Scout Around The World

Our journey from buying a trimaran in France and the voyage and adventure sailing her back to Australia


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2 weeks annual leave …. where to go?

To visit our boat of course!.

In fact, it is the second time we have visited La Rochelle in the last 18 months.

In May last year just after we had ordered the build of Scout, we decided to go to France and visit the builder and the  factory where she was going to be built. Up until now we had been dealing with our agent in Australia, Multihull Solutions, but wanting to get closer to the source, we combined our short annual leave break with a drop in to France. Yes, a long way to go for 2 weeks but we couldn’t keep away. It was great to meet Eric Bruneel and his team and it confirmed to us that we were on the right path in choosing a Neel 45 trimaran. Our visit also coincided with a Neel 45 that was just about to be launched and the first Neel 65 Trimaran, nearing completion also. Very industrious and impressive factory!

This November, annual leave rolled around again for Mike and we decided again we had to visit La Rochelle. But this time our Scout was waiting for us.

To help with the production line and the latest generation of Neel Trimarans, the 51, we agreed for Scout to be built earlier than planned and this was done a few months ago. With the horrendous freight charges between Australia and France, it was also a good opportunity for us to utilise a generous 60 kilos flight baggage allowance and move some of our things on board. To cap it off, Timothé Bruneel also offered to take us out on a sail. It was fantastic. We couldn’t wipe the smiles from our faces for days. Being on Scout made the dream, all of a sudden very real and to see her personalised to our specifications we had no doubt she was ours. Mike felt very comfortable at the helm and I took heaps of photos and measurements ( sheets for mattresses, v- berth etc). I even put together my first of many, I hope, videos on youtube. Please watch it here

 

The time in La Rochelle also gave us the opportunity to make some contacts with chandleries, open an account and search the local stores for purchases for next March.We certainly feel better prepared for our arrival next year and can do some arm chair internet shopping from home in the meantime.

We had a wonderful time in France. We visited our friends in Champagne and finished the trip running the marathon from Nice to Cannes. What an amazing coastline. We hope to explore it better from Scout next year

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It has been a while!

Yes it has been a while since I have posted. I hope you hadn’t thought we had given up on our dreams and plans. Nothing further from the case. We have had a busy 18 months and are right on track for our March departure. We couldn’t be happier with the way it is all progressing and as we are coming into our last 3 months before moving aboard, right now  is no better time to update as succinctly as I can, everything that has transpired to date that has lead us closer to Scout

It has been a whirlwind of changes and developments over the last year and a half, but I can confidently say that it is all coming together, perhaps even better than we may have planned it. Eighteen months ago, the prospect of what we had to do seemed daunting to me and our two year time frame seemed endless but, on the contrary the time has gone by so fast and everything seems to have naturally fallen into place.

The Farm.

One of the biggest decisions we had to make was what we were to do with our business and our farm and our home on the Gold Coast. Something had to go to make our purchase of Scout attainable. Lengthy discussions and analysis ensued and we made the initial decision that we had to sell our farm and wind up the business, leaving us with our home on the Gold Coast. We had a coffee farm in the beautiful hinterland area of Byron Bay and a business, roasting and selling the coffee to customers online and in markets.A successful boutique business with lots of loyal customers. Not such an easy decision. Mike had poured so much of his life into being a coffee farmer and we passionately loved the property but we soon came to the realisation that to make our next dreams come to life, it would have to be sold. If it didn’t sell, then it was going to be back to the drawing board for plan B.

After what felt like a long time, the farm sold successfully in May this year and over the last 6 months we have wound up our coffee company. While the decision to sell was a difficult one, when the sale went through it was with a feeling of relief and excitement that we could now focus on Scout and our journey to move aboard.

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Our Children- now all adults.

When we started making our plans, we knew we couldn’t possibly have left any earlier than planned as we still had our youngest at school and our older children were still finding their feet and starting to make their way in life. So the plan was to begin our adventure after the youngest had been out of school for a year and was in a settled position. It has turned out to be perfect timing. Of our 6 children, the three eldest have settled into very happy job paths and careers that have taken them interstate or overseas. No 4 is about to graduate from uni next month and move into the work force. No 5 is cruising along with part time uni but happy to move in with friends and away from the apron strings and the youngest, well he is loving his studies at uni which involves attending college in the country and has to spend his semesters living there.

The Dog- the hardest of all to accommodate into our plans.

Our dog Gemma is a farm dog. She is a Maremma and if you know this breed you would be familiar with how difficult it would be for them to live in a small property. That just about ruled out everyone we know who could possibly look after her for us while we are away. So rather than rent out our house for a year, we have found some friends, a retired couple who are going to house sit and look after her for our first six months aboard.

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With the logistics solved it was now time to get on with the preparation of Scout and ourselves as sailors.

Sailing Training

We both knew that we had to supplement our basic sailing abilities and skills with some additional training to at least give us some confidence in sailing offshore and handling a larger boat.

Mike has attended two live aboard off shore courses, both with Sunshine Sailing at Marooychdore on the Sunshine Coast. He attained his Day Skipper qualification with the RYA and  gained experience with both passage planning and hands on practise. I completed my competent crew qualification with the RYA at  Pacific Sailing School at Rushcutters Bay in Sydney. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Our course was conducted by Lisa Blair who at the time of writing this blog is about to set off to become the first woman to circumnavigate the Antarctic solo, non-stop and unassisted. Good luck Lisa. I will be following. It was  a terrific 5 days and the information  and experience I attained was extremely valuable. And what better place to do my training than in beautiful Sydney Harbour and Pittwater, near where I had grown up.

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French

The New Year arrived and I also decided to add to my goals and conquer French this year. I sat down with some books, tapes, videos and subscribed to a social media language learning site called Italki. My goal was to be at least conversational by the end of the year. We have, of course a french boat and what better way to get to know her and her builders and environment than to learn the local language. I am pleased to say that my French has greatly improved and while I am by no means fluent, I am conversational ( just) but my comprehension, listening and reading has met my target for the year and I  have one more month to go to still improve. I also have dabbled in some Spanish and Italian – enough to get by.

That sums up briefly the very hectic changes in our life over the last 18months. We have also spent a lot of this time reading blogs…. thank you zerotocruising for being our initial motivators, Miss Catana ( fellow Australians) – watching hours of Youtubes….La Vagabonde, Catamaran Impi, Trio Travels, which have not only been entertaining but a source of great sailing cruising information. Also a special mention  to the series Distant Shores, whose sailing adventure TV series was invaluable and highly enjoyable. On top of that, countless hours researching all the conflicting information on everything from what anchor to buy to what bedsheets are best in the tropics. I don’t think we have turned on the television for 18 months. We have been constantly glued to the internet.

I am hoping our blog posts will be more frequent now as we approach our departure date. We recently returned from a visit to Scout, who has been built and is waiting for us in La Rochelle. I will write a post about that visit shortly but for more up to date posts on what is happening please have look at our Facebook page – Scout Around The World– and our very new youtube channel where I have posted my first attempt at making a movie showing our first meeting with Scout a week ago.


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Happy Birthday to me!

Last month it was my 50th birthday. It is quite a significant age and one that I have been looking forward to for a while. Our fifties have been the focus for Mike and I to start to live the lives that we have wanted to. Not quite retirement but a time for us to travel, have some adventure and see the world. Time really for us. It happens to also coincides with our youngest leaving school and it is the perfect window of opportunity for us to begin living the dream.

It has been a wonderful ride so far. We have raised our six children to be lovely adults. We have had enjoyable, rewarding  careers, built a successful business together and have great friends and family. But is has been so busy!!!. A busyness that we have thrived on but now is the time to take a step back and enjoy some time for ourselves. The week was spent with friends and family over several events and I couldn’t have wished for a better way to celebrate my birthday. I flew to Sydney to catch up with friends from school; had lunch with my girlfriend, who shares her 50th in the same week as me; a luncheon organised by my dear girlfriends;and a barbecue at out place with my family, including my three sibling and their families. I also spent the day with Mike around Sydney Harbour with lunch at Watson’s Bay and of course looking at lots of boats.

Our wonderful children. How lucky are we!

Our wonderful children. How lucky are we!

Not only was it a fabulous week- it was also the week that we signed the contracts for our Neel 45. What a  way to blast into our fifties.

Nautical inspired birthday gifts, including a book my girlfriend searched Australia for.'Sailing The Farm' by Ken Neumeyer.

Nautical inspired birthday gifts, including a book my girlfriend searched Australia for.’Sailing The Farm’ by Ken Neumeyer.


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Facing your fears and stepping out of your comfort zone.

I have always had a fear and loathing for writing. Essays, short stories, even letters are trials I have avoided most of my life. My english teacher at school, while a very passionate and gifted teacher, terrified me and I came to dread writing and submitting homework essays. I relished the day when school was over and I would never have to write another composition again.

Three of our children love writing and have gone on in their higher studies and employment to pursue their passion. It amazes me where they have inherited this gene from and I am in awe of their natural abilities. Quite often I would get my daughter to edit or comment on something I have “had” to write and her editing of my work always seemed to be obvious when it was pointed out. Which has made me wonder why couldn’t I initially see the mistakes myself?

If you know me or were to meet me, one of the first things you would notice was how fast I talk. I think fast, I talk fast and when I am writing, I write fast. It is most likely because I want to get my thoughts in my head on paper as quickly as possible, so I can get this onerous task over and done with. Because I never received such good grades in English, I just always assumed I was no good at writing. I sort of gave up and accepted that I would never be any sort of a writer. So why am I venturing into this realm and contemplating writing a blog? There are several reasons for writing this blog.

  • Most importantly and obviously, it is a way to document our adventures for family and friends back home, who will be waiting for updates and photos from our adventures.
  • A diary for ourselves to look back on and remember our days living and touring on Scout.
  • A pay it forward exercise. We have read countless blogs about sailing and cruising and have learnt so much over the last two years from others’ experiences, that I hope that those to follow in our footsteps may gleam from ours.
  • A way of networking and meeting other cruisers and sailors who have similar interests as ours. Receive feedback, hints and advice from them and hopefully enable us to meet up with them the along the way.

Also to help me face my fears. Our sailing journey will be full of wonderful and many, I imagine, fearful moments. They don’t particularly worry me looking forward, because they will occur, perhaps out of our control and they will, hopefully pass. Writing a blog though is something I can take some control of but I just have to develop a different approach to writing. I don’t have to be and probably never will be a good writer. I do, however have to learn to slow down and edit, edit, edit. Not be so impetuous and curb the need to write everything in a hurry. Develop a discipline and take my time and time is something that I have a lot more of now. Lets face it, it is a lot easier to write now than when I was at school. Editing then was done with liquid paper or re- writing the whole thing again on paper. Argh! There are many bloggers out there doing a better and perhaps not so good job at blogging. I am now here to join their ranks. I have nothing to fear. I will just do my best and hopefully get better.

While this blog is predominately about sailing, cruising the world and our adventures, it is also going to be a little bit about us and some of our musings. So please excuse me if I get off the topic sometimes. I will endeavour to bring it back on track as quickly as possible. Mike is also going to contribute when he starts to have more free time. Glance over the posts that don’t interest you but stick with us if our journey does. It is going to be a great ride.

PS…A quick note to thank my english teacher, Mrs Ann Abbott. While I feared your classes, you instilled in me a life long passion for reading and literature. I loved the novels we were ‘forced’ to read at school and while my writing skills may not be strong, I am sure my editing skills will be better from the many books I have devoured over the years.


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To Kill A Mockingbird- or how to name a boat

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To name a boat is no easy feat. It has to be a name that encompasses many concepts that you feel strongly about and purvey the image that one wants. It has to stand the test of time. Like naming a child, you have to be sure that you will still feel good about it in years to come and you both have to agree on it.

We both liked the idea of a girl’s name but wanted it to be strong and feisty- see us safely through adventure and times of trouble but also be soft and sweet when just cruising along. We wanted it to embrace exploration and adventure as this is primarily why we are setting out on this course and we wanted it to be short, sharp and succinct. A lot to ask for in a girl’s name.

We deliberated for weeks. One’s suggestions met with the others disapproval until we thought about perhaps searching literature, something that we both love, for a name.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” is one of our favourite books and the characters of Atticus, Jem, Boo and Scout resonated well with us. Scout was feisty, trusting, endearing and warmed to our hearts when we read this book in our school days. Adding to this is the imagery of a scout going ahead to explore and discover.

On a practical note – the Neel 45 is a trimaran with 3 hulls and the name of the boat usually  adorns the centre hull. Not a very wide area, so a short name will be a perfect fit. I don’t think we could have picked a better name.


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We bought a boat!

The last 2 weeks have been hectic. From actually making the decision, to where we are now has been an exciting, tumultuous, stressful, sleep depriving fortnight. There hasn’t been any time to write in this blog and as there has been so much going on and too much to write about, it has all seemed so overwhelming to contemplate writing it all down.

So to recap the last fortnight.

We bought a boat! A cruising multihull trimaran- a Neel 45 which we have commisioned to be built in La Rochelle in France. Deposit has been paid. Contracts have been signed and completion finish date decided on . We will pick up our trimaran on the 10th march 2017 and start our sail and adventure, eventually heading back to Australia.

Our business and our farm equipment has been put for sale. Mike has contacted people in our industry who may be interested and so far we have had 2 companies negotiating with us.

Mikes employer has locked in two lots of  six months leave without pay for him. Never thought they would be so agreeable so far out but we now have 6 months off from March 2017 to September 2017 and the same for 2018. We will sail the mediterranean for two seasons, put the boat on the hard for the in between seasons and make plans for how we will continue our voyage. Perfect arrangement for us. We won’t feel like we are completely abandoning our families and helps keep the sailing kitty topped up.

We have told our families and close friends about our plans. Most have always known about our desire to cruise a boat back to Australia but like us were unsure how we were going to pull it off. It was my 50th birthday over the last fortnight and we had lots of family visiting and celebrating- so what better time to announce to all. We also feel it is symbolic to welcome us into our fifties -this new exciting adventure which we hope will take us through our fifties and perhaps beyond.

Met with Mark Elkington today- owner of Multihull Solutions who are the agents for Neel in Australia. Someone to share our excitement with and officially welcome us to the cruising multihull world. He even dropped off our interior options for the boat. It is starting to feel real. IMG_1448 As you can imagine the level of excitement has been high between Mike and I. Lots of talking and contemplating and some stomach turning decisions in regards to winding down our business and Mike’s passion- his farm. But we feel good and so excited about the decision we have made and our future. We have 23 months to be out the door and on our way to France with lots to do in the meantime. We know the time will go very quickly.

PS. 30 minutes after Mark left today, we received an offer for our farm equipment. A little bit of negotiating and it is sold. Yee Haa! We are one step closer to getting out the door.


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So the dream starts to become real

The Dream…… to buy a cruising multi-hull yacht in France and over the next few years sail it back to Australia via the Med and the Caribbean, the Panama Canal and the Pacific.

A dream that started for me two years ago when Mike intrigued me by stating that he has always wanted to own a yacht. My interest was piqued immediately. I have always loved the idea of sailing and being near the water, but neither of us had had much experience. Me- sailing camp in high school and Mike, quite a bit of time on a wind surfer but none of it what you could call real experience. Our lives are pretty hectic. Mike is full-time employed in his profession. I run and manage our family business. We also have a full-time farm in the Northern Rivers NSW and 6 children. We both knew that if we were to own a yacht and have it sitting at our local marina, then chances are it would never get sailed and would just cost us money. No real joy in that. The only way that we wanted to own a yacht was to make sure that we would have the time to enjoy it. Then, if we had the time would we be happy just cruising the Gold Coast? Again no real long term joy there for us either. The dream then, was how could we take off from the commitments and structure of our life and make an adventure out of sailing a yacht.

We decided fairly quickly that our ‘dream’ would be to buy a new yacht and to fulfil the adventure side of it, buy it in France and sail it back to Australia. We then quickly entered the logistic phase of how could we possibly make this happen. Two years ago we still had our two youngest finishing high school. Mike and I were entering our fifties, so although there was no great rush we soon quickly become obsessed with this dream and how and when were going to make it happen. Do we wait until retirement? Do we sell our business and farm and Mike take leave from his employer? Could we afford to make this happen? How do we leave the kids and parents? The real allure for us was to do this while we were still young enough. Our kids ( now ranging from ages 23 to 17) are hopefully not contemplating children and our parents ( 6 in total) are still fit and well. There would be no better time than the next few years but could we afford it and the time off the work.

This is our blog of how we make it happen, our adventure ahead and how we got to where we are. It has not been a whimsical notion. The last 2 years have been spent studying books, reading blogs, searching the net and a bit of sailing all in readiness for us to depart from France in 2 years time. We know we have a lot more work to do but are inspired by the people before us who have done similar. It has become an obsession that we have talked of and have made plans for almost every day for the last 2 years. Today marks the day that all our deliberations have paid off and we move forward from here with a firm plan in mind and a schedule to make it happen. The big decisions have been made and now we just put it all into action.