Delivery trip Plymouth to Brighton…

Eventually the day dawned when Jaz and I and our two good friends Pete and Chris set off for Plymouth, to do the delivery trip to Brighton. I had already spent the week driving back and forward to Plymouth with a car load of supplies and running out to the local chandlery – mostly for safety equipment, and other small but essential items like a bulb for the chart table lamp – and also filling up with fuel!. The life rife was serviced and delivered back to the boat.

Friday 7th October dawned, with forecasts of force 5/7, sea state mod/rough – but it was a window of about 2 days between F8 and worse. We decided we had to push on – and do the trip in one go – 170nm.

We motored out of Plymouth and then came our first test – how to unfurl the in mast furling. You might think this was the easiest thing in the world – after all it was designed to be so – but we managed to spend about 20 minutes getting it wrong before we eventually got the sail set with what we approximated as one reef – we added the genoa, also reefed – and off we set at a slow pace – 4/5 knots for the first hour.

Then the wind kicked in – 20knots gusting 25/27 and we were off! We settled into a 4 on 4 off watch system, with each couple taking a watch together. The boat settled into a broad reach on port tack and that was that, 6/8 knots non-stop all the way to Brighton. Fantastic!


Buying the boat…

Eventually I came across THE boat. It was a Moody 44 and it was up for sale in Plymouth.

The Moody 44 was introduced in August 1991, and ceased production September 1996. The production run was of 114 boats, and this boat was one of the last to be built by Marine Projects (Plymouth) Limited. The designer was Bill Dixon.

Another couple of hundred miles in return journeys, and finally we bought her.

She was called “Kolfinna”, a solid and well built British boat from 1996 – lightly used and well equipped. Because it is registered with Lloyds register of shipping we had to go through the process of getting her renamed to “Enterprise”.

Unusually it has a hard “doghouse” (Jaz prefers to call it a “wheelhouse”) and a chimney which is attached to a large Dickinson Diesel heater – clearly the previous owners had plans to sail in higher lattitudes than I do – it remains to be seen whether I will retain this heater – fine as it is.

Despite these unusual features – or perhaps because of them – I fell in love with “Kolfinna” (now renamed…”Enterprise”) and decided that it combined the right type of blue water sailing ability, with well designed and practical accommodation and it was in the right price bracket – and would not require a major overhaul.

To be honest, having seen many 40/42 Najads and HR’s that were almost 50% higher in price and in many cases 10 years or more older – it was no contest.

The Moody 44 is very well built, and looks like it will eat up the miles on any ocean passage, while keeping us safe. It was THE ONE  for us.

Off on the boat search Holland..

House of Yachts, Bruinesse

House of Yachts, Bruinesse

Obviously being based in Brighton (UK) it would have been preferable to find a boat in the UK. But the more I searched the more I found boats that were in Holland, Croatia, Greece, Spain and further – even the USA.

I must say that some of the boats that I could see online in the USA looked great – cheaper too. They just seem to have  a much higher spec than the equivalent European boats in the same price category. After weighing up the costs of travel; getting approved under the RCD directive; transport/delivery; and paying VAT – it is just not worth considering the USA – IMHO.

There were a number of boats – 8 to be exact – that I fancied in Holland. We also had the pleasure and experience of owning and sailing our “old Enterprise”, which was a Compromis 999 – a well built Dutch sloop – a bit like a Westerley or Moody.

So I wrote to the brokers; booked the EasyJet flight hired a car and a GPS and off I went. I drove from the South to the North. But to no avail. I saw some lovely boats but they were either too haggard (older Najads and HRs) or too small.

At this point I feel I have to say that the brokers in Holland were fantastic. They are welcoming, professional,  organised, polite – one even booked a B&B for me and got me a discount. Quite unlike the typical welcome you get at a British broker. Sometimes I wouldnt even get a handshake; an offer of a coffee; or even an offer of a chair!….just grunts and superciliousness. The one exception to this, in my experience, was Berthon in Lymington who are on a par with the Dutch brokers and were professional and welcoming at all times.

I visited the following brokers in Holland:

  • Astra Mare
  • de Valk
  • Grevelingen Yachts
  • House of Yachts
  • White Whale Yachts

..and corresponded with a whole lot more from the Azores to Spain to Croatia to Greece and Turkey.

Finally, as luck would have it, I saw the boat listed in the UK – by Barbican Yachts of Plymouth – it was a Moody 44.

Yes, I had gradually gone from 40ft to 44ft… but what a boat 🙂

Choosing a boat…

Having decided that we had ambitions to go blue water cruising the next decision was what boat was appropriate and most importantly, what budget could we afford!

Of course if money was no object you could pick a real beauty – but – as usual the key word is “compromise”. Since we are far from the “rolling in money” category, part of the challenge for us would be to “cut your coat according to your cloth” ( my old Mum would say:-)

I have carried out a lot of research along the way, and you can see the results by clicking on the links below…

…. and I have read the advice of those who have done all this before and been kind enough to record their thoughts on their own blogs.

It was particularly hard to try to weigh up the advice/prejudices of the old salts – “ must have a Najad or a Halberg …”  against the demands of budget; comfortable living; and storage space. I was also worried about buying a boat that was already 20+ years old since the money saved on purchase would easily get swallowed up in repairs and replacements. Plus the time spent doing major refurbishment work would eat into the 18 months or so that I had set aside to prepare for the voyage.

Being an iconoclast myself, I particularly liked those who went against the common wisdom and bought boats that were modern and comfortable – suitable for the 90% of the time you spend at anchor or in a marina 🙂

..for example here are the practical, and wise words of  Rob & Rhia

Often the old salts would laugh derisively at any suggestion that a mere Beneteau, Jeanneau, or Bavaria could even survive a circumnavigation..

Well if you are looking at the modern high volume production boats, don’t be put off by the sailing club bar experts. Make your own decision. Plenty of these boats – hundreds of them – do the ARC every year and plenty of them are currently circumnavigating quite happily…plus since everything breaks…all the old salts tell me so….you could argue that you should start with the youngest boat you can, add all the best equipment you can afford, and then keep the saving you made on the purchase price to replace equipment as you follow the dream….

To be honest as I looked at Najads and HR’s I realised that although they are undoubtedly built like warships, some of  the old ideas about internal design – especially storage and accommodation – were somehow passe.

There are of course classic design features that I agree with:

  • Chart table – separate (not part of the saloon); forward facing; and safe to sit at on either tack
  • Galley – U / L or long but with no chance of flying across the saloon
  • Saloon – at least one 6ft long settee (preferably with lee cloths) to be used as a passage berth

But, why have all the storage under the beds or worse under the floor. How are you meant to get stuff from under bed when it is piled high with sails – or vice versa – how can you get the sails out when it is under a bed which is piled high with supplies.

The other matter is that in order to have a happy crew (my wife) why shouldnt we have some “home comforts” after all we were not preparing for a two-week camping holiday in France! With that in mind, I felt it would be nice to have a separate shower area instead of having the entire heads soaked whenever you had a shower; I thought it would be nice to have space for a proper fridge – even a freezer – to make life a little more civilised and a little less like a VW camper van; I thought it would be nice to have a real sprung mattress and a 6ft bed so we could get a good nights sleep – why not?..

Gradually the “ideal” boat size went from 40 to 42 and crept up to 44 – needless to say at this point there were none of the Najads / HR / Malo in my budget 🙂

That is when I realised that if I couldn’t have a Najad – and if I wasnt convinced that Najad was the best and most comfortable boat anyway – why don’t I look at one of the British boats that also had great reputations but were pitching up against the Najads and HR’s in the late 90’s. The two main marques that come to mind are the Moody and the Westerly – two fine boats and built with a lot more flair when it came to the internal storage and accommodation. Suddenly the whole choice opened up. They were a lot of boats in the right price range and many of them had been cared for by real enthusiasts and sailors.

Selling Enterprise..

Well after 8 years we decided to sell our lovely 32 ft sloop “Enterprise”. She had kept us safe and looked after us over many passages in the English Channel, forever compensating for all our foolish mistakes as we learned what sailing was all about. We were happy to hand her over to great new owners Nick and Angie however, and their blog can be found here.

It was with some trepidation that we set out to see if we could afford a boat that would do the same job for us, but this time for our plan to circumnavigate!

The “new” Enterprise would have to have the same qualities as the “old” one – it would have to be a better sailor than we are! – it would have to keep us safe even when we make the occasional (but inevitable) error of judgement – or of skill 🙂