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Monday, 2 July 2012

Boat shopping in S. of France

By the colour of the sky in this picture you may just guess that this is not an English summer sky of 2012, and you'ld be right. We had travelled to Nimes, well actually Port Napolean, in the South of France to have a look at this boat. It was called Brimstone and at £22,000 sounded like it may just be our boat. She a ferro cement ketch, with a good pedigree and on the internet she quite appealed.
So we flew Ryan Air out of John Lennon airport for the knock down fair of £99 for us both, there and back. We booked into the Marina hotel, courtesy of David, the owner of Brimstone and arrived at about 11am last Friday the 22nd. June. 
Now we would have liked to be in and out of France, perhaps the next day but as luck would have it there were no return flights until Monday, which meant spending a full weekend in the South of France. Oh well things could be worse I suppose, it's just that right now money is, to say the least tight, but here we were in the South of France and we had left England with the prospect of a stormy and cold weekend of weather. So here we were in the 32 degrees of real summer and we were here to look at boats, one in particular, so we set about enjoying our weekend break.
David had driven down from his home near to Geneva and picked us at the airport at Nimes to drive us to see his boat. As head of security for the uk mission to the united nations we were looking for a James Bond look alike at the airport, that bit was a bit of a disappointment, although a telephone call he took on our way to the marina was interesting as he mentioned Gordon Brown and William Hague to the recipient on the other end of the call, we were impressed, lets hope the boat lives up to this, we thought.
The boat was splattered with bird shit, and a sad and deflated rib lay abandoned on the deck. She was not exactly well presented, but we wanted to like Brimstone so we tried to see beyond these cosmetic failings.  Down below the disappointment stated with the Galley which was very restricted by the homemade engine housing that doubled as steps to the cockpit. The heads were very small, no shower, and bit by bit we grew to know this  was not our boat, even at the bargain price she was being offered at. We had really wanted to like her, especially having travelled all this way, but it was not to be.
We arranged to have a look at anther couple of boats on sale by Ancasta the next day, after telling David that we weren't going to buy his boat. 
On browsing the yard our eyes fell upon a lovely looking vessel that turned out to be a 35ft Halsburg Rassy on sale fo 47,000 Euros, a bit outside our budget but worth a look, we could always make an offer. This one turned out to be a beautiful boat with many newly replaced bits of kit on board. Her only odd bit for us was her hydraulic steering from a centre cockpit, but apart from this she was a fine boat and had we had the where with all we may have made an offer there and then.
Next day we met up with Francis, the boss at Ancasta, a very grumpy an unpleasent man, we were told who showed us round a Westerly Riviera. He wasn't too grumpy, maybe because it was early in the morning and he hadn't got into his stride yet. The boat was interesting though, and made us reconsider looking at Westerlys', but this one was over priced. So we left the Port Napoleon marina and headed for Nimes by bus and train for a weekend in the sun, and a little sightseeing.
Still looking for that illusive boat.