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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.