About the Boat

Kai Ohana

Kai Ohana (“Ocean Family” in Hawaiian) when purchased by the Bach Family on the island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin in January 2006 was a 75ft (60ft on deck) Italian designed and built wooden staysail schooner called Saudade (Portuguese for “Longing”, as for an old friend or home). She, one of two sister ships (the second was destroyed in a fire several years ago), was commissioned by the Italian Minister of Transport as his personal fishing yacht (she initially did not have a rig) in 1960 and completed in 1963.

Island lore has it that she was sold by the Minister of Transport and put into commission as a charter vessel specializing in amateur treasure hunting off the formidable east coast of Africa. From there, she was sailed by her owner (the one I bought the vessel from) to South Africa where she was re-planked and re-rigged. After her refit, she made the long voyage up through the southern Atlantic Ocean to the Amazon River where she spent considerable time in the Belem area, before she headed north to Trinidad where her port, aft quarter had been holed one night by a large pleasure yacht and her drunk captain. After her repairs, she made her way up the Windward Islands to St. Maarten where she spent several years being neglected.

Her hull construction is 1-1/4 inch teak planking over double 7″x3.5″ sawn frames of oak spaced 7″ apart. When the Bachs bought her, she was primarily suffering from freshwater rot to her decks and topsides though most of the hull below the waterline had been spared damage (saltwater does not rot wooden boats). She was hauled out of the water at the time of purchase where a 12-man crew from the neighboring islands spent the next six months re-planking her hull where necessary, and replacing all the caulking with epoxy and splines. Once her hull was saturated with epoxy inside and out, fared and painted (at this point she’d be considered a “cold-molded” type boat), she was splashed in July of 2006 after a re-christening ceremony performed by the foreman of the crew, Gregg Buyskes, at which point the Bachs, Chad Adams (ship’s engineer) and Daniel Petrásek (our Czech welder) spent the next eighteen months completely renovating the interior, sealing up the decks, replacing and/or rebuilding all of the electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems on board, and designing replacing the old rig with an entirely new one.

She currently flies 2,400 square feet of sail when her full contingent is up, and she employs her original Mercedes 350hp V-10 “marinized” truck engine with a Twin Disk transmission for auxiliary power. Though she looks old, often being referred to as a “pirate ship,” she supports all the latest gear and technology including self-steering, a watermaker, a 10-Kilowatt genet, five computers, two GPS units, electronic chart plotting, radar, and SSB and VHF radios with email capabilities, to name a few.

By the end of November 2007, she was to a point in her construction where they successfully tested her rig in her first sail from Marigot, St. Martin to Anguilla and back (a twelve-mile round trip that took a single afternoon) and for the next three months the finishing touches were completed. Toward the end of February 2008, she began her long-awaited destiny of sailing her crew west to the Virgin Islands and beyond.
Click here to view more details of the renovation of Kai Ohana.

7 Responses to “About the Boat”

  1. Briana says:

    She was replanked in mozambique, the old fashioned way. Beached and depending on the tides, constantly shifting sandbags so she would stand straight up when the tide went out. No power tools were used at all. The hole in the aft was done by one of the wooden skiffs that the trinidadians use on the weekends. Belem was a fuel pitstop and stayed for a couple weeks. Hardly the majority of the time spent in south america. She also only spent 6 months in sxm a year the rest was spent sailing to the Grenadines.
    P.S she looks great.

  2. Craig Bach says:

    Thanks for the corrections. Apparently getting accurate information out of Matia (the previous owner) was the hardest part of the job.

  3. Craig Bach says:

    …and the South American bit I got from Salina and Kraus, (the crew from South Africa to South America). She told me Matia had fired them, then re-hired them several weeks later when he couldn’t find an alternate. Again, and as with most stories, I’m sure this one has another angle. Clearly the boat has a very colorful history. I (and the rest of the readers of this site) would love to know more if you are so inclined.

    • I will be really happy to tell the true story of Saudade and her crew from Kenya to ST.Marteen. In fact is really a very colorful one!!! Let me know if you are interested.Anyway,thank you for keeping her so beautifull and,most of all,ALIVE!!!

      • Craig Bach says:

        Mattia! Great to hear from you! Since we’ve been landlocked lately, I don’t go back much to reminisce over the old site so I haven’t seen this posting. Yes, please email the true story of Saudade if you would please to sur4dad@yahoo.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  4. Happy you gave new life to my only and true LOVE!!! Story is a little bit different but,at the end,who cares.She,SAUDADE,is still alive and sailing and this is what counts.
    I wish you all the best. Please,love her like I did. As we say in Italy ” in culo alla balena “. All my love,Mattia.

  5. Marco van der Kraan says:

    I sailed with Mattia and Mirko from Dar to Maputu. I’m happily surprised to see that Saudade finally got the gaff-rig which I always felt she deserved. Mattia, if you read this, it would be fun to get in contact again ! What are you up to these days !?

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