Rolling Home!

Tales of the sea, PART 1

What’s a young family to do? Travel of course! In the first of three articles, the intrepid Catherine Lorenzen tells how she got caught up in the whole business of international education as a nurse, married to a marine engineer, with three children in tow. Part 1 of her adventures takes us from revolutionary Iran to Yemen and on to Jakarta, where the family learn to sail. 

Early days Iran and Yemen

Getting involved with International Education for me began a very long time ago in Iran, when I registered our daughter to attend the British International School in Tehran in the late 70s. Finding ourselves on our very first overseas posting we had lots to learn. The British School became the hub of our lives and one became quickly involved with voluntary activities. In school and out we explored the city and surrounding areas taking memorable holidays in the mountains.


By 1979 our time came quickly to an end: as the Iranian revolution got underway we had to leave in somewhat of a hurry – me, husband Heinz and our three children.

Two years later we moved to North Yemen and for four and a half years all three of our children attended The Ali Otman School in Taiz. I wasn’t involved as such with the school but was very active in Taiz’s small community with play school, brownies and clubs etc.

 When our daughter passed her 11 plus we went back to the UK and settled her into a grammar school. However after being involved with International Education it didn’t surprise us that we yearned for a more open choice of development and education and I was delighted when a post came up for Heinz in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Ten years in Jakarta

Our stay there was for 10 years, which enabled us to see our children graduate from what was then Jakarta International School  (“JIS” to the whole community)  which at the time was the only international school with a secondary section. As a mother I was involved with many of the after school activities, and as a bus chaperone for outings etc.

It was in the late 1980s whilst I was setting up the British Girl guides at the British international School (BIS), I was asked if I could spare a few hours a week as a volunteer to cover the First Aid room.

I jumped at this opportunity as I knew it was impossible to get a work permit in Indonesia for an expat nurse: this was a wonderful opportunity to use my medical experience and give my energy an outlet. At first I did 2 to 3 days a week and as the other volunteers moved off I went in everyday and I loved it. I stayed on and as the school grew so did my role, becoming the school’s health officer working in the field of health education and pastoral care. I trained local nurses to become school nurses, running the first aid classes for the bus chaperones and class assistants. I was the resident medic on field trips and school activity days. My office at the school was a hub of advice and information. It was a role I loved.

Sleepovers and river hikes

One of my memorable duties as health officer was at the annual Reception Teddy Bear sleepover at the new BIS campus that had been built out in what was then a clearing in the jungle!  It was an adorable time. So many little people with their teddies, such fun was had by all, complete with games, stories and a pantomime, not to mention a champagne breakfast when the children had been collected by their parents! For many children it was probably the first time away from home, and it always went without tears.

A second memorable time was when more adventurous field trips for the seniors were introduced as the school grew. One trip involved some pretty heavy river walking. We were put into teams of four and I was to be in the last team carrying the medical pack. As part of the hike, our smart PE teacher challenged us to carry a whole fresh chicken’s egg without breaking it. I’ll never forget as I got to the top of this wet rocky, steamy tropical environment, egg intact!!! I looked back down to where we had clambered and I could see thousands of spiders’ webs strung across the river foliage sparkling in the sun. It must have taken a billion legs to make that lot! The week in the retreat with the kids was great – the work and planning by the faculty was full of energy. Having the responsibility for the care and wellbeing of people’s children have always made me “prepare for the worst, and enjoy the best”.


Taking to the sea

The great love of our time in Jakarta was sailing, which really began in Yemen in 1980 when we purchased a damaged Optimist dinghy from a teacher in Taiz. We mended it and our regular weekend adventure was towing it down to Al Mocha on the Red Sea where we had fun trying to sail it.

In 1986 when we moved to Jakarta we joined the International Sports Club of Indonesia (“ISCI” to everyone) which offered sailing courses on their small lake in Laser and Optimist dinghies, and so began out training. Once I had mastered the fact that I could use the wind to make this little tub do my commanding, I was sold! And very soon the lake became too small and tame for us. My husband, Heinz and I had already introduced ourselves to the coastal waters off of Merck on the coast of Java and had brought a 4 metre dingy and outboard from England with us for family weekends of fun on the beach. So with all this new found sailing experience we bought a 9 metre sailing boat, and took to the seas! Every school holiday and weekends we spent as a family afloat. We joined the Jakarta offshore sailing club for meetings, racing and regattas.

Hong Kong to Jakarta!

We loved taking our sailing boat out to the “Thousand Islands” – a group of small atolls some 35 kilometres off shore North of Jakarta, anchoring in this tropical paradise for wonderful weekends away! As our children grew in size we needed more space and a work trip for Heinz to Hong Kong brought him home talking about some bigger sailing boats for sail.

We flew up there and came back with Rolling Home our new 13m yacht. The voyage to Jakarta was our first major adventure, sailing her back with friends from Hong Kong. This was no mean feat for our first off shore and ocean experience, and those were the days before GPS. Still me being me, I planned for the worst and we enjoyed the best!

Rolling Home was her original name and thinking romantically of the sea shanty, Rolling Home, we were more than happy with it. It was some time later however that we learned that in actual fact the name came from the old song in which “this old man came Rolling Home”. Well, given the many joyous sundowners we’ve experienced on her, the name still is apt.


Catherine Lorenzen

Catherine and Heinz have hung up their seaboots and with a heavy heart have put Rolling Home up for sale. There’s a lot more adventure in the old girl yet!

They only want their old friend to go to the best of homes! To find out more, e-mail Catherine on

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