Thursday, 16 October 2014

Thoroughly Modern Mareda

We bought a new boat !!!!!

At the end of April 2015, we will sail away in Mareda (Ma-RAY-da), a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379 with 2 cabins and a swing keel.  Over the last month, we have visited other Category A swing keels, but none matched our interests as well as the SO 379.  (Note: all photos below are catalogue photos.  Mareda's hull hasn't even been constructed yet.)

Now, we could regale you with a list of our criteria and cruising plans, discuss the technical aspects and relative merits of various boats we considered in an attempt to convince you that we made the right choice, but that would be boring and fruitless.  We know that boat buying is not a rational exercise anyway, so we’ve decided to adopt Benjamin Disraeli’s philosophy: Never complain, Never explain.  (This application of philosophy is a one-time only thing, mind you, since there would be little to blog about without explaining and complaining…).

But we will point to others who can explain it better than we can.  For Cruising World Magazine, Alvah Simon said, “It’s the rare boat I test that I would personally want to own and operate. But for me the 379 hits its marks perfectly regarding safety, size, style, speed, accommodation and equipment.”  Having followed The Roger Henry File (Simon’s CW blog of his world cruising adventures), this review carried a lot of weight with me. 

Bill Springer for Sail Magazine had this to say: “Plenty of boats call themselves good-looking and rewarding to sail. Many boats are also designed to be comfortable at sea and in port. But after testing the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379 in a healthy sailing breeze, I can honestly say it comes closer to achieving these goals than most. It was a blast to sail. It was easy to sail. It was comfortable to sail, and its accommodations are both spacious and stylish.”

We live two hours away from the Jeanneau shipyard where these boats are built.  In the seduction phase of our relationship with the dealer, we were given a private tour of the facilities.  We saw every step of the production, from hand-laid fibreglass to the new injection methods (no photos !) to create lighter, stronger, and more rigid deck and bulkhead mouldings.  My favourite part was the assembly line room, where a dozen hulls were lined up along a conveyor belt.  A naked hull arrives at the beginning and a fully finished hull leaves from the other end, to be sent to the tank room where the water tests begin.  In between, the hulls are fitted out with electric cables and plumbing, the motor and reservoirs, the bulkheads and furniture.  It was like walking through Santa’s workshop !  Granted, most of the interior reminds me of IKEA furniture, but the final result feels quite solid.

And what of our dear little Spray, you ask?  You won’t believe this, but we turned away yet another tall man who wanted to visit the boat yesterday.  That’s FIVE in a row over 6 feet tall.  Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot ?!  But yesterday we got a call from an interested buyer who, he assures us, is only 5 feet 8 inches tall and we’ll show him Spray on Friday.  We are also planning to take her to the Crouesty boat show at the end of the month and will do our best to find her a good home.  The dealer offered to buy her as a trade-in, but we didn’t like his price and Patrick is sure we can do better ourselves.  Fingers crossed !

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Return to Winter Haven

Like the first frost of the year, Patrick’s winter beard has set in, signalling that it’s time to settle back into life on land after nearly 6 months of boat life:  yard work, appointments with doctors and dentists, reconnecting with friends, travel arrangements to visit family, renewing our library card.  We’ve been so busy with preparing Spray for the used boat show at the end of the month that I haven’t had time to get the back-home blues yet.

But that doesn’t mean my mind hasn’t been wandering wistfully back to our adventures from this summer.  We wonder about the whereabouts of friends we made along the way (sailing friends who don’t blog…how frustrating !) – did Tony find a good place to winter-over in Spain?  Did Ulf and Pia make it to the Canaries?  So much envy …making it to exotic shores, wintering over.  When will it be our turn? 

Back to reality here in our own little winter haven, I found a “note to self” from this summer listing informational tidbits, useful items, and helpful hints from new friends for our next cruise:

1.  Spanish mosquitoes are impervious to Deep Woods Off.  Use plug-in bug repellent in port, citronella candles and mosquito netting at anchor.

2.  To save on cooking gas when in port, use an electric cooker / frying pan (good for baking and more economical than using the ship’s oven).

3.  Wine corks have countless uses for fix-it jobs on a boat. 

4.  We need a real power drill on-board, not just a cordless one. 

5.  Heaving-to in 4-5 meters of swell is a perilous process.  (It may be okay once you are hove-to, but getting into the hove-to position with large swell is tricky.)  Ed and Sue Kelly on Angel Louise have convinced us that a Jordan Series Drogue is the way to go. 

6.  Remember to charge the battery of your backup computer from time to time so that it’s ready when you need it.  (We have a 12V power cord for both computers, but still…).

7.  Useful things to have on board that we didn’t really think of before: 

  • A sewing kit.  I almost never use one at home but boats are rough on clothes.  I ended up sewing on buttons with sail twine a few times this summer…
  • A small vacuum cleaner or handy-vac
  • Hurricane-strength clothes pins
  • Small no-skid rugs (tired of tracking sand into the bed !)
  • Cockpit cushions
  • Indoor shoes / slippers
  • A folding trolley for hauling heavy stuff like jerry cans
  • Big plastic containers or sacs to protect clothes from humidity
  • Umbrellas.  Somehow, we thought we wouldn’t need umbrellas because we have foul weather gear…but walking around town in foul weather gear is no fun, is it?
  • A bike helmet.  Not necessarily for biking, but also for diving under the boat when there is swell.

I suppose there is a positive side to down-time from sailing.  Pulling together all this stuff will take time !

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Last Sail 2014

We started our end-of-the-year sail around southern Brittany in shorts and ended it in full foul weather gear as we bobbed in and out of three successive gales and torrential rain.  It was clearly time to head home and declare the sailing season over. 

We did have some beautiful days of sailing but mostly we sailed to various appointments to visit boats and to show Spray to perspective buyers.  We visited an Ovni 36 that was in a pathetic state, followed by a pristine Feeling 39 that had an enormous saloon but teeny weeny cabins.  At the same time, it was so wide (4.02 meters or 13.2 feet) that there was no visibility from the helm except through the dodger panels and no way of steering while sitting on the cockpit benches or gunwales. In the meantime, we learned that the Sun Odyssey 379 that we visited earlier is, indeed, Category A (stability rated for “all oceans”) and not Category B as we previously thought.  The boat is only rated Category B if it has in-mast furling, since that puts a lot of weight high up and raises the center of gravity.  That’s not something we wanted anyway, so we’re going to go back and look at that great little boat again next week.

Two statues facing each other on either side of the entrance to the old port of Haliguen.
Much to our dismay and increasing bewilderment, Spray continues attracting tall men.  The last 4 out of 5 visitors have not been able to stand up fully in the saloon.  We have decided to start the guided visit from inside the boat from now on.  We will probably take Spray to the largest used boat show in France in 3 weeks (Le Mille Sabords in southern Brittany) in hopes of selling her before winter sets in.  It sounds so odd to talk of selling her – she’s such a great boat and we’ve invested so much time (and money) in her.  But our sailing plans have altered and she’s not the right boat for us in the long term.  They say that the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are 1) the day he buys the boat and 2) the day he sells it.  I’m not sure this will be the case for us.  We’ve grown quite attached to her and she’s taught us a lot. It sounds schmaltzy but I really hope we can find her a good home.   

Scenes from river cruising along the Vilaine (where we hid out from the gales).