Last weekend we took a drive to meet a couple who were selling a warrior 35 which is parked on a canal in the middle of France. We didn't go to France, we went to Weatherby in North Yorkshire, that's where they're living, and it was closer than France.
Last week I was googleing routes from the Irish sea to Portugal and beyond. The Atlantic adventure still seemed a possibility, should we find that illusive vessel over here. This googleing lead me to a funny little cartoon of a route from Scotland to southern Spain, I clicked on it and found myself on a blog of a yacht called Yanina, and a couple, Bob and Liz. They had been cruising for seven years, mostly in the Med, but they had also done Gambia, the Atlantic and finally the Caribbean. After browsing their blog I found a link to their boat which was up for sail. Shes a warrior 35, and looking at the pictures I thought she just may be the boat for us. Nice liner galley, large head, and lots of cruising gear on board. Whats more she was in our price range, well just over, but it's a buyers market so we could probably get her for a bit less.
We mailed the owners and found out they live a couple of hours drive away. Jackie thought we should arrange to meet them so we made a date for Sunday. A drive over the yorkshire moors for lunch at a little village pub seemed a nice idea, meet Bob and Liz and quiz them about their boat and glean a bit from their experience, and why were they selling up.
We had lunch in Morrisons. Bob and Liz have retained the budget cruisers mentality, so soup and a sandwich and a couple of hours of conversation at the local supermarket cafe. Bob had turned out a couple of books whilst on their adventures, a quirky sideways view of life at sea with lots of cartoons. Called On the nose, and bang on the nose, they sold quite well, I believe, and we came away with a couple of signed copies.
As for the info about their boat it sounded just about right and maybe we needed to arrange a trip to France to see it, well that was how it was when we left. But after our two hour drive back home we had come to the conclusion that perhaps not. Maybe our dream of sailing the Atlantic had been cooled a little by their description of their crossing, which was a bit of a long and dull voyage. Perhaps buying this side of the pond wasn't going to turn up our ideal Caribbean cruiser, maybe we we're looking for two different boats rolled into one. By the time I'ld read a few chapters of their book I decided the warrior was not our boat, almost but not quite. The search continues.
Although at the moment we're pretty strapped for cash, still waiting to sell this bungalow, we had a sod it moment a couple of days ago. Stress and pressure at work has just about got the better of us and so out came the credit card and we booked ourselves onto a flight back to the Dominican Republic for a couple of weeks of well deserved R&R. No boat hunting, no work just a beach and vitamin R, to recharge our batteries. We've set a deadline now for the end of September, told the trustees, drawn a line, so boat or no boat we're jumping ship after we've cleared up things at this end. That may entail a bit of grief, but one way or another we'll be in the Caribbean before Christmas, I think.
When I get older losing my hair many years from now, ......was how the lyric went in the year when I was just 19 years young. Oh what a distant unknowable concept was that, a time I would no doubt never live to see as we were all gonna die before we got old. Grand children on my knee, and holidays in the Isle of Wight, if it wasn't too dear.
So here it is, here is the very day when I'm 64. I've poured myself a glass of pink bubbly, and lit a cuban cigar, vanilla flavoured, and savouring the moment. I've had not one card, but this is the age of facebook, and I've had over 50 happy birthday wishes, and over half from people I actually know.
Have an awesome day, some said, and although I haven't done anything special, today has been a very special day. Today I went to get the result of my blood test which I had been waiting for for just about a week. The test had been arranged to confirm that my operation in November for the removal of my prostate had been a success. I had had to wait these three months to see if the out come was going to be positive, and at about 9am I received the news I'ld been waiting to hear. Your blood test is normal, completely clear, completely normal, not a trace of cancer.
Well you can't get a better birthday present than that can you.
It's been a long three months, always hoping for the best, but fearing that your going to be the one in a thousand where the op fails to cure you. So whoopeee.
So today, at 64 I'm getting ready for new adventures, to sail away into the sunset without the dark cloud of the big C hanging like a hammer. So thank you NHS and here's to many more years.
Ok the cigars and the alcohol may get me in the end but for now I'm enjoying the moment. Happy birthdays have never felt so good.
Lifes what happens when your making other plans, as John Lennon once wrote, and thats how the last week has been.
Our plan was to see through the development of the new community room, offices and cafe, which has meant managing a budget of £750,000 that would put the trust onto a sustainable footing for the future. This is all part of saving this 9 acre park, in Ulverston, which the trust has been trying to do for over 12 years. Jackie, has been driving this project for over ten of those years and by this summer we would be able to jump ship as it were and leave. Part of the plan in the smooth hand over of the reigns was having a project manager in place to take over the role of managing the whole operation once we were gone. We are about four weeks from the grand opening of the new premises, and have been deferring lots of responsibilities to the project manager who would step into Jackie's shoes. The last Friday he sent an email whilst on holiday to say he was resigning, as he had had an offer of a job he couldn't refuse. BOMBSHELL.
This has thrown a very large spanner into the works, and means that instead of letting go we have to climb aboard, bigtime and rescue the manoverboard situation. Although the trustees have some fine and capable people on the board they rely entirely on Jackie and myself to make the project work, so losing Jackie's successor so close to this crucial point is to say the least catastrophic.
And it plays havoc with our plans to sail away, at least for a few more months.
Next "life" event takes place on Monday, at about 5pm with a phone call from Jackies daughter.
Now Jackie's daughter has had, lets say a difficult passage from teenagehood to becoming a grown up, a difficult phase that had lasted more than ten years. Lets not go into the details but surfice to say that just last year she managed to get herself a place at university, at the age of 26, studying social anthropology. She left the comfort of our home town and travelled to the other end of the country and has been enjoying life and the uni experience, and doing very good work. Just a few months before she left she started a relationship with a young guy, and they seem to grow very close, very fast. We thought it so strong that she might not go to Uni but she went ahead with the academia, to our delight, and got stuck into the course and her new found life as a student. After the anguish of the last ten years we suddenly had our selves a sensible young woman going places.
And then the phone call........................ I'm pregnant.
It's with her new found soul mate and probably happened over Christmas. So suddenly everything changes. Now we don't know how this will affect our plans, but they have few resources to think about having a baby, and it throws her uni life into complete disarray. What's more with us we can't even contemplate leaving whilst all this is going on. It will now be another year until we can even begin to think about starting our big adventure, they're going to need lots of parent support.
Oh well, sometimes you start to feel like the James Stewart guy in Wonderful life who never manages to get away on his big adventure. Yes John was right Life is what happens whilst your making other plans
02/04/2012, Roa Island
As I said in my previous blog we've ditched the idea of buying one of those classic looking old yachts from Taiwan, and the last week we've started looking at more modern conventional boats. This is a complete turn around I know, but we've had a big reality check after last weeks visit to see the CT41.
Now it's all Beneteau clones, as lots of modern boats look very much the same, a bit like modern cars, I suppose. The silly thing is that before now we've passed over these ads, looking for that something a bit different, something with character, lots of wood to polish and varnish, wooden grabrails, bowsprits, some even with figureheads, a traditional wooden helm, the list goes on. What we couldn't find on all these boats though was a fair sized head, ample galley and a large cockpit, and so when we started to swallow our pride and have a look at more practical options, like the plastic tubs with a stick what did we find.
On the whole that's exactly what these newer boats have, a spacious heads, bigger galleys and large cockpits. The only thing is they're mostly fin and skeg, not your heavy displacement, long keel jobs, the ones that we've been steered towards from all the heavy weather sailing books, your first ocean crossing, secure at sea books etc, we've devoured in our quest to become navigators.
Surfing the net on this new tack, we found a boat in our back yard, at Roa Island just eight miles away. This was a Janneau sunrise, and at 34'6" just about our size. We made contact with the owner Paul and arranged to see her on Saturday morning. We chose the morning because Jackie, who had an eye on the weather reckoned it was likely to snow in the afternoon, so we arranged to meet at 11am. At 10am it started snowing.
Oh well, not the best day to see a boat that may be bound for the Caribbean. Luckily the boat, Silver Lining, was on the hard standing, but the northwesterly's were blowing in freezing rain and snow flurrys. We clambered up the ladder propped against the stern and gave the decks a miss as the boat was caked in ice. Below was cozy though, Paul had had the heaters on. First impressions were that we quite liked her, not love at first sight, but not a no no. She's a 1987 model so not too ostentatious like these production boats can be and the layout would definitely suit our list of requirements, nice heads, ok galley, largish cockpit. And then my smart phone sounded an alarm, telling me we had to be back in Ulverston in 30 minutes, clever things these smart phones, which is why they called smart phones, I suppose.
We said to Paul we would like to see her on a better day and scurried off back to our appointment. On the way home we mulled over the pros and cons of Silver Lining and agreed that we needed another visit in more pleasant weather. By the time we reached Ulverston the snow was thick on the ground. This was not the day to view boats bound for the tropics but it lightened our hearts on a very cold and miserable winters day. Maybe our boat lay in our own backyard, just maybe. Surfing the net over lunch we found a similar boat, but a thirty eight footer just south of Glasgow about 5000 pounds cheaper. We'll arrange to check that out I'm sure, but today Silver Lining was the name of the game, an apt name for a winters day.
We had a call yesterday lunch time from a guy called Richard who owns a CT 41 that's in Whitehaven. We had spotted this boat standing in the boat yard a couple of weeks ago. The boat wasn't for sale and it looked decidedly like a project boat, which it was. Being new to this boat buying game, and being romantics, we had always been drawn to the photos of these, and other Taiwanese models, the Cheoy Lee, Formosas etc. They just have that look about them, that look that turns heads as you sail into harbour, such pretty lines, they just seem to fit our ideas of what we wanted, and quite often they were cheap, within our budget.
We had asked Richard to call us whenever he was going to be visiting his boat so we could come and have a peep inside one of these, as there seem to be few, if any for sale in the UK. Although we knew this one was not for sale and that he had already begun to take her apart it was still a great opportunity to get on board and find out if this was the sort of boat we wanted to buy.
Now Richards emails had been, shall we say a little less than chatty, he seemed to communicate in lists, so I was prepared for a bit of a character, I suppose. When he rang it was a very last minute call, he was going to be there this afternoon if we wanted to come see. We were watching the Australian open final and it had just gone into the 5th set, so at first I said thanks but we may give today a miss. Anyway we were an hour and a half away and he sounded like he was only making a quick visit. Call you back, I said if we're coming. When I rang back he informed me that they would be there at 14.28. Now that was a bit weird, I thought, why not half two, mmm Richard was going to be different.
We arrived at 3.15. Richard was in his early 60s, I would say, and a bit of a live wire. From the off he told us how this boat was not the sort of boat we should even think about buying. He piled the negatives on top of negatives and then finally invited us to climb the ladder and come see the pain that we would inherit should we be foolish enough to buy a boat like this. Jackie, declined the offer to come a board and chose to stay on terra firm and chat to his girlfriend. She had already decided that this was not our boat, much to big, much problemo.
I followed Richard up onto the rotting deck to be shown the horrors that lay buried beneath the bowels of this project. It was dark and dingy inside and all over the place were lifted boards that revealed a couple of years of restoration that Richard was embarking upon. It was not a pretty site, although I could sense that he was committed to bringing this craft back from the brink. But as he pointed out the herculean task that he was undertaking I could see that this was not the way I wanted to go. The dream of romantic sailing craft ebbed away as fast as the falling tides of Morcombe Bay. Sure, the teak interior was lovely but the mass of rotting pipe work and fraying wires exposed soon put paid to my ambitions to own this type of vessel. Richard talked it down, and down some more. Even though for him it was going to be a labour of love he made a great job of quashing my enthusiasm, and I thank him for this. We had be seduced by the lines, the superficial shimmer of the woodwork and space that we had seen in the photos of boats like this on the web. But no longer, we came away with a reality check, and Richards wise words.
We have been barking up the wrong tree, we want to sail, not too inherit a project.
So the trip was well worth it, we have struck another set of boats off our list, and although we don't have a clue what we want now, at least we know it's not going to be some romantic notion, we will choose more wisely, and may even go for a plastic bath tub with a stick that we can sail tomorrow, not spend our time doing something up that could take years to get to be seaworthy.
Another trip out to view another boat today, this time it's a Gib'sea 38 in Whitehaven, which is about an hour and a half up the coast from us. For a change the weather has been more like winter with clear skys and frosty mornings. It was a fine day to take a drive, a drive that took us along the coast with clear views into the mountains of the lake district as a backdrop to our mission. Lenticular clouds hung motionless over the landscape like giant almonds in a clear blue sky.
The last time we were in Whitehaven it was also a cold day, in fact so cold that the water in the marina was frozen solid. That was a couple of years ago, today it's cold but the waters are ice free. We stop the car in the car park overlooking the harbour, light a fag and watch a couple of swans perform a symmetrical dance of pre mating foreplay on the water in front of us.Then, just as it all seems to be getting serious one of them, the girl I suppose, decides it's all to public on the waterfront and glides away, followed by her suitor, later maybe he'll have more luck.
We're here to have a look at this Gibsea but we've been unable to get anyone from the brokers to come and open her up so we can get the full picture. Never the less we have decided that a look around the outside will be enough for today, and it's a good excuse to get out in this beautiful day. The yacht we are going to view is called Grumpy, not the best name for a boat. Why would you call your yacht Grumpy? We find her lying at the end of jetty QB bobbing on the slight breeze. She's a ketch with in mast furling and looking a little forlorn, in need of a little TLC but at first glance she looks in reasonable shape for her age. My mobile rings and its the broker asking if we've found her yet. Yes, we've just arrived, I say. What do you think, he asks, I say we haven't had chance to look yet but one of the stantions is a bit loose, I'll give you a call when we've had a proper look round.
After about 15 mins of crawling round her deck and peering through the windows we decide that it's probably not the boat for us. Sliding windows don't feel right, the route from the cockpit to the companion way is awkward. The jammers are too far from the helm and we don't need a separate entrance to the captains cabin. It's OK but it's not our boat. That's fine at least it's another one to tick off our list. We saunter off along the jetty and cast an eye over all the rest of the boats, although not for sale it's good to be in among lots of different craft and make mental notes of the ones we should look up on the net next time we're surfing. It's a needle and haystack business finding the boat that's just for you, unfortunately our haystack is not even a sheaf, and today we drew another blank, but the more we see the more we eliminate. It's a long game we thinks.
After soup and a cuppa in the harbour side cafe we take a detour to the repair yard where we go looking for the boat we came to see last time we were here. There's a couple working on their boat who we discover have just returned from a two year cruise around the Caribbean and the East coast of the States. They're stripping her ready for a new paint job and we chat for a bit, about boats, what else. A few pearls of wisdom are dispensed in our direction, always a plus to talk to those who have been there, done that, got the T shirt. They're sailing a 43ft Onvi, which is way outside our league, but this chat reaffirms our idea that we need a long keel boat, an old long keel boat, and that still points to the Tayana type of thing, or perhaps an Island Packet 31, both are about within or just outside our budget of £30,000.
Home, and we drive into a sunset of baby pink clouds and misty mountains. We chat boats, and chew over our conversation with the Onvi crew. It's been a fruitful day and another step closer to finding our boat. The thing is that we don't even have the funds, as yet, until we manage to sell the bungalow, we can't buy anything anyway. It's going to be much harder to make the decision when we have the money I suspect, but for now we just have to keep on looking because you never know when your going to stumble upon the one.