12 April 2023

How Did It All Start

It’s the age-old story of Boy meets Girl. It’s a story of love and shared passions – which included sailing and all things related to the ocean. Both wanted a boat. That simple.

And they embraced a common dream: one of adventure. Therefore, sailing to exciting destinations was the goal.

In Stuart’s quest to find the right boat, he engaged in months of research, boat comparisons, lists of pros and cons – that perfect vessel, the one which would tick a long list of criteria. It needed to be “indestructible”, low maintenance, be able to go anywhere including areas ranging from ice to coral reef islands. It needed to retain value, be extremely comfortable (and Charlie said “I want her to be our home” with creature comforts, and heaters, washing machine, and drying rooms and “I don’t want to live below, I want a view from the saloon”), it had to have fabulous cabins for guests, it had to sail like a dream, point high, not roll markedly, and so the list went on. Added to this, it needed to be designed so that she only needed two crew to sail her. It seemed impossible to find a vessel which combined all.

However, in Stuart’s resourceful and indomitable way, he did. He found the complete combination when he found Ed Joy, with his perfect design. The build began in 2013 in Cape Town at the fabulous Jacob’s Bros. Boat Builders.

Stuart designed the “inside” of the boat thereby providing Charlie with all the things needed to create the sea home she so desired, while simultaneously fashioning a splendid and more than comfortable experience for voyaging guests. To Charlie’s surprise, Stuart not only provided for all she requested, he provided more: a foul weather gear locker doubling up as a drying room for washing, heaters in every room (Stuart’s view is “a warm wife is a happy wife”), air conditioner, microwave, geyser, water maker, flush toilet and – wait for it – a small bath! The perfect boat. With lifting keel, bow thruster, dive compressor and more, electric winches (not all mind you, some are manual), fast for her size and weight, and so much more.

She was launched on 11 August 2016, and in her finished state (and as one would expect given the collaboration between the wonderful teams who created her from scratch), she was – and remains – simply spectacular, both in looks and performance. Urchin has since then proven to be far more than was ever have anticipated or hoped for.

On launch day, and at the naming ceremony which must take place just before her bottom could touches the ocean (this in order for Neptune to be able to identify her thereby giving her safe passage across his domain) emotions ran extremely high. Tears of joy abounded. As Urchin settled perfectly onto the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, smiles radiated on every face present, loudly accompanied by whoops of delight, plenty of high fives and hugging.

Urchin’s lifelong relationship with the sea had begun.

She spent her first few weeks moored at the V&A Waterfront, where she remained until the Cape Town Boat show opened on 14 October 2016. Her visitors book had everyone choked up with various emotions as we read the recorded comments such as: “seriously impressive”; 10 out of 5”; “where do we vote for best boat on show?”; “unbelievable”; “a fantastic expedition boat”; “magnificent”; “never seen anything like it”; “stunning boat and workmanship”; Well done Charlie & Stuart. It’s beautiful!” and many many more.

During her first sail rounding Cape Point on her journey back to her home base, False Bay Yacht Club, Simon’s Town, she crept so deeply and so utterly under Stuart and Charlie’s skin, that she has permanently, entirely, and indelibly embedded herself in their hearts and souls. The dream became a reality.

On a side note: her name was chosen by Stuart, for a few reasons. It meets certain requirements important to Stuart and Charlie, that being a desire for things to remain unassuming and “quiet”; meaningful, intimate, and personal. The first inkling that the name he chose was correct was the following: Urchin is an unpainted aluminium boat, her light battle grey therefore creates the effect of blending into silvery misty grey oceans as she slips in and out of sight, not unlike a little Dickensian street urchin. (Fagan would have increased the number of his little gang members – led by the Artful Dodger and Oliver – by one, had he come across her.) The second inkling was linked to Charlie always calling her petite sister, Ursula (with whom she is very close) “Urchin”. And the solidifying clincher was simply because Charlie has an insatiable appetite for beachcombing, particularly to collect her favourite sea urchins: the little fat round green and purple pumpkins, pansy shells, and sand dollars. All of these are classified as Urchins.

The name was finally given, life thereby being blown into the magnificent and irresistibly charming expedition sailing vessel “Urchin”.

And that is how it all started.

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