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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What has been happening and where to next

Well our days have been busy so far turning Scout into our new home. We had become familiar with La Rochelle in our last two previous visits, so with relative ease and a hire car we have been zipping around stocking our boat. We are amazed at how much storage there is on the trimaran and I have been managing to fill it up-a lot.

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Mike down in the centre hull in the engine room.Photo looking aft with still the same amount of space looking forward. Lots of space to work on the engine and I am eyeing off the available room.

With the weather a little bit on the wet side, we decided to dedicate the last 2 days stocking the boat and we have had a lot of fun. It never seemed to end and we have had to go back to the same stores a few times now. We are now parked at the marina and are getting used to be being the packhorses in transporting things from the car down to quay. The most difficult being the life raft. Mike ended having to winch it up high to drop it into its bracket. Sorry I missed that photo opportunity! With a boat that sleeps 6, there are also lots of big and bulky things to bring aboard- pillows, doonas, etc but I think we now have it all sorted. Still to lug down to the boat will be the tender( dinghy) and its motor next week.

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One of the many trips to the shops

On the sailing side- we have been out for a short sail with Timothé Bruneel and Mike enjoyed learning some more about handling Scout and in particular how the bow thruster works. It certainly makes docking such a wide boat easier. We are on a side dock at the moment. The real challenge will be practising into a pen. This is all to come.

So what next?

Now we are fairly well stocked the focus from here on will be on the sailing. Mike is currently sitting outside mastering and programming the navionics and over the next few days we will do some more sailing- practising manoeuvres. e.g. man overboard drills etc.

Our friends Sylvie and Joël from Champagne will be joining us tomorrow for a few days. We are going to crack a bottle of champagne and have a French naming dedication and make an offer to the gods of the sea. According to legend, each and every vessel is recorded by name in the Ledger of the Deep and is known personally to Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea. We have to make sure we get this correct to ensure good luck and fair weather to Scout.

At the end of the week, our second eldest who lives in Vancouver is joining us for a month. Ideally to help us out as additional crew for when we eventually head off over the Bay of Biscay, which will be a 2 to 3 day passage, but also as a wonderful opportunity to spend some time with him.

When we set off to Spain, we are not quite sure. A lot depends on the weather, how much handling experience we can get in, Mikes competence and confidence and whether we deem it necessary to have some additional lessons. We are not in any rush and for all our family members reading this, we will not be doing anything premature.

So please stay in touch. I am fairly active on Facebook, with more up to date information and I have just amped up our Instagram page where we’ll have more photos of Scout and our travels. When the inside is all settled I will also do a video of the interior to post.

PS… while I mention that Mike is doing all the learning, I am certainly going to be following Mike and improving my competence once he is in a better position to pass on to me the skills I need. After all I am not just here for the cruise!

On another note, La Rochelle experiences huge tidal differences. Unlike anything I have seen in Australia. This huge marina is set on floating dock and here is the difference between high and low tide.

Here is high tide

Here is the same view at low tide

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The docks float up and down around these pilons

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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


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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.