which makes it a lot easier. This has been available for some time, but we were not quite that organized at the time and only got into Internet late in the game!

Sometimes on long passages we had to do some school work too. It is not easy in the heat of the day but we found ways to make it comfortable on deck, and I quite enjoyed this part of cruising too.

At first I was by far too concerned about going about schooling in a very formal way.

It took me time to adjust, but in the end the school day became a lot less formal. With Oliver of course, Stefan having been (as is the fate of all first born babies) 'the guinea pig'. It worked out a lot less stressful as he was kind of eased into the first three years of schooling without really being aware that he was being 'schooled'. Indirect education works the best - so easy, so much fun and very effective.

Being a Montessori Pre-school teacher was a useful tool up my sleeve, and I enjoyed the space and time to 'experiment' and apply what I could of my experience. I enjoy this kind of thing and have endless photos of the various 'school oriented' things I kept myself amused with.

Stefan is due to do a skipper's course soon and is presently employed by his father. They do boat tours with a catamaran we have acquired since being back home.

Friendships and social interactions

We were fortunate to leave in the company of another family.

Martin, Lesley and Daniela of s/v Jadie, had been close friends for many years before we all finally made our cruising dream a reality. Initially Heiko and Martin had considered getting a boat together. Their daughter is a year younger than our Stefan, so it was fun cruising together with them for quite a few months. We eventually went off in different directions and only met up with them again later on in the adventure.

Another couple, Steven and Toya of s/v Cheers, whom we have also known forever, eventually also got out onto the cruising grounds, and we had many wonderful times reuniting with them. They are still cruising but currently visiting in Namibia, so once again we are enjoying their company, rehashing the good times we shared.

You miss your home-based families and friends; sadly you even loose some. That is just life, but it seems harder then, as you are so very far away in another world.

Yachties form 'seafaring families'.

We spent many happy times with fellow yachties
at Contadora, Panama.
Birthday party at Hog Island, Grenada
(Photo: s/v ALLI NUI)

But you meet very interesting and talented people like Donna Lange, Eileen Quinn, David of Epicurus and sailor/author/musician - Fatty Goodlander. You make friends and bump into them in various ports!

We met and befriended quite a lot of musicians along the way, some of them really talented, too. I finally started to come out of my shell and began enjoying the jams with these people on various beaches, boats and other venues.

Yachties form 'seafaring families', providing support structures, friendship, love and caring for one another. Your children meet friends, and their parents become your friends too, so you just hang on in a certain anchorage for a bit longer to enjoy their company. Sometimes you meet again somewhere along the way; sometimes you never see them again. Listen to Eileen Quinn's "Time to Move On" lyrics - "a sailor has a restless heart. What draws us close - pulls us apart."

You meet such a variety of people, all striving to 'do their thing in the sun', and you realize you are not particularly special or unique out there. Certainly there are a lot of other folk doing just what you are, but each of us has his own way of experiencing things and a story to tell. It is sad moving on and mostly never again meeting the friends you met. Still you do also often reunite, and then a friend you made a few months or years back is a welcome sight, and a get-together or even a party is probably in the cards!

So many beautiful people out there. We enjoyed them all and miss them still.

The children met up with other children and always managed to have a good time.

Stefan was a shy child and at first found it difficult to make friends. However, he soon learned to get over his shyness and take the opportunity to make friends while they were in the same anchorage, before they or we moved on elsewhere! He was taken on by the older children when he first started socializing out there on the water and had invites to boats, to homes ashore (Grenada), and even to outings like the circus.

Oliver was a lot more confident and sociable from the start and just grew up into it; he never knew it any other way. He was luckier finding children of his own age, but Stefan made do and acted the "big brother" to the younger children.

This he learned from the children who showed consideration and took him on when he was younger and in need of a friend – and so children teach one another and themselves truly important lessons to last them a lifetime.

Both of them made friends and today, thanks to internet and Facebook etc. are still in touch with some of them.

We basically spent 7 years in the Caribbean, where Oliver was born, allowing him time to grow up and hoping that I would better cope once we moved on again.

  • Tobago's Mount Irvine became our 'home away from home'.

    We became very close with one local couple, Kay and Bertram, who took us on and into their home and became like extended family to us.

    Their little blue shop became our second home in Tobago.


    We often had barbecues or "COOKS" at that beach with Kay and Bertram very often providing the food (unless of course we had fish!) and us providing their guests with entertainment. It amazed them how the children would eventually just settle down and sleep on the Hobie cat or on a towel on the sand and snooze till we had to get back to our boat.

    Then Stefan would be woken up to swim out and get our dinghy which was anchored just a bit off the shore break. He would do so each time, half asleep and usually without complaint, wrap a towel around himself afterwards, while Heiko and I gathered gear and baby and hopped on and then rode back to the boat. There we dusted the sand off baby and put him to bed. We had it all quite well worked out - family team effort and well worth it every time!

    On only one of these occasions did we have a mishap with a wave washing over the entire boat as we took off. This drenched all of us, including our fast-asleep baby Oliver! He just grabbed a ‘boob' nestled closer and had a good drink all the way back to the boat – not phased at all by being soaking wet!

  • We also loved Grenada's Hog Island, which is a paradise for yachtie children.

    Nick Goodchild, Stefan and Oliver
    sailing in Grenada - Hog Island
    (Photo: Hutch of s/y AMBIA)
    (Photo: s/v ALLI NUI)


    This was our other Caribbean home bay. We were either at Hog Island or Mount Irvine for 7 years! (with a bit of other in between; we went north as far as St Martin for a bit, though we found it too expensive for our budget.)

    A lot of families spent long periods of time there, because it was just so perfect for young children.

    The beach is safe and easily accessible, and there are always a lot of children around, who soon team up and have the time of their lives acquiring social skills while playing games involving water, sand, forest trails, trees, bows, arrows, fishing, sailing, rowing, and experimenting with shelters, fires and food, etc.!

Keeping the kids entertained

Oliver and Stefan playing on the beautiful blue!   Kiting - play time for Stefan and Heiko


Boat children games!
Stefan created a suit of armour for Oliver out of a box which had contained our new toilet!   Monopoly with the children
from s/v LILY MAID


Boat children go up the mast, spiral down the stays like firemen, play on the ratlines, dive over the side, row/drive dinghies, make fires on the beach, use knives and machetes to cut and prepare, then cook their own food. Quite often they find the food they cook - fish, land crabs...

The yellow balloon

I remember one Xmas having somehow badly timed or planned things, having only a yellow balloon to give to Oliver for a gift. He was quite little then and played happily with it for days on end; quite blissfully oblivious to the load of gifts most kids get for these occasions.

Our policy was to get them the things they needed, like flippers, goggles, swim/sun wear, wetsuits, hats, etc. as they needed them and just bake a cake and enjoy a special meal on the day.

We encouraged our children to read rather than rely on television for entertainment and set the example by doing so ourselves. We were not much into partying or socializing, although of course there were times we enjoyed those things, too. Mostly we lived within our financial limits, very simply, hanging out together as a family, rather than being tourists.

We had a DVD player on board eventually, but on a boat you can only enjoy that when there is enough power being generated. So either the engine should be running, or the wind howling, sometimes you might even have to be sailing! But we found ways and got a fair share of that.

The boys got quite constructive and inventive with their Lego games and still enjoy messing about on Lego projects these days. They had much inspiration from Hutch of s/y Ambia. He is a single handler and also gave Stefan quite a bit of help and encouragement sailing a dinghy in the earlier days.

In Ecuador and also New Zealand we encountered grandparent yachties who, in the first instance, offered to take Oliver to see a giant tortoise (He loved it and enjoyed the grandparenting experience. I think this wonderful lady rather enjoyed it too.). And, on a different occasion, another lady in New Zealand took a whole group of cruising kids first to the circus and then to a dinner! It is amazing how many sweet and generous folk there are out there on the water; some of them will never be forgotten.

Oliver is a bookworm personified - read read read...

I am not complaining, but his father and brother harass him endlessly to get a life away from books.

Crossing Lake Gatum, Panama Canal - Oliver and our line handler Vladimar reading


Going through the Panama canal we had two line handlers aboard for the night. They were "Dracula" and Vladimar - both of them very polite and friendly. We bedded them down - Dracula being older on Oliver's bunk and Vladimar in the saloon. They loved it. The younger guy - Vladimar - really got into our books.

Oliver was obsessed with reading then, as he had just figured out that he could, and it was actually a battle to get him outside to come and see everything, as he was so absorbed in his first real 'read'!

Personal space aboard

Our personal space worked itself out:

  • Heiko spent most of his time in the cockpit area - usually keeping an eye on things outside (weather conditions, traffic, fishing lines, and children), while at the same time reading a book or working on some project.

  • Stefan and Oliver were out with the sailing dinghy - to the beach, fishing, snorkeling - or swimming over the side of the boat, playing on deck, lazing about in hammocks, or playing inside at the saloon table, in their cabin or on the bed in our cabin.

  • I spent a great deal of time in our cabin - also on the bed which took up most of the space - working on correspondence to family and friends on the computer, on the guitar, or sorting through school projects, etc.

Family back home and their concerns

Day sail from Mt Irvine to Charlottesville, Tobago with my mom Beryl Hockey


The hardest part for me – and in fact the reason we came home – was the constant longing and concern for family back home.

We and they could not afford to visit often. In the 11 years out there, we flew home twice. Once I went alone with my sons, and the second time Heiko came with us. It was simply too expensive!

My mother is the only one who managed to find the finances and time to come out and spend 3 weeks on board with us. By her reckoning we had found a new home in Tobago, and she was determined to come and check it out for herself!

I regret the time my mother and my children did not spend together. They kept in touch via letters and later e-mail. Although it was hard for my mom, she coped well and never held it against us, but I am glad to be closer at hand again.

9. How did you handle: TASKS and CHORES

Hair cuts on bowsprit - Dad is a SUPERDAD! HE CAN DO ANYTHING!!!


I seldom used a laundry as such, as we could not afford it. Usually I did a bucket of washing a day and managed to keep up with it this way.

In Venezuela we used the laundry as it was very convenient. We used to take it ashore and leave it there at the office in Porlamar, and Juan, who ran things, would take it away and return it the next day to be collected and paid for.

In New Zealand and Australia we took advantage of the washing machines provided.

Clean-up and daily maintenance of the boat

I took care of the household things, while Heiko, Stefan and Oliver did most of the maintenance. I sometimes helped too with things like painting. When we were on the hard, we pulled together as a family and did what needed to be done, because we could not afford to pay for help.

Feeding the family, nutrition and cooking

My boys fished day and night,
in transit or at anchor.
  Smoked fish - Heiko built a smoker
and we used it very often.


My boys fished day and night, in transit or at anchor. We never wasted a thing and ate like kings.

If the boat was moving slowly at night, it was a great time to try for squid. I was told to watch the line when on my watch and did not particularly enjoy this ... Still I did once catch a huge squid (our biggest ever!) and freaked out because really I would have preferred to let this, glittering, pulsing creature go free. I put it in the bucket, and my boys were very proud of me the next morning! We quite often had fried squid for breakfast on these occasions! This is an aspect of sailing we all miss a lot.

Great walk and good foraging in Tonga!

Other than fish - which we ate very often of course (at one stage we ate fish for 2 years without ever buying meat, chicken etc.! I miss it now but must admit there were times I took all that fish for granted!), we ate the usual things.  We tried to shop mainly for fruit and vegetables at the markets but did, of course, go to the supermarkets, too. 

I am not a particularly enthusiastic cook, but my family and friends love my pizzas. 

Sprouting lentils is a good idea, and my little boys loved them.

We loved living out the 'Robinson Crusoe' thing and doing stuff like "foraging" for food and snacks; sometimes we got lucky and found a lot of some particular fruit. In the Pacific we found a huge patch of mint. I picked a lot of it and made mint sauce, which came in handy when we reached New Zealand – all those lovely lamb chops made a great change from fish everyday and the mint sauce was great too!

10. What did you like BEST / LEAST about cruising?



    Having time
    Being together with your family - father included
  • What I loved about cruising was not having to wear a watch or keep to a schedule. We never had a deadline to be anywhere (except of course when flying home etc., and having to get there on the right day and at the correct time!). Time - just to decide on the spur of the moment to do something etc.

    We never really appreciated how much time we had while out there, only when you are back home racing to stick to times, dates, schedules, deadlines... do you realize how laid-back the life style was.

  • Another great thing was always being together with your family - father included and having him there to be a real part in each and everyday things, dealing with raising a family. It takes so much pressure off a mother to have her hubby on hand all the time. It is also great to be able to share the moments that some working parents - not just dads, often miss and have their child minders experience instead of themselves!

  • One last thing I loved is never having to worry about locking the door. We learned early in the game to always close hatches - even on a bright and sunny day, because it can and does change fast, and the next thing you know there is a tropical downpour from a five-minute-before clear sky!

    Locking the door was never necessary for us except when in Venezuela, where we were careful because there is a big crime problem, and you don't ever even leave your dinghy in the water or expect the motor to be gone by the morning. So yes, time, no keys to worry about (where the heck are my keys! - only happened once we returned back home).

  • And then of course meeting wonderful people, experiencing new cultures and the breathtaking beauty of our planet - just waiting to be explored!


  • Heiko loves fishing, reading and the wide open space and freedom from the rat race.

    He is a hardworking kind of guy and continued to always be busy with some project or the other; still he did find a lot of time to read, fish and simply relax.

  • He enjoyed being around the kids and having the time to pass on knowledge etc., teaching them practical life skills and seeing the results.

(He would still be out there if he had had a choice, but after 11 years of it, we needed to earn some money, and he had a lot of pressure from me that enough was enough! As long as there were places to go and fish in the ocean, Heiko loved being out there and was completely at ease with it all.)

Stefan and Oliver

    The kids had a great time exploring
    and messing about salvaging things on a wreck at Beveridge Reef, Niue.


  • My kids loved the freedom to drive the 'car' (sail, row, drive the dinghy) to various beaches to explore.

  • The freedom also of doing school more or less at their leisure - we tried to have some sort of routine, but no uniform, no problem to have a dip in the ocean when hot or tired of school work - etc.

  • I think they also really appreciated having both their parents on hand.

  • They also enjoyed meeting the various characters along the way - fishermen with stories to tell; that kind of thing.



  • I did not enjoy the passages, as they always made me anxious. This, unfortunately, got more exaggerated rather than less so, in the later years despite that generally I coped better.
    I am an “anchor-er” not a sailor.

  • Being at sea in rough conditions and feeling seasick!

  • Getting stuck on the occasional reef or sandbank!


Probably the transit time I enjoyed the most was leaving Bonaire and heading for Panama.

Turned out that the rules had changed and we now needed visas for this Dutch island. We got 24 hours to shop and restock and leave, so we did not argue but got on with it and left.

Fabulous (not sailing) en-route to Panama - was I happy - yes sir!- just breathtaking conditions - I certainly am not a "thrill" person - everyone to his own delights; this was my kind of cruising(I exercised while on watch, sang my heart out, suntanned, relaxed - all the stuff folk ashore think we do all the time - and was not afraid for a moment!)

None of us were too charmed and although the weather looked great, there was no wind!

Well... We had no wind at all - the sea was a huge flat beautiful lake with reflections of clouds on it.

I took lots of photos of my own smiling face, because I was so tickled by the situation. We knew a family who had crossed this piece of water in radical conditions and their boat turned over. They limped into Panama - luckily ok despite their horrible experience.

So we were a bit nervous and then we had the opposite situation - so lucky indeed, even though it was costly on fuel!

It makes Heiko mad that I tend to forget these moments that I treasure and harp on the scary ones instead.

The fact is that most women are programmed to be cautious; and when there is absolutely nothing to worry about - it is great. Problem is the bad things hang around to haunt you, and I started to become quite paranoid for example after the Bahia de Caraquez scenario.

The thing is you never know when a big surprise is around the corner... one minute you are in paradise having a lovely relaxing arrival after a long time at sea. Next you are in big trouble! Not fair, not your fault, but now you have to deal with a situation.

Our arrival at Bahia de Caraquez in Ecuador is a very bad memory, best forgotten (reported by the Seven Seas Cruising Association Bulletin). However, I now look at the photos we took while there and realize that despite what happened, we still had a good time there. The fresh fruit and beautiful roses, the yachties who were very supportive of the situation we found ourselves in (some of whom insisted on reporting it to the magazine, as they felt the facts should be told!); as well as some of the local people we met there were very much appreciated. In the end even that misadventure worked out just fine, and the next stop was the Galapagos Islands, one of the greatest adventures that we had much anticipated since leaving home ...

Oh what bliss it was for almost a month of just lazing, sunning, preening, dreaming, watching my brood doing their things around me.

My hubby and Stefan were not that charmed however as it meant we had to motor all the way - a thing we could but did not want to do! It burned all the fuel we had bought cheaply in Venezuela - well almost all.

We put the sails up briefly at one point for perhaps a half an hour - I was in cruising heaven!

I spent a great deal of time on the roof of our wheelhouse - doing what we woman need to do - preening... what luxury - lying naked under a lovely hot sun, (not all day of course, but to borrow a line from one of Eileen Quinn's songs "in the middle of nowhere I am safe and sound" and from another of her songs which I feel she wrote just with me in mind...; " and you won't find a 'tan line' anywhere on me!")

11. Has cruising changed your family? How about the transition back to land?

Back to Cape Town!!!! Boat is back where she started out! Although our journey really began in Lüderitz.

Has cruising changed our family?

Cruising as a family healed us.

It took time to work out how to live together in a small space, but we worked it out and formed a very strong bond. The family time and experiences we have shared will be forever with us and unifies us in a way no other experience so far has.

The transition back to land?

  • We all miss the lifestyle and long for certain aspects of it, yet we have all adjusted quite happily and well to life ashore.
    I think we will someday have to go back and do some sailing in warm waters once again, but for now we are quite busy with land lives and all the usual things that entails: social life, school, work, gadgets and the rat race! We were all quite ready for a land fix and have managed the transition quite easily.

  • The most difficult thing to adjust to is the lack of time - especially time together as a unit. We still share family time, but we have gone on to do our own things, and it is not quite the same as being stuck on a boat together!

Our Stefan made the news! (scan of a local newspaper - The New Era - August 31, 2010)
  • Stefan learned so much and is so capable, but in the end he was eager for company of his own age and a break from the responsibilities of being his father's right hand and taking care of me!

    He misses the fishing and water activities a lot but still makes the effort to get out here. He continues to provide food - now in the form of lots of crayfish, when in season and the occasional fish to be caught here too. He is an expert on a lot of fish and how to deal with each aspect of the catch! Nobody can cut a finer sushi.

    He has also continued with his kiting and is about to compete in the world speed kiting event (Lüderitz Speed Challenge) due to take place right here in Lüderitz in October!

  • Oliver had never experienced land life and was quite keen to do so.

    He misses the lifestyle, too, but is more of a bookworm and indoor-type than his brother.

    He does not particularly enjoy our cold water (in Namibia) but does still enjoy the occasional day at the beach.

Without a doubt, if I could survive 11 years of cruising and look back with longing and nostalgia, then really anyone could do it!

So many women think that I must have been terribly “brave” to have lived on a boat for 11 years and sailed the 7 seas.

The truth is that I had the adventure of my life and shared 11 wonderful years of bonding with my family.

I should have accepted from the start (from when the idea first came up!) that I would never be a good sailor. Heiko and I discussed it years before we even dared to dream that we would eventually sail around the world. We both realized way back that I was “not the type of person who would cope with sailing a boat”.

My talents and strengths lie in other departments – mother, pre-school teacher, musician. I can rough and tough it out better than most woman I know, because I have never desired make up, hair styles or the latest fashions. I am proud, stubborn and ferocious when it comes to my family, but not brave.

Also I never was and am still not in the least bit interested in the challenges of “sailing a boat”. I am not a very “independent” personality, hate shopping, stocking, working out and sticking to a budget, and I do not have the kind of career that earns big money. I am not at all interested in the challenge of getting us from A to B, and starting out pregnant and then having a newborn baby aboard did not help matters.

I was in love with a boy who wanted to do something which to my mind seemed wild and outrageous. There were many times that I seriously contemplated giving it all up. I knew from the very first sailing trip that I was not going to be a good sailor, but stubbornness and love prevailed, and I hung in there for 11 years.

Eventually I needed to call it a day. There are a lot of aspects which contributed to this decision. I missed my family and was becoming bitter for not having had enough time and interaction with them, and I just never ever did get into the sailing.

I eventually coped well enough with cooking, cleaning, and entertaining myself while at sea without being horribly sick or miserable, but, really, in the end we were also all becoming just a little bit “jaded” with it all.

My husband is a wonderful caring person and the best father a child could wish for, but when it came to teaching me the ropes, he was not particularly patient, and I, on the other hand, was not as quick on the uptake. We had huge personal issues from before we started, and things were quite unpleasant at times for a number of years, with me struggling with seasickness, fear, etc. If I had better applied myself and wanted to learn to sail a boat, I am sure it would have been easier. However I did not, and I remain fairly ignorant regarding a lot of aspects of sailing a boat!

Still, I did learn to cope without being physically ill and even managed to feel quite comfortable and well a lot of the time towards the end of our cruise. I could cope with being down below in almost any conditions, but I did not at all cope with being on deck in bad conditions when my assistance would at times have been handy.

However my children learned these lessons a lot better than I and managed to become quite competent both inside or on deck. Stefan is a very capable seaman, despite also being occasionally prone to seasickness and also being a sensitive person like me. Oliver remained fairly indifferent to the whole adventure having just grown up into it. He enjoys being ashore now and is doing very well at school and having a social life.


All questions

12. One of your favorite quick, handy recipes for cruising families?

Fish is what we were experts at. Stefan is still the one who prepares most of our fish dishes! Eating ceviche, sushi and fish biltong (jerky) was our favourite.


  • You need tuna (or any other pelagic fish) cut into small pieces (chunks).
  • Add vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar and lots of garlic
  • Let it stand for a bit then enjoy – goes well with fresh bread.
Fish biltong


  • Cut light-meated (well bled!) pelagic fish (yellowfin tuna, albacor or wahoo is best) into extremely thin slices.
  • Have bowls with vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce and wasabi available to dip the fish into. Enjoy as is or with bread.

Fish Biltong

  • Cut the fish - any pelagic fish (wahoo, tuna) - into thin strips.
  • Spice the fish well with a mixture of salt and fresh coriander seeds.
  • Let it lie in a bowl for a few hours to soak in, and then hang out to dry. We used to thread fishing line through it to make it easier to hang it than using individual hooks. Take it inside at night, and return to dry each day.
  • It can be eaten immediately, and ours hardly lasted long enough to dry out! Simply the best!!





About the STENELLA family

Who was aboard?

Heiko, Diane, Stefan and Oliver

What kind of boat did you have?

Steel Schooner - 15.3 m (50 ft) overall

When we started out we were a staysail schooner, but our sail plan was changed along the way and now we are just a schooner!

Where have you sailed?


Where did you start out?

We bought the boat in Cape Town and sailed her to Lüderitz, Namibia.

Eventually – 2 years later, we sailed to Walvis Bay, Namibia. In Walvis Bay, we finalized our stocking up and other odds and ends, said farewell to my parents, who lived there at the time, and discovered 2 weeks before embarking on this huge adventure, that we had another passenger ‘pending'!

We started the cruising lifestyle proper from there. We stopped at too many places to mention them all, but here is the basic route: St Helena, Ascension Island, Fernando de Noronha, Fortaleza, Belem, French Guinea, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, up the chain as far as Antigua, Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador, Galapagos, Marquesas, Tuamotos, Cook Islands – Raratonga, Beveridge Reef, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand - North & South Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Torres Strait, Darwin Australia, Christmas Island, Cocos Keeling, Mauritius, past Madagasgar, Durban, Plettenberg Bay, Cape Town, Lüderitz.

How long did you cruise?

11 years.

How old were the kids when you started?

Stefan was 6 when we started.

Oliver was our “stowaway”! I was 7 months pregnant when we reached the Caribbean and he was born in Diego Martin, Trinidad!

Where are you now?

Back where we started in Lüderitz

What's next?

Right now we are “Landlubbing!”

Heiko was asked to assist someone to strip a damaged catamaran of anything still of value to the previous owner and in payment he received the boat. He and Stefan then restored the catamaran Zeepaard and now do tours in the bay to earn a living. Stefan is a great seaman, a natural tour guide and will soon be doing a skippers course. He is doing very well, and I am very proud of the man he is fast becoming!

Heiko and Stefan also renovated our backyard flat and turned it into self-catering accommodation. This has proved to be a very popular place for tourists to stay while visiting Lüderitz.

Oliver is a ‘bright' student at Brightstart Montessori Elementary (he is doing grade 6 and 7 work), and doing exceptionally well. He has made some good friends and continues to be a ‘bookworm'! I am very proud of my ‘little' man too!

I am once again, employed as a pre-school teacher at Brightstart Montessori Pre-school. I no longer own the school. It has in my absence been developed into an elementary school and continues to grow – next year they will have the first grade 9 class! (I am also very proud of this other “child of mine”, who is “all grown up” and a teenager now!)

Your blog or website(s)?

We continue to use our e-mail address: systenella@yahoo.com

Our website for Zeepaard Boat Tours– is still a work in progress, but should be out there soon – go Google ‘boat tours'!

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To leave a comment, email it to Kathy Parsons: kathy@forcruisers.com

1 comment

Tom Williams
Monday, October 04, 2010 2:33 AM

Enjoyed the article you just ran on the Metzger Family on thier special boat, Stenella. We met Diane, Heiko and the boys in Panama, and spent time at anchor with their family in the Perlis Isle of Panama Bay. We experienced a splendid time fishing, mango picking and pulling coconuts out of the palms. What can I say . . . .beautiful people in an azure sea of delight. Thanks again for a wonderful story and now I look forward to reading future articles from you.

Tom and Karen Williams Family, Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico on the S/V Arcticark