Sell up and sail away preparations
Just before Christmas we returned from our epic first trip on our 2003 56′ Oyster. The trip was full of highs and lows. We were joined by pods of dauphins in the moonlight, survived a Force 10 ‘perfect storm’ and everything in-between. Our days were filled with excitement, adventure and a massive learning curve.
Taking possession of our future home
Taking possession of our future home required a 3-4 day sail from Palma, Mallorca to Gibraltar. Aside from me, the crew on board included my husband, 3 ½ year old daughter, and a professional skipper.
Due to taxation issues, we had to buy the boat in international waters and sail her to a non European Union country. When buying a boat the tax may or may not be paid. If it’s not paid, the new buyer takes over the libablilty. From Gibraltar, a tax haven, we could then determine our best option regarding the payment of tax. Believe it or not each country will value the boat differently so one strategy is to find a country that will value the boat at the lowest value to effect the lowest tax liablility. Another strategy is to set the boat up with a leasing scheme but I’ll leave these tax issues for another article! Back to the adventure…
Problem solving and investigations
As the journey progressed issues would pop up and we’d all go to work to solve them. Issues included figuring out where and how to slip our lines, manage the bow thruster, get diesel, de-lodging the main sheet from the top of the mast (yes – we had to send someone up the mast in a boysen chair!), finding the diesel dip stick, fixing a busted reefing line, grading the seriousness of an engine leak and short-term fixes, determining the result of switching on/off various circuit breakers, starting up the generator, working the shower, getting fresh water rather than salt water into the toliets, turning the oven on – that one took a quite a while to figure out; inside a cupboard was another switch that we inevitably missed!
And in between the issues, there was usually a bit of time for investigations. Below deck, I’d enquire, ‘What’s under that floor board? What does that switch do? What does that button do?’ and above deck we’d play with the various sails – changing cart positions, reefing the main, putting sails up and pulling them down. We played with the AIS to determine where the various vessels in our area were and the ships details. I’d open the various lockers and inspect a whole slue of things – cleaning agents, hoses, spare parts and on the list goes. The previous owner left us all sorts of goodies.
The learning curve felt overwhelming but the key, for me, was to just keep keeping on
The boat seemed to teach us what we needed to know when we needed to know it. I just needed to stay cool and remind myself that everything unfolds as it should do. Rather than let my mind wander and ask ‘what if’ questions, I kept bringing myself to focus on the task at hand and more importantly to remind myself to enjoy it.
Amidst all of this new learning and experience I turned green with mild sea sickness
By day two of our voyage and after consuming my allotted anti-motion sickness pills I became fairly useless. When the Force 10 hit I was completely incapacitated. I simply laid in bed completely unable to raise my head off the pillow. Lucky for me, my daughter was content to play on the Ipad and amuse herself while I was turning various shades of green and yellow.
During the storm my husband would duck down, covered in rain and salt water, offering an update. First he announced we hit a Force 7 and the boat was holding up really well and an hour later, he came down saying, ‘Kim, we’ve maintained a Force 10 for quite some time now so officially, we’re in a Force 10 storm!’ I think he mentioned 50 or 60 mile/hour winds and then returned to the deck.
From my perspective I only cared about one thing – our estimated time of arrival. Up until the last couple hours I held it together but as we neared the huge rock of Gibraltar I became stir crazy. Using all my energy and massive effort, I put my waterproofs on and went up on deck. Thankfully the winds subsided slightly and the fresh air helped pump me with a bit of life.
Although I was feeling terrible, I couldn’t help but feel an amazing sense of awe
There stood, before my eyes, the rock of Gibraltar. There was rain, spray, loads of tankers and boating activity. It was weird. For once in my life I couldn’t say, ‘yeah – this area is just like …..’ My attention was so heightened. I felt so ill yet so alive. Such a contradiction. I didn’t know the human body was capable of feeling two opposing ways at once. I must admit, however, that if giving the chance I would have preferred my awe to be spent with a good feeling body. Oh well.
Eventually, we entered the marina and had the help of two attendants to moor the boat
I threw an aft line and pulled up the ‘slime’ line (lazy line) and attached it to the bow of the boat. We cleaned up a bit and then went straight to the bar. Before sitting down I ordered a Savion Blanc and said, keep them coming. The amazing thing is that after feeling so ill I immediately returned to a fully functioning person within seconds of being in calmer waters. I didn’t even have to get off the boat to regain my composure.
The celebratory drink and meal was anti-climatic. We were all tired and overwhelmed by the journey. I kept telling myself to stop thinking. At one point I told hubby that an Atlantic crossing is out the window for me. He reminded me that I was tired and irritable and he was right. I drank my wine, ate my beef stew and went to bed with a smile on my face.
Our yachting journey around the world has started!
To read more about our first journey sailing in the Mediterranean in our new sailboat, read, ‘My first trip in our new yacht – dolphins included’