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Friday, 6 January 2012

Is this Nicholson 35 our boat?

Our search for a boat continues, and today we were at Glasson dock, a quaint old fishing hamlet near to Lancaster. There is a small marina here and we've come to have a look at a Nicholson 35 which I had arranged yesterday with Wendy from the brokerage at the chandlers. The fine still morning had turned to a low cloud and drizzle afternoon when we arrived a few minutes after two. We had been here just a couple of weeks before Christmas to see this yacht but hadn't been able to get on board as they were short staffed and couldn't let us on board by ourselves. As it turned out we had missed the owner by about 20 minutes on this occasion, so we were only able to check her out from the pontoon. She looked like a fine boat, and we were now back on a Friday to get the full picture. Unfortunately they couldn't find the key. Seemed that the owner had failed to leave a key with the broker, and he may be in Greece. We were a little deflated, to say the least, but agreed to look at another boat we had thought may be worth a look, a Colvic something or other. This boat was on the hard standing and so we would need a ladder. The problem there was that all their ladders had been recently condemned by the health and safety police. We went outside, in the drizzle, for a fag and a moan. Wendy appeared with an illegal ladder and we followed to the Colvic something or other. The moment the door was opened into the pilot house we knew we didn't want this boat, and after about 5 minutes of chit chat we climbed back to terra firma and back to the office, but taking a detour to the pontoon where the Nicholson lay to have a sniff about on deck.

We hopped aboard and at once were impressed with the her. Good sturdy oversized standing rigging, big winches, her soaring stepped mast, CQR anchor, spacious cockpit. Everything looked like a boat that was ready to cross oceans, solid, such a shame we couldn't get to investigate her below decks. We returned to the office. Here we heard that Wendy had managed to contact the owner who was on his way over, from near Blackpool, and would be with us in three quarters of an hour. We went to the local pub and ordered a pot of tea. The old Vic was empty, but with a roaring fire and was crammed with nautical memorabilia, a good place to while away half an hour on a drizzly afternoon. By the time we met Dave, the owner of the Nicholson the day was coming to its gloomy conclusion but that wasn't going to stop us having a tour of the boat.

Dave is a youthful sixty something whos' obviously been sailing a long time, he had that air, and drove a black 4x4. Dave is very handy and has, as we discover on the tour lovingly transformed this 1978 Nicholson from a bog standard boat, to something of a work of art. He's rebuilt the galley and topped it off with some ceramic top that they make mortuary slabs out of, not sure if that was a selling point Dave. Its had a brand new engine with a "Z" coupling, built cupboards here there and everywhere, except he forgot to build one for hanging cloths. There seems to be a back up for anything that might fail, and all in all this is a fine boat, we're impressed. We even get every chart we may ever need for cruising Scotland, plus a decanter and more cutlery than we need to serve a full compliment of Nelsons Victory. Dave is the consument salesman, excited to show us each labour saving device he's incorporated into this labour of love, each safety first addition and every angle that he's covered to make this a boat that would keep you safe and sound. This is a boat that won't let you down, a boat to carry you any where you choose to go. We spent over an hour below with Dave and now it was dark. He now showed us round the deck, but I was getting cold and I'd seen enough. I'll start the engine, eh. It starts at the first attempt. Yes we're impressed but it's time to go, hang on, he says, I'll show you the flood lights that i've got here I'm going to fit on the aft end, enough, enough. Your now overselling it Dave, we like what we've seen but we now need to be on our way, which is what we do. We head off down the pontoon in the dark and find our way to our car outside a closed and deserted marina. We light a fag and Dave pulls up beside us in his 4x4 to explain we need him to open the gate to let us out. Good job he thought of that or we would have been stuck there all night.
On the way home we chew the fat and come up with the downsides of Daves' boat, there's not many, but they are there. But that's the way it is with boats, compromise, it's all compromise. As a sailing vessel it's going to be hard to fault this boat but at the price he wants it's perhaps a no no. However it's very close to what we should be looking for, and I'm not ruling it out, and it is here. But we need to look at lots more boats to know we've found our boat but I must say this was very close to the boat my head says we should have, my heart will need a little more convincing.