Top Secret started life as a Voyage 580 Catamaran which was built by Voyage Yachts in Cape Town in 2004. She has been in charter for the last 11 years and is now becoming our home. Our yacht is completely unique and will be the first of its kind, a ‘green’ boat.
We brought the boat back to Cape Town and ripped out almost everything from diesel engines, batteries, gen sets, water tanks to cabins, etc and replaced them with new technology, electric engines, lithium iron batteries, lots of solar panels, much lighter water tanks, a water maker, folding props which will also charge the batteries whilst we’re sailing and so on and so on. Rean has gone into major research overdrive and found all sorts of new ways for us to use the absolute minimum amount of diesel and yet have all the creature comforts we have become used to.
We have done away with 2 cabins as most of the time it will just be the two of us but still have two extra double cabins both ensuite. We converted the whole one side of the boat (hull) into a main cabin, dressing room and ‘bathroom’ (head) with lots of storage and on the other side one cabin made way for a study. The galley and saloon suffered the same treatment and did not remain untouched. Almost everything was chopped out and although we’ve kept the basic layout the same, everything is modernised and different. The heavy fibreglass cupboards and island have made way for a new honeycomb structure which is every bit as strong as the ‘old’ way of doing things but much lighter. I now have a designated pantry cupboard, normal size fridge and freezer where I do not have to either sit on my knees or dive into, induction hob, electric ovens – yay – and a very spacious and comfortable saloon. Basically, we have a brand new yacht.
Now after reading all of what we have done to the boat, many of you may wonder why we didn’t just sell our boat and start from scratch. Well, for starters, we couldn’t find exactly what suited us. We could maybe find a yacht with suitable accommodation but then it didn’t sail so well and vice versa. That meant that we would have to spend a lot of money to purchase a new yacht and then still make changes to it which would cost the earth or we could take our Voyage yacht (which in our opinion is probably one of the best built boats out there, sails like a dream and is rather sexy) which was already paid for, was due for engine upgrades in any case so it wouldn’t be too difficult to electrify it and at the same time put in exactly what we wanted.
I must just say that renovating is not for the faint hearted! Think carefully before you start a project of this magnitude and if you do, make sure you are in a place where yacht renovating is a big industry. As nice as Cape Town is for scenery and things to do, it is not the place to renovate a yacht. Everything is imported and stock is not readily available. Quite honestly, we would not do this again. As interesting as it was, it was a lot of sweat, tears and sleepless nights.
We also have to say a big thank you to our friends who assisted us with this project. The fact that we can still call them friends, speaks volumes!
They put up with a lot of tough projects, bad moods, late hours and really went that extra mile to get us across the last hurdle.
Pascal - my wine maker who incidentally makes the most fabulous red wine, Henry and Danielle, Robin from Voyage Charters with his endless advice and encouragement, to name but a few.
It is impossible to name everyone that was involved but to all that were, thank you so so much!