Rick & Ami's 8 Year Sailing Adventure

...or, how to log 8000 miles in 8 years!

12 January 2010 | Southern Caribbean
01 January 2010 | Bahia de Chalon, Colombia
19 May 2009 | San Blas Islands, Panama
25 December 2008
05 August 2007 | Mochima, Venezuelan coast
25 May 2007 | Trinidad, West Indies
28 February 2007 | Trinidad, West Indies
23 December 2005 | Trinidad, West Indies
12 August 2005 | Trinidad
14 July 2005 | Trinidad, West Indies
28 June 2005 | St. Lucia, Eastern Caribbean
09 December 2004 | Peru
10 June 2004 | Chatham Bay, Union Island, The Grenadines
19 March 2004 | Trinidad, West Indies
22 December 2003 | Trinidad, West Indies
11 December 2003 | Trinidad, West Indies
13 November 2003 | Trinidad, West Indies

Cruising World's BOAT OF THE YEAR

02 February 2002
The Dufour Nautitech 435 was the winner in the Cruising Multihull category of Cruising World's 1997 BOAT OF THE YEAR awards. To read the original article from Cruising World, go to: http://www.cruisingworld.com/article.jsp?ID=201037&typeID=397&catID=571

About Tara Vana

30 January 2002

Tara Vana is a 1996 Nautitech 435 cruising catamaran, manufactured in France by Dufour, a well known boat builder. The Nautitech 435 won the coveted Cruising World "Cruising Multihull" of the Year Award in 1997. Check out a copy of the Cruising World report on our SailBlog.

Tara Vana was used for captained day charters in Martinique, in the Caribbean, before we bought her. A friend who lived on his own boat on the same dock in Le Marin, Martinique tells us that she did not go out much....and when we bought her she was indeed pristine, reflecting that she truly had not been used much.

We have been living aboard Tara Vana since September 2001. We've made substantial upgrades to the boat, and added a lot of safety equipment. We both value quality work, and insist on doing every project just right. One look around Tara Vana shows that we are perfectionists!

We bought Tara Vana after 2 years of catamaran shopping. We love the roomy, uncluttered cockpit. After all, that's really where we spend most of our time! Since Rick is 6'3", the ample headroom inside was important to us. There's plenty of storage, both inside and outside. The boat is light and airy, with a good sized working area in the galley, and good ventilation throughout. It's a really comfortable home for us.


We outfitted the boat for extensive offshore cruising, and when it comes to safety, we've got it! We have a ParaTech 18' sea anchor, and a Galerider drogue. Both are used to slow the boat down in nasty weather. We have 2 autopilot systems installed, so if one fails, we simply switch over to the other system. We installed mast steps to make it easier and safer to go up the mast. We bought a new liferaft, after much research. We have inflatable PFD's that we wear at night or in bad weather, with new jacklines running up each side of the boat, inboard. We have an EPRIB that sends a radio frequency alert message to the ground receiving station in case of an emergency, with our GPS position. We have a spare VHF radio, and 2 handheld VHF radios. We have a backup GPS system, and a handheld. We installed extra handrails all along the cabin top. We bought new fire extinguishers, and check them regularly.


Nothing beats a downwind sail on a catamaran! We have a 1000 square foot asymmetrical spinnaker that is just too fun! It stores easily in the port bow when we're not using it. We replaced our standing rigging in 2007, and had a new, custom main sail made, along with a new sail bag and lazy bag system. In the case of rough weather, we have a storm sail that is really cool, as we just hank it on right over our furled jib!


Between our four 75-amp solar panels and our KISS wind generator, we typically produce more than our daily amp requirements....on all but those occasional cloudy, still days! The high-output alternator we installed on the port engine cranks out the amps whenever we do use the engine. And our house battery bank is huge....650 amp hours! We've replaced the salon lights, reading lights, anchor light, and tri-color navigation light with energy efficient LED bulbs.


We use the starboard aft stateroom as our master stateroom. We have 2" memory foam on the double mattress....it's so comfy! And long enough even for Rick, who is 6'3"! There is a hanging closet and a shoe locker. The en-suite head is used as a dedicated shower. Air ventilation is good, with a hatch over the bed and 2 portholes.

We have a 21" flat screen Visio TV mounted on the aft wall, on a swivel mount so that the TV can swing out over the bed. The flat screen TV and a Sony DVD player run off a 500 watt inverter installed behind the bed. We've got some great DVDs on board, mostly documentaries and classics.

There is a 6-gallon water heater under the berth, which we don't use all that often....usually a dip in the sea with a fresh water rinse does the job. There's a 12 volt outlet just by the berth, for a computer or other device.

There is plenty of storage under the berth. We keep our 9000 BTU Haier free-standing air conditioner stored there, as we only use it when at a dock or on the hard. In addition, we have stores of food provisions.


We use the port aft berth as a guest stateroom. It has a double size mattress. It has an en-suite head of molded fiberglass, a hanging locker, and a shoe locker. Like each of the staterooms, it has good ventilation, with a hatch overhead and two portholes. There is plenty of storage under the berth.

We store our house battery bank, our 650 amp hour Rolls lead acid batteries, under the port aft berth. The batteries are easy to access for maintenance. We also have a 1000 watt inverter, and an impressive inventory of spares.


There is plenty of storage in the two forward staterooms. We keep our spinnaker and Gale Sail in the port forward stateroom. Extra clothes, books, and provisions are stored under the starboard forward berth. Light items are kept up in the forward bows, with a lightweight Textaline curtain hiding the storage areas. Each forward stateroom has an overhead hatch, and two portholes.


The boat came with 4 heads, one in each stateroom. They are made of molded fiberglass, so they are very easy to clean. We took the toilet out of the head in our master stateroom, and made that head a dedicated shower. We also took the toilet out of the port forward head, and we use that head for our dive gear and Rick's stand-alone ice maker!


Tara Vana boasts a big, comfy salon, with a settee and table that can seat up to 10....it's great for those potlucks on the boat! The salon is light and airy, with good ventilation. There are 2 12-volt Hella fans behind the settee, plus one right above the galley stove...that's the one we use the most!

The greatest thing about our galley is that it opens up to the cockpit with a good-sized sliding window. The person in the galley feels part of the socializing in the cockpit. And it ensures good ventilation while the chef is slaving over the hot stove! On those really hot days, though, we tend to cook everything on the bar-b-que that we installed on the stern.

We love having the large, double-basin sink in the galley, and a recessed area for our dish rack. We've got an in-line water filter, the kind that filters out everything, right at the sink...no hauling of bottled water, and disposing of all that plastic!

We installed a new refrigeration system, that is more energy efficient than the dual cold plate system that came with the boat. We added a nice teak pantry to give us easy access to the stuff we use the most. Best of all, we love the 4 teak drawers we had built in Trinidad, where we keep silverware and kitchen utensils.


We outfitted Tara Vana for the extensive offshore cruising we planned to do in the Pacific. We have 250' of BBB 3/8" chain, plus another 100' of rode, for ease of anchoring in the deep anchorages you tend to find in the Pacific. Our 55 pound Delta anchor is awesome; it has never let us down! We have a 33 pound aluminum Spade anchor that we bought to use as a stern anchor, but can also be used as a primary anchor or a second anchor in severe conditions.

We installed folding mast steps up to the spreaders. Now it's easy for one person to climb aloft to watch ahead when navigating in shallow waters with coral bommies. We recently installed a new chart plotter, a new VHF radio, and a Feruno radar system. Our redundant auto pilot insures that we won't be forced to hand steer for days in the case of an auto pilot failure on a long passage!

We had to install a decent sized house battery bank, solar panels and wind generator, to meet our energy requirements. We installed a watermaker to make us more self-sufficient, and allow us more cruising freedom. We bought binoculars, handheld VHF radios, and a handheld GPS. We bought all new anchors and chain.

The nav station has a big storage area for paper charts, and all the instruments are easy to see. We feel that an SSB radio is not a luxury, but an important safety feature. It allows us to listen to weather nets, safety and security nets, and to touch base with friends on cruiser nets. We use SailMail, with our Pactor II modem and the SSB radio, for onboard email. We have worldwide electronic charts on our PC, which ties in directly to our chart plotter, and two 12 volt outlets at the nav station. We also have worldwide pilot charts, and paper charts for the Caribbean and the Pacific. We have an auto pilot remote that lets us change our course from inside, which is nice at night or in squally weather.

Tara Vana Features & Specs

27 January 2002
• 25 kilo (55 lb.) Delta anchor
• 250 feet of 3/8" BBB chain
• 100 feet of rode
• 33 lb. Spade aluminum anchor with 25 feet of 3/8" BBB chain
• 40 feet of 10mm chain
• Lofrans Cayman 88 1000 watt windlass
• 25 foot anchor bridle (1 inch) with Wichard chain grabber
• 125 ft. ¾ inch nylon line (two)
• 50 ft. ¾ inch braided nylon line (two)
• Misc. other docking lines (various lengths, sizes)
• Large anchor locker with ample storage
• 8 inflatable fenders
• Aluminum boat hook

• New RFD SeaSava Plus R 4-person liferaft, March 2007
• ACR GlobalFix Category II EPIRB
• ParaTech 18' sea anchor with 200 meters of nylon rope
• Galerider 48" drogue with 100 meters of double braid line
• 2 West Marine inflatable life vests with whistles, strobe lights
• 6 life vests
• 2 handheld million candlepower spotlights
• 3 USCG fire extinguishers

• Fully battened mainsail, about 550 sq. feet, 3 reefs, November 2005
• Blue Sunbrella lazy bag November 2005
• Z-Spar mast and boom
• New standing rigging November 2005
• Self-furling jib, about 350 sq. feet
• Asymmetrical spinnaker, about 1000 sq. feet
• New "Gale Sail", hank-on storm headsail
• 5 2-speed self-tailing Lewmar 44 winches
• Miscellaneous shackles and blocks
• 10 folding mast stairs
• Bosun's chair

• Autohelm ST50 instrumentation (analog wind, Multi, ST7000 Autopilot, at port helm)
• Autohelm ST7000 autopilot with linear drive on port quadrant
• Northstar (Navman) autopilot with Raymarine linear drive on starboard quadrant (redundant system)
• Multi at interior nav table
• Raymarine ST600R wired autopilot remote at interior nav table
• Standard Horizon Matrix GX3000 fixed mount VHF with external speaker, 30 watt hailer (hailer horn mounted at spreaders)
• Uniden 502 fixed mount VHF (spare) with remote mic
• Standard Horizon HX350S handheld VHF (two)
• Dual masthead VHF antennas
• Icom IC-M802 SSB with AT140 tuner
• Commander Technologies 23 ft. SSB whip antenna
• Metz SSB DSC receive antenna
• Pactor 2-Pro modem with Pactor III firmware upgrade
• Furuno GP32 WAAS GPS/chartplotter
• Furuno 1715 LCD radar
• Fujinon 7 X 50 marine binoculars
• MLR Valsat O2L GPS
• Magellan handheld GPS
• Raytheon electronic handheld bearing compass

• Rolls lead-acid batteries with Hydro-Caps (650AH)
• Link 10 monitor
• TruCharge 40 amp 220V battery charger
• 80 amp high output alternator with Balmar ARS4 3-stage regulator on port engine
• 1000 watt Xantrex inverter
• 4 Siemens solar panels on tilting rack (300 watts) with Xantrex C35 charge controller
• KISS wind generator
• LED masthead tri-color, anchor light
• LED lighting throughout interior
• 4 interior 12v outlets

• Flagship Marine electronic security system
• Deck sensors on transom steps, and on stern
• Cockpit sensors
• Salon sensors
• Activates siren and flashes deck light
• Remote control

• Volvo MD2030, freshwater cooled (two)
• Separate start battery for each engine
• Large engine rooms accessible from transoms; ample storage
• Volvo 120SD Saildrives (two)
• Manual pull CO2 fire extinguishing system
• Racor 500FG fuel/water separators (two)
• Fuel: about 72 gallons, 36 gallons each engine
• 8 5-gallon diesel fuel transport jugs

• About 175 gallons freshwater storage in 2 tanks
• Pressurized freshwater system with two pumps
• Water usage meter
• Separate spigot at galley sink for in-line filtered drinking water
• EchoTec 8 gallon/hour watermaker
• High pressure saltwater wash-down pump at anchor roller
• 6 gallon 220 volt/engine heated water heater
• Freshwater shower at starboard transom, with water saving pressure nozzle
• 50 ft. garden hose
• High water bilge alarms for hulls, engine rooms
• Automatic bilge pumps for engine rooms, hulls
• Manual bilge pumps for hulls
• 5 3-gallon water transport jugs

• 4 stateroom layout with ensuite head/shower, hanging closets & shelves
• 21" Visio flatscreen TV on swivel wall mount & Sony DVD player in master stateroom
• 2" memory foam on master berth
• 6'4" headroom throughout
• Teak & Holly laminate floors in hulls
• Modern, LED reading lights for each berth
• Ample storage under the 4 berths, and in both bows
• Kenwood CD/MP3/AM/FM radio with inside/outside speakers
• Excellent ventilation throughout: 6 ceiling hatches with sunshades & removable screens, 2 forward facing hatches in salon, sliding window in galley (Goiot)
• 8 opening portlights (Goiot) with removable screens
• Custom built teak pantry, drawers, and cabinet facings
• Custom built bookshelves with teak fiddles
• 12 volt Hella Turbo fans (8)
• 9,000 BTU Haier free standing air conditioner, 110v

• Dual basin stainless steel sink
• 2 burner propane stove with oven
• 40 lb. propane storage
• Electric propane solenoid shutoff under galley sink
• Front loading 12V evaporator plate refrigeration; air/freshwater cooling, 9 cubic foot capacity, with wireless temperature display
• Free-standing ice maker 110V
• Commercial quality non-slip salon/galley flooring
• Salon table with seating for 10
• Storage under entire settee
• Corian-type Wilsonart counter and stove cover
• Peek-A-Boo hatch shades on 2 overhead hatches

• Dual helms aft, instrument displays at port helm
• Large, well shaded cockpit, blue Sunbrella bimini with aft and side Sunbrella panels
• White molded fiberglass cockpit table, seats 4-6
• Custom fit Textaline cockpit cushions
• Custom-made teak cockpit grate
• Sunbrella sunshade for the front of the boat
• Textaline salon window covers
• Ocean Frenzy kayak
• Folding deck chairs (2), folding Sport-a-Seat cushions (2)
• Magma propane BBQ mounted on stern
• Propane: a 20 lb. composite tank, a 10 aluminum tank, a 10 lb. steel tank, and a shut-off solenoid mounted under the galley sink
• 9' Caribe Lite dinghy with 9.8 Tohatsu outboard engine, sturdy engine lock, cable and chain for securing dinghy
• Dinghy anchor, chain, & rode
• SS dinghy davits; outboard motor mount
• 2 large lazarettes for dive gear storage; outboard fuel storage (18 gallons)
• 2 large cockpit lazarettes
• Molded fiberglass bow pulpit seats
• White "Starboard" folding helm seat (port)
• Transom fishing pole holders (2); trolling rod with Penn reel; misc. fishing gear
• Solar stern boarding lights (LED)

Choosing Your Catamaran

25 January 2002

When researching catamarans, we developed a short list of priority features we wanted in a boat, relative to safety and comfort.

EASE OF SAILING: We insisted on a boat that was easy for two or even one person to handle alone. We test drove virtually every catamaran out there, and found that the Nautitech 435 was easy to handle under way, and we liked the way she sailed. Also, we preferred to have the helms aft, giving the helmsperson a better view of the sails, and leaving the cockpit clear and uncluttered. The Nautitech and Catana both offer aft helms, but the Catana was just too pricey for the value, in our opinion. Besides, we did not want dagger boards, as the Catanas have....too many potential problems and no real value for the type of sailing we expected to do.

BRIDGEDECK CLEARANCE: This was one of our top considerations in choosing a catamaran. If the bridgedeck is too low, waves will pound the underside of the boat when sailing to windward. Very irritating. But unfortunately, most catamarans do have a low bridgedeck. The Nautitech 435 is one of the few cats we looked at with good bridgedeck clearance.

WATERLINE: Originally, we were looking to buy a 35' - 38' catamaran. Hey, we're just two people, we didn't feel we needed anything bigger, and the smaller cats were cheaper. But everything we read indicated that for safety and comfort when cruising offshore, a catamaran should have at least a 40 foot waterline. After buying Tara Vana, we've often sailed with friends on smaller cats, and so we got to see for ourselves how they handled, even in moderate seas. We are glad that we insisted on a minimum 40 foot waterline.

EASE OF HANDLING: Many catamarans have narrow side decks, making a quick run forward a bit scary. We wanted to be able to go forward safely, and appreciated the Nautitech's wide side decks. We also wanted a good, flat working area at the base of the mast. Many cats have a sloping surface, or small area, right at the base of the mast, where you need a secure spot to stand while you hoist or reef the main. We loved the large flat area that the Nautitech 435 has right at the base of the mast.

LIVABILITY: The 6'4" headroom throughout the Nautitech 435 was a key consideration for us, as Rick is 6'3". The headroom issue alone eliminated several catamarans from our short list. He can even lay flat on the berth! And we insisted on a galley up....it's no fun to be cooking down below, especially under way. We love the Nautitech's large salon window that joins the galley and the cockpit. And we were disappointed to find that many production catamarans did not have a nav station or chart table! The Nautitech's nav station is large and right by the door to the cockpit, just what we were looking for.

EASE OF ENGINE MAINTENANCE: On many cats, access to the engines is through the interior, usually under the aft berths. We did not want to do oil changes in our bedroom! We wanted engines with easy access, from the exterior. We understood that easy access to all engine maintenance tasks was key to staying on top of maintenance. The engine rooms on the Nautitech 435 are downright spacious!

STORAGE: Since we planned to live on the boat full time, ample and convenient storage was important to us. The Nautitech 435 has a huge anchor locker, where we store our secondary anchor and rode, our fenders and dock lines, and other stuff we probably should get rid of! The cockpit has two large lazarettes, and there are two more large lazarettes aft of the cockpit. One is used for all our dinghy fuel jerry jugs, spare oil, etc. We keep our masks and fins, and fresh water jugs in the other one. We store eight 5-gallon diesel jerry jugs on secure shelves in the engine rooms, along with our drogue and some fenders....and there's still room to spare! And there's plenty of storage inside, under each berth, and under the settee.

INTERIOR LAYOUT: We had hoped to find an 'Owner's Version' catamaran. That made sense, as we are just two people living aboard. However, we quickly discovered that there aren't many used 'Owner's Version' cats out there, and the few we found were quite expensive! As it turns out, it's fine having 4 berths, they provide us with a lot of hidden storage. And since we don't need 4 heads, we use one for our dive equipment, and one as an indoor shower. Now that we've lived aboard for all these years, we actually prefer the charter layout.

CHARTER vs PRIVATE: Since Tara Vana was in charter before we bought her, she did not really have any of the equipment that a cruising boat needs. We spent a lot of money, time and energy outfitting her for extensive offshore cruising.

The next time we buy a boat, we hope to find one that is already outfitted for cruising. Then we can start enjoying the boat right away, instead of spending the first few years of our new cruising life just installing equipment in a crowded marina!

VALUE: We retired in our early 40's, with a cautious eye toward our spending. We needed to find a reasonably priced boat that offered good value. The Nautitech 435 cost substantially less than the other 40' - 45' cats of similar age that we researched, yet it provided the features and functionality that we had determined were important in a blue water cruising catamaran. In addition, well, it just felt like home the first time we stepped aboard. Not many Nautitech 435s were built....we felt fortunate to find Tara Vana!
Your text to link...
Vessel Name: Tara Vana
Vessel Make/Model: Nautitech 435 catamaran
Hailing Port: Laguna Beach, CA
Crew: Rick & Ami Bergstrom
About: With little previous sailing experience, we decided to sell everything we owned, buy a cruising catamaran, and explore the world.
Extra: Retired at 40, we've been living aboard Tara Vana in the Caribbean since Sept. 2001. It has been a rich and varied experience. New people. New cultures. Lots of dance and music. And spectacular scenery.
Tara Vana's Photos - Main
Cruising the Colombian coast....wandering the streets of El Centro Historico in Cartagena....we fell in love with the Colombian people and their colorful Latin culture...
40 Photos | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 6 January 2010
A slice of Paris in the Caribbean, "...French wine and cheeses; warm summer breezes..."
29 Photos
Created 5 January 2010
Stunning scenery, welcoming locals and a strong music culture endeared us to the islands of the Eastern Caribbean
45 Photos
Created 5 January 2010
Trinidad feels like home...we spent a good part of our first 6 years on the boat there...we have family there now and so many wonderful memories...!
1 Photo | 6 Sub-Albums
Created 5 January 2010
We've explored so many incredibly beautiful places in the Caribbean....take a peek at our paradise!
55 Photos
Created 4 January 2010
100 miles north of the Venezuelan coast, these islands of the Dutch Antilles offer spectacular diving, sailing, and cruiser socializing
39 Photos
Created 4 January 2010
We loved exploring the underwater world of the Caribbean, especially in Bonaire...meet some of our newest friends!
33 Photos
Created 4 January 2010
We so enjoy the other cruisers we've met along the way...a wonderful international community of fun-seeking, adventurous spirits...
71 Photos
Created 2 January 2010
We loved Venezuela, especially the remote offshore island groups of Los Roques and Las Aves.
39 Photos
Created 1 January 2010
Take a virtual tour of our boat! We've got lots of cool pictures....
30 Photos | 8 Sub-Albums
Created 1 January 2010
We delighted in the scenic beauty and tranquility of the San Blas Islands, and enjoyed meeting the indigenous Kuna Indians
45 Photos
Created 30 December 2009
A quick get-away to see this part of the world and visit our friends on SV ZEN
34 Photos
Created 21 October 2009

Who: Rick & Ami Bergstrom
Port: Laguna Beach, CA