I have just woken up on Polaris and it feels like a dream. We feel so incredibly privileged to be here. There are lots of 'firsts' happening at the moment and we are enjoying every one of them.
Its 8am on Thursday morning and I am sitting at the table in the cockpit having a coffee in the already hot morning sun in the marina at Canet, where our boat was originally built in 2012 by Catana (their shipyard is here). Without the boat actually moving any real distance we have come a long way since we flew in the Montpellier last Saturday. We decided to fly in on Saturday (despite, Alain, the Catana broker and our main contact on the ground not being available until Monday morning), so that we could spend Sunday morning grabbing some essentials like glasses, cutlery and other basic domestic goods. We also found time to laze around the beach in the afternoon and then tried to sneak into the marina to catch an early glimpse of Polaris, but she was a bit too far away, although, strangely, from a distance, we could see a few people climbing up the ladder that was put there and into the cockpit area!
We arrived at the marina about 9:30 as agreed and Alain arrived shortly after. We had a rather surprising exchange first of all. He greeted us and then said that although we had sent all the funds to the UK broker who had received them on the Second of August, Alain (french broker) had not received the funds until Friday the 10th and so he still had not even asked the seller to sign the deed of sale document. Therefore he had not yet transferred the funds to the seller and so actually the boat was not yet ours, we would not be able to stay on it yet and certainly not take it anywhere as planned....! Just so you know, Alain had been on holidays in San Francisco the previous two weeks, and the entire shipyard had actually been closed. Long story short, after checking with the UK broker, we know the money was received by the french brokers well before Friday. Anyway, that was his story and he was sticking to it so little we could do. After we got over the initial stress of hearing this we got busy focusing on the practical matters of inspecting the boat to ensure all agreed works had been completed, and to be fair, they all had been.
The first sail as owners of Polaris
On Tuesday, among other things, we took Polaris out for the first time since the test sail a month earlier, when there had been some mishaps including the mainsail halliard breaking, one of the sails flogging badly causing one of the solar panels to smash etc. This time was much less eventful thankfully and despite only about 8 knots of wind, we were doing 7.8 knots with the Main and Gennaker up. One of the main things we got out of the sailing that day was practicing maneuvering in and out of spaces in the marina and then practicing stern to mooring. We ended up mooring beside an incredible Catana yacht. A 65 foot beauty which had just completed an around the world trip. They were a friendly french family with three young children who had been home schooled on the boat during that time.
The first mini drama
Later that day, after we had been out searching for a dinghy (yes- we have no 'car'yet!), as we arrived back at the marina, Anna, the woman on the 65 footer came running to us asking for help. Their boat had broken the bow line which had been secured to a mooring buoy at the bow and so the boat was being blown into the dock. Having completed their round the world trip, they were now trying to sell their boat so they could get back to normal life in Bordeaux. I guess the last thing they needed was to repair damage to their boat! We all jumped to action, Jim hopped into their dinghy with Anna and they drove around to the bow where Alain and I had reattached a line and threw it to Anna for her to re-attach it to the mooring buoy. In the meatime their young daughter thanked me and said how it was lucky we were nearby because her dad was out trying to buy a car. She said that all boats are their friends. Her dad told her, even if you don't know the people yet, there is a mutual friendship and willingness to help each other when on the water together. I was glad to hear this. I know we will be relying on the kindness of strangers in the future for sure.
The first night
We convinced Alain, with the help of the UK broker that we should be allowed to start acting like it was our boat. Afterall, every last penny had been handed over on time (from our end). And so on Tuesday the 14th, after an extremely busy day of provisioning, unpacking and generally a hell of alot of running about, we sat down to a beer and some snacks for the first time at our table in the cockpit and low and behold there was a MASSIVE fireworks display right in front of us for a good hour! It was perfect. When it got a bit cooler we moved inside and played backgammon until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer. We slept like babies and woke up to the sound of an alarm ringing to notify us that our battery was extremely low. Jim got up, and, after some investigation with Alain, found that this was because we had not connected properly to shore power and we had not understood completely Alain's earlier explanation of how to operate the battery.
Our first guests
After a very hectic morning and a bit of food preparation we were lucky enough to have some very good family friends visit who have a lovely house about an hour's drive from here. We gave them the tour and they seemed to enjoy it. We had Gazpacho to start and some cold salads and drinks. Showing our first guests around was a reminder of how lucky we are to have this boat. We had a lovely time catching up and took a few photos to share back with my family in the family Whatsapp group. Our guests, Paul and Anne, too, have a part to play in this story because it was their house that we stayed at with my Mum and Step-Dad, Don, last month when we came to visit Polaris for the test sail. It was therefore quite fitting that they should be our very first guests. As there was no guest book on-board at the time I will write their names and the date as the very first entry on their behalf when we do get a guest book.
Busy, busy, busy
So from the time we moved on to Polaris (Tuesday) until today (Friday) we have been UNBELIEVABLY busy.. we have not eaten dinner before 9:30pm any day this week because we have literally been running about doing things, fixing things, cleaning things, buying boat stuff, provisions etc until late each evening. It has been quite satifying though but it seems never ending. Don't worry, we do realise that the list of chores etc IS never ending as part of boat life but it has been particularly intense as we try to make Polaris a home for the first time! One of the big things for us was to get a tender! Imagine... we are about to sail south to Spain and planning to drop anchor a few nights but until now we would have been without a tender..! We were struggling to find one and out of desperation we even thought of buying a stand-up paddle board which we could use to lean on and swim to shore with a dry bag of clothes,..get dressed on the beach and go about the business of buying one or two things and even going to a restaurant! Sounds a bit mad so we thought either we get a tender here or we stock up and do not leave the boat until we arrive in Sant Carles de la Rapita marina!
Success! We got the 'car'!
After running between various chandleries in this marina (Canet), we eventually found a tender and outboard engine. After much debate and taking advice and opinions from a whole spectrum of viewpoints we decided what size boat and engine power to select. Initially we thought we wanted no smaller than 2.90 meter tender and no smaller than 10 hp engine. Then we spoke to Alain, he said we should go smaller with the engine due to regulations in some European countries to hold a licence for anything over 6HP.. Then we spoke to other sailors who basically said get the biggest that you can. Eventually though we reverted to our original plan and we have agreed to buy a 2.90 Highfield with a 10hp Honda engine. It will be delivered later today and so we will have the flexibility to leave the boat!
When will we actually leave!
Now we are at the mercy of the weather.. its Friday, we had planned to leave on Thursday and now its looking like we won't get away until Monday due to forecast winds of 30knots plus at the weekend! Canet marina in August is not too bad though and this extra time is much needed for us to get things ready and to work as much as possible with Alain who knows this boat so well before we finally set off!