The ideal and realising it

We knew we had to pursue our ideal to do some extended sailing after sharing a wonderful 34’ yacht, “Backbeat” with our good friends Jim & Gail Petrie for seven years. Backbeat was seaworthy and well traveled – the Petrie’s sailed her up and down the Australian East coast, as far North as the Whitsunday Islands. During their visit to Sydney during May 2015, Jim & Gail confirmed that they wanted to sell Backbeat and sail charter boats in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Backbeat was sold fairly quickly.

We narrowed down our vision of the next boat to be one of comfort and seaworthiness. Backbeat had a single steering wheel with a two cabin, large galley (kitchen) and saloon layout and one head (bathroom). The new boat would have a double steering wheel arrangement with self-steering, electric winches, additional water capacity and the latest in navigation instruments. It’s not clear if we are acquiescing to age, wisdom, experience, weakness of body, or all of it.

We spent over two years monitoring the boat market in both second hand and new boats, but we had to look at all the options first – we had time. Having sailed on a number of different yachts and canvassing the opinions of our daughters who have sailing experience, we realized that a three cabin layout with two heads will be required to accommodate the girls when they or our friends join us on our travels. This meant a boat with an overall length of 42 to 45 feet.

Two second hand options which we nearly bought were a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409 in Sydney and later a SO 439 in Tasmania. We had already booked tickets to fly down for sea trials on the SO 439 when another keen buyer gazumped us. The importer of the Jeanneau range then offered us a new boat for slightly more than the second hand option, built to our requirements. We took a punt and ordered the SO 439.

Our business was really our life and our hobby for the last 18 years, but talking about retirement over glasses of wine in the evenings plus both girls having left home, convinced us that the time was right to look at the end of 2015 as a tentative retirement date, subject to us selling our business by then.

Three months of excited waiting ensued while the new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 43’9” yacht was built in France. The boat arrived at the end of August and the keel was fitted and the mast stepped and rigged. The local components took another two weeks to install and commission.

Early September we were able to sea trial the boat and accept delivery. A wonderful day for the beginning of our future sailing adventures. We named her “Esprit” after the 26ft keelboat my brothers and I launched back in 1975.

Esprit stern

Esprit stern