"I'm sorry but we don't have any category B vehicles available and I only have one category C vehicle left. So if you want that one it's 90 Euros for the day or it's 150 Euros for the week and you'll have to get here in the next hour", was what the lady at the Javea car rental place said when I called to ask about prices.
It's the middle of winter on the Spanish Mediterranean coast and I was expecting car hire businesses to be grateful that we wanted to hire one of their cars. But that wasn't the case. It seems that a lot of Northern Europe's retired people head South for the winter in their big motor homes, which they park in the camping grounds and then hire a small car to get around locally. I'm not sure if there is a colloquialism for them in Europe, but in Australia they're called 'Grey Nomads'.
The reason for us hiring the car was primarily to drive 3 hours South of our base in Javea to view a couple of yachts, in
particular a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.1 that was berthed at the Tomas Maestre marina on the Mar Menor. (More on the story of this yacht later). There was also a 47 foot Jeanneau that we wanted to take a look at just to compare the 2 foot size difference. We had no intention of buying the 47 footer because it had teak side decks and they are a lot of maintenance and if not properly looked after can cause water leaks.
We opted for the week long rental so that the extra days could be spent driving to marinas hoping to discover more yachts, that weren't listed on the Internet, in our size and price range that we could view. Again this was where expectations and reality turned out to be very different.
Planning the marina visiting mission began by putting a pin on Google Earth in every marina location along the East coast of Spain from the Gibraltar border all the way North to Barcelona. The main fault with this is that it's hard to tell how big any given marina is or what facilities they offer. Once we had picked up the hire car the first marina we visited was in Denia, a short 15 minute drive North of Javea. It's a big marina and also the port where some of the ferries for Mallorca and Ibiza depart to and from. We were expecting that there would be several yacht brokers offices that we could walk into and be shown a list of what they had for sale. The reality is that there were just two sales offices in the marina and neither of them had anything listed that matched our requirements. They politely took our contact details and assured us they'd ask around and if there was anything available they'd be in touch. I'm not holding my breath.
The next marina we drove to was disappointing. It was in a lovely location from a boaties point of view, but it was tiny and the small town that surrounded it could have been mistaken for the film set of a zombie apocalypse movie. There wasn't even a sales office that we could walk into. This marina set the theme for the next three that we drove to, so we made an executive decision and skipped the next few smaller ones and went straight to the very big marina at Valencia. It turned out to be the same story as the marina we'd visited in Denia, just a couple of broker's offices, nothing available that suited, please leave your contact details.
We stopped for a picnic lunch and had a beer at a bar on the beach and concluded that we needed a new strategy, so we got back into the car and headed back to Javea. We were just wasting time and petrol with our current plan. It had been a whole day and we hadn't actually set foot on a yacht. The new plan was to get the brokers to do the footwork for us and it involved doing a search on www.yachtworld.com for yachts in our size and price range and when we found something that was near enough, but not quite what we were looking for, we would send an email enquiry to the broker asking if they had anything else that was similar. I think we shot off about 15 emails and by the time we'd finished it was well after business hours so any replies would certainly not arrive until the following day. Time to open a bottle of red wine and chill.
The next day the replies started to come in throughout the morning. Some said they only dealt with larger yachts, others had nothing available but would keep in touch, others obviously didn't read what I'd written and offered yachts that were way oversized or way over budget. It was frustrating to say the least.
Anyhow, back to the story of the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.1 that was berthed at the Tomas Maestre marina on the Mar Menor. We found this yacht on www.yachtworld.com and it ticked nearly all of our boxes. Great price, the right size, 22 years old, lots of extras and inclusions and it was technically just down the road. We emailed the broker, he got straight back to us saying that he'd contact the owner and arrange a viewing and let us know. Time ticked by, close of business came around and so we resigned ourselves that we'd have to wait until the following day to find out about a viewing.