After owning Great Escape for almost 4 years, we have sold her. We, and in particular Peter, have decided that owning a yacht is not for us. Of all the travelling we have done, the time in the yacht has proved to be the most work and the least enjoyable. Somehow we get blinded by the dream of owning a yacht and sailing off to exotic destinations. The reality, especially when you own an old yacht, is that most of the time is spent attending to the maintenance of the yacht. Yachts live in a harsh environment and require constant maintenance. There are many, many yachts near us where the owners have bought into the dream but have not kept up with the maintenance and the yacht is simply rotting away. We saw this happen in the RV world in the USA and the term they use there is ‘lot rot’.
Coupled with the amount of work that needs to be done, is the fact that sailing is really hard work, especially as you get older. Running around the deck of a yacht that is being bounced around is not easy. Peter has done 3 big passages (all over 1 000nm each) and they are demanding. Four hourly watches in lousy weather is demanding especially when you are crossing an ocean and there is nowhere to stop. It may be easier for those who grew up sailing but learning to sail later in life is a steep learning curve and very time consuming.
It was with some trepidation that we decided to sell Great Escape. Selling a second hand yacht is also not an easy task and can take many months. It had taken us over a year to buy a yacht. As it turns out, it was far easier than we anticipated. The Australian border has been closed for almost 18 months and overseas vacations are not possible. There is also a shortage of yachts in Australia due to the fact that no yachts are allowed in. There would normally be a large amount of overseas arrivals each year and many of these yachts would then be sold. Many Australians are now buying boats, yachts and caravans and travelling round Australia instead of going overseas.
We decided that we would sell Great Escape ourselves. We have in the past been highly critical of the second hand boat market and our view has not changed. We appreciate there are many honest boat brokers but the majority are, in our opinion, dishonest and will do and say anything for a sale. There was no way we where going to pay a boat broker to do something that we could do ourselves. Great Escape was probably in the best shape she has ever been in when we listed her for sale.
We listed Great Escape on a number of websites and went to great lengths to present her properly. We made a video and that can be viewed here. Great Escape was on the market for 6 weeks before she sold. We received 4 serious offers, one of which was made in the first 24 hours. It is time to do something different.
We, along with everyone else trying to travel around the planet during this pandemic, have had our wings clipped for the last 18 months. It is really frustrating and I now have a serious case of cabin fever. To add to the cabin fever, it is now winter in our part of the world and I don’t like the cold. The Australian States have a habit of declaring lock-downs at the drop of a hat. Sydney has just gone into a 14 day lock-down but fortunately we are just – and I mean just – outside the strict lock-down area. Things could be worse. We have the yacht at a really nice marina and are lucky we can travel between the caravan and the yacht. We moved the yacht to Trinity Point Marina a year ago thinking it would be a short term stay but a year later we are still here.
We are among the rich and famous with some very expensive boats as our neighbours.
One of the really nice features of Trinity Point Marina is the floating wave attenuator. Even when the wind is blowing and the water on Lake Macquarie is a mess we are well protected.
Until the world gets Covid-19 under control we will enjoy the marina.
After 16 days at sea we finally arrived in Coffs Harbour on Thursday 3 June 2021. To say that it has been an eventful passage would be an understatement. What should have been a passage of 6 to 8 days turned into a passage of 16 days. During the passage we lost both sails and the auto-pilot. You can read the full story here.
We are however still stuck on the boat. We are required to have negative Covid-19 tests before we can leave the boat and the tests were done on Friday. It is now Saturday morning and we are still waiting for the test results. Until we get the test results the owner is also not allowed onto the boat. Hopefully we will get the test results in the next few hours and we can finally get off this boat. It is one of those experiences that, having done once, I have no desire to do again.
I wonder how the owner feels about the delivery. During the course of the passage the genoa was ripped to shreds, the auto-pilot stopped working, the mainsail became jammed and wont unfurl, the bracket holding the wind-vane lost a vital bolt, the topping lift snapped and an unknown part fell off the boat and landed on the deck.
As planned, Geoff arrives on Tuesday 11 May and immediately gets to work getting to know the boat. On Tuesday morning it still looks like we have a weather window for a departure on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. By Tuesday afternoon the weather has turned and there is some nasty weather developing in the south. In now looks unlikely that we will have a weather window for the next 10 days.
Growing oysters is really big business in New Zealand and there is a large oyster farm in the Bay of Islands. There is a great deal of activity every day with the fishermen taking the small oysters to the farm and bringing the spat and fully grown oysters in. It is a complicated time consuming process which explains the exorbitant restaurant prices.
These baby oysters are going back to the farm where they will remain for about 12 months before being harvested.
While we are waiting for the weather window, I leave Geoff and Dean on the boat while I return to Auckland to spend some time with my family.
With Dean and I on the boat and Geoff still stuck in Sydney, everyone was very glad when New Zealand again opened the border with New South Wales from midnight on Sunday 9 May. Estelle is at the Bay of Islands Marina and Geoff should arrive here on Tuesday morning.
The Bay of Islands Marina is a launching pad for boats going west to Australia and east to the Islands, predominantly Fiji. There are a number of overseas boats stuck at the Marina all waiting for the world to get Covid-19 under control so that they can continue with their travels. Estelle has been stuck at the Bay of Islands Marina since late 2019 and the owners are keen to not spend another winter in New Zealand and I can’t say I blame them.
Estelle was previously a charter boat in Croatia before the current owners bought her. She is certainly a stunning boat with a huge amount of space inside and in the cockpit.
The weather window for a departure to Australia was however closing and it was unclear when the next weather window would open. The owner had contacted two ‘weather routers’ (I was not even aware of their existence but all the serious cruisers use them extensively) and they were not sure what the weather was going to do. The models seemed to suggest different things and there was a possibility that a low pressure system could form off New Zealand in the next few days. We do not want to sail with a low pressure system forming as that would make the passage very difficult. They suggested we wait a few days to see how the weather developed and for the models to agree.