3 Dogs and a cat, by Christa Badenhorst

Over dinner with friends and charming bottle of red wine, Andre Steenkamp dropped this precious line: “Our story is really about 3 dogs and a cat.” My mind went into a tailspin – I have seen dogs on boats before but a cat? That’s new to me. He quickly corrected my thinking: “Cat with a Capital C. For Catamaran.”

Andre and Beverley Steenkamp, with crew member Herman Schutte, set sail for Brazil on Sea Dancer, a 14m Fontaine Pajot Salina 48 Catamaran, last Friday. The journey will take them up to St Helena and Ascension Island to Northern Brazil where they will cruise the Brazilian coastline.

“We are not on a camping trip – this is our home for the next five to ten years,” says Beverley who considers herself semi-retired. No expense has been spared to make this a comfortable living space, complete with a washing machine, air fryer and slow cooker. The cabins are decorated in bright, welcoming colours and have ample space to move around.

Beverley, a product of Potch Girls High and later WITS, is the logistics brain behind the trip. Years of working at KPMG has made her the perfect crew member for dealing with spreadsheets and costings. Andre admits that there were times before he met Beverley, that he would run out of essentials and food on long trips. Since meeting Beverley, this has never happened again.

Leading up to the trip she carefully tracked their daily use of consumables – everything from toothpaste to dog food – and planned accordingly.  Inventory will be tracked, and if one has to believe Andre, there is also a ‘cost per usage’ track sheet.

Although skipper Andre has Global VP positions for top American tech companies tucked away on his Linkedin profile, onboard he has been assigned chef duties, aside from being the Head of Sailing.

Eating well and enjoying the journey is paramount. Andre was heard saying that “we are not planning on any hardships. We are relying on trade winds to help us along and we are cooking real food.”

The non-electric, thermal slow cooker will be put to good use and butter chicken, beef stews with Cayenne spices, plus pork burritos, are on the menu. With steaks, wors (sausage) and chops safely stowed away, it is clear that a good old braai, or BBQ as Andre calls it, will be a regular occurrence. There is also the added pleasure of 35L of wine and 28 kg of coffee beans safety stashed away. Crew member Herman has been tasked with adding fresh fish to the menu list on a regular basis.

As Commodore of the Catamaran Club Bronkhorstspruit TCC, Herman Schutte has loads of sailing experience and has been sailing since a very young age. This is bucket list stuff for him and will be his first Transatlantic Crossing.  He arrived at RCYC a month ago when he assisted moving Sea Dancer from Durban to Cape Town for this crossing, amidst 40 knot winds and 5m swells. 

All sailors rank safety on board as a priority, but onboard Sea Dancer, safety measures extend to the four-footed crew – two Dachshunds and a Chihuahua. “We battled to find lifejackets in Gauteng for the dogs, and eventually had success in Cape Town,” Beverley explains. “The brand we settled for offers convenient top handles for easy rescue and quick release buckles. It has adjustable chest and neck straps and comes in reflective, bright colour for high visibility.” “Dog overboard” is not something you want to hear anytime soon, so like the humans, the dogs will also be connected to the jackline onboard.

Mia, Jasmin and Pocky (named after a Japanese candy) have been trained the past few months to use the potty patch on the boat, and they certainly add a huge cuteness factor to the crew. “They are our family,” Beverley explains. “We could not even imagine doing the trip without them.” This did however entail a bunch of paperwork and she warns that should you plan to take pets abroad, you need to plan well ahead. Many countries have strict health, quarantine, wildlife, and customs requirements and prohibitions. Check with the embassy and consulate for the country of interest before travel. (If you need any tips on how to make your dogs good little sailors, we recommend this Youtube video 

The Sea Dancer crew will be chasing Sergio and his crew from Kanku Dai who left RCYC for Brazil only days before. Before Kanku Dai’s departure there was a scurry to exchange contact details:

Although communication will be a challenge during the trip, we will provide regular updates as often as possible. Sea Dancer can be followed on:

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