August 19, 2009
Apolgies to our readers for the lengthy break in our saga. Your e mails of concern for our welfare touched us deeply. Worry not, gentle reader, we are alive, dry and amazingly still afloat. Just to re-cap. A couple, of advanced years, with absolutely no sailing experience apart from two or three episodes of Hornblower and a quick look round the Cutty Sark go for a trip round the bay on an old Oyster with ex friends. Smitten by the clement weather and far too many Pimms No 1 they decide to buy a boat and sail away. Previous episodes have dealt with the traumatic introduction to the world of yachts, sailing and the lure of the deep. The story continues………
Buying something was the tricky part. Its not as if you know you want something big enough to get the dogs in the back or something that will cruise comfortably on motorways. We didn’t really know what we wanted. We decided to enlist the help of the professionals. The broker looked promising, a Helly Hansen shirt and young enough to have done a couple of Vendee Globes but not so old a lifetime of timewasting customers to become completely cynical.
‘Do sit down’ he sharpened his pencil. I decided to come straight to the point. ’ We’d like to buy a boat’. He didn’t even bother to write that down. ’ No problem, what sort?’ ’ Not sure, probably one with sails’. The beginnings of a ’ Oh no, two more daytrippers up from the beach’ look began to cross his face. He stuck with it. ’ What sort of size?’ Before I could answer the memsahib leaned forward and fixed him with a steely glare. ’ One big enough to get a 32" television in’. She had her priorities. ‘OK, is it for weekends and holidays?’ ’We’d rather thought it would be nice to go somewhere warm with nice scenery and sort of wander about a bit’ I replied. Once again she who must be obeyed listed other important requirements ’ There has to be good shops, decent restaurants and plenty of parking space’. ’ He visibly paled, just his luck, Saturday afternoon and there were a couple of unbalanced senior citizens between him and the door. ’ Umm, OK maybe the Med then?’ ‘That general direction sounds good’ quoth I. He struggled to return to the script. ‘So you’ll be living aboard then?’ ’ I suppose we’ll have to’ says herself ‘Do you have any with dishwashers?’ The point of his pencil snapped on the pad. ’ and what sailing have you done?’ ‘Absolutely none’ I beamed. ’ But we have done the Competent Crew thing, do you need to see our certificates?‘. It took a while but eventually we established ourselves as bona fide prospective customers. He tried to be diplomatic. ’ You may really want to think about something not too big to start, at least till you get the hang of it’. That was one thing that both the memsahib and I had as a fixed priority. ’ Nope, no point messing about, if we are going to do it we may as well do it properly, have you anything around 50 feet?’
We spent the afternoon clambering over Jeannau’s, Benetau’s and the odd Halberg-Rassy. We told him what everyone had told us so we didn’t bother with Bavaria’s. They were some very nice ones, sloops, ketches but nothing that really sort of grabbed us. We repaired to the marina bar with the exhausted salesman and tried to explain our predicament. ’ Trouble is its not really a yacht we want, its more like a motor home that floats’. ’ Have you considered a motor cruiser’ was the obvious question. I had but had also considered at what point we would actually go bankrupt putting fuel in it. The other half finished pouring the remains of the bottle of vastly overpriced vin rouge very ordinaire into her glass and issued one of her rare romantic utterances. ’ Besides we rather like the swishy sort of noise that they make when the sails are up’. He was used to us by now. ‘Leave it with me, i’ll find something’.
It took a while. I surfed the internet through pages of interior and exterior shots of every kind of sailing craft known to man and a few that looked as if they were best unknown. Why is it that the one you really like is just outside your budget by about half a million or so? And then the phone rang. ’ I think I have found her’ came the jubilant voice of our now good friend the broker. ‘The owner has just bought a Discovery 55 and she is on her way back to the UK from the Med. Everything you want on her, fully loaded , lots of space, plenty of extras and easy to sail’ He gave a price. It would mean selling the collection of Limoge eggcups and borrowing heavily from the kid’s trustfund. ’I’ll e mail the spec now with some photographs’ ’ Right ho’ says I ‘By the way, what make?’. ’ Shes a Bavaria’ came the reply. I started to protest, hadn’t everyone told us not to touch Bavarias, good sound boats but a bit lightweight etc? He carried on ’ but shes a rather unusual one’. I galloped to the PC and feverishly called up Hotmail.
There is such a thing as love at first sight. I got the same feeling when as a youth I begged borrowed and stole to buy an E type Jaguar for £600. ( NO, i’m not going to tell you how long ago it was but the price will give a clue). She looked graceful, 47 feet of elegance, a deckhouse saloon so none of that wedge of cheese appearance that to me made many boats look like the sea going equivalent of Ford Mondeos. The list of extras seemed impressive. Bowthruster, electric winches, air con, SSB radio ( whats an SSB radio?) generator, etc. damn , no dishwasher. I summoned the boss. ‘What do you think?’ ’ Pretty thing, isn’t the sail rather small’ she queried. ’ I think its one of those furling jobs that roll up inside the mast, I think thats just the end of it poking out’. ‘Oh, OK then, has it got a power shower?’ I sighed. At the end of the mail was a note from our man. Apparently this was a rare beast. Before turning to production lines and churning out boats by the thousand the people in Gibelstadt had experimented with a centre cockpit heavyweight and tried for the upmarket market. Even now its difficult to discover why only 20 or so were built. But I digress……..
We (I) feverishly awaited its arrival on the east coast. Our yachting friends were put on standby for initial inspection. The day dawned and our experts were collected at an ungodly hour and bundled complaining into the car. ‘Stop moaning’ says I ’ It’s your fault, you should never have taken us sailing’. She had been taken out when we got there and sat in splendid isolation dwarfing the boats around her. The experts got to work, I followed on tenterhooks. There were lots of lifting of hatches, opening of doors and inspections of dials. Non commital grunts accompanied each observation. The memsahib went straight to the aft cabin which resembled a suite at the Dorchester in its size. ’ This will do, though I’m not sure if I can get all my clothes in these wardrobes’. I breathed a sigh of relief and resigned myself to living out of a small suitcase. A small price to pay. The party gathered on the transom and the chief examiner gave his verdict. ‘Not really a sailing boat, more like a gin palace with a mast. Too many gadgets to go wrong but ideal if you just want to pose I expect. ( Too right I thought ). ’Surprisingly solid though, get a survey done and go for it’.
A week later my fingered hovered over the button on the keyboard that was to send the equivalent of the annual turnover of the Ivory Coast to someone else’s bank account. I shut my eyes, took a deep breath and stabbed. We were now yacht owners.