The BM’s consist of Nick (June ’54), Melissa (March ’74) Benjamin Jude (Sept ’06) and Huon Kai (Nov ’09). Since March 2007 their home has been Sonrisa, sailing from La Rochelle (Atlantic France), where Sonrisa was originally delivered, to Lisbon, St Martin, The Caribbean Leeward and Windward Islands, Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and finally Mexico in Nov 2010. The plan is to stay in Mexico until 2013 when the boys will be old enough to appreciate the Pacific crossing (and also to be left alone so mum and dad can go surfing and diving!).
Nick and Melissa met in 1997 at Puerto Portals, Mallorca, Spain when Melissa was offered the job of stewardess on Wild B, the 25 m motor boat Nick skippered. Nick was happily married and Melissa was happily engaged, and had absolutely no intention of getting mixed up with an aging Australian (the whole reason for Mel to be in Spain was to study and learn the Spanish culture – not to meet Ozzies!). Still shit happens and in the confined crew quarters of Wild B an unlikely romance blossomed. A very painful (for all involved) 2 years eventually saw the smoke clear and the start of contented relationship.
From 2000 they spent 2 years in Holland building the 40 metre Motor Yacht Solaia at the Hakvoort Shipyard in Monnikendam. On a tropical beach north of Cairns, Australia at the end of 2002 Nick and Mel were married with a dream of a small family cruising through the Pacific surfing, sailing and enjoying the quiet life. While in Holland Mel followed her own dream of becoming a chef, the agreeable owner of Solaia had promised to give Mel the opportunity to be the cook on Solaia. Several local restaurants used Mel as unpaid help, in return she received wonderful, hands on training. As in all happy stories, the result was a very satisying and exciting 5 years on Solaia, Nick skippering her through all the Mediterranean, Baltic, and four Atlantic crossings for seasons in the Caribbean while Mel made delightful meals. Along with the owners several weeks onboard, there were numerous charterers, one terrible Arab family besides the congenial Americans, Russians and Europeans.
By 2006 they were both ready for the big change – children. In a blink Mel had a radiant motherhood glow and the owner of Solaia was realizing that an era was over , so Solaia was put up for sale. By early September, the sale was nearly completed in Viareggio, Italy and Mel wanted her husband home for the impending birth, Nick returned in the ‘nick’ of time, BJ being born a day later.
Their little farm and orchard ‘Lavagna’ 48 deg 50.1 min S & 147 deg 51.2 min E (the town on the Italian Ligurian coast where romance blossomed) lies on the South East coast of Tasmania, with stunning views over the Marion Bay and the Tasman Sea. Apart from the tranquil rural setting, the quiet waters of Blackmans Bay, probably the best surf spot in Tasmania ‘boneyard’, fabulous fishing and hiking make this a perfect second home.