S/Y Melody


Melody is a steel tank of a monohull. She is surprisingly fast for the chunky lady that she is and even more reliable. We’ve taken her across the Atlantic with no money, no autopilot (but luckily with two friends and part owners at the time), a non-functional engine and the original sails which were the same age as we were at the time, late 20’s. She did a stint in the Caribbean and after some TLC, upgrades (new autopilot, new sails, a windlass and extensive work on the engine) she took us across the Pacific in 2016 without so much as a hiccup. She may not have the looks of a production boat but she is more than seaworthy and we have never felt safer on any other boat, not even the fancy super yachts we’ve worked on. This is her story…

Sailing Yacht Melody is a 38ft Barens Sea Trader, a steel sloop monohull with a 3/4 keel, launched in 1987. She is 100% South African: designed by a South African, built in South Africa, owned and crewed by South Africans and proudly flies the new South African flag under SAMSA’s (South African Maritime Safety Authority) Category A registration.

We bought her, together with 2 friends (Vivian & Wilhelm), from her first owner and the man who built her, in December 2010. She was in pretty bad shape as she hadn’t been sailed or maintained in years but we were blinded by true (boat) love and determined to make our sailing dream a reality by any means possible.

For the next 20 months we gutted her and rebuilt almost the entire interior, doing all the work ourselves, except for sandblasting the hull: woodwork, plumbing, electrics, upholstery etc. One of the first things we did was haul her onto the hard and have her hull sandblasted, we then replaced steel plates, repainted, fitted a new aluminium boom (the original was rotted wood) and made a new stack pack, removed the existing rotted wooden doghouse and replaced it with Rufus’ original design as well as our custom spray-dodger. We added a new solar panel and wind charger, new battery bank and various other modifications documented in our team blog, offtheline.co.za.

On the 21st of September 2012 the four of us set sail from Saldanha Bay, South Africa, to hand helm across the Atlantic. Our budget was non existent (hence no autopilot) and many of the upgrades and additions we had made to Melody were thanks to generous donations and in exchange for work done on other people’s boats. We reached Brazil 5 weeks later, after a week long stay at St. Helena Island at the halfway point, and then worked our way north to arrive at the island of Tobago (Trinidad & Tobago), in the Southern Caribbean at the end of December 2012. Rufus and I left the boat for a year, to return to our expatriate work in Zambia, to make and save money while Vivian & Wilhelm cruised the Caribbean Islands.

With our work year in Zambia complete we decided to use a portion of our savings to buy out Viv & Wil’s 50% share and returned to Melody in early 2014. That same year we had a new mainsail, windlass, VHF & AIS receiver and autopilot installed. We also did a few other upgrades, like a rear new arch, new toe rail, turned the two double aft cabins into one large master as well as new topside paint job, new decals and antifouling in Trinidad. In 2016 we installed a small water-maker and had new water tanks made in Guatemala to increase the water capacity, we added another new solar panel and new inverter and we continue to maintain and upgrade her as our time and resources allow.

Below is a video of one of our favourite days out sailing in Grenada (2014), a few photos of her plans, interior, exterior, before we bought her and a list of current specs:


ORIGINAL PLANS:    (please note: modifications were made by both the previous owner/builder and ourselves)


SALON & GALLEY:  (all images by Vivian Botha)


V-BIRTH & HEADS: (all images by Vivian Botha)





BEFORE:  (images from the first day we went to see Melody in Port Owen, South Africa. October 2010)



  • Designer: Barens
  • Model: Sea Trader
  • Yr Launched: 1987
  • 38ft steel sloop
  • 3/4 keel
  • Draft: 1.7m
  • Beam: 3.8m
  • Built in South Africa
  • Flag: South African
  • Home Port: Cape Town
  • Registration: SAMSA Category A


  • Ford Leyman 80 HP 2712E
  • Borg Warner gearbox with +/- 2750hrs
  • Diesel pump and injectors overhauled in 2013


  • Diesel: 400L
  • Water: +/- 300L (food grade plastic reinforced with fibreglass)


  • 12V System
  • House Bank: 400Ah – installed 2012
  • Dedicated Starting Bank: replaced 2013
  • 260W Solar Panels
  • 160W Air Breeze wind charger

Ground Tackle:

  • 45m 10mm chain
  • 60LBS CQR anchor
  • Spare CQR and Danforth anchors
  • Windlass: Lofrans ProjectX2 1000W (2014)


  • Full battened main (Doyle), 2014
  • Roller furling Genoa (restitched and UV protection replace 2014)
  • Storm sail
  • Stack pack, custom, 2012
  • Asymmetrical spinnaker, 2016


  • Autopilot: Raymarine Evo Sails Series with rotary drive, 2014
  • GPS: Garmin 152H
  • VHF: Standard Horizon GX 2150 Matrix AIS+ (AIS Receiver), 2014


  • Fridge: 40L Engel 12V
  • Stove: 2 x gas burner hob and oven
  • Watermaker: 12V 40 Gallons p/day
  • Dinghy: 9ft semi-rigid inflatable with Tohatsu 5hp outboard
  • Barbecue: Force 10 Stainless Steel (charcoal)
  • 2 x aluminium fold up bicycle
  • 7 x 25L jerry cans
  • Power Tools: battery drill, grinder, heat-gun, orbital sander, jigsaw, glue gun, 160amp inverter welder.
  • Tools: large assortment of tools and spares
  • Fishing rods, speargun and tackle box
  • Snorkelling equipment
  • EPIRB and handheld GPS
  • Industrial sewing machine with all accessories – new, 2016