"We own a yacht... in Tahiti!!!" No words have ever been as fun to say.
But if you'd said that to us over 6 months ago we would have laughed. In fact, when we did start mentioning our sailing intentions to others, uneasy laughter was usually the response, or if they knew anything about sailing they would scaldingly say 'but what do YOU know about sailing?'
But life moves quickly when you want it to, and now owning an ocean ready yacht is our reality.
And what DO we know about sailing?...
... as they say in French, un petit peu.
But that's all going to change pretty quickly with what is no doubt a massive learning curve ahead of us! So although we're definitely not weathered salty sea dogs (yet), in a short time we've already learnt so much, and we are continually trying hard to surround ourselves with the best people to soak up even more.
The idea of packing up life on land and setting sail came easily to us both, however the logistics behind the voyage have obviously been a little more consuming. On guidance for buying the right type of yacht (the make or break of such a trip really), DBY Boat Sales boat broker Rod Waterhouse has been invaluable in getting us going in the right direction from the start and talking us through the action plans needed to really make this idea happen. Over the past few years I have treated Rod's wife Kerry and their son Jason (Olympic sailing silver medalist in Rio), and Rod just happened to need some shoulder rehab as this sailing idea was resurfacing in my brain. Physio sessions soon morphed into trip planning sessions, and as Rod's infectious enthusiasm is impossible not to catch, the sailing seed was well and truly planted.
Rod quickly put us on track with what type of yacht to start looking at, and what to look for in each one (off shore ready, low engine hours, etc). And of course to make sure resale value worked out financially in our favour.
It all seemed too good to be true, so we cross checked a few facts with some trusted family friends with cruising experience, and they all seemed to be saying the same things.
So, the hunt for a yacht began.
Nick's French was invaluable in this as Tahiti in French Polynesia was our preferred location to start the voyage. Yachts however are not known for their cheapness here. The Caribbean or Mexico were our next best options (much better value for boats), but with the downside of having to start our voyage with a 3-4 week open ocean crossing. Despite the possibility of such a daunting maiden voyage, we remained open to starting from wherever the best yacht at the right price appeared.
After a few months of looking, Rod had found an 'ideal' Beneteau in Tahiti (but just a little out of our price range), and Nick had found a Catalina in Mexico (with a new engine for a great price, but in need of a bit of work to get it truly ready for ocean cruising).
We put in a cheekily low offer for the Beneteau, which must have been considered insultingly low for its proud French owner as we never heard anything back. So we were left with the Catalina in Mexico looking like the only viable option. We decided to get a survey started, but after an initial look on land (the yacht was stored on the hard for hurricane season) the surveyor Allan came back to us with at least $16000 USD of work needing to be done - this started to blow our budget as well as eat into valuable cruising time to get the work done.
Just as we were starting to think that perhaps the right boat wasn't out there for us this year, Nick stumbled across a little gem on a Tahitian brokers site. A 93 Beneteau Oceanis 400 was up for quick sale. Its owners had sailed it from France to Tahiti, where they had decided to step out of cruising life and onto the Marquesas as their new home.
After a little difficulty getting hold of the Tahitian broker (things go slow on island time!) we organised to get a survey completed - which was passed with flying colours.
We were on a plane a few days later, and owners of our new yacht by the end of the week!