Saturday, 6 October 2018

A New Hope

It has been a while since we have written about our sailing adventures.  The reason for that is that we haven't been properly sailing for a couple of years, as we haven't had a working boat.  Here's a short recap:

Firebird May 2012 - May 2014

A nice lump of iron hanging down, waiting to hit something or fall off

We sailed good old Firebird, our first boat, from London to the Canary Islands, where we sold her.  She was a great boat and we had so much fun (and our fair share of fear!) in her, but we decided that she wasn't safe enough for offshore sailing.  Although well built, she was of modern design, with a fin keel, saildrive and spade rudder, which we just weren't comfortable with.  We would rather sacrifice cruising speed and low-speed manoeuvrability in favour of safety and comfort when things get lively.

Firebird moored next to Seahorse while we negotiated the purchase of Seahorse

Seahorse May 2014 - October 2016

Along with wearing that hat, buying Seahorse turned out to be a mistake
We bought Seahorse on Fuerteventura (in the Canary Islands).  She was of steel construction, had a full keel, ketch rigged and had steel bulkheads creating three watertight sections, just like the Titanic had.  Unsinkable!  We bought her knowing that we had a lot of work to do before she would be ready to go cruising.  Like, a lot of work!

We only ever made two voyages aboard Seahorse (a short one and a long one), but we got more than enough excitement out of those two trips!

We were well into the refit when our baby girl was born.  This changed our perspective and we wanted to be together as a family, out sailing, rather than being split between baby-duties and boatyard-duties (the two were incompatible as the boatyard was not a particularly healthy environment for anyone, least of all a fresh little baby).

In the boatyard in Lagos, having removed the old engine.  Well, the replacement engine was a waste of money, but we had fun working on the old girl in the sun!

Sunbow July 2016 - May 2017

She's covered in tarpaulins because she leaked like a sieve when it rained!  She never really saw the light of day
And so it was that we sold Seahorse and bought Sunbow, a lovely ferro-cement ketch who was "good to go", in need of just a lick of paint.  This, however, turned out to be very far from the truth.  The previous owner was a true gentleman who wouldn't dream of deceiving a soul.  He sold her in the condition that she was in his memory from eight years previously.  She hadn't been used in all that time and we discovered that many systems on a boat can fall into disrepair over such a long period.  We were naive enough to buy her without commissioning a survey, which we had ample opportunity to do.  Once we moved aboard and started getting her ready to go, we kept unearthing problem after problem, some of which were substantial.  The whole point of buying Sunbow was that we didn't want to be spending a year or more stuck in a boatyard now that we had a family.  We had traded fixing up a boat in warm Portugal for fixing one in freezing cold, wet England.  We cut our losses, which were substantial by this point and sold her so that we could find a more suitable home.  We never once got to sail Sunbow.

Oh look, we're in a boatyard.  Again.  Freezing our nadgers off this time, trying to make use of the pitifully short November daylight

August 2017, a New Hope

Our latest humble abode
That brings us almost up to date with our boating history.  After heading back to work in London to pay for our previous mistake with Sunbow and arranging plenty of boat viewings, we found what we hope will take us on the next leg of The Great Adventure.  We are now the proud owners of Matchmaker II, a Neptunian 33.  She's a well-built fibreglass ketch with a full keel and keel-hung rudder.

For once, we're leaving a boatyard...don't worry, it didn't last long
After the Sunbow fiasco, we decided that we would never again buy a boat without first going out on a test sail and having a survey taken.  She passed both with flying colours...and then she spent the next year in Shotley boatyard on the East Coast, out of action due to, amongst other things, total engine failure.  The anti-syphon loop had been installed too low so after our first, very short trip from where we had bought her to a marina across the river, the engine flooded with seawater.  So much for dotting the I's and crossing the T's.  Anyway, she is pretty much operational now and we have sailed her further than we ever did with Sunbow (not hard!) and made more trips than we did with Seahorse (again, not a toughie!).  Most importantly, we're very happy with her and she's now just about ready to take us anywhere we wish to go.

"The Admiral", as the onlookers at the lock into the marina were calling her, overseeing all operations from the bridge.
This was after our first short journey after buying Matchmaker, right before she was out of action for the next year.
Matchmaker was something of a surprise find.  We were in the area viewing another yacht which we really liked but ultimately decided against.  The broker suggested that we should view Matchmaker.  From the sales literature, we didn't really think she was going to be any good for us so when we went to view her on her mooring buoy on the Stour, Kate stayed ashore with Beth while I went alone with the owner to kick the tyres.  As soon as I started looking around, however, I got a really good feeling.  Luckily, the previous owner was another nice chap and he didn't mind returning ashore in his dinghy to fetch Kate after I told her that she really should take a look at this one.

My first view of Matchmaker as we approached in the previous owner's dinghy
The rest, as they say, is history.  The only problem is that we didn't like the name Matchmaker.  It had no relevance to us and on its own, seemed a pretty bad name for a yacht.  As with many of the other sailors out there, we're pretty superstitious when it comes to matters concerning the sea, so we didn't want to risk bad luck by renaming her.  When we received the paperwork, however, we were delighted to see that she had already been renamed, so we figured that whoever did the first rename would have taken the fall for the bad luck and that we weren't making matters worse by renaming her again.  The new name?  Hope.

Performing the renaming ceremony.  We hope that Neptune likes alcohol free beer
We're hoping that we will be able to set off again in the spring.  Hope was ready too late in the season for us to have a pleasant journey south and, in any case, the latest crew member would have probably been born mid-Bay of Biscay had we have set off, so we figured it was better to lay Hope up for the winter.

So there you have it, we now live in Hope.

Putting the new name on