Ocean Gem Beneteau 445
Ocean Gem a Beneteau 445 was built in 1992 and was purchased by the current owner, David Hows in 2011 and berthed in Auckland NZ until late 2013, while extensive cruising was undertaken around the top half of New Zealand’s North Island. In November 2013 David sailed Ocean Gem across the Tasman Sea via Norfolk Island to the Gold Coast where Ocean Gem is now located at the Southport Yacht Club SYC where David has competed in more than 250 club races since January 2014. Ocean Gem has had title successes in the QLD Beneteau Cup, Sail Paradise Regatta, the Coffs to Paradise Race and won multiple SYC twilight/offshore series and club championship titles.
Ocean Gem Beneteau 445: she is a 45 foot yacht for the ocean sailing adventure of a lifetime. Whether its a 600nm ocean passage down Australia’s East Coast, a 200 yacht regatta around the Whitsunday Islands, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, a Tasman Sea crossing or circumnavigating Tasmania, why not join Ocean Gem as a paying crew member in one of the limited spots available for each adventure. Find out more about offshore sailing onboard Ocean Gem. Check out the crew testimonials to see what others have to say about their adventures onboard Ocean Gem. Come ocean sailing!
Why should you consider sailing on Ocean Gem?
If you want to become a capable and confident offshore sailor, the best thing you can do is go to sea with experienced skippers on well-prepared yachts. It does not matter how much you have read or how much inshore sailing you have done, going offshore on an ocean going yacht is whole new experience and a key step to preparing the offshore sailor.
David Hows, as your skipper, has completed more than 25,000 nautical miles of coastal and offshore passages, competed in more than 400 yacht races and skippered multiple blue water ocean crossings during the past decade.
Sailing Highlights Ocean Gem
Imagine combining your best school camp experience, with a capable well-organised sailing team and the natural ability for creating team morale, regular humour and a highly personalised experience. Having led teams from 7 to 700 in size on the water, in community organisations and in business, David has the ability to take a bunch of strangers and form a cohesive, friendly, functioning team, in no time at all. To have an exceptional experience on the ocean, you need to be part of a great team.
Safety first onboard Ocean Gem
David has found that the more sea miles he has under his belt from all sorts of conditions, the more his focus on ‘safety first’ has developed. On Ocean Gem he has never spared any expense when it comes to safety equipment, use of technology and boat preparation. You can be confident his safety standards will give you peace of mind when heading offshore on Ocean Gem.
There are countless examples of delivery skippers in the news and on social media who went to sea on a tight schedule, on ill prepared vessels they were unfamiliar with, that they sailed short-handed with one or two “free” delivery crew, then ended up in trouble. These boats often have stressful, poorly prepared voyages, with equipment failure and crews arriving exhausted, swearing never to step aboard a yacht ever again. Choose your skipper and vessel wisely, your life depends upon it.
Experienced Ocean Gem team
Ocean Gem has an experienced team in excess of 20 sailors to draw upon. This group includes experienced sailors, helmsmen, skippers, industry craftsmen and professionals; all of who regularly race onboard Ocean Gem and also complete ocean passages. At any time there is a team of 4-10 onboard depending on the style of race, regatta or passage they are doing. In the past 12 months, the team has collectively sailed Ocean Gem more than 5,000nm, including to north to Hamilton Island, east to Lord Howe Island and south to Sydney and to Hobart within Australia and across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand and back.
Real-time, hands-on training
You will learn more onboard Ocean Gem in just a few days, than you will learn from reading a bunch of sailing books. The hands-on, fast-track learning environment, immerses your straight into offshore sailing. You’ll become confident within hours of getting started and relish the opportunity to learn from the extensive knowledge of those around you. From navigation to sail management and trimming, plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems, watch planning, heavy weather preparation, making landfall and weather analysis; they’ll teach it all in plain, everyday English. Every race, regatta and ocean passage is different and the team always has to adapt to the challenges, conditions and weather they face. You’ll become part of the team and decision-making process, the moment you step aboard.
David’s sailing philosophy
“The more offshore sailing I do, the more I plan for every scenario. As a 24-year-old, I did my Private Pilots License and also completed my Commercial Pilots theory subjects. I chose not to make a career out of flying, but it taught me something I have carried through all of my ocean sailing miles and thats to always have Plan B in the back of my mind. What if we can’t get into that anchorage? What if the engine stops? What if we can’t fix that pump? What if he don’t get there before dark? What if we lose a halyard?… The list can be endless, but my propensity for taking tools and spares that match the risk and expected conditions, has meant we have always had the ability to respond to difficult situations and set backs with a Plan B, that has ensured our safety, sea worthiness and ability to continue our race or our passage safely. Over the years Ocean Gem has become stronger (and heavier) as we have upgraded and updated gear, to ensure we are always ‘match fit’ and ready to face the most extreme conditions.
Confidence in the seaworthiness of your yacht and capability of your team is what gives you confidence and peace of mind at sea. It’s almost never about luck. A successful ocean racer once sailed to me “the good sailors get the good luck”. I respect the ocean, the weather and the power of mother nature. Safety and prevention is always our highest priority. As I learned with flying, many a private pilot has died from “get there-it is” by pushing on ahead into deteriorating weather, because of a rigid deadline. A wise man once said: “There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.” While sailing is a lot more forgiving than aviation, any fool can go to sea.”
Small personalised crew
Ocean Gem takes a maximum of 2-4 paying crew on each ocean passage (plus 1-4 experienced Ocean Gem crew members, to a maximum ocean passage crew of 6. There are bunks for 7 and plenty of room for this number. With a small passage crew, they can more easily meet each person’s specific needs, whether it be more time at the helm, learning navigation or practising sail trimming. On ocean races and regattas, there is a larger crew of 8-10 to meet the demands of competitive round-the-clock racing. There is hot-bunking on ocean races (50% in bunks / 50% on watch) and you will work together on a two-team watch system, to maintain boat speed around the clock.
Ocean Racing Calendar Ocean Gem
- Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: 25 Dec 2019 – 2 Jan 2020
- Brisbane Hamilton Island Yacht Race: 29 July – 5 Aug 2020
- Hamilton Island Race Week: 15 – 23 Aug 2020
- Sydney to Auckland Race: 26 Jan – 10 Feb 2021
Test yourself and discover your potential
When a lot of sailors think about racing; skippers with short tempers, high blood pressure and excessing yelling and screaming come to mind. This picture of a high stress environment, can be etched in our minds from a bad experience earlier in life or just the behaviour we witness at our local yacht club on a windy weekend.
On cohesive, well-trained racing teams this behaviour could not be further from reality. The Ocean Gem racing team that has been shaped and developed over the past 5 years, over the course of 400+ races has created a culture of talented amateur sailors, that work well together and who are crossed trained and able to cover most positions on the boat. When you join this racing team for an ocean race or regatta, you will quickly settle into a role, surrounded by capable team-oriented people who will support and train you to quickly become a contributor to the team.
With the latest in carbon racing sails, racing rigging systems and advanced electronic technology, they are a competitive and consistent performer in local, coastal and long-distance ocean races. You’ll enjoy great team morale, plenty of humour, a comfortable warm dry, bunk and excellent food as you compete in comfort and style on a solid boat you can count on to be reliable. They have picked up plenty of inshore and offshore club championship and regatta titles, won Queensland State titles and won a number of long distance ocean races and its seldom because they have the fastest boat and often because they have a great team that work well together, give it 100% and who refuse to give up when the chips are down. They never give up and often come from behind when others have.
There is nothing more exhilarating than being on the start line with 50 other large yachts as the 5-minute gun goes off… or battling you way around the top mark with your competitors and getting your spinnaker up first… or surfing downwind under spinnaker in 20-30 knots of wind… or winning a long ocean race by just a few seconds and realise you it was that one tack you did a little bit better than the other boat.
They have taken first-time sailors, on day one to racing regatta performers from the get go. Yacht racing is really a bunch of simple steps, carried out in the right order in coordination with the rest of the team. That takes communication, training and a willingness to listen and learn. Thats all.
Ocean passages onboard Ocean Gem
- Southport to Middleton Reef, Elizabeth Reef and Lord Howe Island Passage: 17 – 24 Nov 2019
- Lord Howe Island to Sydney Passage: 23 – 28 Nov 2019
- Tasmania Circumnavigation: 27 Jan – 10 Feb 2020
- Hobart to Picton Tasman Sea Passage: 8 – 22 Mar 2020
- Picton New Zealand to Southport Australia Passage: 12 – 26 April 2020
Feel the fear and do it anyway
By David: “When I first contemplated crossing the Tasman Sea in 2013, I had weeks of sleepless nights. I had read every book possible on sailing disasters and despite the long list of extra spares, tools and equipment to counteract every possible scenario, I felt uneasy until the day I departed. As soon as I cleared customs and cast off the dock-lines, fear quickly turned to excitement as I realised the great adventure that lay ahead. While I had sailed thousands of nautical miles prior to this, I have barely been out of sight of land.
What I discovered in November 2013 was the magic that comes with completing ocean passages. From the deadline driven pressure of the preparation and planning to the sheer wonder that unfolds hone you head to onto the open sea, under the brightest night stars you will ever seas on your own private circular piece of ocean. Your life quickly transforms into planning you next meal, lots of relaxation and sleep, studying what the weather is doing next and the daily tasks and schedule that comes with managing a yacht and crew offshore.
The colours and textures that are created by the sky, sea, wind and sun create a stunning natural kaleidoscope of endless combinations. Whales, dolphins, turtles, fish and sea birds add to the awe that comes with time on the ocean and away from land.”
It’s only once you get away from land that you realise how comfortable being at sea really is. Without land, reefs, rocks, shipping lanes, commercial trawlers and other recreational vessels to worry about, heading offshore and out of sight of anyone or anything for days on end is a feeling of both isolation and empowerment. Offshore blue water sailing in the right conditions is an addictive thing to do. The more you do, the more you realise you can do. Whether its 200m deep or 5,000 metres deep, or you are 10nm or 500nm from the nearest coastline, the view and the conditions are just the same in 10-20 knots. With today’s weather forecasting tools, there is no sound reason for ending up in harms way with good planning and seamanship.
Ocean Gem Crew Package
Your crew package includes:
- all meals onboard
- meals ashore
- accommodation onboard
- your Ocean Gem crew shirt
- marina fees, race entry fees
- the use of a PFD (personal floatation device), PLB (personal locator beacon), and a safety tether
- Your bedding, a pillow and towel is also included along with suncream.
Your crew package excludes:
- accommodation ashore
- flights and transport to and from departure and arrival ports and visas
- clothing and wet weather gear
Its always recommended that you book flights with date flexibility in case of unforeseen changes due to weather or schedules. Accommodation options if you want to stay ashore either side of the trip:
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We hope to see you soon on board Ocean Gem
+31 85 301 56 36