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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Mediterranean Spain and we must get Dad!

Well there was literally no room in the inn for us in Gibraltar. After our 52 hour sail from Portugal, no entry and loving every minute of being on board Scout, Mike and I decided to keep on pushing on. We had enough water, food and fuel but the most worrying was no further weather forecasts for the days ahead or for this region. We were going to update all these in Gibraltar. The weather looked good but with no internet for updates or any cruising information for this region, we still decided to keep on going.

We were also on a little bit of a time pressure. My dad was due to arrive in Barcelona in 5 days and we wanted to get as close as possible to him. We always knew that from there he was going to have do some additional travel to get to us, but the closer we got, we knew it would be easier to organise his pickup. We also had checked out of the Schengen zone in Portugal, so the incentive was to remain checked out for as long as possible to allow us more time available to get to Greece.

We anchored on our rejected night from  Gibraltar off the beach at Marbella. A pretty seaside, populated resort town. It was our first night anchoring. Combined with anxiousness of setting an anchor for the first time( will it hold? – have we done it properly? ) and where to take the dinghy as there was no where available on a busy beach, we decided to stay on board and get a good nights sleep. It was however, as we suspected it would be,very rolly with a swell and although it was nice not to be woken for a night shift, the movement made for an uncomfortable night.

The next morning we set off along the Costa Del Sol. We had done no research for this region but Mike had some limited information on his chart plotter and we decided on heading for Almería towards the end of the coast, another full day and night sailing. The Costa del Sol was grand. Heavily populated seaside resorts after seaside resorts with a steep mountain range broken up with dramatic headlands. Facing directly south, bathed in sun all day, you could see the appeal of many Europeans enjoying Malaga and this coastline for their warm getaways. It seemed to go on forever. It was wonderful to see the coastline from the sea but combined with our need to keep moving, stay checked out, and the fact that we live in a beach resort on the Gold Coast in Australia we didn’t feel that we were really bypassing too much by not going to shore. Perhaps we can see it better when we leave the Mediterranean.

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Two days sailing along the Costa del Sol

Another overnight sail completed, and there was no room in Almería for us but we got into a marina in Aguadulce nearby. What a find! The cheapest marina we had found so far and a lovely quaint beach resort- bathed in fog that didn’t lift until 1 pm. It was so good to step on shore after 4 days on the boat. First stop breakfast, internet, contact the kids and make some plans with an updated weather forecast. We had decided -well, lets just head to Barcelona and pick dad up there. It was only 2 days away and we had 3 days to get there. The bad news was that bad weather was going to be setting in in 2 days… we had to leave now! So lunch, a bit of posting on Facebook and the blog and we were off again…

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They were keen for the beach in Aguadulce. Early morning grooming of the beach by tractors and this family was set up by 8am. The fog did not lift until 1pm

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Easter Saturday. Marina Village at Aguadulce. Seaside villages set into steep mountains. Highways cut into the cliffs

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After the fog lifted

We left Aguadulce by 1500 and set off on another 2 night passage. The next coast line was the Costa Blanca and this took us in a bit more of a north easterly direction with more dramatic geography and more seaside towns and resorts. It was hard to imagine so many people all over Europe enjoying these beautiful coastlines. It was just as intensive as the last coast with development and as dramatic with the rugged coastline. Another full day of crossing this coast, beautiful sailing conditions with full main sail and genoa and at night a little bit more motoring with the wind dropping. We were very content.

We were approaching Cartagena and we noticed that we were already heading on a course direct to Ibiza. The Balearic Islands were where we wanted to spend a lot of time and not really wanting to head out of way north to Barcelona, we decided to just stay on this track and head for Ibiza. We would have to find another way for Dad to join us. Again no internet, no way of looking for flights for Dad and we thought.. well we will just sort it out in Ibiza. I am sure people who were watching us on marinetraffic.com were wondering what on earth we were doing.

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Arrival Ibiza. Early morning

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We arrived in Ibiza early Easter Monday morning. There was no room in the marina for us again… of course…(we really must start getting organised and booking ahead) but we were now confident of our anchoring skills and there was a lovely anchorage area with only one other boat there. Successful anchoring for our second time and our first transporting ourselves into shore in the dinghy led to another success venture….our first stop was breakfast and some internet. I had to find a way to get Dad over to Ibiza and inform them in Australia what was happening before Dad departed there…. in case I couldn’t make it to meet him.

Well, the best laid plans…… there were no available seats on any flights (being Easter of course) for me to get to Barcelona and Dad and I get to back….. but guess what….. there were from Palma, Mallorca in 2 days time……. so yes, we did some restocking, had a paella lunch in the old port part of town and we were off again. We stopped up the northern tip of the coast for dinner on board (we were getting good at anchoring by now)….. and set sail. This time, for what was planned to be a 9 hour over night sail to Palma.

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Paella lunch in Ibiza

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Patience in A Coruña 

I thought I would have to develop bravery, tenacity and toughness when we first considered sailing around the world but I had never considered patience. It is most definitely a virtue and one that we have had to embrace happily in our first month. This could not have been so evident and practiced again and again as our time in A Coruña. In our normal busy lives back home impatience would have rared its head quite easily but here we have slipped into such a slow relaxing and new way of accepting life, patience just seems to be  a part of it.

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Along our running route

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Torre de Hércules. The oldest Roman built lighthouse still used today

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Great marina situated right in the city

We arrived in A Coruña on Saturday 25 th March, mid morning after a 55 hour crossing from La Rochelle. So excited to be there and having had completed our first crossing. Our first approach to a (foreign to us) marina-..anxious to get off the boat -a man signaling us from the marina- Welcome, Welcome -But no wait! …..Someone else has to move first-Another circuit around the entrance and we were in. No problema! A much used and accepted phrase over the next week and one that is probably to become a part of our everyday life while cruising. Our fellow trans Bay of Biscay sailors had arrived and conferred with us what Mike had already deduced that we were going to have to wait another week until we could leave here. Ok. No problema  We will find lots to do in A Coruña. This is no place to be in a rush. Welcome to Spain!

We loved A Coruña and we loved the slower pace of life where everything is mañana (tomorrow). The marina was right in the middle of the city. Our bike wasn’t needed here. Little laneways filled with people slowly walking along without any rush or what seemed to be a care in the world. I loved practicing my Spanish, but again it was slow and conversations with the marina manager, who spoke very little English were fun. Did he mind he couldn’t speak English? Not at all! With lots of hand signals, gestures and a few known words in each other’s language we figured that out. He certainly gave me more confidence to practice another language because “who cares”?- just communicate.  Thanks Emilio!

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My next test of my patience level was the internet. I had been spoiled in France. My girlfriend who lives there had purchased me a SIM card with 50 gigs for 20€ a month.  In Spain we discovered that without a fixed address you are a tourist and you get hit. 2 gigs for 15€. And don’t try and visit the phone card store between 2pm and 4.30pm. It is shut for siesta like everything else. I went through one card in a day. Well this was not viable. We had access to the marina internet but unfortunately it was hopeless as I think all of the marinas are. Nevermind we suspected that this is what it is going to be like. So sorry kids, I think there goes the lengthy planned conversations on messenger and Skype. I am just going to have to learn to live with out much internet and if you know me, you will know that is going to be one of the most difficult things.

The weather forced us and our fellow sailors to stay in A Coruña for a week. These guys are professional crews delivering new boats to the Med for summer with fairly tight time restrictions to get there. If they weren’t going, we certainly won’t. We filled the week, walking around the town, getting back into our running and a one day visit to Santiago de Compostela.

So I am back here again, sitting at our inside helm station on our passage from A Coruña to Porto in Portugal. It is 2.30 am and my watch started 30 mins ago. With James on board we have 2 hour watches, 4 hours rest. The wind has dropped, it is a clear night and we are motoring at 6 knots. We have just crossed into Portugal. Unlike our last crossing there are beautiful lights to guide us. Populated, narrow coastal cities are lit up yellow and white along the beaches. What I imagine to be steep rising mountains behind are lit with red lights adorning the top and warm friendly white lights of the headland lighthouses. My instruments are showing me that there is a fishing boat 2.5 NM at 1 o’clock direction and I am observing his light and movements. No stars tonight but there is a calm peacefulness, with the engine purring and the sound of the sea and waves moving over the hulls. This is magical. I am in no rush to get to Porto. I am loving this new life, slow, calm and patient.

PS. In our lazy Spanish afternoons I managed to get a video done and spent another 5 hours ( yes more patience) downloading it to YouTube in a local cafe.  Take a look here and please subscribe to get current updates. My blog writing and posting is probably going to be a bit behind real time but if you would like to follow us a little more closely our Facebook page and Instagram have more up to date photos and information on where we are at present.

 


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The mighty Bay Of Biscay

Wow what a ride! I am starting this blog at 1am on the second night of our crossing in an attempt to capture the craziness of what we are going through. There is no storm, just huge winds but we are being tossed around from side to side in the most difficult motion to describe- Something akin to being inside a washing machine. I can’t see outside as it is dark and we lost our wind instruments 12 hours ago, so we can’t definitively tell what the wind is doing or where it is coming from. We are all calm and no longer seasick but this would have to be the worst ride I could ever have imagined on a boat. We are rocking and rolling, our outer hulls sound like they are smashing into the sea and I can’t sleep. Smash, crash and roll. We have it all. My watch starts in an hour.

We are not sacred. I feel very secure and safe in Scout. We have no leaks or damage and I have no idea how this experience rates to other experienced sailors. It is probably normal for the Bay of Biscay. I know we departed Australia with lots of our family and friends concerned about this passage as it’s reputation had preceded itself.  I just hope it doesn’t become our normal passage conditions for any future legs.

We departed La Rochelle at 1025 on Thursday 23rd March for a 48+ hour voyage to A Coruña in Spain. We arrived at 1700 on Saturday 25th March.

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Challenging conditions began  once we rounded île d’Oléron. We had one reef in the main sail and with the genoa out we sailed at about 9 knots until about 1800. We had taken sea sickness tablets before departure and it was a wise move. We all felt pretty good and spirits were high. First night we ended up motoring as there was just not enough wind but still the sea was confused.  Night shifts began for the first time for us. Not quite the confident sailor, I was dreading it. What if I did something wrong or missed something critical or the wind changed during my shift. Fortunately with only the motor powering us, there was not much that could go wrong. I even managed to avoid a collison with a freighter. I did have instruments to show me where he was, but in the dark, it is so much harder to see how far away he is according to his lights. I decided to change course and go around the back of him, although it wasn’t probably necessary.

The next morning the waves were larger, some at 4 metres and I became sea sick. I couldnt  hold down tablets and ended up applying a ‘mal de mer ‘ patch that had been recommended to me. They are amazing. They last 3 days and I have felt fine ever since. They are not available in Australia and I will definitely be ordering more from New Zealand.

Time seems to have no meaning or relevance during a passage. Sleep is grabbed when you can and it is either light or dark. You must be awake for your shift and meals are heated up (I am so glad I did all the cooking and preparation before I left) when conditions allow. The only time I can now relate to is how long we have left to our destination.

Well my shift has started and I will finish this blog now.  It is 3 am and thank goodness the seas have settled a bit. Still rocking and rolling but none of the huge crashing and banging that was going on at midnight. We have only the jib ( our smaller head sail) out and the wind is coming from behind. We are comfortably sitting between 6 and 8 knots. The chart plotter shows me that there is some other crazy sailor beside us, about 9 miles away on the same heading. It is comforting to know that someone else is out here and the conditions must not be too bad at all. Maybe we will see them in A Coruña.

Racing to A Coruña

The charter Saba 50 on its way to Croatia. We are the small black boat vessel and they are the larger one…. Don’t worry I did a gybe soon after to keep out of their way

Am I enjoying this? It is hard to say. I am not terrified. – just uncomfortable and I suppose nobody really enjoys being uncomfortable. But I did know that was always going to be a part of the experience. Yesterday I wasn’t so relaxed with it but sea sickness can dampens anyone’s experience. Tonight, it is different. I am certainly more relaxed during my shift and in fact, I think I am enjoying it. During the day, three of us couped up inside has its limits but now sitting up at the helm station in the dark, it is kind of peaceful and relaxing.

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The seas look very calm here during our sundowners catch up… Believe me they were never calm.


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Safety a no 1 priority. Life jackets on when ever we stepped outside and then tethered to the boat…. this is our chart table/dining table. I love paper maps!

The wind has dropped off a bit and that is probably good. Mike was concerned that we were going too fast and may arrive in the dark but we are going to go wide around the cape into Spain and take our time with hopefully a controlled arrival.

See you in Spain!

We are looking forward to tapas and sangria!

PS. The crew of the boat beside us during the passage were at port when we arrived at A Coruña. They are professional crew moving new catamarans from the builders around every year to Croatia for each summer…I asked him what he felt of the crossing and he said it was one of better ones, and they got caught in the storms, which we avoided- so there you go, I had no idea what was considered a bad crossing after all .


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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.


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4 years later and the dream begins

Well we made it! 4 years after visioning our dream, it is now very real. We have arrived in La Rochelle and the journey is beginning.

Lots of mixed emotions. Primarily – excitement, a little bit of anxiousness , a bit of sadness saying goodbye to family but overall we are very happy and thrilled to have Scout as our new home and the world waiting for us to see.

Wow though! It was a huge effort to get out the door. Long lists on our phones of things to do and in the last month instead of them getting shorter, we seemed to keep finding more and more things to add to those lists.

What proved to be the most challenging was getting Scout registered in Australia before we left. An Australian vessel traveling internationally has to be registered with Australian Maritime Safety Authority. We had been forewarned that it does takes a while and you need to pay for your boat in full before the registration procedure can begin. We did this and had all the paper work ready but a heads up for those following in our footsteps. Original paperwork has to come from the boat builder and make sure he has the right form.  Nevertheless, right down to the last wire and  even with Australia Post losing our original boat builders certificate, Scout is now registered-One day after we left! 

Our last weekend was spent together as a family , minus our No 2 who lives in Canada and we celebrated our second youngest’s 21st. Although her birthday falls later this month it was great to all be together. Happy 21st Lucy! 


Monday arrived and I still seemed to have a huge list to complete. Mike had a last day of work and I spent the day handing over to our house sitters and making sure our dog was settled. I was also still struggling to get those 60 kilos of allowed check in luggage for the flight balanced. We did it, although I admit I wore a few extra layers of clothes that I could not bear to leave behind. In 30 degrees temperature and with our sailing jackets on we managed to get through check in with out any dreaded extra freight charges or raising too many eyebrows. Once check in and customs was complete and we sitting in the lounge waiting for our flight, I think it was the first time I had felt completely relaxed in 3 months. We had successfully got out the door.


Not much sleep during the flight- too much excitement. We had chosen to fly into Geneva ( because of availability of seats) and the we drove to La Rochelle. 25 hours of flying , 8 hours of driving and we stumbled into bed at our hotel at 1030pm local. The hotel is to be our accommodation for the first 3 nights. It was a good way to throw us into the local time fairly quickly.

Our First Day

Was wet! It seems March is the wettest month in France ” les giboulées de mars” The rain showers of March- still it didn’t dampen our excitement and it wasn’t too cold. We had the right clothing. We  found Scout waiting in the harbour for us. She had been lowered into the water last week to be ready for us. A quick drop in at Neel to say hello and Timothé escorted us to the boat and handed us the keys. We fell in love with her all over again. This was our new home!


What to do next? I automatically got into nesting mode and started unpacking and adding to yet another long list of things to buy. Mike was starting to sift through all the manuals and Timothé explained a few systems to him. I could tell Mike was going to have a lot to digest over the next few days and we were not in a rush to go sailing yet. Besides the weather was not so nice and Timothé advised that Scout was going to have to be moved that afternoon into the marina for us. A little bit more private and better facilities there. We were going to go out anyway on her, even it was just a quick jaunt. 

The 30 minute motor around to the marina went well.  Mike at the helm scooting through the loch and under the two raised bridges. Eric Bruneel, the boat builder joined us also. I stayed on shore to do some filming and we are now settled into the marina. 


Well our first day was over! This morning we have woken to fine weather and Timothè is taking us out for a sail and putting Scout or probably us through our paces. We appreciate how lucky we are to have Timothé Bruneel directly involved with the handing over of Scout and can not fault Neel Trimarans for their excellent service.  We are both excited for the day to begin! 


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Schengen Visa and how to stay in Europe for more than 3 months 

As Australians we are limited to how much time we can spend in Europe or the areas designated as the Schengen zone. We are allowed  90 days in any 180 day period and here is where the problem lies, if you want to stay in Europe for more than three months. For us the solution is to apply for long stay visa in Greece. 


Today we visited and were granted an extended stay visa in Greece for 8 months to encompass the 7 months we want to spend in Europe this year. This allows us 3 months we would normally get in Europe as Australians entering the zone and then an additional 5 months which we can spend in Greece. The down side , we have to move rather quickly from La Rochelle, France to Greece in 3 months. The up side we get to spend a leisurely 4 months cruising the Greek Islands without the restraints of worrying about whether we are complying with the Schengen visa.  

Win/ Win I say ! 

Thank you to the Greek Consulate  in Sydney for making it a relatively simple process. We are excited for our time in Greece- a first for both of us and I am going to get my language books out and get into the Greek !

For more information on the Schengen Zone https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area