With each year’s commencement I am always determined to keep the Blog up to date and, as always, that plan fell into disarray almost immediately upon our return to Europe in 2019.

The past half decade had seen Bob and I mulling over the concept of returning to the Med in Gratis and purchasing a boat specifically designed for canal cruising.

Having a set idea on the price we were set to pay, design lay out, draft and how much work we were prepared to put into the boat once purchased, we found those suitable were way out of our price range and still required significant work to bring them up to scratch. The best setups were found in the 20m+ range, but once barges enter this length berths become difficult to find and pilots are required on the larger waterways.

Moving on, 2018 saw us start to rethink our idea. Not including what there is to still see of inland Europe, sailing Scandinavia, the Baltic and Mediterranean will keep us in the northern hemisphere for years to come, yet there is still the Pacific and Asia on our to do list……….

Not dealing well with the cold means the summer months in Europe are really the best three for us to be there, seven months spent landbound in Australia is much too long, and most significant of all, we both miss the sailing life.

So, what was plan B?????

After much discussion, the plan was to search for a new yacht rather than a canal boat – just a little roomier – this time round.

2019 was the year to commence some serious searching.

Gratis is still perfect for the canals and with the mast now in Vlissingen, enables us the option of travelling the inland waterways or sailing during the European summer, whilst the caravan allows Bob and I to journey throughout Australia for three months of the year.

Knowing exactly what to look for, my other half was best suited to undertake the research. Over the coming months, Bob spent all of his available spare time searching the net and reading reviews on a multitude of ocean going yacht brands before settling on a handful: hull material, rigging, draft and the year in which the boat was constructed were the most critical criteria.

A bucket list on what our third home should contain was created:

• aluminium or fibreglass construction
• shallow draft most ideal
• 47 – 55ft in length: waterline is critical to the speed of a boat – the longer it is, the faster she goes.
• pilot house
• two steering stations
• island king sized bed in main cabin at stern of boat: no weird and wonderful shapes to be had here
• 2 heads (shower and toilet)
• cutter rig
• work room for Bob
• easy access to engine
• solid life lines at above waist height
• Very little pre ocean sailing maintenance required
• All possible living area well utilised: Gratis is a beautiful yacht, but because of her hull design and interior set up, only a fraction of her size was utilised to its full extent. Bob and I have often discussed making significant alterations, but this would mean taking her back to bare hull and fully redesigning the interior, or cutting the stern off to insert enough additional space to create a rear cabin, but this would alter the look of the boat – which is an important part of her beauty.

When Bob has a plan, he is quick to react.

Only a couple of weeks after our return to Vlissingen, a plane flight took us to Marseille. Hiring a car, the following days found us checking out a replica of the Yacht Yankee. This, disappointingly, had a poor layout and way too much work (the photos were certainly not that recent) to be done, and an Irwin, which to our mind wasn’t a strong enough boat in which to undertake ocean crossings. It too, required some serious work, and the layout just didn’t do it.

Returning to Vlissingen, our preparation for the 2019 European Odyssey in Gratis continued, and Bob recommenced his search for the next perfect yacht.

Not even a week had passed before I awoke to find a number of yachts ready for my perusal. This time around they were Tayanas, ranging in size from 48ft to 55ft.

One came in well under our price range, and if the pictures were correct was a beauty. By day’s end, a flight to Antalya, Turkey, had been booked and within days Bob and I were on our way once more.

All outward appearances were positive in this yacht: most critical of all, according to Bob’s moisture metre, the fibreglass hull displayed no signs of osmosis. At thirty odd years of age, serious items such as new rigging were required, but with the price well under our upper limit, this was quite doable. One of the mast wedges positioned against the ceiling was broken and this should have started bells ringing, but the reason provided seemed innocuous. One set of shrouds had been replaced – with cheap wires – but that in itself wasn’t an unexpected issue. A more serious matter was that of the inlet valves being seized in the open position and the hoses connected to them having become quite fragile (all that was required was a hose giving way and the boat would sink), but that could be easily rectified as long as the owners came to the party of taking the boat to a marina and having her put on the hard at their expense and full responsibility, thereby meaning we would only take ownership and responsibility after the boat was safely on land.

The yacht was on the hard, and the following day we were provided the opportunity of sailing with the owners to her home mooring. More bells should have rung……

There was no sailing as the owners wouldn’t put the genoa up – the excuse being it was too heavy and wouldn’t work. On investigation, what Bob found was the stay connecting to the chain plate had been replaced at some stage with an eye terminal and stainless straps that didn’t enable the rotation of the stay. No toggle on a forestay coupled with the furler is absolutely guaranteed to cause a failure. An elderly couple that really didn’t understand boats and poor workmanship was our conclusion at the time.

Happy with what we saw and knowing we could easily deal with the issues found, Bob and I went to the next step of hiring a boat surveyor to assess the yacht and provide us with an in depth report.

On discussion with the surveyor – Bob had returned to Turkey and met with him – further issues came to light and comments made by the couple on the day we motored with them started making a little more sense. The mast step was broken, having actually moved off its base and this explained the missing wedge on the deck penetration where the mast goes through the deck. At some stage, the boat must have hit some underwater structure with force, thereby setting the mast whipping back and forth, and causing the forestay and shroud to snap. A further issue was the refusal of the owners to have her removed from the water in order for the surveyor to complete his inspection on the outer hull. It turned out this was the second time the surveyor had been prevented from completing his inspection for a potential buyer. There was something else they were hiding…….

Even for the most experienced boatie, it is crucial that one hire a surveyor to ensure there are no hidden surprises……….

On with the search….

Soon after, a trip to Corfu took place.

Here it was a Tayana 47. No, too small and dark, plus it had a multitude of issues. We now certainly knew what we weren’t looking for: 52ft would be perfect, 55ft not bad, but the longer the boat the more expensive the mooring costs.

Realising, the price range we were allowing wasn’t enough, we did the maths and increased it a little more, which then provided a greater range of boat options.

Bob found several more suitable yachts, but on discussion with brokers, the price couldn’t be brought down to a more reasonable price – over valuing of second – hand boats is rife – so had put them on the back burner for the time being: the longer a boat remains on the market, the more likely it is that the asking price will be reduced.

Mid – September arrived, and I awoke one morning to the news that flights had been booked to the USA and it was fortuitous that the Newport boat show was on at the time. So much for thinking I only had two more flights to deal with for the year (there is nothing I abhor more than flying!!!!!!!!!).

The yacht we were looking at here was a drop keel shallow drafted Bristol. Yes, we could easily live with this boat and she ticked so many of our boxes. Unfortunately, the broker wouldn’t even approach the owner with Bob’s offer. In comparison with the other yachts of its size built during its time of construction, the asking price was well above.

On with the quest…

By early October, Bob and I had returned to Adelaide in Oz, and within a week my love had booked us to peruse two Tayana 55s: one in Queensland, the other New Zealand.

Off we went once more……

On viewing, both were most suitable and well maintained, but that in Queensland had an unusual layout which required serious adaptation to meet our requirements, whilst the yacht in New Zealand was perfect in layout, well set up for ocean sailing, had proven herself by sailing the mighty blue, and felt perfect as we first checked out the deck, then moved below: there were no musty damp smells, which was a massive boon. A day sail and we were caught hook, line and sinker: she moved like a dream through the water and, compared to our beautiful Gratis, the speed was second to none.

A bit of price haggling and the yacht was ours!!!!

So how did our bucket list match up?

Ticked were:

• aluminium or fibreglass – fibre glass, our preferred construction
• 52 – 55ft in length: waterline is critical to the speed of a boat- the longer it is, the faster she goes, and at 55ft this beauty gave us that plus plenty of room.
• island bed in main cabin at stern of boat
• 2 heads (shower and toilet)
• cutter rig
• work room for Bob
• easy access to engine
• room for solar panels
• Very little pre ocean sailing maintenance required
• All possible living area well utilised.
There were several compromises:


• pilot house – hard cockpit roof, but soft sides: not good for one who feels the cold
• shallow draft – very few are available and the asking prices are beyond belief
• two steering stations – only one plus the emergency tiller set up
• solid life lines at above waist height – at thigh height and thin, they need to be raised
• king sized bed
What additional pluses did we receive?
• washing machine
• 2nd outdoor living area at the stern
• 2nd spare cabin
• A fantastic dinghy with an ali hull and the size of Little G2
• the delightful owners had left a large number of items on board for us, which meant there was no immediate need to head out and make purchases for bedding, tools and so forth. Their kindness was greatly appreciated.

So, what work had needs to be done?

• The engine has done some serious hours, so the fuel pump/injectors have need to be serviced sooner rather than later.
• Prior to departing New Zealand the gear box required repairing as on our first short motor the reverse throttle had died.
• The batteries were kaput, so a brand new set were purchased prior to departing New Zealand.
• Connection to shore power was upgraded to Australian standards prior to departure for Australia.
• Life raft 10 year check completed prior to departure for Australia
• Epirb and flares replaced prior to departure for Australia
• Electrics checked prior to departure for Australia
• Washing machine changed from US 110 volt to 240 volt prior to departure for Australia
• Bed area adjusted so there is easier access to the mattress – working on slopes and lifting mattresses when making is not good for one with back issues

As with all old boats, hiccups do crop up from time to time, but on the whole most issues are easily solved by Bob. We are now in April 2020, have been living on board Saliander since early Feb and are loving it.