For all who love the water, whether surfing, fishing, diving, or exploring, the East Coast of the wondrous island nation of Australia is nothing short of a liquid paradise, so rich and varied are its many attractions. From the rugged island state of Tasmania to the south, to the alluring tropical beaches of Queensland to the north—with the bustling metropolis of Sydney, countless quiet backwaters like Pittwater, and of course the iconic Great Barrier Reef all in between—the bold Pacific coastline of Oz is a treasure, one of the planet’s greatest cruising grounds.
Andrew and Yvonne Lawler are lifelong boaters from the southern state of Victoria who’ve worked their way up through a veritable fleet of vessels ranging from ski boats to cabin cruisers in the three decades and change since they met as teenagers. In the last few years this diverse, tempting stretch of glorious seashore has become their personal playground. That’s because, since 2018, the Lawler’s have made their floating home on the ideal vehicle to take it all in, and in grand, go-anywhere style: a Kadey-Krogen 48 North Sea called Tranquility Base.
“Andrew and I made a decision about a year prior to buying TB that we were in search of something more,” said Yvonne. “We’d owned and operated a bussing company, mainly school buses, for 22 years, and decided we wanted a little more excitement in our lives. I just thought, ‘Let’s do something crazy.’ So choosing to sell our home, downsize our business, and upsize our existing boat was a no-brainer. To be honest, we were pretty boring until we decided to do this!”
“We were living at the Gippsland Lakes, which is a large network of coastal lakes and rivers, and our 39-footer at the time was ideal for those waters, but not as a permanent liveaboard to cruise further,” she added. “After some serious searching, we came across Tranquility Base and had to do some research, as we had never heard of Kadey-Krogen trawlers. We certainly do now, and realize how lucky we were to become the third owners. But we weren’t originally going to buy it because it was a little out of our price range. Then we took a sea trial and it was so lovely. We went home, scratched our heads and said, ‘Let’s do it!’”
Built in 2006, Tranquility Base was hull number 33 in a 49-boat production run of Kadey-Krogen 48 NS models, a purposeful vessel with classic lines designed expressly for blue-water escapades. On a boat-hunting mission in Florida in 2013, the yacht’s previous owners, Chris and Brian Harward from Sydney, fell in love with the craft and had it shipped across the Pacific to the port of Brisbane the following year. For several years afterwards, they ranged far and wide, heading north to the Whitsunday Islands, Cape York, and the Flinders archipelago.
By 2018, the Harwards were ready to move on, and the timing for Yvonne and Andrew was just about perfect; they took delivery of the boat on New Year’s Eve of that year. They quickly returned to their base on the lakes for six months to prepare Tranquility Base for extensive cruising (the only real major project was the installation of a watermaker), after which, said Yvonne, “We headed north, in search of fun and adventure.”
And they found what they were looking for.
In the years since, they’ve actually ranged up and down the country’s eastern seaboard twice, with many, many stops along the way. Their favorite spots? It’s a long list.
“The waterways around Sydney, the Hawkesbury River, all the tributaries surrounding it, it’s all just remarkable,” said Andrew. “You can spend weeks right there, without question.”
“One of our favorite places is Lady Musgrave Reef, which is quite amazing,” added Yvonne, working her way northward on the chart. “It’s one of the first places where you can access the Great Barrier Reef as you head north. The Flinders group, about a hundred miles beyond Lizard Island, is also beautiful and unique. And then there are the Ribbon Reefs, north of Cairns, which are quite remote. You don’t get the tourists up there and it’s just amazing. You can be the only people floating around for miles and miles.”
During the Southern Hemisphere’s recent winter, however, the couple and Tranquility Base have been more or less stationary, parked in a slip in Queensland’s Mackay Marina. It’s boating season in those parts, and the Lawlers have a great view of all the racing sailboats coming and going to events like Hamilton Island Race Week, one of Australia’s premier regattas. For now, they’re getting some work accomplished: they still own a couple of school buses, and need to be within phone contact with their employees, and Andrew found some temporary work driving trucks for the sugar-cane “crushing” season, which is in full swing.
“It’s harvest time and there are thousands and thousands of acres of cane around Mackay, so we’re topping off the cruising kitty a bit,” said Yvonne.
But it won’t be too long before they drop the dock lines once and for all and head out on an open-ended journey, one without schedules or timetables, to transition between the coastal voyagers they’ve been and the world cruisers they yearn to be.
So, where to?
“We definitely want to visit Tasmania,” said Andrew. “It’s cold, but it’s a beautiful spot, there’s lots of good boating down there. Then we’d like to head north, up to Thailand and Indonesia. We’ve got some friends up there now and they say it’s magic. But we’ll still need to be somewhat connected to our business for a while, at least close to an airport if we have to get back.”
But the couple has far more ambitious schemes as well. Andrew dropped a major hint about those when he said, “You know, the boat had a Bahamas sticker on it when we purchased it, and I’m not taking it off! So, yes, we’d like to get back to that part of the world and to the United States, where it came from originally. Actually, what we really want to do is make the Great Loop run. That would be a fantastic trip. So, that’s the long-term plan.”
And then, of course, there’s the great name: Tranquility Base. It was on the boat when the Lawlers obtained it, and remains there still. In one context, of course, it was the sight of the original moon landing in 1969. Yvonne and Andrew have wondered if the previous American owners had something to do with the space program, or perhaps simply wished to honor it.
“But we know they were also a doctor and lawyer, busy people, and maybe it was just a tranquil place that they enjoyed away from work,” said Andrew.
“Everyone thinks it’s very unique and appropriate,” said Yvonne. “But we’re not going to change it. It’s certainly fitting for us, as well. It is very tranquil.”
So, yes, for now those classic Aussie cruising grounds have been a welcome proving ground for coastal cruisers with dreams beyond their home waters. On Tranquility Base, the journey has just begun.