This week's Friday blog ties in very well with Saturday's (January 12th 2019) YouTube video which is our first Q & A video. This blog is the unexpurgated version of a story I wrote for a local newspaper in Queensland, Australia as a follow up to an article they did on us just before we left Australia in December 2017.
Just 12 months ago Beerwah residents Barry and Aannsha had a dream to buy a yacht and sail the world. One year on how has the reality matched up to their dream?
Christmas and New Year 2017/2018 were spent in Javea, Spain at Barry's brother's apartment which would be their base for the next 4 months while they were still scouring the Internet for a suitable yacht to buy. At that point in time they still didn't know anything about sailing and had never set foot on a yacht. In February the plucky pair drove a rental car south through Spain to Gibraltar where they spent the next 17 days living on board a 36 foot sailing school yacht, literally learning the ropes.
"It was intense." recalls Barry "Firstly there's a whole new language of nautical terms to learn plus 12 hour days of getting the yacht from point A to point B." Departing Gibraltar they twice visited several ports in Spain and a port on the north African coast. The day before they were about to finish the course, while sailing back to Gibraltar, they had to plough through a force 8 storm with wind gusts up to 39 knots. "We learned a lot in a short space of time." recalls Aannsha.
The pair drove back to the apartment in Spain both now qualified in RYA Competent Crew, RYA Day Skipper, VHF Radio Operator, Marine First Aid and Diesel Engine Maintenance. Now all they had to do was buy a yacht.
They say you should never buy the first boat you see. But that's what ended up happening when they looked at a 1995 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.1 located near Murcia, Spain. Other yachts were inspected but none of them compared to the first one they saw and they got very lucky with the broker they were dealing with. "We'd heard horror stories of bad brokers, but Jose Ramon from Marina Estrella was the most honourable, conscientious and accommodating person anyone could wish to meet." says Barry.
With a deposit paid, work began on having the yacht surveyed and getting some repairs and modifications done. The Spanish apartment they were staying in had been rented out for the month of April and keeping a close eye on their budget they asked Jose Ramon if it would be okay to move on board while the work was completed even though they technically didn't yet own the yacht. Jose was fine with that proposal and Barry and Aannsha spent the next 3 months living in the marina at San Pedro Del Pinatar near Murcia.
On Saturday 14th July, with all the work completed and the final invoice paid, the newly named yacht A B Sea slipped from her mooring in the marina ready for a 30 day shakedown cruise to the Spanish Balearic Islands. But just 3 miles out disaster struck. The main sheet block that controls the movement of the boom literally exploded into fragments. "I was momentarily stunned." said Barry. Thinking quickly they managed to put away the main sail and get a line around the boom to stop it swinging wildly before it did any damage. By the time they returned to the marina it was Saturday afternoon and the marine chandlers were all closed. Jose was still in his office and somehow found a new block to replace the broken one. Departure was reset for the following morning.
The month long shakedown cruise took in the islands of Formentera and Ibiza before returning to the marina for 2 weeks to have a couple of things tweaked. Then the adventure began for real. Calling in assistance from a long time friend Mike and his fiancé Elaine, who have lots of sailing experience, the two couples departed the Spanish marina on Tuesday 4th September with Greece as the original planned destination, but on a yacht plans tend to change.
Their journey of 1,911 nautical miles over 25 days had them crossing the Mediterranean Sea from west to east, visiting 4 countries, navigating the Bonifacio Strait, the Messina Strait and the Corinth Canal, stopping off at 9 Greek islands and eventually ending up in Kaş, Turkey where they will spend the northern hemisphere winter months. For a couple of new sailors who'd never even set foot on a yacht before February 2018 we think they've achieved quite a lot.
"Doing what we're doing is not for the faint hearted." Says Aannsha. "There are moments when things get very scary very quickly. Like the night the mooring ball we were tied to failed and we ended up on the rocks. Quick thinking and quick actions from Baz saved us and our home."
"Yes." Agrees Barry "It's not all champagne and sunsets on the back deck. We have had those magical moments, but they're tempered with times when you have to make judgment calls, so far most of our calls have been correct and making them can only get easier as we gain more experience."
You can follow Barry and Aannsha on their amazing adventure via their weekly videos on YouTube www.youtube.com/sailingabsea or through their weekly blogs at www.absea.com.au/blogs
In tomorrow's YouTube video we answer the following list of questions from our subscribers which we decided to record at lots of different locations in Turkey to make it more interesting for our viewers. We hope you enjoy how we put it together.
Ed Russell - What is the biggest unexpected experience's both good and bad you have come across? Can be about anything, people, place, or things.
Alistair Simmons - The adventure started a year ago. When will it end?
Alex Grey - Where was A B Sea last September when the hurricane hit the Aegean Sea?
Andrew Rutledge - Why did you decide to buy in the Med? and what can I do to help your channel grow?
Mark Bonnington - How has the overall learning curve been? What you expected or something else?
Leesa Dwan - What’s been your favourite place you have visited so far and what are your intentions coming into the new year?
Frank Schwarz - Would you say that you are happy with the size of your vessel and why?
Toby Cobb - Are the rumours of an interplanetary stowaway true?
Gail Leighton - How long do you guys plan on staying in Turkey?
Matt Gill - Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you had chance to start again?
Heather Noon - How are you guys doing with being together most of the time?
Sara Scott - I was wondering when u are leaving one place to go to another what procedures and paperwork do u have to fill in? Have watched some sailing videos where the people seem to spend ages going back and forwards from customs to harbour master filling out forms and paying for different bits of paperwork.
Jorge Correa - So do you take your life today as: 1. this is our home and life and it's not vacation every day? or 2. this is a permanent vacation eat out have fun like vacation will end in a few weeks?
David Downinton - Really enjoying your journey around the Mediterranean and your arrival in Turkey. When you were costing you never mentioned insurance, quite important! What did you do?
Link to Barry's next blog