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May '04: Reactions & First Boat Ideas

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Some time passed since we formed our idea and slowly more and more people know of our plans! The reactions are very different: from rather incomprehensible head shaking to ‘when can we join you’. Many are astonished and show respect for our step as we are approaching, in some way, an uncertain future. One statement however comes up again and again: "Whow, you do exactly what many would like to do, however never actually do it".

In the meantime we collected lots of information. Besides reading different books, we also discovered magazines, which come now monthly into our household. Above all "Practical Boat Owner" (British magazine) offers a lot of practical information and "Palstek" (German magazine). Therein are innumerable tips and tricks for boat owners. We learn a lot, e.g. also about things we don't like. Particularly for long-term cruisers/sailors the trimonthly magazine "Blauwasser" is very interesting (usually out of print very fast - the subscription is really worthwhile!)

At the moment Marc reads mainly about technical topics. We realized soon that we would tackle the route planning only then when we have the ship and actually know where we will start our journey. The biggest topic for us is: What kind of sailing yacht should it be? The market is quite big, there are sooo many yachts available! The more we read and think about it we come up with the following corner stones for our future ‘dream’ yacht:

  • ketch (one hull with two masts; to keep the forces on each sail manageable)
  • maybe a cutter rig (additional security and the possibility of setting several foresails)
  • keel between fin and long (calm behavior also in heavy seas but still good maneuverability)
  • center cockpit (this offers good protection and the possibility of a nice master's aft berth)
  • steel or GRP hull (glass-fiber reinforced plastic)
  • length approx. 40 to 45ft (about 12 to 14m)
  • roomy master's berth and a guest cabin, preferably two heads (shower/toilet)
  • not too expensive (we rather do some work and equip the yacht ourselves)

One more question is: "Where do we find our ship?” The Internet with its innumerable yacht brokers and their Websites will become an important instrument. At some point it is essential and worthwhile to look around on site where the yachts are ‘parked’ right now. In any case we will begin with the concrete search only about six to nine months before we start our journey. Otherwise we would have a ship, which only costs us money (insurance, berthing fees, etc.). We don’t want to start too late either because the boat should meet our needs and might need some adaptation and ‘reconstruction’ work.

With regard to our equipment a list is growing – one part ‘need to have’ – another part ‘nice to have’. Here some first points:

  • wind vane steering (current independent autopilot for long travel purists)
  • diesel driven cook possibility (instead of gas, which is not available everywhere)
  • water desalination plant (in order to increase our scarce fresh water supplies)
  • strong dinghy (e.g. for trips ashore)
  • good radios (VHF, HF: marine and amateur/ham bands)
  • computer (laptop) with possibility to connect to the Internet (especially for email)
  • radar (for weather and navigation in bad weather)
  • solar cells and wind generator (in order to cover the power consumption)

Good friends from Vienna, Angela & Wieland, intend to do about the same. Thus an interesting exchange of information takes place. I, Marc, accompanied Wieland to explore the South England coast and to get an overview and a picture, which sailing yachts are offered for what prices. We started in Brighton, where a very large Marina with many Brokers lies. The next large center for sailors is the so-called Solent (Southampton, Portsmouth, Hamble and Lymington). In the end we drove to Plymouth. Most of the trading is done via yacht brokers. We found a lot of sailing yachts for long-term cruising, but in general rather in the middle to expensive range for us (£ 100’000 and even higher). The ships, predominantly built from GRP, gave us innumerable ideas for our future ship. We found some ketches (which I did not expect). However, we hardly found steel yachts in South England. For me it was too early to look for a sailing boat anyway...

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