Monday, November 30, 2015

I'm baaaaaack!

Rota, Cádiz - November 30, 2015
OK, so I sort of disappeared.  This blog is called Sailing Flamenco and the sailing part sort of disappeared when I sold Saeta.  I stayed busy with flamenco of course and that has gone very well until finally I actually began losing interest in chasing more flamenco.  I was totally satisfied with what we created here in Rota.  I didn't have much interest in writing about my performances because they were all about the same.  I had a lot of fun and was received by Spanish audiences in a way that I never thought could be possible.  But writing about the shows wasn't very interesting.
Actually, the high point of my life is my relationship with Ada - which has continued to be a total delight.  We are living a dream.  I never imagined this level of happiness.  We are approaching 5 years together now and every day is a new delight.
Lacking a boat, I distracted myself with motorcycles and that was fun enough.  But boats have been a part of my life for almost 50 years, so being without one was unusual.  So I was riding the motorcycle one day and made a swing through the marina.  I just happened to see a boat that was a miniature version of Saeta - a modern and attractive pilot house sailboat.  I stopped the moto and took a closer look.  It was a really appealing boat and on the side was the legend Eclipse 33.  After I got home, I googled Eclipse 33 and it turns out that it was built by Moody, a very reputable English builder.  In fact, there were 254 of that model built between 1989 and 1994. Without realizing that I was entering dangerous waters, I began to check YachtWorld, an international website with boats for sale.  There were always 4 or 5 Eclipse 33s on the market and so I studied the listings.  I really liked the interior. It is a brilliant design and gets a lot of boat into just 33 feet.  This was a size that appealed to me because it was small enough for 2 people (older people) to muscle around. There was a video that came out that I must have watched 50 times that showed the boat clearly.  It shows clearly how bright and cheery the interior is with 360 degree visibility - not a dark cave like so many sailboats. Here it is:

I really couldn't think of buying another boat since I was pretty committed to staying in Rota.  If I wasn't planning to travel, then why did I need a boat?  So a little voice in my head suggested that I buy the boat for David and Adita, Ada's kids.  They had a sailing charter business and were using a boat that I thought was very uncomfortable.  I convinced myself that I could buy the boat for them to use and that I could use it from time to time.
A boat came on the market in France.  It wasn't listed very effectively, so was very hard to find.  As a result, the owner hadn't received any offers and had dropped the price down the point where it was a real bargain.  I was hooked.  So a year ago, we all went up to France to inspect the boat. It was stored in a boatyard, where it lived most of the year.  The owner came down from the north of France to use his boat in August and then put it right back on land again.  So the boat was filthy.  Covered with leaves and trash, it was raining and when we entered, the windows were leaking.  The weather was lousy and the boat was a turn off to everybody but me.  I found it depressing, but still liked the space inside the boat.  We went back to Rota and everyone forgot about the boat - except me.
It fermented in my brain for a few months and finally I realized that I really wanted it.  If not for the kids, then I would have to buy it for myself!  It took a while to get to that level.
The boat still hadn't sold, so I went back to France again to make an offer.  The weather was better and the gloom was off the boat as well.  I made an offer that was accepted and we went for a demo sail.  The boat was grubby, but everything worked well and it was pretty impressive in action.  So I bought it.  Here is the boat when her French owner was using her regularly:

I really like boats with a pilot house since I don't much care to be cold or wet.  The interior of the Moody is very comfortable:

There is a second helm inside for when the weather is bad - or the sun too hot.  The table is big enough for 6 persons to have dinner.  There is a private double guest stateroom in the back of the boat and the owner's stateroom in the bow.  There is a bathroom with separate shower across from the galley.  And there are a few places in the boat where there is 8 feet of headroom!
I returned to France in May with David and Adita as my delivery crew.  We launched the boat and brought her down to Rota - 860 nautical miles in 6.5 days.  Everything worked perfectly and we all came to appreciate the boat's virtues.  We had pleasant weather almost all the time except for a few wild hours off Valencia when we ran into a small, but intense weather system.  The wind jumped up to 45 knots at the worst and we countered it by sailing downwind with just the mainsail.  The boat handled it without a problem.  In a few hours, it was all over and we returned to normal.  We stopped in Denia to buy fuel and here was the boat at the main dock:

What was unusual about this voyage was the absolute lack of sea life in the Gulf of Lyon.  For 3 days between the French Riviera and Spain, we didn't see a bird, a fish, dolphins - nothing.  I've never been in such a marine desert.  Finally off the coast of Spain we began to see some life again.  Our remaining trip to Rota was easy and pleasant.
Now that the boat was in Rota, it was time to convert her to a Spanish boat.  We changed her name to Platero, the famous donkey in the book by Juan Ramon Jimenez.  Platero was a friendly companion to an aging gentleman on his tranquil adventures.  Sounded about right to me.  Changing from the French flag to a Spanish flag was very expensive and loaded with paperwork - like pretty much any official transaction in Spain.  But we got it done.  Then I needed to get a license to operate a boat in Spanish waters.  It didn't matter that I had sailed half way around the world, but just another hurtle to pass.  So I did.  Now we are totally legal.  We have a slip in Rota.
Since the boat got here, every day has a project or two of restoration - making the boat pretty and making everything work the way I want.  We went into the shipyard and for the first time in my life, I had the luxury of telling them to do the work.  Before, I always had to do things myself to keep the cost within my budget.  I envied the rich guys who just turned the boatyard loose on the boat.  This year, I was one of the rich guys.  I'm not rich, but life here is so much less expensive that I can afford this kind of thing. So here is the boat in her slip after getting polished, new stripes, and a new name:


I don't know if anybody is still following this adventure, but it is back in balance again with flamenco and my eighth boat...




1 comment:

Captain Ketch said...

Welcome Back, Rich.

We have some common interests: I wrote to you several years ago because I own a Herreshoff Cat Ketch 33 #3 and Eric S spoke of you when I had a conversation with him about the masts. In addition, I play guitar, mostly jazz and fingerstyle originals.

On another note, upon retirement, I do plan to live a country outside of the US as a way of getting more culture in my life.

I'll continue reading as you post. If you are interested my boat blog is at greatketch.blogspot.com

Glad to read all is well with you and Ada.