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From the skies to the seas...how a SMART Boating syndication gave Chris and Ellena the freedom to enjoy their retirement


Chris and Ellena first learnt to sail in a bit of a roundabout way.

It was actually a former helicopter student of theirs who then became their sailing teacher.

“We owned a business called Townsend Helicopters,” said Chris, “and this particular student had come to us to achieve his helicopter licence before he changed his mind and decided to pursue a career in sailing instead.

While our former student was sailing superyachts, he invited us out on the harbour for the day and we fell in love with sailing.

Immediately we could see there are a lot of similarities between sailing yachts and flying helicopters. Because we’d been flying helicopters for all of our lives, learning how to sail felt quite natural and intuitive. Right from the start, we felt right at home on a yacht.”

We wanted to buy a yacht outright but we really couldn’t justify the expense


“For our combined 60th birthday we decided to celebrate by hiring a yacht to sail around Croatia on our own. We had such an amazing time and learnt so much on that trip we continued to sail as often as we could when we returned to Australia.

Finally, when we retired last year, we decided to look into buying our own yacht.

We live on a working farm in Camden, on the south-western outskirts of Sydney, but we also have a bolthole in the city. And because our city apartment is located on a wharf, we decided to first investigate securing a marina berth before we bought our yacht.

But when we did the maths, we were shocked at the cost.

We realised we would have to be sailing for a minimum of 80 days a year simply to justify the expense of the marina berth, in comparison to the cost of hiring a yacht for the same time…

…and that was before we even included the cost of buying a boat!

As much as we love sailing, we are still based in Camden so we just knew we wouldn’t be sailing 80 days a year.”

Boat sharing gives us Freedom

Boat sharing gives us a lot more freedom


“While we were deciding whether we could justify the expense of owning our own boat outright, our former helicopter student contacted us and told us he had heard that SMART Boating was selling shares in a Hanse 345… and there were only three shares left.

We decided to take a look at the boat, but by the time we got to SMART Boating there was only one share left.

Without hesitation we signed up on the spot and became syndicate owners of Clonnie, a brand new Hanse 345, based at Clontarf Marina in Sydney’s Middle Harbour.

As one of ten syndicate owners, we get 34 days allocated days every year and we also have the option of standby access to our boat when it is not booked out by other owners.

We can book Clonnie for 7 days straight in summer and 10 in winter… that’s more than enough for anyone, unless you’re going to live on your boat!”

Hanse 345 is a Brilliantly designed boat

The Hanse 345 is a brilliantly designed boat... just perfect for us


“In some ways our share in Clonnie feels pre-ordained. When we discovered SMART Boating, Clonnie was the only yacht available at Clontarf and there was only one share left.

But even if there had been other yacht syndications available, we still would have chosen the Hanse 345. With her self-tacking headsail she is so easy to sail and just the perfect size for the two of us.

But there’s still plenty of room to invite our friends and family out for the day… a 40-footer would be a waste of boat for us.

The Hanse 345 really is a brilliantly designed boat… it feels so spacious and airy. Clonnie’s interior is designed with incredible light, ventilation and space, for a 34-footer. There are air vents on the ceiling, side windows you can open and mosquito screens on the hatches.

When we don’t need shade, we can take the bimini off and the two cockpits and the joiner make a fabulous area for outdoor entertaining.”

We retired to have fun!


The reason we retired was to have fun and spend more time on the water! No more BAS statements.

We don’t want to spend our time aboard Clonnie cleaning and maintaining the boat… SMART Boating takes care of all of that for us. We simply walk on and walk off so we can maximise our time on the water.

Clontarf Marina really is the perfect location. You can turn right to Sydney Harbour, turn left to Manly or head straight out of the heads.

We take out friends and our granddaughters. We’ve even picked up overseas visitors at the Sydney Opera House.

But we don’t just stay in the harbour. We sail out the heads and up to Broken Bay, we’ve been down to Coogee Beach… there’s plenty of ocean out there to explore!

We’re planning a trip to Kiama soon and we’ll pop into Port Kembla along the way.

Do we miss flying? With sailing we get to enjoy the same sense of freedom as flying and use many of the same skills as flying…

…but sailing is a much more relaxed atmosphere than flying.

This is our new life and thanks to SMART Boating, we’re loving it!”

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