I have just read Andy's heart warming account of how, why, when and the story so far, and thought that I had better put finger to keyboard and cover the areas of how, why and when;- Here goes!
Carol and I are 48 & 52 respectively, Carol having done no sailing until eight weeks ago when we motor sailed our purchase the 30 miles to our marina berth. I have done some on and off for the last ten years, having had a Hurley down in Devon sailing out of Kingsbridge.
The decision to buy a boat came about as we don't work any longer, not through choice but through my having three heart attacks last year and three lots of heart surgery, which means I can move about but not too quickly and can't lift heavy weights. I also get very cold which was a consideration in where to live. This year we have been off on several holidays and though all great, they are a waste of money as once spent - all gone.
The above factors were very decisive in what type of boat to go for and after clambering round more types than I knew existed we settled on a Colvic Watson as it offered full headroom throughout the three cabins and had a wheel-house but with canvas sides and back. She is 29ft. long, ketch rigged thus the sails aren't too difficult to set, and we've fitted Plastimo furling to the front two with all sheets returning to the wheel-house. I do have some reservations about her size, but we had to consider the possibility of Carol having to sail/motor single handed if I didn't feel too good, or worse. She is a very solid craft displacing well over six tons and was equipped with seven berths when we went to see her. We have reduced this to four, and very glad of that decision Andy after your account of countless visitors. We have a totally separate rear cabin, which we have made our bedroom, and being separate we don't have to worry about keeping it tidy or making the bed!! With wardrobe, drawers, an 8" sprung mattress which was less than half the price of foam; Yellow pages detail firms doing these mattresses which come in "blanks" and they shape etc. if required. This one is 6'4"x4'0" and cost £230.
The Galley area is not that large, but we have an oven, grill and hot plate, s/s sink and plenty of cupboards. For the alcoholic type beverages I have made a pull out cupboard with two shelves spaced 2" and 8" up a Whisky bottle which drops through a hole which is a good fit. They don't rock or move about and seems to work well. The hard bit was soaking labels of Bailey's to be fastened on the whisky bottles.
We have arranged the seating so that there are good back cushions as we do like to relax, and the settee forms a large double bed when pulled out, a la caravan style. We have kept the storage space under for occasional use items. The dining table is removable, and we have reduced this in size so that two of us are comfortable and four would be cosy.
Going forward, there are the Heads with shower and basin; for ease of use and, I think, less risk of blockages etc. I have put an electric conversion on the toilet bowl; and then into the bow where we have created our navigation/control centre, fitted the fridge and hidden the 50-gallon holding tank under the floor. We are using a standard PC coupled to a Garmin 128 GPS and a Navtex weatherfax receiver. We don't need a huge memory and such like and had a local small firm assemble the PC for us keeping the case as small as possible. We will be using this as our music centre as well. Very cheap leather type wallets for CD's, holding 20 at a time are available at computer fairs.
We have also decided on e-mail as being the most economical form of communication and intend to change our present mobile for a car-phone, connected to Cellnet as you can use your free calls allowance overseas with them, in the expectation that we would get better reception with the more powerful piece of equipment; do you think this a good idea Andy, and also, who do you use as your ISP?
For electric supply/charging, we have a 50amp alternator on the engine (40hp), and an Aerogen wind generator. There are two batteries for the engine and wheelhouse electric's, and a total of six others to feed two inverters. I am in the process of fitting a mains circuit which has British as well as Continental sockets so that we shouldn't have to worry about adapters. I am fitting a battery charger as well so that if moored up in a marina we can have a full charge if required. We collected the sockets from Calais, along with gas cylinders when we went across on Nov. 5th to check out Calais harbour as at the moment we intend to enter the French canals here and thought it sensible to have a good look around. We were very surprised to see how boats there were and even down at Boulonge the yacht club had an old container as the clubhouse! We are using small Camping gaz cylinders, so that they can be carried easily.
Diesel capacity is 40 gallons in a s/s tank, with no gauge, which seems a bit shortsighted on the part of the original owner, but he was quite happy with a dip stick. As soon as I fathom a way of cutting a 45mm dia. hole in the top of the tank, which I can get access to, then I am going to fit a customised sender unit off a car; lengthen the arm and increase the size of the float. Water is in two tanks giving us something like 80 gallons. The tanks are inter-connected but can also be used separately. The water system is pressurised with "Whale" pumps and hot water supplied by a Jolly boiler, gas fired. The flue terminates through hull, and we have devised a screw on cover that goes in place whenever we are under way just in case a freak wave manages to find its way in. With the pumps and boiler originating on the Continent, the hope is that spares/replacements will be readily available and perhaps even cheaper.
We've fitted a pair of davits, 40mm box section steel, rolled to shape and then powder coated. If powder coating is OK for the wind generators, then it has to be OK for the davits. We have purchased a small glass-fibre dinghy, preferring these to inflatable's, and fitted a small bathing platform but the main intended use is the easy unloading of stores etc.
We are in the process of replacing the log at the moment, the sender unit off the original VDO unit was damaged, and at over £100 we thought it just as well to go for a new one. Once the woodwork has had the required number of coats of oil and the anti-fouling has been applied we are back in the water and hope to go up the East coast to visit relatives before we finally set sail.
As for the requirements of a UK address etc., we are fortunate to have a son who has a 4-bedroom house to himself. We will have mail sent to his house, and have arranged for the plastic cards to be paid automatically by the bank, who, as transactions are going to be very few will send a statement just once a year. Going through all the mail we get, it is surprising just how little we actually need, and when there will be no gas, electric, or water bills there should be very little mail at all. No doubt it won't work out like it but we expect credit card statements and cellular phone bills to be our only monthly mail. We weren't sure what to do about the car; that was a mistake buying a new car just before deciding to do this. We're going to lose a lot of money, but have decided to sell it. If we parked it at someone's house, it would need to be run sometimes and it would place temptation in the way of the younger generation more use to 1000cc motor bikes! No thanks. If the kids can't meet us at the airport then we'll have to hire one or use public transport.
Well, I think that brings us up to date with events to date, and we will send a further letter with details of our actual journey planning. We hope this has been of interest and REALLY would appreciate any comments, suggestions etc. that you wish to make.