It was May when I found the website for Yachts for Life. I was fresh out of my DTS (Discipleship Training School), and God had been planting ideas in me about using boats in missions. I’d never sailed before, but I was willing to give it a try.
I’d never sailed before, but I was willing to give it a try.
After a bit of scratching around on the web, I stumbled across YWAM Furnace NZ’s page, which led me to find Yachts for Life. I was curious to see what it was, so I sent them a message.
A couple weeks later I found myself in Tauranga, New Zealand, re-introducing myself to Robbie and Julia Parker—turns out we’d met two years before. They were planning a trip on June 18th (two weeks from then) from Tauranga to Fiji with 6 crew members. They had five confirmed and one maybe. So there was a chance I could have a place, but it wasn’t definite.
There was still some renovation work to do on the 53-foot Seahawk before they could set sail. I wasn’t doing anything, so I offered a helping hand at least until sailing day. A couple days later I was offered the position on the crew. Without hesitation, I accepted the invitation. I was in!
It was a little bit intimidating, I have to admit—sailing a yacht for ten days across the Pacific Ocean, having no previous experience on boats before. However, spending those couple weeks in Tauranga prior to the trip, I learned a lot more than I thought about the Seahawk.
We had people in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji praying for us, so the winds and seas were definitely in our favor for the majority of our travels. There was a small part of me, however, that was secretly hoping we’d get some challenging weather on the journey as well—just for experience’s sake. Calm seas never made a skilled sailor, right?
Well, my wish was granted. We spent the whole of Day 4 living sideways, with starboard in the water and port as high as possible. It was made even more exciting when the autopilot stopped working as well and someone had to be at the helm at all times.
That night, I had the post-dinner watch. Just after 7 PM, it suddenly started bucketing down with rain. I quickly called Barry and Mark to put the bimini (a canvas roof) up while I continued to steer. With the yacht still leaning right over on starboard, everything we did was at an angle. They shoved their wet-weather gear on and rushed up to help, but by the time the bimini was up, I was already soaked right through.
I carried on until 8 PM and then handed it over to Mark. By that time the rain had cleared up. I then wrung out my clothes and dried off before getting some rest ready for my next shift.
The next few days were smooth sailing. We landed in North Minerva on Day 7, two and a half day’s away from Fiji. segmentgapFinally, on the night of Day 10, the Suva lights came into sight. We all rushed up to the deck to drop the sails and motor into the harbor. We officially anchored up just before midnight, and celebrated with a nice ginger ale and high fives all-round.
I would do it again in a heartbeat.
After ten amazing days on the ocean, we had our feet back on dry ground, and I could officially say I’d accomplished my very first ocean crossing. I couldn’t have imagined a better trip thanks to the four incredible guys I got to sail with. I was so blessed to have been a part of the journey. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
By Isaak Sunley
Yachts for Life Crew
Yachts for Life works to empower remote Pacific Island communities through sharing of knowledge based on Biblical principles relating to every sphere of life—using sailing vessels to get to otherwise inaccessible locations.