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SMART Boat Share – an owner’s view

They say if you’re not green you’re not growing …

And just a few short years ago, it’s fair to say that boat share owners Megan and Adrian Barnes were 100% green when it came to sailing. But if there’s one thing the Barnes family does well … it’s growing and learning.

Before the 2003 bush fire literally stopped them in their tracks, Megan, Adrian and their daughter Annabel loved to ride horses through the Snowy Mountains. After nature showed them her worst, they needed to find another way to enjoy the great outdoors together.

Their search took them down from the scorched mountains to the calm waters of Pittwater. They decided to take up yacht sailing as a family – despite the fact that none of them had sailed before … ever!

An unusual decision, but as it turns out … a great one which led them in time to a boat share with SMART Boating.

We caught up with Adrian and asked him what it is about sailing that got him and his family hooked.

“The big message for us is relaxation. A day out on the water makes us feel like we’ve had several days away!

We are so lucky that Megan and I both fell in love with sailing together. From the very first time out on the water we knew we had found something we both wanted to do and could enjoy as a family.

Although I have to say our first sail was a bit of a disaster. We planned to berth at a wharf for lunch, but the spots at the front of the wharf were taken so I thought I would go round the back.

Megan was dutifully standing at the bow and as I motored gently towards the wharf the inevitable happened … our yacht came to an abrupt halt as she went aground … and poor Megan was knocked off balance and fell into the anchor locker!

I’m very glad to say this didn’t put either of us off … and things got better from there. It just made me realise how much I had to learn.”

Snowy mountains
Syndicate 370
Syndicate Hanse 370

How did you go about learning more about sailing?

“I did an inshore skipper course and some twilight racing on Sydney Harbour and Megan completed her competent crew.

We chartered a couple more times and then we saw an ad for a boat share on Pittwater. We sat down and did the maths.

When we compared the cost of a week’s charter each year with the yacht syndicate, the boat share came out on top by miles.

Here was our chance to sail for 34 days each year on our own boat and take on the challenge of learning and growing together doing something we all loved. It was perfect.

We grabbed it!”

How did your yacht syndicate work out?

“We had a fantastic three years. First of all, the boat was great. She was a Hanse 37, a really lovely yacht in every way. Hanses are easy to sail and comfortable down below. And now, as less green sailors, we appreciate how much better a Hanse performs than many charter yachts.”

How did you find Pittwater sailing?

“One concern we had when we started the boat share is that we thought we would be tired of sailing on Pittwater after a few years.

But to our great surprise, four years later we are not tired of it in the least. There is always the challenge of getting up Pittwater and learning to read the wind and water.

Also, it’s a huge draw for us that we can sail all the year round. Summer and winter on Pittwater are like two totally different sailing areas.

In winter we love the peace and isolation and in summer we love the challenge of weaving through the racing boats. It’s a perfect way to refine our skills and learn to avoid collisions.

Having sailed on Sydney Harbour, there is no comparison. The harbour has the glamour – but with the glamour comes stress.

For us, one important consideration is that we like to have a quiet lunch at anchor. We find the constant chop from the ferries and other traffic in Sydney Harbour a real nuisance.

In Pittwater, sailing is just relaxing. There is no feeling of incessant activity like there is on Sydney Harbour. There’s also such a huge choice of bays to enjoy. Little Patonga is our probably our favourite but we also love West Head Beach and Resolute Beach.

These last two bays have the cleanest water we have found anywhere in Sydney. They are great spots to practise anchoring because the water is clear enough to see your chain running along the sea bed.”

Adrian and Megan
Hanse Yachts

How did you find SMART Boating ran your boat share?

“All I can say is the boat was always perfect.

SMART Boating delivered what they said they were going to deliver. They delivered a walk on walk off service. And they delivered it every time we went out.

We arrived to a clean boat, full of fuel and water with fresh linen on board. We didn’t have to worry about anything. We just headed off up Pittwater and relaxed.”

So were there any problems at all with your syndicate?

“Well it’s not technically a problem … but for us, by the end, maybe it was too easy!

With a SMART Boating syndicate you don’t need to learn anything about your boat if you don’t want to. If there’s a problem a member of David’s professional team just goes ahead and fixes it for you.

After three years we were ready for the next challenge. We wanted to learn more about yachts and how to look after them.”

And so, true to form, Megan and Adrian are back to learning and growing – being green once again.

Stay tuned for their next adventure.

Find new boat shares available here.


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