Ocean Child, then named Merea, with boat-builder Adam Baker on the Derwent Estuary, 2010


Ocean Child One:  the adventures of Ocean Child


My name is Jon NevillI: I am a retired environmental scientist, and Ocean Child  is my yacht. Ocean Child One (Ocean Child for short) is an 11m steel Van de Stadt cruising yacht, built by Adam Baker in Brisbane in 1995. Adam, a steelworker by trade, owned the boat until 2010; during this period the boat spent time in Brisbane, Sydney, Devonport and Hobart (Australia). Adam and his wife Kylie raised two young girls on the boat before deciding to sell it and build a larger vessel with more space for the children. I purchased the boat from Adam, and between 2010 and 2013 sailed the boat around Tasmania's coastline within a week or so sailing time from the port of Hobart. There are many beautiful and interesting coastlines in this area.

The vessel is heavy for its size at 9.5 tonne net, and is built for comfort rather than speed. Being heavy and underpowered with a relatively small sail setup, it's a forgiving yacht to sail, just right for a beginner like me. The chines and the position of the mast give the boat a pronounced weather helm, which can be a little annoying at times (especially in gusty conditions) but it is a safe feature. The yacht uses a Yanmar 3QM30(H) 30hp diesel engine, which, while old (1980), has a reputation for reliability.

Adam built the boat with sleeping accommodation for four adults and two children, however the two child bunks in the bow cabin have been removed and replaced by storage, and one of the saloon berths has been shortened when the space heater was fitted. There are two single 'beds' in the saloon, one port and one starboard. By day these are seats. The double bed in the rear cabin is a starboard bed, and is suitable for two persons say 5' 6" tall. The two saloon beds are suitable for persons 5' 4" and 5' 8" tall. When sailing an ocean crossing on a lean, we also use the saloon floor as a bed. The beds have lee sheets, which don't work very well, and lee straps, which work quite well. Unfortunately I cannot provide for crew who need sole use of a private cabin.

For coastal cruising, two people on board is the most comfortable arrangement (skipper and one crew). For an ocean passage, I like to have three including myself - we use the two single berths in the saloon, together with the rear cabin. Four persons are the maximum legal limit, governed by the size of the liferaft.

Ocean Child is a strict 'no smoking' boat; I do not have smokers on board as crew. As for alcohol, we carry very little, so you could almost regard Ocean Child as a 'dry' boat.

Recent travels:


I crossed the Tasman Sea from Hobart to Nelson (south island, New Zealand) departing Australia on December 24 2013, and arriving on January 6, 2014. James Cope and Sacheen Gallop crewed for me on this 1200 nm trip. The boat's genoa furler needed to be rebuilt in a workshop in Port Nelson, so I stayed in Nelson for a month. Nelson is a great little city; I really can't speak highly enough of the services and tradesmen there. Alice joined as crew in mid-January, after James and Sach had left. Alice and I then established a new base in Opua (Bay of Islands, north-eastern NZ) and explored the area until mid-April, when Alice returned to Germany to commence university studies.

I had intended to spend the winter of 2014 in the South Pacific. However on May 19 2014, following a heavy fall, I was admitted to Auckland City Hospital for surgery. I returned to Hobart to recuperate, leaving Ocean Child in the Opua Marina. After some months I made a full recovery, more or less, and I returned to Opua on December 10, 2014. Anne Sachot joined me on February 10, and we spent time sailing around the northeast coast of NZ. I have a particular interest in marine conservation, so we spent some time visiting marine protected areas in this region.

Once the South Pacific cyclone season ended, we were joined by James Cope and Tom Wallis (from the UK) and departed for Fiji on April 28, 2015. Nine days and 1200 nm later we arrived at Vuda Marina near Nadi. Anne, James and Tom spent time having a look around, then flew home. Ocean Child remained at Vuda Marina for two months. I was hoping to get some professional painting done on the hull, but costs were excessive compared to NZ. I did some painting myself as a temporary measure.

I had planned an upwind sail from Fiji to Tonga to see humpback whales, but I gave this idea up because I could not get two crew committed to the difficult sailing conditions. So Anastasia Bondarenko (Moscow/Ireland) joined me as crew in Fiji from July 11 to August 10 (we explored the Yasawa Islands) and after that Camille and Frankie for exploration of Tavenuni Island. James Thorp, Liz Gifford and Giulia Clericetti crewed on Ocean Child from late October, for the sail from Fiji to New Caledonia via Vanuatu.  After a brief stop in Anatom, the most southerly island of Vanuatu, we visited the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia, and sailed on to Noumea. James and Liz flew out, and Meg Teasdell flew in from Port Macquarie (NSW). We set sail on November 18, arriving at Middleton Reef for a one-day rest on November 23. We arrived at Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales coast on November 27, and moved to Port Macquarie on December 2, where Meg returned to her day-job.

I considered leaving Ocean Child at a safe harbour on the NSW coast, and flying to Hobart for Christmas. However local sailors informed me that finding crew in NSW was particularly difficult, so I decided to sail to Hobart while I had the opportunity. I arrived in Hobart on December 20, 2015, almost exactly two years after my departure.


After an excursion to Port Davey on Tasmania's southwest wilderness coast with Alana and Silvia, I took Ocean Child to Opua in New Zealand, arriving at the end of April. Kayla Roberts and Kara Kolow-Hay (AU) joined as crew. We departed for Tonga on May 30, arriving in Tongatapu (Nuku'alofa) nine days and 1000 nm later on June 8.  The next day I suffered a broken collar-bone after a heavy fall, and returned to Hobart for medical treatment, leaving Ocean Child in Nuku'alofa. Kayla and Kara continued their adventures, taking a ferry to Vava'u, and later made their way back to Australia, via Fiji.  Doctors advised me that I would not have full use of my left arm for five to nine months.  I returned to Tonga (Tongatapu) on July 16. With the help of my crew Dieter Nikolai and Lydia Chaplin we sailed to the Vava'u Islands, the northern area of Tonga, staying until August 6. Lydia was offered a job on a superyacht.

On August 15 Ocean Child arrived at Vuda Marina, near Nadi Fiji. I tried unsuccessfully to source new batteries, and had minor repairs done to the headsail and furler. Dieter flew home to Hobart, and Kyra and David joined the yacht. We left Fiji on September 9, arriving in Noumea, New Caledonia, on September 14. After a short stay we sailed for Australia, arriving in Bundaberg on September 27. My crew then departed on a land-based adventure. Anna (Denmark) joined and we sailed north to Lady Musgrave Island. On our return to Bundaberg, Brigitte (Ky) joined, and we sailed south to Yamba on the New South Wales north coast. Anna left for New Zealand.

My original plan (in early October 2016) was to call in at Coffs Harbour or Yamba to get a small mechanical repair done there. I anticipated a relaxed trip down the AU east coast, heading in a southerly direction. I planned to stop, where possible, at marine protected areas (for snorkelling) or national parks (for walking). Ocean Child's 'summer destination' was to be the beautiful and interesting north-east coast of New Zealand. So after Coffs Harbour, I would look for the right winds to cross the Tasman Sea to NZ.

HOWEVER things went wrong. I had an unexpected crisis with my cash flow. I found a safe harbour for Ocean Child (Yamba) then I flew back to my home town of Hobart to sort out my business affairs. Ky came with me.


My intention was to sail to New Zealand, and spend the autumn around Whangarei. However Ocean Child's progress in early 2017 was beset by mechanical problems with the winch and gearbox. Samantha, Josh and Monique helped me move Ocean Child from Yamba to Port Stephens, and Graham Breeze helped me move her from Port Stephens back to her home port of Hobart, where we arrived at the end of April. I will find a secure mooring or berth for OC.

My current plan is to fly to New Zealand to visit friends, then Greece, and perhaps explore the Greek Islands by foot and by ferry.

The following austral summer of 2017/18 I would like to explore the Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait, not all that far from my home port of Hobart. The wilderness west coast of Tasmania is another inviting destination. This trip depends on my finding good crew willing to stay with Ocean Child for perhaps two months.

Ideally, I would like to travel with a person interested in nature conservation, ocean life, whales, snorkelling and diving. This person must be a non-smoker, and must enjoy cooking. SCUBA experience would definitely be useful (although there is no compressor on board).

If you are interested in crewing on Ocean Child, please contact me (email address is below).

2015 summary:


Boat repairs, Ashby's Boatyard, Opua New Zealand.

February 10 - 26

Explored NE Islands, Poor Knights, Great Barrier. Crew: Anne Sachot.

March 1 - 15

Return trip to Hobart Australia by air (family and business).

March 16 - 30

Explored NE coast of New Zealand, including the Cavalli Islands.  Crew: Anne

Early April

Prepare Ocean Child for an ocean voyage to Fiji

Late April

Leave NZ for Fiji.  Crew: Anne Sachot, James Cope and Tom Wallis.

May 17

Arrive in Fiji. Anne and I visit Kadavu Island, Matana Resort. AS,JC&TW leave.

June July and August

Paint work to the hull, Vuda Marina Fiji. Then exploration of Fiji waters: the Yasawa Group, Namena Island and Taveuni Island.

September October

Ocean Child resting in the Copra Shed Marina at Savusavu.
Time off to visit Anne in France, house maintenance work in Hobart.

 November December

 Leave Fiji for Vanuatu, New Caledonia, then to the east coast of Australia, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Jervis Bay, Eden, Coles Bay ....  and at last back to Hobart.

2016 summary:


 House maintenance, Hobart. 14 days in Port Davey, SW coast. Alana & Silvia.


 Ocean Child maintenance: gearbox overhaul and several other matters.


 Rust inside Ocean Child's rudder - remove and repair.


 Trip to New Zealand - crew Roshan Shet


 Maintenance and local sailing (Bay of Islands NZ) with Kayla and Kara (AU).

 June - early July

 NZ to Tonga passage, arriving June 8. I suffered a broken collarbone in a fall, and returned to Hobart for medical treatment. Kayla & Kara stayed on in Tonga.

 late July - August

 Cruising Tonga. (Humpback Whale calving season is July August September).


 Sail from Tonga to Fiji to New Caledonia to Bundaberg with Dieter, Kyra&David.

  October November   I returned to Hobart for business reasons. Ky accompanied me.


 Hobart-based. No sailing. Good car-camping trips with Nerida and Ky.


 Car-based camping trips to Cockle Creek, Bruny Island and Maria Island

2017 summary:


  Return to Yamba Feb 10. Samantha & Josh joined Feb 11. Monique Feb 12-20. Sailing Yamba to Port Stephens. Gearbox problems prevent trip to New Zealand.

  March - April

  Move Ocean Child to Hobart. Then more apartment renovation in Hobart.

  May - June

  Possibly fly to New Zealand, then Houston, then Greece.









 October - November

 Furneaux Islands?



Although I have not had much experience sailing the open ocean, Ocean Child is strong and forgiving. I do get seasick regularly, so if you have any magic cure for this complaint, please let me know!

A gear list is included below, and I am happy to talk with anyone about my experiences with different items of gear. The boat carries the usual safety equipment (as required by the Tasmanian Government). Note however it has no radar, no chart-plotter, and it also has only one (an electric) autopilot. If I do install a windvane autopilot at a later date, it will need to be on a swinging structure so that I can move it out of the way when I use the dinghy davits. I am presently interested in the CapeHorn windvane pilot, and I would very much like to hear from anyone with experience of this unit. The mainsail reefs from the mast, not the cockpit.

Gear List: here     Notes on products:  bad  good          Yacht First Aid Kit here

Southeast Tasmania 2012   Tasman Sea 2013  2014  Golden Bay NZ  Marlborough Sounds   Bay of Islands   Matai Bay   Whangaroa Harbour    Cavalli Coast    Abbey Caves Whangarei 2014  2015  Cavalli Islands 2015   NZ_NEast Coast   Fiji First Week  Fiji Yasawas   Fiji Namena&Taveuni   Fiji to New Caledonia    Eden to Storm Bay  2016  Port Davey  Tasman Sea 2016   Opua NZ to Tonga  Tongatau Haapai and Vavau   Whales of Vava'u   Fiji   Noumea  Musgrave Island  Pancake Creek  Yamba  Cockle Creek  Bruny Island  Granite landscapes  Maria Island  Around Hobart  2017  Fish Rock   Sky

Silly movies
An improvised tool to assemble a series drogue.
The correct method you should use when dropping a light bulb on to concrete

Gannet in an almost horizontal dive
The basics of angling: lesson 1
How to hang out washing

Crew references: James  Emma's ref. Alice  Alice's ref. Anne  Thoughts on crew

Notes for the unwary: An accident waiting to happenNew Zealand to Tonga with Amy Harrison
                                   David Tanner's Star visits the South Pacific  Yacht maintenance

Recipes:  Quick and simple cumquat marmaladeHummus   Good night's sleep / Bonne nuit de sommeil       A special breakfast    Domestic Bliss

Contact: I can be contacted for further information via jonathan.nevill@gmail.com.
              Findacrew.net membership: boat 227286.

Other pagesImages from long ago  Stories from long ago  France 2015 
                      Jigsaw animals for Lola and Kenzie 
                      In Praise of Dogs  What have I done?


"The ideal cruise requires a good yacht, pleasant company, and a strange coast with plenty of islands and rocks."  Humphrey Barton, 1952. (Amongst other adventures he sailed a 25' sloop from London to New York)



Isn't she beautiful?