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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The best laid plans ….We are still here!

Another week and we are still in La Rochelle. For a few reasons, we still haven’t been able to make that leap to our first destination. Our initial plan was probably to be here about 2 weeks, but we did know that with sailing, it doesn’t always quite go to plan, so it was always going to be best to stay flexible. It has however been quite pleasant and productive  despite the stagnation. We have used this time to keep stocking the boat and continue to build our sailing skills and systems

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A wet, cold day trip to Île de Ré

We have had 2 full day lessons with Alain Girard and those have proved to be invaluable. Alain has shared his systems and sailing procedures with us and we have learnt a lot about Scout and how to sail and manoevere her, both at sea and while docking. Alain has helped and advised with our rigging and given suggestions to make her safer and easier to manage. Advice on fender management and position, marks on halyards and sheets for the raising of the main sail and reefs, were all things that we had not considered and appreciate now how it will benefit us. To finish up with Alain this week, we will also be covering man over board drills and advice on passage planning. Thanks Alain and thank you also for the terrific photos and video you took of Scout during our course.

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My electric winch, used for raising the main sail. It would be a lot harder to raise it manually.

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This training though hasn’t been without a few hiccups. We have had our first ding into the dock and a finger jam by myself into a winch. Double ouch! The bump into the dock was while Mike was having his first attempt to line Scout, all 8.5 metres width of her, up on the starboard side of a dock from where she is helmed on the port side. Lack of communication and direction from crew and instructor and a tricky manoever led to our inevitable first ding directly in the bow of the starboard hull. As James said- it was like parallel parking an apartment with three steering wheels. Heartbreaking at the time, we soon accepted it and the repair was ordered. The finger jam- well that hurt a lot too and left a gash of about 2cm on my little finger and is still causing me grief but I know which one we would rather have not had happen.

I won’t share the photo of my little finger, far too grisly!

We had a few purchases also this week that we may not have got if we had left earlier. A Brompton collapsible bike was the most exciting. We were really dependent on our car last week for getting to the shops and this week we realized how difficult and time consuming it can be just doing day to day shopping. We have chosen not to get a water maker or a washing machine installed on Scout so even just getting bottled water back and forth to the boat from a store almost 2 kms away was proving difficult. And who would figure that a marina this large does not have laundry facilities( again an almost 2 km trek). This bike, which we have called Atticus, is perfect. It folds up to fit into one of our lockers and will be easy to get on and off our tender. Mike and I love walking and running when touring the sites in places we visit, so at this stage we have only bought one just for ease of shopping. But as mentioned before… the best laid plans…… can always change.

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Wednesday lunchtime ( my 52nd birthday) is our planned day this week for departure to Spain. I hope we can celebrate it crossing the Bay of Biscay. Every morning and evening Mike is looking at the forecasted weather patterns and models but we find every day they keep changing. It is going to be definitely a matter of picking it the night before because of the variables in the changing weather and swells. We certainly don’t want to be setting out on our first voyage and be crippled with seasickness and terrifying conditions. I may not return!

Personally I have loved La Rochelle and have enjoyed using my french and getting used to living on board and having a bit of a routine, but it is definitely time to get going… I hope to write next time from Spain!

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A person who has never made a mistake never tried anything new – Albert Einstein

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Week No 1 – La Rochelle

We have had a ridiculously busy week in La Rochelle. Where we thought we would have got a lot more sailing practise in than we did, for one reason or another, it just didn’t happen. We completely underestimated how much was involved in getting a boat equipped. The good news is that it is just about all done and next week we are really going to sink our teeth into some sailing.

The week started with horrendous weather. La tempête Zeus arrived across France and left a trail of destruction in its wake. We were ok here. The wind and waves here in the marina were crazy with gust of over 50 knots. It didn’t dampen our enthusiasm, we just kept on doing the things that had to be done. Handyman Alain came and attached those things that just need to drilled and screwed into a new boat. Wifi man came and got our extended range antenna up and running. We are now able to pick up the marinas wifi, even when we are 5 kms off the coast. We made numerous trips back and forth to the shops (you could not do this without a car) and Mike has been in and out of the chandleries. Thanks to Ann at ‘Navigatlantic’, who allowed us to set up an account a few months ago and preorder a lot of the  chandlery and safety equipment that we needed. It all had to be attached and a stowage place found for it. I think we have bought close to 15 storage container units and still we have lots of spare room.

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Mike splicing the anchor rope to the anchor chain

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Our tender arrived

Our friends Joël and Sylvie arrived, abundantly bearing lots of local gifts from where they live…. and they live in Champagne! Unbelievably generous and we are in awe of their kindness. We conducted a naming ceremony for Scout and had a few laughs tossing champagne around the boat  while giving thanks to Neptune and asking for kindness from the Four Winds. Sylvie and Joël had brought a special bottle labeled with Scouts name and photo. A really special visit with very good friends. I wish we had been able to take them out sailing in nicer weather.

We were honoured to be invited by Eric Bruneel to inspect his new Neel 51 which was launched this week. It is the first of it’s kind and they have several more orders in place. Wow! What a difference 6 feet makes in a boat. It is huge and very luxuriously appointed! Captains and hostess’ quarters and still an additional 4 berths for clients. The area below, within the centre hull resembles a big ships engine room! Very impressive and we are excited for Neel trimarans future. Were we jealous? Not at all- impressed with the size, it would be just too big for us and our needs. Our Neel 45 is just perfect for us….

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The Neel 51 towering over the Neel 45. Both boats are heading off to La Grand Motte in the Mediterranean this week to be exhibited at the multi-hull boat show in April

Our son James arrived later in the week. A very exciting and anticipated reunion. A sweet moment as the train pulled into the gare at La Rochelle. Having arrived from a still very wintery Vancouver he was quick to embrace the warm rays of a very sunny day that the town blessed us with. We had a fun night out in the city centre, which felt like a balmy summers evening. La Rochelle was alive with lots of people and energy. I really do love La Rochelle.

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We did though, manage to get out for a few sails this week and for the first time by ourselves. Winds ranging from 20knots to todays very calm 7 knots. Each day we learn a lot! Mike is managing well and we have had some fairly difficult manoeuvres getting on and off a parallel parked dock. Setting springs to help pivot us off the dock and getting lots of advise and assistance from other anxious boat owners, who come to our aid when they see us on or off  the dock. To be honest, I am sure they are terrified we are going to hit them so they are very quick to assist. We, of course, are very grateful. The outcome of our sailing week is that we are not ready yet to set off by ourselves. We are hoping to back up that which has already been learnt this week with another Alain who is the go to sailing guru teacher here in La Rochelle. Unfortunately it has been Alain’s annual leave so he has not been available until next week. Hopefully it will all come together next week.

We have found ourselves exhausted at the end of the day and falling into our very comfortable bed each night, satisfied with a productive day full of new and challenging experiences. Busy brains full of plans for the next day and the growing lists of things that have to be done are slowly diminishing. We know we are closer to the stage where everything will feel just like normal routine and we will just relax into this lifestyle that we have been looking forward to for so long.