A GROUP of young Cork friends have managed to sidestep the Irish rental crisis after clubbing together to live on a yacht.
The innovative bunch, who only recently took up sailing, spent two years preparing for their around the world trip and are currently taking in the sights of Thailand.
Corkmen Evan Lotty, Mark Kenny, David Leahy, Damien Collins and Conor Blackton form just part of the crew, along with Eoin Dennehy, Gerald O’Sullivan and Tipperary native, Paul Ryan.
Duncan Tsu from Glounthaune and Douglas man Brian McCauliffe will be joining the team over the coming months.
“Some of us know each other from primary school. Others became friends in secondary school and a few met at university,” crew member Evan Lotty explained.
“None of us knew how to sail prior to this. Some had never even been on a boat before.”
The dream was born after the smooth-talking Corkonians managed to blag a €300,000 yacht to rent for a journey to Fraser Island, off the coast of Queensland.
They had been living in Australia at the time.
“We discovered that you didn’t need a license to sail it so we decided to go for it. At first, we were just spinning around for about 45 minutes,” Mark Kenny recalled.
“We couldn’t sail directly into the wind and had to travel in a zig-zag motion to get there.
“Before we knew it the sun was setting. We were just relying on GPS and hoping for the best.
“It was midnight and pitch black before we made it to shore.”
Their first foray into sailing left a lasting impression.
It wasn’t long before they hatched a plan to buy a yacht of their own.
Astonishingly, the friends all managed to get jobs together.
“The cost of living in Ireland was too high to ever be able to make the trip a reality,” Evan explained.
“Saving up the money we made while abroad made it more feasible,”
Evan added: “Nine of us got jobs working in the tunnels in Sydney.
“It was hard work and an average of 68 hours a week.
“We stopped drinking weekends and spent a lot of our time researching — which really paid off. We ended up buying the yacht without ever seeing it.
“Initially, we planned to send someone over to Malaysia view it.
“However, the seller told us that it would be sold by the time they made it over. A friend we had made on an Australian road trip knew someone in Malaysia who took the time to go see it for us.”
Any free time was spent researching for An Seanchaí’s maiden voyage.
Mark said: “We bought the books ‘sailing for dummies’ and spent weeks rattling off all the lines and buzz words.
“We put our heads together and each read different chapters of the book,” he added.
The friends were determined to make their vision a reality.
“We have learned that with a bit of research, notions can become reality,” Evan said.
This will be the second trip of a lifetime for the men, most of whom are 24-years-old.
“We previously all pitched in to buy a bus for an American road trip,” Mark said.
“It was bought in San Diego and scrapped in New York, covering 21,000 miles in between.
“We travelled to locations such as New York, Utah, Washington and Boston,” he added.
Evan admits that family members took a little more convincing about the sailing trip.
“A few of the lads had kept the plan a secret from their parents.
“I can remember telling my mum during Christmas dinner.
“She was worried sick at first but I explained to her just how much preparation we were putting in.”
Mark shared his pal’s sentiment, adding: “They were initially concerned about the dangers of sailing.
“However, once people saw the effort we were going to, they realised how serious we were.”
They confessed that researching and learning to sail was more difficult than initially expected.
“It was really important that we knew how to get there and how to negotiate the adverse weather conditions,” Mark said.
“It can be difficult to find that kind of information unless you know where to look.”
One of their biggest priorities is steering clear of pirates.
“We have identified the spots where there is political and social conflict.
“There are a lot of regattas where you can join a convoy which means you are safe.”
Evan revealed there have been a few romances along the way.
“One of the lads got caught rotten,” he said.
“We ended up meeting an Irish girl in a rooftop bar who was talking to him on Facebook.
“He thought it would be a smooth line to tell her that he owned a yacht. When she told us we instantly made the connection and discovered it was him.”
Evan said their dream had initially been disregarded as overly ambitious by many.
“Everyone doubted us, but now they are delighted for us.”
However, living on a yacht has presented its own challenges for the group.
“There are 11 beds on board but they’re not made for the 6ft 6 lads,” he said. “Most of us just end sleeping on the deck anyway.
“It’s warm enough to sleep outside and much nicer.”
Mark chipped in: “There are also a lot of advantages to having so many on board. When you take into account the fact that there are 10 of us it doesn’t seem as expensive when the engine breaks down.”
The group is unsure where their travels will take them next.
“We all share a dream and that dream is to dock in Kinsale in a year and go for a pint in The Bulman.”
Mark joked that they may spend their lives at sea.
“You never know. We might have to build on an extension,” he joked.
The friends are glad to be making memories they will cherish in years to come.
“It’s a story we will tell our grandchildren one day and we will encourage them to do the same,” Evan said.
You can follow the guys' journey on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/seanchaiatsea/