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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Nada Nothings moving but the leaves on the trees

I just looked at my profile, I wanted to change my email address, and I see that in my biog I said that I was almost sixty. Well in a couple of weeks time I'm going to be 65, SIXTY FIVE!!!!!!!! That means we've been at this Novices to Navigator thing for over four years. Too long, not long enough and we still don't have a boat and we're still here. What happened.

Well what happened was that the bankers ran off with all the money, the world plunged into financial meltdown and the idea of cashing in our inheritance took a big knock as the house prices plunged. It became a buyers market and we're selling, wrong end.

We almost had a sale towards the end of last year, then it fell through because mortgages are as rare as hens teeth, and the bankers don't want to lend any of their dosh to nobody.

So here we are now well into the fifth year of our plan and still no nearer to making it happen. What makes it worst is that last year we told everybody, well everybody at work that we would be leaving. So at least two or three times a week someone comes up yo us and says something like " I thought you said you were going sailing" well so did we.

We've handed in our notice in, well sort of, we've told the trustees that as soon as we sell our house we'll be gone in three months. And that seems Ok with them, but we've sort of already gone. We can't get enthused by future projects, and we're in this dreadful limbo land.

We've dropped the price for both our house and the inherited one and people come to view but they all seem to say there's too much work to do. Seems every prospective buyer wants to move into a show house, and although these two houses are perfectly livable they do need cosmetic work, and ours needs central heating and double glazing. Seems that no-one can live without central heating. We've never wanted it, we live with the windows open, we like fresh air.

I think we're moving towards a sort of depression, not real depression but the surface type, where you start to think that someones trying to tell us something. You had a bad idea and all this delay is trying to steer us away from that dream we had way back almost five years ago. Take stock, have a big think, this is a sign.

There's got to be a chink, a change, an offer, even a low one that we can reject, anything would be better that this nothing. We even put a silly offer in for this C&C38 that needs oodles of work doing on it and you know what, we haven't even had a reply to our email. Five days since we sent it, nothing, nada. Even a polite reply to say I'm sorry that was a joke offer, please don't insult me would have been good, but nothing at all.

So we tread lightly from day to day, hanging on to that estate agents call,text only to be disappointed when it comes in negative, another no sorry, there was too much work to do.

Now I know there's so many tragedies happening here and there everyday on the news we need to be glad that we still have our health, we're a long way from starving and count our blessings like we should, but hey I'm human and my life seem important to me. We shouldn't have counted our chickens, but considering how long we've been waiting for them to hatch. They say it's the worse recession since forever and so I suppose that's what this is all about but I'm ready for a break, give me a break.

Next door put their house on the market a couple of weeks ago and sold it last week. Now we tried to be pleased for them, but it gave us a sinking feeling to be honest. Ok so they've double glazing and central heating but come on, where's the justice.

Patience, it will happen, but oooh it makes you wonder, this week, this month this year.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

At last we've found our boat

Over the next few days we were looking at C & C 38s on the net, all which were pristine compared to Seagull, boats of the same year, in good condition were selling at between 44 and 70,000 dollars. We started to have second thoughts about Seagull sitting abandoned in the mangroves, and realised that we hadn’t paid enough attention to her in our rush to get out of the rain. Over the weekend we decided that we needed to make a return trip to Luperon, if only to put our minds at rest that Seagull was a hopeless case.

It’s a bit of a journey by public transport to Luperon, so we were more than glad when our friend Martin offered to drive us. We were due to fly home on the Wednesday, so Tuesday we headed back to Luperon.

As we had an early start we breakfast in Luperon at Roberts Upper deck, contact Raymondo, and finally touch base about half eleven at the RIB jetty at Puerta Blanco where we find Ray fiddling about with his outboard, which is refusing to kick into life. Rays outboard is somewhat vintage in years, a little like the man himself, but Ray has a lifelong affinity with engineering and assures us that it’ll be sorted in a jiffy. He gingerly removes a few screws, making sure not to drop them in the drink, gives the filter a tap or two on the deck and replaces the said filter and float mechanism to the outboard.

 Martin and Jackie go off to browse another boat recently raised from the bottom of the bay, whilst I stay to lend moral support to Ray and the errant outboard. A few tugs on the starter cord suddenly sees the old dear kick into life and we’re away, picking up our other two crew members on the way to seagull. The engine dies as they get on board, but Martin lends a hand with the coaxing and she spits back into life. Off we chug to have another look at Seagull, about half a mile down the bay, there are no more incidents with the outboard, which now seems to be working fine.

Now the last thing that Jackie and I want is a project boat, and getting on board Seagull for a second time confirms that this is without doubt a project boat with a capital P. But there’s something about this project boat that won’t let us go and we begin to see beyond the superficial cosmetic state of the boat, both topsides and below. Ray is a seasoned sailor and having him around helps enormously, with an engineers’ eye as to what would be needed to bring this boat back to life.

 Although it’s impossible to say, the engine may be redeemable, with some new bits, like the starter for instance. The rest of the mechanics look OK, winches, windlass, standing rigging, plumbing. All may need taking apart and looking at, but in his opinion all it would take would be time to do the work and this could be a very fine sailing boat again.

There is though, the question of the electrics which have suffered badly from the robbery where the thieves have simply cut wires to remove what has been stolen. Everywhere there are holes where some bit of kit used to be, VHF, SSB, CD player etc. etc. There’s still lots of stuff here, whether it works or not we just can’t say, however the boat has a very homely feel, as Ray puts it, even in amongst all of this chaos, there’s something about her that keeps us engaged.

 By the time we leave we have spent about an hour and a half peering into all her nooks and crannies, and begin to feel that as big a project as Seagull is, it would not be beyond us to bring her back to life. She feels like our boat, I think we’ve fallen for her charms hidden beneath three years of neglect in Luperon Bay

We clamber back into the RIB for the short ride back to the “Marina” of Puerta Blanco, but guess what, the outboard can’t be coaxed into life. This is a problem, as Ray only has one paddle, well actually only half a paddle, getting back is going to take a little time.

 Martin & Jackie take turns at either side of the RIB to keep her going in a straight line, Martin demonstrating his “J” stroke technique, whilst Ray continues to tinker at the stern with the errant engine. He calls up a friend for a tow but they can’t help, so we wiggle our way slowly towards the quay, helped a little by the incoming tide and a bit of wind all going in the right direction. It all makes for a typical day afloat with Raymondo who is never phased by these small mishaps, and anyway, it’s not him that’s having to paddle. 

Half an hour later we share a couple of beers before heading back to Cabarete. That’s the moment when I realise I’ve left my trusty old fedora back on Seagull. Too late now to think about returning to get it back, and decide it must be a sign, “where ever I lay my hat that’s my home”, as the song says.

We’ll need to negotiate a good price, but if we can, then we believe that at last we have found our boat, she’s called Seagull, and is a C & C landfall 38, circa 1980, and what’s more she’s in Luperon in the Dominican Republic. Now all we have to do is raise the funds to make an offer, which is still dependant on selling one of the two properties here in England. Come on Gods, time to shed a little fortune our way, and the adventure can begin. 

Boat hunting in Luperon

We needed to get away for a couple of weeks, as winter rolled on and on, and so come January 2nd we’re on our way back to the Dominican Republic, back to our little apartamento at Orilla Del Mar. This is going to be a holiday of do nothing, chill, as the modern lingo has it. The only adventure we’re going to go on will be a gua gua ride to visit an old friend of ours in Luperon.  We will also have a look at a couple of boats that Gill has for sale.

We manage to hitch a ride from the main highway when a flash station wagon stops. We climb in and meet a young but astute lawyer whose on his way to sort out a land deal and drops us right where we want to be at Shaggies bar.  Although now it’s JR’s but it’s the same old place now owned by Gill, that’s another Gill, not the yacht broker.

We phone the other Gill, and our old friend Ray to arrange to view some boats in the afternoon. That turns out to be a problem as Ray, who now is the guy who will be taking us around has gone off to Santiago on some mission about an engine. He wont be back until the evening. So we find a hotel and potter away the day in Luperon. Me to do a little watercolour whilst Jackie opts for a siesta. We arrange to meet Ray at the trivia quiz evening back at JRs.

JRs is the yachties hang out in town, and although this is sailing season there’s still a few here, enough for a social gathering. We arrive after the quiz has started but soon fall into the swing of things. We generally hang out, but once word gets out that you want to buy a boat everybody’s your friend. At the end of the night just as we’re leaving I’m approached by an old female salt who said she’s got a boat for sale that’s tied up in the mangroves, She’s got arthritis and can’t handle the sheets anymore. It’s a C&C she tells me but I honestly am only half aware of what she said as people are offering their goodbyes at the same time.

Next day we start with breakfast at the ‘Upper Deck’, nowhere near as posh as it sounds, no menu, just breakfast. As we eat the rain pours down, a heavy shower, looks like this will be the pattern for the day. Ray meets us there and we head off to Puerto Blanco to pick up the RIB.
First stop is the Alberg that we’ve been looking at on the web. Somebodies put in an offer of £21,000, that’s a third off the asking price, and they’ve accepted so that gives us an indication of how the market is here. The Alberg is ok but doesn’t light my fire. Next up is Bobs boat, a Gulfstar 41, and Bob is aboard. It’s a bit messy, to say the least but a lot of boat, very liveaboard, he’s asking $44000, Then Wolf’s  Cape Dory, I don’t remember much about his boat, nice guy but not our boat.

The clouds are gathering over Luperon Bay and Ray is heading for a boat called Seagull that’s tied up to the Mangroves. Just before we get there the heavens open and we scramble aboard this boat, and quickly get the hatch open and get out of the rain.  To be quite honest, this boat does not look too good, if fact at first sight it’s not far from being sunk. But it is still afloat and the cabin is a dry retreat from the rain.

 I’m first down the companionway, and according to Jackie she hears me exclaiming a few ooos and ooooohs of approval.

Below deck is almost as much of a state of neglect as topsides, but wait a minute, the layout is very interesting. The Galley is quite large for a boat this size, 38ft, and right opposite are the heads. Not only are these spacious but there’s a separate shower cubicle. The sink is hidden under old pipes and ropes, the galley in need of a couple of days cleaning.

So once the rain has stopped we climb back up, and close the hatch, another look around the deck where the rain lies in puddles behind the gunnels. Everywhere is neglect and rusting, shame this could have been a nice boat in it’s day.

We clamber back down into the RIB and head back to the pontoon of puerto blanco. Ray gives us a lift to Imbert and we catch the bus back home.

On the way back, we puzzle about what make that last boat could have been, something about her had stirred our curiosity, somehow we needed to know what make of boat that was.

The name of the boat was Seagull, that’s all we had so we put that into a few of the brokerage search bars and drew a blank. Lots of stuff about seagulls on google images but as for an advert for this boat ,nothing.

 We phoned Ray who didn’t know who the maker was but would ask the owner later that night at JRs. Next day we managed to speak to the owner who told us that the boat was a C & C landfall 38. 

She had been lying there abandoned for about three years and had been robbed of most of her electrical components, including her batteries.