Showing posts with label Canet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canet. Show all posts

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Au Revoir, France!

Leaving Canet
Great news! Yesterday, Martin and his crew finally left Canet, France and are now docked in Mallorca, Spain.

On Friday, Martin threw a party at the marina for all the individuals that helped get Amara up and running and on Saturday he and his crew set sail for Gibralter.

I spoke to Martin this morning and he sounded tired, elated and little overwhelmed.  Sailing a vessel this large comes with it's headaches.  Martin felt a little "in over his head" with all the controls, mechanics and running parts of Amara.  He expressed his gratitude to me on the phone that he is so glad to have Patrice, our captain, there to help to figure out how everything works.  Nonetheless, they are on their way!  For me, it means that they are one day closer to seeing Lily and me.

Goodbye, France.
Can you see the excitement in Martin's face?
...and it's official, Amara is ALL OURS!

Let's get this party started!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

All Is Calm

Finally, there is some calm on the water today in Canet.
Martin and I talked last night about what our next steps are going to be--seeing that everything is up in the air regarding repairs on Amara.  (Still waiting for parts.)  Martin thinks they can still get out of Canet this week.  If that's the case, they are still on track for getting to St. Maarten by month's end.  I have decided that I am going to forgo meeting him in the Canaries and wait until he crosses the Atlantic.  Lily's health is of upmost importance to us right now and we want her to recoup at home and get her back to full recovery before we go island hopping.  We just didn't feel it was the right time for her to cross the Atlantic given that she and I spent the last 5 days at the hospital. I'm a little sad that I won't be doing the crossing, but Martin promises me that I will get the chance to sail the Atlantic next time.   

Since the decision has been made for me to stay a little longer in the states, it is especially hard thinking that Martin and I will go almost 6 weeks before seeing each other (Lily and I plan to meet them in St. Maarten at the end of the month).  We hate even thinking about it, especially when this wasn't according to our original plan.  

So, what do we do in the meantime to get ready for our adventure?  I'll continue to keep shopping here while Martin continues to keep shopping in Canet.  Every night I get a slew of photos from Martin showing me his purchases that he has made at the local "Target".  Our boat is 220V, so anything that needs to be plugged in has to be purchased while in France, since they too run off this voltage.  Martin sends me pictures of toasters, blenders, bread makers, kettles, printers, etc., and I either give my approval and we keep it or I tell him to take it back.  

I, on the other hand, have completely purchased all the bedding for our 4 bedrooms, returned it all and then purchased more.  The unending trips and miles that I have put on my car for such silly items (that seem to be ridiculously important to me) is completely exhausting.  In the end, I purchased it all online.  

Purchasing for a boat is harder than purchasing for a home because things need to be more practical.  While I want to pile on mountains of pillows on to my bed here at home, Martin has given me limits for practicality purposes for the boat.  We plan to be in the tropics for most of our trip, so big comfy, puffy down comforters don't work because feathers attract too much moisture in humid climates, and frankly, they are too warm. There are dishes to buy, silverware to purchase, and pots and pans to consider--it's never ending.  All these things that I have to take account for and I haven't even stepped foot on Amara.  Doing things blindfolded is not my specialty.

On the home front, I got this little one home on Friday.  She is still contagious for a few more days, so no school.  I'm fine with it because I love having her by my side.  She is being a good little patient.
Leaving to go home. 
(Primary Children's hospital)
It's always good to have Martin so close even though he is so far away.  He is always so patient with me on the phone, especially when I get all worked up over something minor, like the right sheets for our beds.  He is a great partner to have and I am so grateful that this adventure will be with him... if we can ever get it started.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Canet At Sunrise

I Loved this picture and comment from our friend Garry who is helping to crew the boat with Martin.

"Some places have beautiful sunsets, Canet has sunrises. I never get tired of seeing the sun as it comes up each morning over our home."  -Garry 

Thank you, Garry for sharing these snippets of beauty in France.  

Ticktock. Ticktock.

I'm still here in Utah dealing with this....

While Martin is still in France working on this...

Life really has a way of throwing a wrench into plans.

Weather is still BAD in France, so Martin will keep his troops working to fix and repair things on the boat and hopefully they can pull Amara out of the harbor next week.

In the meantime, time is ticking away and our timeline is shrinking, but we know we can still pull this off.  Just not as smoothly as we would have liked.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Plan? What Plan?

Evening at the harbor in Canet.  Yep, Martin is still there.
Remember when I mentioned in an earlier post that Martin said that I needed to start learning to deal with ambiguity?  Oh, and remember when I said that Lily and I were leaving this weekend for the Canary Islands? Well, given the happenings these past two weeks, plans are changing.  Martin is still sitting at the marina in Canet on Amara and little Lily is sick.  So sick that I am sitting here writing this post from her room in the hospital.  Poor thing has Respiratory Syncytial Virus, better known as RSV.
Our little sickie.
Anyway, with Martin still not sailing and me sitting in Lily's hospital room, it is highly unlikely that Lily and I will be going anywhere this weekend.  Plus, if we went, we'd be hanging out in the Canaries for a good 10 days waiting for Martin and Amara to show up at the dock.  So, it's really not Amara's fault and it certainly isn't Lily's either.  Life happens, and sometimes at an escalated level.  Time to regroup and figure out Plan B.
Martin's temporary home.
Martin had some positive things happen regarding Amara's paperwork today but, of course, they are still waiting for a few more parts; but hey, it's only Tuesday.  Martin is sure that they should be able to push out of the marina by Friday.  So, Lily and I are going to sit tight here in Salt Lake and figure out if we should still meet Martin and crew in the Canaries or just let them sail through and we'll meet up with them in St. Maarten at the end of February.

The hard part is that it has already been two weeks since Martin left.  We hate being apart from one another.  Luckily, we can Skype or do FaceTime, but we miss each other.  Another 3 weeks is pushing it for both of us.  In the past, we have been apart from each other for up to 6 weeks, and we have always stay connected via satellite phone, email, texting, etc., but it's hard.  We have never gotten used to it.  Taking this into consideration, I'll see where Lily is health wise this next week and then make a decision.  

Given our immediate setbacks, I know it's all just temporary.  We're still moving forward with our sailing adventure and I am certain that this is all going to come together and be a memory.  Oh, and I'm still trying to deal with that silly word, "Ambiguity."
On the bright side, things are looking up here.
* Marina photos by Garry.  Thanks, Garry!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Canet's Weather Update

Martin exploring a castle in Perpignan, France.
I just got an update today in an email from Martin.  It reads:

"It's very windy here in Canet today.  The wind gusts have registered 57 knots or 65 miles an hour on our anemometer. The wind picks the water up off the surface and turns it into spray right here in the marina! Our rigging is clanking away and Amara is rattling and shaking like crazy.  I'm very glad that we are still tied to the dock!"

So, what to do when the weather isn't in your favor?  Be a tourist!  Martin and Garry explored the town of Perpignan.  It is a lovely medieval city about 15 miles from Canet.

More about the boat tomorrow...  Until then, you can find me packing.  Still packing.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Meet My Captain

Amara tied to the dock in Canet.
I got this in my inbox this morning of Martin up on the flybridge of Amara.  It is so nice to see the smile on his face, given the intense conversations we've had this week discussing the not so pretty things about owning a boat.  Fixes, constant and eternal fixes.

Martin and Garry are now living on the boat full time, meaning they are working around the clock to get this girl out of the harbor and on her way.  There seems to be a break in the weather this coming week.  So if they can just get all these repairs done, she just may be getting on her way.  Fingers crossed.

All I'm thinking now though is that I see blue skies behind Martin, a smile on his face and him standing on the boat that we both love.  My weekend is starting off well.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Surveyors, Cranes and Barnacles

One of the first steps in purchasing any boat is that the purchaser has to hire a "surveyor" to come in and survey it and make sure that it is actually sea worthy.  The surveyor's job is to check the boat to make sure the purchasers (us) are making a worthwhile investment and that there are no hidden surprises once ownership is given to the new owners.

In order for a surveyor to work their magic, the boat has to be pulled out of the water to be inspected from all angles.  This is no easy task, but it has to be done before any purchaser feels safe in buying a boat.  He checks for blisters in the hulls, checks the engines, checks electronics, and looks for any huge cosmetic problems.  Mainly, he tests all the working and moving parts. (Rarely are all the "surprises" found.  Those surprises usually introduce themselves when you're about 150 miles from nowhere.)  Martin and I have prepared ourselves for the unknowns, although who knows how I'll react when it does happen... and it will.  The first thought that comes to mind... "MAY DAY!"
The crane getting ready to pull the boat out of the water.
In our case with Amara, there were a few things that absolutely had to be fixed by the owner before Martin and I would purchase her.  She's only two years old, but two years in sea water can wreck havoc on a boat.

First thing, they had to repaint the bottom.  When boats have been in the water for a certain period, lots of soot, barnacles, and all manner of marine life attach themselves to the boat--not good.  So, if you don't get down and rub all of the grunge off periodically (which is really what you should do), you get a tremendous build up of sludge.  With Amara, this was the case.  She needed a good scrub and also needed the bottom to be painted with an anti-fouling paint.
Before.  Ewwww. Gross!
One dirty boat!
Now, for the AFTER photos:
Much better!
A good scrub can do wonders.  Now to get the painting started.
There were/are still quite a few things that still need to be done (the list is too long, and frankly makes me want to break out in hives).  I'll spare you with the list, but this is one of the reasons Martin needed to get to France. He needed to supervise the repairs and make sure they were getting done... and done properly.

Quick story...

This fall, when Martin and I were traveling through Europe for six weeks, our boat broker in the states set up a meeting with a gentleman named, Pascal, in Canet, France. The idea was for him to show us a few boats that he and his company were fixing and maintaining.  He thought it might give us a good feel on whether or not we should buy a new or used boat.

Well, we didn't like any of the boats, but we really liked Pascal.  Pascal works for Boat Management and Services (BMS) which specializes in boat maintenance.  Basically, he took off the rest of the day and showed us all sorts of catamarans and even walked us over to the Catana factory (a boat we were very serious about buying) to let us see the process of building a catamaran.  He even scheduled a meeting for us to see Catana's newest catamaran.  Amazing!  The part about Pascal that I appreciated the most was that he was very patient in answering the some odd 200 questions that Martin and I had about "cats" (short for catamaran).  He was really such a nice man.

When Martin and I left the marina, we figured that we'd never see Pascal again. We were both so impressed with the time he took with us (he's not a broker, so there was no money in it for him to do this.)

Long story short, the Lagoon that we purchased just happened to be parked in the Canet-Roussillon marina in France.  Right in front of BMS where Pascal works!  The stars were aligning.  We knew that if there was anyone that we wanted to be working on our boat, it was Pascal.  It almost brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how all the pieces of this complicated puzzle came together.

This past week, Pascal has overseen all of Amara's repairs and it has really helped to settle both mine and Martin's anxiety.  Even before Martin went over to France, we knew that our boat was being well cared for by Pascal.
Back to the boat repair...

Martin sent me pictures of our newly painted boat being put back into the water this morning.  So exciting.  Our dream is getting closer.
She's going back into the water.
Check out that new paint job!
Now, to just get Martin on the water and get him and his crew out of France.


Martin called this afternoon, and it looks like there are still more repairs to be done on Amara.  It's actually okay because the weather is pretty bad over there right now.  In fact, one cruiser that I have gotten to know very well left from France two weeks ago on the same route Martin will be taking.  I read his update yesterday and he has been stuck in Spain for a week because the wind is around 56 knots; making it not an ideal situation to be in if you're in a boat.

For all you non-sailors, a knot (kn) is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile (1.852 km) per hour.  Which is about 1.151 mph (wiki).  So 56 knots is 64.4 mph.  I found a video on youtube of a boat sailing (rather motoring--no sails should be up in this kind of storm unless you're very experienced).  They are in 56 kn.  It's not pretty.

(You might want to turn down your volume if you watch this.)

So Martin is sitting tight in Canet.  He figures that while he's there, and has Pascal at his finger tips, that he might as well continue making repairs.  No matter how small they are.  Who knows when we'll find someone like Pascal down the road... err... ocean.

NOTE:  A good friend just wrote to me telling me that this video that I posted is terrifying.  So, since I know that both of our mothers will be reading this; to calm their nerves and avoid any unnecessary phone calls tonight, let me explain. We have a resource called MaxSea on our boat which downloads GRIB files from the internet.  These files are from the the Global Forecasting Computers that help sailors to read the weather and avoid storms such as this one.  Meaning, we will be warned in plenty of time and will either choose to sit it out at the harbor or go around it so that we avoid these types of storms.  This is one of the reasons why timing is crucial for us in getting through the Panama Canal in March.  This is also why Martin is staying put in France until these storms subside. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How We Found Amara

Setting out to buy a boat is no easy feat.  Especially when you are new to the whole boat scene.  Every person that dreams of buying a boat goes to one site,  This is where Martin and I would spend countless hours at night going through all the boats available on the used market.

Next, we went to boat shows where all the newest boats just out of the factories would be on display.
At the Cannes Boat Show in France.  Martin is checking out the storage space on the Lagoon 560
After all the boat shows, Martin and I decided that we were probably going to purchase a new boat in the 50-foot range.  However, out of the three models that we ultimately decided on, none were available in the time period that we needed them.  All of the boats wouldn't be coming out of production until March 2013.  This made it hard for us because the ideal time to go through the Panama Canal is March.  Purchasing a new boat is a lot different than buying a new car.  Boats need to be tested on the waters.  All the moving parts need to be actually working and it takes a good 4-6 weeks in testing, going back to the factory, and then testing again to make sure your boat is ready to sail the high seas.  We had heard countless horror stories of new owners finding out that one of their engines on their new boat had failed, or their electronics weren't functioning properly and they were 150 miles off shore without a boat in sight.  So sometimes it's just smarter to get a used boat because a lot of those issues have already been addressed.  Also, boats depreciate just like cars and so most of that depreciated value has been absorbed by the previous owner.  Economically it makes better sense.  Problem was, every used boat we looked at had a musty smell or wasn't in the best of shape.  So, of course, I wanted a new boat.

You're probably wondering why we wanted our boat before March?  Well, because sailors, in our case, "cruisers", need to pay particular attention to the weather and trade winds.  That pretty much predicts where a cruiser and their boat should be in order to avoid potential storms or bad weather.  That is why getting through the Panama Canal in March is the ideal time--just in time to catch the "trades" that head over to the South Pacific.  Our plan is to try and hit the South Pacific in June, so as you can see, time is of essence for us in getting through the canal at the right time.  If we miss that window, it could push us back months.

This past November, Martin was in France looking at a just announced new model by Lagoon catamarans and it was just coming off the line at the factory in Bordeaux.  The timing would be tight, and we knew we would be cutting it close, especially since it was Hull #1 on a brand new model.  Getting the first "hull", meaning the first boat off the factory line, isn't ideal because even the manufacturers aren't sure if all the kinks have been ironed out on their first model.  It's better to get one a few hulls down the line because by then, most of the big issues have been addressed.  Knowing our timeline, we were anxious to just make a purchase and get started.

While Martin was in France, he saw that a 2011 Lagoon 560 had just come up for sale that week and it just happened to be located in France (albeit the opposite end of where he was).  The price for her was fair, so Martin drove down to Canet to go see her--keeping in mind my strict guidelines in what I wanted in a boat (no musty smell!).  She turned out to be in good shape and for the most part, she was ready to sail.  Since we knew that we really wouldn't be able to get the new boat in our hands until March, the timing was just a little too late for our timetable.  So, we made a quick decision and decided to press forward and purchase this Lagoon 560 before any other offers were placed on her.

Have I lost your attention yet?  All this boat talk.  Get used to it. (wink.wink.)

Martin is a master at conversation and was able to create a good friendship between him and the previous owner (which has paid off a lot this past week).  After a few long discussions on the phone between Martin and the owner, they were able to come to an agreement on the price and our offer was accepted.

When I write all this out, it seems so easy and uncomplicated, but buying a boat in France is not as simple as handing over the money.  There are mountains of paperwork and contracts to be signed.  We made the offer and paid in early December and we are STILL waiting for the final contracts from the owner's bank in France. Tedious.  That is one of the reasons why Martin chose to fly over when he did, in hopes to speed up the process.  No luck, we're on their timetable.

Now, to get the boat ready for blue water...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Our First Siren From the Sea

Martin and our good friend, Garry (who was kind enough to fly over to France to help Martin get the boat ready and sail with us across the Atlantic) went on a drive after church yesterday to a city in France called, Collioure. There, in the waters below, they saw this.  A Lagoon catamaran, similar to ours, just enjoying the view.

THIS FOLKS, is the reason why we bought a boat.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

So, We're Buying A Boat

A first time look at Amara!  Our boat.
Currently, Martin and I are oceans apart (not really a good way to start this adventure, right?) but only for a little while.  A week ago, Martin left for France while Lily, our four-year-old daughter, and I are still tucked away at our home here in Utah.

First things first, I guess I should explain that we are in the process of buying a boat.  Not just any old boat, but a 56-foot Catamaran that we will soon christen her with the name, AMARA (a-MAR-a), which means, "To the sea" (ok, so we took poetic license and added the "A" at the end).  We played around with hundreds of names but kept coming back to Amara since it really was what we wanted to do in the first place, "Go to the sea!"
Martin's bags that he took with him over to France.  
In case you're curious, that long tube is full of fishing rods.
There he goes.  Off to France.
Martin is in France finalizing the sale of AMARA (which he actually purchased on a satellite phone while skiing through Antarctica to the South Pole), installing additional equipment, testing engines, checking sails, buying sails and pretty much getting her ready to sail.  It takes a lot of time, energy and money to get her ready in time to hopefully sail her next week to Mallorca, Spain.  Martin's plan is to leave the docks in Canet, which is in the South of France and head toward Mallorca, Spain. Then he and his crew will go around the tip of Spain and aim for Gibraltor.  From Gibraltor, they will set sail for the Canary Islands.  Right now, the plan is for Lily and me to meet Martin and Amara in the Canaries where we will provision the boat for our 18-day trip across the Atlantic to St. Maarten in the Caribbean.

If all wraps up this week and all the issues have been addressed and fixed, Martin will leave from Canet to the Canary Islands at the end of this week.  This should take Martin and his crew about 10 days, pending weather.  I'm going to need to get used to this phrase, "depending on the weather" because it will be the topic for many discussions and decisions in the future while sailing Amara.  Right now, we live in a world where everything is instant, e.g., downloading a book, a song, seeing a movie, getting food, gas, anything... in an instant.  I'm going to need to rewire a few things in my head so that I can get used to understanding it when Martin says, "Well, we're going to need to check the weather."  Some things may not come so quickly, but I am fine knowing that we are sailing together.

Here, in Utah, I have been given the duty of wrapping up all things at home (insert panic attack here).  I am working on getting the house handed over for family to stay in, finalize last minute bills, and oh yea, buying bedding and decor for the boat.  I plan on shipping everything we need for Amara to some unknown destination in St. Maarten.  Truthfully, it makes me a little nervous.  Of course, I could do the shopping and decorating along the way, but if you know me (which I'm sure you will through this blog), I'm a bit OCD and terrified of ambiguity.  So I'd rather buy now, rather than regret it later.
Chaos.  Which I'm known for not handling too well.
Getting closer to ship these off to St. Maarten.
We'll meet them there in about four weeks.
Martin is in France with our captain, Patrice, and our good friend Garry.  I feel a wee bit sorry for them because not only is France freezing this time of year, but add in cold, brittle wind that is whipping at them all day long as they hang out at the dock in Canet.  This doesn't sound remotely enticing to me.  So, I'll go about my assigned duties and only moan and beg for sympathy from my family and close friends.  I'll keep quiet when Martin calls.

Many have asked Martin and me why we are even doing this in the first place?  Well, my gut reaction is to say, "Why not?" but that isn't why.  This is something that Martin and I have mulled over for the past year.  We've done our homework.  First, we attended three large boat shows (Oakland, Cannes and Annapolis) where we looked and looked at every catamaran out there.  We have sat in on many seminars at these boat shows, received our ASA sailing certifications and have plotted and planned over how we were going to make this happen.

Martin was born to be an adventurer.  He still has a boy-like quality that always wants to see what is on the other side, no matter the route.  He has always wanted to know what is possible to do that no one else has done.  He has swam with sharks, dolphins and whales.  Martin has participated in Ironmans and above all, he is an accomplished outdoorsman.  Martin bought his first sailboat when he was nine and has continued his passion for the sea up into adulthood.  It is his first love (and I am okay with it).

I, on the other hand, I'm a planner.  I like to know where I am going and figure out the easiest way to get there.  In this respect, Martin and I are polar opposites.  I had really never thought about seeing the world on a sailboat, but you have to admit, it does sound pretty dreamy.   Even though it was never a lifelong dream of mine, the minute Martin put the thought into my head, I couldn't yank it out even though I tried.  I would say to myself at times, "This is crazy!  We have a daughter!  We can't just pick up and go?"  However, I am just as much of a dreamer as Martin and as soon as those fears subsided, I was on board with him 100%.  A girl can dream too, right?

This isn't about us leaving the lives we currently have, getting rid of all of our worldly belongings and wanting a simpler life.  We like things complicated, but the timing is right for us NOW.  Our daughter won't be in kindergarten for another two years and there is no time like the present for us to get out there and see the world from a different view.   Our view will just happen to be from the deck of Amara.

Last year, Martin and I were at a boat show and we sat in on a class that was being given by the famous sailor, Jimmy Cornell.  Someone in the audience asked him why he would sell everything, uproot his family and take off on a sailboat for six years with his wife and two young children.  I loved his reply.  He said, "I grew up in Romania.  At the time Romania was behind the iron curtain.  You Americans take your freedom for granted.  You don't know what it is like to grow up where your basic human rights and freedoms are taken from you.  So, when I had the chance, I left Romania and decided that I wanted to be free.  I wanted to have the freedom to do whatever I wanted.  Sailing on my boat and seeing the world with my family--that is my kind of freedom.  So we went!"

So, we are going to go as well!  We are about to embark on an adventure that neither Martin nor myself are completely sure of how it will turn out.  Martin is terrified that after 3 weeks of this I'll be ready to head back to the mountains of Utah.

Boats break and we aren't the most apt sailors as of yet.  That is why we are bringing a crew with us for the first six months, to make sure we learn the ropes and become more sure of ourselves and in handling Amara on our own.  In fact, we may decide to keep the crew the entire voyage, we're just not sure yet.  Martin keeps telling me that I need to get used to living in ambiguity.  That's tough for me, but I am willing to take a stab at it.

Truthfully, I have to pinch myself thinking that this is really going to happen.  That we made this dream of ours a reality.  We already have our plan mapped out to where we will sail for the next year and a half and I'll make sure to post it so that our readers can get an idea of where we'll be... or trying to get to at least.  I can't wait to get this adventure started.

We hope you follow along as we set sail on Amara.

Post Edit:  Martin just read this post and sent me an email that said, "The ocean was my first love, but only because you weren't around yet.  You are now my foremost love!"  (Love him to the moon.)