A Barefoot adventure, by Liesl King
Guido Verhovert is no stranger to RCYC or to sailing. In fact, it’s probably easier to talk about the boats he hasn’t sailed on and the races he has yet to do, than to list his impressive CV. From boats such as Highland Fling and Nitro, to crewing on Shosholoza for the 2007 America’s Cup campaign, he has done it all.
His childhood was spent having fun on Hobies in Kraal Bay. ‘Proper’ sailing on big yachts came later and included Corporate Affair and Gumption, (now Griffon), the occasional overseas offshore regatta, such as Cape to Rio, the St Tropez and the Malta race on High Fidelity, followed by Highland Fling and Nitro. Needless to say, he didn’t escape the Cape 31 bug and crewed on baby Nitro and Orion.
Nowadays he can be found on the gorgeous Barefoot with his wife Tracey and the most important crew member, Halo, getting ready to depart on their own Transatlantic journey. Barefoot is a Sovereign 54, that spent 20 years in the Seychelles before being brought back to Richards Bay. From there she was dismantled and shipped to Johannesburg for a refit. Another stint in the Seychelles followed, before Barefoot arrived back in Cape Town in 2018.
After lounging in Granger Bay for a year, her erstwhile owner decided it was time to part company with her. With a cruising adventure in mind Gui had been looking at boats for sale online for years, but nothing really tickled his fancy. Then Rob Sharpe mentioned that he might have a boat for them. Barefoot was the first boat they went to have a look at and clearly it was love at first sight.
She had however been set up as a day sailing boat and Gui knew that there was a fair bit of work needed to turn her into a cruiser. A nifty bit of negotiation followed and once she was theirs it was time to knuckle down and start on the lengthy list of work that needed to be done. “It took three days to cut everything out and eight months to put everything back in again”, quips Gui.
Barefoot is now a very different boat from the one they bought. It does help that Tracey is very talented when it comes to interior designer and Barefoot has definitely benefited from her expertise. The cabin has been completely redone, with extra windows were cut in and the interior opened up. The water-maker was upgraded, black water tanks fitted, and the all-important washing machine installed. Three solar panels, lithium batteries, inverters and controllers were added.
On the sailing side further changes occurred. “We pulled the mast out and had the cabling redone. Trevor Spilhaus serviced the rig and we put hayracks on the boom, as we will have awnings going down the side to keep the sun off the deck. And then Paul has been busy doing covers for us”, explains Gui.
Barefoot has a wing keel with a 2.4m draft which can make life interesting in shallow waters as Tracey explains. “We were the lighthouse in Kraal Bay this past Christmas. At every low tide we were attached to Africa, as she gently sat down on her keel. It’s not actually that bad, as she is so heavy she doesn’t sway much and it’s on a sandy bottom.
Future plans? “We hope to leave here in the next two to three weeks and head to St Helena. From there we will play it by ear. Either straight through to the Azores or possibly through to Ascension or the Cape Verdes. But the aim is to go to the Azores for a little bit so that the Mediterranean can warm up”, says Gui. Tracey also has a very long bucket list of stops that she would like to do. Exotic locations such as Morocco, Madeira, Cuba and Norway, glaciers and Southern Lights will most probably also get added into the mix.
Gui continues with the proposed itinerary: “The main aim is to get to Turkey for the Med summer. We will probably go up to Croatia, the Greek Islands and then when we have had enough of that, we will go back out of the Med and do a season in the Bahamas, the Caribbean and down to Cuba. For the hurricane season we will probably go down to Panama, South America and then through the Panama Canal to the South Pacific.”
“The plan is not to bring the boat back”, explains Tracey. “The plan is to sell her there. We are aiming to move to somewhere in the Med, wherever Gui finds he can live. Well, that’s the plan if we can get off the dock at RCYC.” Thankfully they are almost there, with departure tentatively schedule for somewhere in the next two weeks.
Gui, Tracey and Halo, we wish you fair winds and following seas. We hope you can set off soon and we look forward to following your travels around the oceans.