We Need a Bigger One

After a few months of talking it was agreed we needed a bigger boat.  I loved our little 'Ginny' & had grown quite attached to her, but she wasn't big enough for Dad to stay on too as she was just a 4 berth.  So we discussed what suited everyone's needs (our needs were pretty much basic), after all it was only 2 yrs ago when we first bought our little 21ft racing machine with absolutely no headroom at all, a bucket to pee in through the night & uncomfortable pilot bunks for me & Chris, she was damp & smelly so when we bought 'Ginny' we felt quite posh cos she was (after a lot of hard graft) clean, fresh & roomy.  But yup, she just wasn't big enough.  We looked at tons of boats & spoke to a few people down on the marina at Ferry Nab.  Dad wanted a boat that had 3 cabins, a separate heads, big enough kitchen, plenty of storage (he'd seen a Bavaria 36 with fancy bowed cabinets & chrome fittings he liked) & we were lucky enough to talk to a nice couple who'd bought a Bavaria last summer, they gave us tons of good advice.  Dad liked Bavarias & Beneteaus, he'd seen a few on the lake & liked the look of them.  We found 4 Bavarias, a Dufour & a Jeanneau down on the south coast, there was nothing up here, not a thing.  So after some phone calls, hotel bookings, Ferry fares, car hire & route planned we headed off at midnight one Friday night down to Plymouth.  We decided it would be great if we could get a people carrier so we'd have plenty room, when Chris went to pick up the hire car they said they didn't have a people carrier so they upgraded us to a minibus (that was fine with us, it was more space).  The bus was a Mercedes Vito with 2 rows of 3 seats in the back.  To make things a little better & easier for us we took one of the seats out enabling us to move around the bus with ease.  The spare seat we left at home.  It's midnight & we're all ready & excited to head off into the night on our family road trip to the south coast in search of a bigger boat.  We'd noticed the car made some strange noises when Chris picked it up from the hire company but they must have known about it else why would they let it go if there were any problems. 

Our plan was like this

FRIDAY - Midnight head South

SATURDAY - 10am Plymouth - Jeanneau   then   2pm Portland - Bavaria 

SUNDAY - 12pm Isle of Wight - Bavaria then 2pm Isle of Wight - Bavaria 36

MONDAY - 10am Eastbourne Bavaria  then 2pm Essex Dufour 

It's a long drive as you can see & we'd need a couple of loo stops on the way & maybe a coffee to keep us functioning.

It was 4am about a mile from Birmingham airport on the M42 when the engine made a loud bang & smoke came bellowing out from beneath the bonnet, then I lost power & had to roll to the side of the road.  Now this road is a 'Smart Motorway' I can assure you there's nowt smart about a 'Smart Motorway' they're just dangerous & terrifying.  I managed to coast to a nearby layby & it's there we sat & waited & waited & waited for the car hire 24hr breakdown telephone line to answer............they didn't.  Although there were very few cars on the road (as it's the middle of the night) there were however lots of lorries & when they drive passed you at 60mph you feel like you're about to be sucked into their path.  Luckily we're in the AA so we rang them & they said they'd send someone but it would be 3 hours, after telling them there was children & an elderly man in the car they said they'd be with us in a hour & could we get out of the car & stand on the embankment while we wait (I forgot to tell you that it had been thick freezing fog for most of the journey down & it was way too cold to stand outside for 5 minutes never mind an hour) so we stayed put in the minibus.  Chris had been looking for the closest Enterprise car hire & it turns out we were a mile away from Birmingham airport which just so happens to have an Enterprise car hire (happy days). 

Shortly after an hour a guy turns up from a local garage with a flatbed truck, (he's been sent by the AA), he has a quick look at the engine & sticks us onto the back of his flatbed to tow.  Then he informs us he can't have us in his cab with him & tells us we'll need to stay in the minibus which is now on the back of his truck (I've since found out this is illegal) he also tells us he needs to take us to a safe place which is 5 or 6 miles away, we ask to be taken to Enterprise at Birmingham airport as its just a mile away but nope, he said he needed to take us to a specific safe place 5 or 6 miles passed Enterprise.  So off we pop sat inside the broken down minibus which is on a flatbed driving down the M42 in freezing fog.  The driver drops us off at Tesco car park & tells us there will be an AA breakdown with us at some point today, then leaves.  We're sat in the bus tired, cold, hungry & quite miserable by now.  An hour goes by & Tesco has opened so we go in to use their loos & hold our hands under the hot tap to defrost for a while, thankfully this was a one of those gigantic Tescos that sell absolutely everything you can ever imagine so we bought blankets, gloves, scarves, tights & socks just to help keep ourselves warm while we waited for the AA man to arrive to tell us the engine had blown up & was caput (which we all already knew, the loud bang & smoke was kind of a big clue). We sat another hour or so until the cafe opened in Tesco then headed back in for some tea & coffee to help warm us up.  About 20 minutes pass when I received a phone call from the AA telling me he was just minutes away so we headed back to the minibus to find the AA man arriving.  He took a quick look at the engine & said it was caput (yup we knew that) he said it needed taken away on a flatbed (yup we knew that) & that we needed to get to the nearest Enterprise car hire to pick up another car (yup we knew that too). In the meanwhile Chris has been on the phone to Enterprise central office & they tell him there is a minibus available at Birmingham airport & they're sending a taxi to Tesco to take us there.  We're now halfway between Tesco & the airport when the AA ring asking where the key is for the minibus we've left in the car park at Tesco & tell us we need to turn the taxi around & go back to Tesco & wait until the AA turn up to hand them the key, they said they don't have time to wander around the country collecting keys from airports.  Well you can imagine our response.

We arrive at Enterprise located at Birmingham airport, we're very cold, tired & just want to get the other minibus we've been promised by Enterprise central so we could get back on the road, we've missed the boat we're wanting to view in Plymouth as it's now about 9am & our appointment is 10am but we decide to try & make our appointment to see the Bavaria located in Portland.  "We have no available cars says the the lad on the desk, the main office shouldn't have told you we do as we have absolutely nothing & my boss has told me not to let anything go".  Half an hour passes with the lad trying to locate anything in a near by Enterprise, unfortunately there's nothing & I think by this point he just took pity on us as he offered us a Vauxhall Insignia to take a look at & see if that would do (my Dad said he could have offered us a bubble car &  we would have taken it) the poor lad was probably sacked after that as his boss had stipulated that he was not to give anything away as they needed them all. We threw our bags in the boot & we're off again, a bit less roomy than the minibus but we had heat & so thawed out quickly.  We had a choice, ring the boat broker at Plymouth & tell them we're gonna be very late (4 hours late) or now head for Portland & try & make that appointment for 2pm.  We decided to ring Plymouth & cancel our appointment & just head to Portland.  Portland is a strange bit of land just off the coast at Weymouth, the road runs from Weymouth along a skinny stretch of beach over to Portland (a lovely pretty little place).  Thankfully we made the boat in time but sadly it was nothing like it was in the advert, in fact it looked like a completely different boat.  

We drove a little further to visit Portland Bill & went for a little wander to get some fresh air then headed back over to the mainland & off to Southampton where we had our hotel booking for that evening.  

The following day we're up sharp for breakfast & then heading for the ferry to the Isle of Wight, we've plans to see 2 Bavaria 36's at 2 different Marinas.  The first is at Island Marina, with Nick the broker.  The sun is shining & it's feeling quite warmish for January  but then I guess the south coast always seem to get better weather than up north where we live.  Thankfully this boat is a beauty, she's not only a beauty but she has been very well looked after too & the owner just weeks prior had a survey done on her so that was a huge bonus.  This boat was a million miles better than the one we'd seen the day before in Portland.  Things were now staring to feel like this had not been a complete wasted journey.  We viewed the other Bavaria through a different broker, both boats were in really good condition, & it was difficult to say which one we preferred.  Our ferry back to the mainland wasn't until 7.30pm so we decided to go on a wander on the Isle of Wight, we stumbled across a boat yard where we saw a guy washing down his hull, we had a good long chat with him about copper coat hulls & he told us how beneficial they are (the first Bavaria we had viewed that day had been copper coated) so this information was greatly welcomed.  

The Isle of Wight is a beautiful place, well East Cowes is, we didn't see anywhere else.  After some lovely pub grub & a ferry trip back to the mainland we headed to Eastbourne where we have an appointment to see another Bavaria at 10am this one is a 34 but in the advert looks immaculate, there was even a video tour of the boat done by the broker.  It's 10pm & we're just pulling into the car park of the hotel at Eastbourne when I received a text message from the broker 'Don't bother travelling down to see the boat, an offer was accepted on it today', We couldn't believe it, I text back telling him we'd just arrived at the hotel & if possible we'd still like to see the boat.  My Dad liked this boat & we'd been watching it for some weeks now, however I had a bad feeling about it as I was often informed via email it was under offer then days later it was back on the market (this boat was on & off the market like a yoyo).  The following day after breakfast we headed to the marina, this marina is apparently the biggest in Northern Europe & it was stunning.  We met up with the broker Danny, a lovely man.  We viewed the boat which although was just 2ft shorter than the previous Bavarias we viewed the day before it really did show, the kitchen was a bit of a squash & the boom was much lower, it also seemed very wet inside the boat, there was water coming in somewhere.  We thanked Danny for showing us around & were about to head off up to Burnham on Crounch in Essex next to see the Dufour which looked beautiful in the photos but we had some reservations as it had been a training boat for some years & we were worried it had possibly took some strain, but she was a good looking boat & I guess you could say on the flip side she'll have been well maintained for insurance & safety purposes so we were still interested in viewing & we'd make our minds up after seeing her.  Well a phone call to check we're still on for the viewing put an end to that as they'd just received an offer & the owner accepted.  So we thought well why don't we try & get back over to Plymouth to see the Jeanneau we had missed our viewing due to the breakdown.  That was the plan, so we started to head back West & called the broker, unfortunately they'd just taken an offer on it.  We didn't realise just how fast boats sell, it's January, surely its slow in January, but things down the south seemed not to be, quite the opposite in fact.  

Meanwhile Chris has still been in contact with Enterprise as the drive back home is long & 5 of us squashed in the Insignia isn't great, it was fine in the front, but Dad & I kept swapping & going in the back & it was too squashed with 2 teenaged girls & an adult & the middle seat in an Insignia ain't the most comfortable, in fact I don't think there is any padding to that middle seat. Eventually we are promised another minibus in Portsmouth & told we can pick it up anytime before 5pm as that's when they close.  We have plenty of time so heading West I looked at the map & thought it would be nice to call in at Brighton as we're passing anyway (I've never been to Brighton).  So off to Brighton we go, park up & head off for a wander.  We find a little cafe & go in for a nice cup of tea & a scone.  The weather again was glorious, not a cloud in the sky & you could feel the heat of the sun on your face.  Heading back towards the the seafront we came across the Royal pavilion which is spectacular but certainly doesn't look English, this huge grandeur building looks more Indian than English.  Time is now getting on & Chris mentioned we really should be thinking about getting back on the road, but we hadn't yet seen Brighton Pier (we couldn't come to Brighton & not have a little walk along the pier) so we managed to squeeze in a ten minute wander with some pictures along the way before heading back to the car.

 We're almost in Portsmouth when we hit a standstill in traffic, we watch the sat nav go from (You're gonna make it in ample time, to you're pushing your luck & they ain't gonna be waiting for you at Enterprise, instead it'll be all locked up & they'll have all gone home).  By now it's 4.58pm & we're not even half a mile away but the traffic is moving so slowly, we ring them & tell them & thankfully they assure us someone will be waiting for us. We turn the corner & there it is a nice shiny silver minibus sat waiting for us.  We unload the Insignia & chuck our bags into the bus & we're off.  We now have a 348 mile journey back home in the dark but hey, we've got plenty room to spread out so it's all good. Chris & I shared the driving back home & I think we arrive home at about 2am on the Tuesday. It had certainly been one heck of an adventure, perhaps not quite the adventure I'd promised everyone but we did it, we search the South coast for boats, saw some sights, had a ferry ride over to the Isle of Wight & Dad put an offer in on one of the Bavarias which we viewed in East Cowes & thankfully it was accepted.  So all ended well & we have one heck of a story to tell of our family road trip boat shopping.  

Dad & I Sailed the Solent

There's some amount of organising goes into moving a boat from A to B (obviously if Dad was planning on keeping the boat at sea then I guess its just a case of sailing it to it's new mooring destination but the plan is for this beauty to be taken to lake Windermere).

This trip would just be Dad & me, I couldn't allow the girls to have anymore time off school so it was another adventure for Dad & me & for me a pretty special adventure, sailing across the Solent was a big deal to me as I'd never sailed at sea until now & who better to be sailing Dad's boat with then Dad himself.  

After arranging with the Marina back at the lake a date that would suit them & knowing there's enough water in the lake to take her I then started work at arranging the rest of the logistics like the haulier to bring her up on a big truck, the marina to lift her out at the other end & riggers to de-rig the mast & rigging.  It's not as straight forward as one might first think.

Although really put off from using Enterprise ever again after our terrible experience last month we thought we'd give them the benefit of the doubt & try them again, they are handy to where we live (although Chris had used the Newcastle branch last time) they had also given us a 20% discount off any further hire to compensate us for our trouble.  There's an office about 2 miles away from my front door so rather than have the hassle of going to Newcastle airport or Newcastle city centre to hire a car Dad & I just thought we'd go to our local branch.  After telling the young lad there about our last experience he assured us it wouldn't happen again.  They couldn't give us the 20% discount as apparently that only could apply if we used the city branch not our local branch.  Anyway we booked a car & on Monday morning Chris dropped me off, the car I was given was a Renault Capture.  We did the usual walk round the car checking for dents or scratches & then the lad signed it off to me.  I'm not even half a mile down the road to go pick up Dad when I think that noise shouldn't be there, there's a noise that sounds familiar but I'm no mechanic so I will let my Dad have a listen.  I pick him up & we start driving, he said yup it sounds like a wheel bearing.  Back to Enterprise we go to inform them of their dodgy rental car.  I'm then thanked & told if us customers don't report these things to them on returning the cars they will just presume the car is in full working order....................................................................................

Say Whaaaaaaaaaat????

Well the time is now 9.30am & we're told they don't have any other cars but if we can hang about or even better, come back at about 11am they should have a Golf we can use.  Now the drive we intend to do today is to Southampton & it's about 330 miles & I'd have liked to get there before dark as I really don't like driving around unfamiliar places in the dark.  I'm now not gonna manage.  Anyway we left in the car with the broken wheel bearing & went to a nearby department store with a cafe.  11am came & they called to say the Golf was ready to swap.  Back through the same blummin' rigmarole of checking over the car I'm returning (I've only been around the corner) & then the Golf I'm swapping it for.  Right we're off & with only a couple of loo stops & we only managed to get lost & miss a motorway change once so all in all it wasn't so bad, we didn't manage to get to Southampton before dark though but it wasn't as bad as I had anticipated.  

We parked up & headed to the hotel (the Premier Inn) right next to Westquay Showcase Cinema, this building is fantastic & the architecture well thought out. 

The plan is to get the ferry over to the Isle of Wight the following day, Nick the broker is going to be there to pick us up & then take us to Island Harbour Marina where the boat is lying & we will sail her down the river, over the Solent & up the river Leven to Shamrock Quay Marina where she is booked to be lifted out the following day, de-rigged & ready for Andy the haulier to pop her on his big truck first thing on the Thursday.  Now there's 2 ferries that run out of Southampton to the Isle of Wight, well 2 that we know of, there may be more.  The ferry we booked is the Red Funnel Ferry, it takes an hour to get across to the Isle of Wight, now last month when we were here the ferry terminal was not where it's stating it is now so just to be on the safe side we thought we'd do a recce & time ourselves at walking to the ferry so we weren't late & miss the ferry in the morning.  About an hour & half later we find the ferry terminal is where it's supposed to be & not miles away like we thought it was, (good job we did a recce, we'd have missed it otherwise).

The next day we're up bright & early, the sky is blue & the sun is shining.  We had breakfast & headed over to the ferry, it was a lovely clear sail over to the Isle of Wight where Nick met us & drove us over to the Marina.  Nick had agreed to skipper the boat over to the mainland with us.  Now I've never sailed at sea until today & I'm rather nervous, I'm used to my E-boat & Ginny & they bop about like no business when just a lake ferry sails by us so sailing on the sea is a different story & I'm quite worried but I don't let on to Dad as I really want him to enjoy this adventure.  The marina is locked so we wait a half hour or so for the tide to get up to a good depth for us to leave as our draft is too deep.  We're off motoring down the river Medina towards the Solent, just before we leave the river we turn into the wind & put up the main sail, then turn back & out into the Solent.  It's quite breezy out there & there's a little bit of a swell but that boat is solid & cut through with no problem, she sailed beautifully, even heeled over slightly didn't faze me.  We were halfway across the Solent when I thought to myself we really shouldn't be taking her to a lake, she should stay on the sea & that is where we should sail her.  All the fear of being on the sea just disappeared & I was actually loving it.  Dads new boat is strong, sturdy & feels super safe.  Nick said we could sail around the world in her, that would be fantastic.  Perhaps one day, but for now she will have to go to the lake as too much organising & money has been spent on getting her there (don't let anyone tell you it's not much to move a boat over land, they're wrong).

We were so far up the river Itchen when we caught site of a bridge we needed to clear, now obviously we'd clear it as there are 2 marians we know about passed that bridge but I tell you something, until you are sailing beneath it with a mast that must be easily 50metres high it sure gets the old heart pumping I tell ya.  

We shortly arrived at the marina & I had radioed through for them to direct us where to berth.

Look who we saw as we passed by at Ocean Village Marina 'Sailing Cadoha', this beaut below on the right belongs to Carly, Dom & Hank their Hungarian Vizsla.  They have a YouTube Chanel we have followed from the beginning. We cruised over & shouted of them but there was no one home sadly.

That trip over the Solent with Dad will stay with me forever, I'm so pleased we decided to go down & help sail her over to the mainland, we didn't need to, everything was set to go-ahead without us but it is a story & memory that I will cherish forever, of the time 'Dad & I Sailed the Solent'.

First Time Out on the Lake

Dad's boat is now on the lake & we've been looking forward to the weekend so we could travel over & get her ready.  We took a lot of the 'stuff' we moved off Ginny, stuff like cups & plates, first aid kits, life jackets & a load more 'stuff'.  

I decided now would be a good time to remove the boat's current name as we'd like to conduct the name changing ceremony the following weekend if the weather is kind to us.  It certainly has been kind today, the forecast promised heavy rain, it was snowing a tad earlier on the drive over but that soon cleared.  Just look at that blue sky & those snow capped mountains in the background, you could be in Canada, this is our view & what a view it is.  

There wasn't a breath of wind on the lake so after we'd packed stuff away & done fiddling with things like how to work the heating amongst other things we decided to go for a little motor about to try & get used to the boat a bit more & practise our stopping.  

We took the spray hood & the cockpit enclosure off at the Isle of Wight & stowed them away for safe keeping during the journey up on the truck.  Trying to get them professionally cleaned is proving difficult as they all seem to have about a 3 months waiting list, then there's the little repairs that needs doing & we've been told 5 to 6 months for those.  So we thought we'd have a go at cleaning them ourselves, we've had an attempt on the spray hood, it doesn't seem to want to clean up, I now know why they charge so much, these people must have special cleaning solutions that aren't available to just anyone, or they have a fairy God mother with a wand.  We'll keep trying, I read an article in Yachting monthly about a cleaner called Fabsil Tent & Gear Cleaner, the magazine rate it as being 'The Best' watch this space, I will let you know, fingers crossed it is good as I've bought 4 bottles of the stuff.

So for the name changing ceremony we need to take it seriously this time, we have to call the sea Gods & throw them an offering, I was thinking of maybe chucking Chris overboard but they might chuck him back.  Apparently we need to use a bottle of champagne, none of us drink champagne & I was going to maybe use rum as a substitute but then I thought you know what Claire, just buy the champagne, don't jinx this, do it ALL by the book so that's what we will do.  We will each have something to say & fingers crossed this time it all goes well & the sea God's are not offended. Our new name chosen for the boat is a great name & all will be revealed hopefully in our next post but for now as to not jinx anything I am keeping schtum. 

Boat Naming Ceremony

After some intensive research & a little practise we were ready to re-name Dad's boat.  We lay a tree branch & leaves we'd found on our walk the evening before at the bow & then began the ceremony, we needed to purge the boat of her old name & ask the God's of the seas & all waters for their blessing.  The bottle of champagne was cracked open (not on the bow, that could have ended in disaster) then we charged our glasses ready for each of us to throw an offering to the North, South, East & West winds asking for their blessing too.  It was a glorious day, Sunday to be precise, Sunday is said to be the best day to re-name a boat & conduct a naming ceremony & it's said 'Sunday Sail, Never Fail'. After the ceremony I set about adding the new name to Dad's boat.  She now looks just perfect. She's now known as 'Lady Eileen'.

I think Mum was with us for sure that day & what a great day it was.