By Jan & David Brunt.
Unlike the Christmas carol, the thought didn’t strike us upon a midnight clear, but rather, seeped seamlessly into our consciousness – we needed to change from a monohull to a catamaran!
We, Jan and David, had enjoyed our monohull sailing days during our working lives over decades in South Australia and Queensland. Initially it was an 18ft trailer sailer, then a 25ft Noelex trailer sailer – a lovely boat – and finally a winged-keel Catalina 350. All thoroughly enjoyable, but our lives moved on.
At the end of our working lives we retired to a modern home on the main canal at Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, a location that seems to be ‘catamaran central’. So, as age crept up, personal balance issues surfaced and space, comfort, easy of sailing and all lines leading to the helm became more important issues, we went for it.
Our first catamaran was a Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 (hull #6), in fact, the first in Australia. One Day More was ordered in 2015 through the friendly people at Multihull Solutions in Mooloolaba and delivered home to Mooloolaba in June 2016. She was comfortable, easy to handle, all decks flush with no protruding hatches, plenty of storage and with most of options such as drinks fridge, microwave, larger engines, watermaker, custom clears and we loved her. After showing at the boat shows in Sanctuary Cove and Sydney, she was ours to enjoy – and we did.
In winter 2016 we were introduced to the joys of rallying with other multihulls in the Multihull Solutions’ Whitsunday Rendezvous. A terrific and fun introduction. Again in 2017 we sailed up the Queensland Coast to the Whitsundays and back. With family and friends we enjoyed all the classic anchorages and marinas which make the Queensland coast so attractive, and on the way we learned sailing techniques, anchoring skills, dinghy handling, how to motorsail, motoring on one engine, provisioning for two, four and six, and planning and managing voyages. All this while meeting many like-minded sailors and having a good time as well.
2018 saw us add a local Sunshine Coast screecher and again we set off for an extended voyage. The objective was Lizard Island, and we made it. Some said it is easy to get to Lizard but hard to leave. This is true but it’s such a magical place. We sailed south to Townsville where we left the boat for a while in the marina. Eventually we returned in summer, after family commitments down south, and sailed on a ‘delivery trip’ home.
Three seasons up and down the Queensland coast left us thinking maybe we should head south next or perhaps join a rally to Vanuatu and New Caledonia. However, somewhere along the way we thought if we can do this here, why can’t we do the same overseas for the northern summers, and that’s when taking delivery of another FP boat in France first came to mind.
It came to reality in 2019 having sold our perfectly good 2.5-year-old Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 very early in the year, we took delivery of our second cat, a Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42, (hull #26) ex-factory through Multihull Solutions in La Rochelle, France in May 2019. The aim was to pick up the boat, sail 3000nm to Preveza in Greece for wintering and enjoy the journey on the way. By October 2019, this is what we did.
What have we learned on the way? Well, it’s a lot easier in Australia, because of language familarity, ready availability of parts, equipment, provisions and technical help. But, Australia has long distances between interesting and beautiful locations, it misses the diversity, architecture and customs of centuries of European history and, of course, the great variety of people and food.
In addition, in summer, the Mediterranean waters are warm, the climate is warm to hot, its great swimming weather and the seas, variable to calm with seemingly accurate weather forecasts. Of course, there is a great multilingual, multicultural fraternity of sailing folk on a huge variety of boats from massive, luxury super yachts to small monohulls.
Surprisingly we found few catamarans in our journey to Greece and met no other Australian boats from Gibraltar to Preveza. We did, however, radio chat to others, often miles away, and fortunately did not meet up with pirates, asylum seekers or had any security or safety issues.
Our boat, 2 Itchy Feet, an Astrea 42, is a familiar and similar design concept to the Lucia 40, fitted with an owners cabin in the starboard hull and two portside guest cabins, all with queen-size half walk-around beds.
The boat has useful fridges, full-size gas oven, freezer, icemaker, microwave, coffee machine, two eating areas, a forward lounge with cushioned seating, topside bikini lounge, rear electric platform and frankly all the comforts of home. She has upgraded Volvo Penta engines with folding props, a full suite of sails including Aussie screecher and downwind wingaker, 33 kg Rocna, 80m chain and a Highfield 3.1 dinghy with 9.8 HP outboard. What’s not to like?
What could go wrong Nothing much that we couldn’t handle!!!
• Delays in La Rochelle meant we had to fast track to Gibraltar. We hired two great French skipper and crewman for this leg. Problem sorted!
• An outboard fuel problem in Formentera which was fixed on the water with assistance from a very competent Spanish marine service company.
• A few boat warranty items that should be fixed over the northern winter.
• Sailing overnight with only two aboard. We had done this before but never in an unfamiliar foreign location. Fortunately, most of our sailing was day by day from one marina or anchorage to another.
• Fouling a propeller in a Spanish marina with a mooring rope. This set up a prop vibration that was eventually fixed by replacing the prop in Mahon, Menorca with sound advice from the very helpful local Volvo-Penta agents. All done expeditiously in peak season!
• Schengen visa issues. As Aussie passport holders we assiduously kept details of the number of days in Schengen (mainly EU) countries fearing we would overstay our 90 days in 180 days welcome! This would have happened, but we discovered along the way that Australia has a bilateral visa agreement with Italy enabling a further 90 days. We kept copies of Australian Embassy and translated Italian Consulate emails supporting this view and thankfully at the time of our departure from the EU we didn’t have to use them. We learned the importance of stamping in and out of countries whether within the EU or not!
Some say to us, what are your longer range plans? We say year by year. 2020 is for Greece and Turkey, 2021 is for Croatia, the Adriatic and eastern Italy – after that, who knows?
Do we miss having a boat at home in Australia? Yes. When we are tired of the Med how will we get the boat home? Sail ourselves? Not likely; Ship it? Maybe; Pay a crew to sail home? Maybe; Sell the boat in the Med? Maybe. We don’t know! Whatever it is, we will decide at the time!!
Greece | Summer 2020