Dreaming of sailing off into the sunset but cannot sail? No problem! Caroline Strainig follows a non-sailing couple through the process of taking delivery of their new Lucia 40 sailing catamaran in France.
For most of us, the dream of sailing away into the sunset stems from a long-held love of sailing, but for Michael and Marita Lysaght the sailing part of the equation was a last-minute addition.
Long-time powerboaters, the Sydney couple decided to buy a sailing catamaran when the time came to buy their new dream boat and do some extended cruising.
Nor did they let a lack of serious sailing experience deter them from taking delivery of their new Lucia 40 from the Fountaine Pajot factory in France and embarking on an ambitious overseas cruise straight away.
The retired Michael and Marita say the change to sail was for a pragmatic reason as well as the extra element sailing would add to their cruising.
“We wanted to travel longer distances without the exorbitant fuel costs of a power boat,” Michael said.
They chose a Lucia 40 because it was a large volume, comfortable boat, but still easily managed by two inexperienced sailors.
Initially, they thought they would take delivery in Australia and cruise the east coast, but once Multihulls Solutions offered them the opportunity to pick up their new boat directly from the Factory in France they changed their minds.
“Our spirit of adventure got away on us and there was no other way to purchase this boat,” Marita said.
To prepare for their adventure Michael enrolled in some sailing courses in Sydney and had obtained his RYA offshore skipper qualification in Sydney by the time they left for France.
They also booked one-on-one lessons on their catamaran – which they called Let’s Dance – after taking delivery in La Rochelle with Alain Girard Sailing.
“These lessons were invaluable and probably the best euros we’ve spent in Europe,” Marita said.
“Alain quickly realised Michael had some clues about sailing as opposed to me having no clue. Therefore, he started with me learning all the essential knots while he concentrated on Michael learning the rigging for the boat.
“Three days of lessons, lessons and more lessons, and we were as ready as we could be to cross the Bay of Biscay from France to northern Spain – a three-day passage for our first solo voyage.”
The couple say the sail-training did add to the list of tasks they had to do when commissioning Let’s Dance, but they were already experienced boaters, and they found the whole process quite achievable. However, they do recommend paying the additional fee for the handover support package offered by Multihull Solutions.
“The team at Multihull Solutions were brilliant with their support and were there in La Rochelle to pick us up and ensure that everything went smoothly with the handover,” Michael said.
“There was a lot more work involved than we realised, but having them guiding and facilitating was invaluable.
“And not forgetting, language can be quite a barrier in France along with the cultural differences.”
Marita said the support they received from the wider sailing community was also invaluable.
“Not only do they welcome newcomers and offer wonderful friendships, but also essential information on everything from navigating, to weather, to boat maintenance and where best to visit,” she said.
“No question is too naive for this community. They become like your family. It has made the transition from power boats to sail boats easy.”
And, having made the change to sail power, the couple say they wouldn’t go back.
“We enjoy the little bit of physicality involved in sailing, and there’s a definite sense of accomplishment associated with sailing to a destination that you don’t get by motoring, aside from the fuel savings,” Michael said.
Since picking up their Lucia 40, they have sailed down the coast of Spain and Portugal, into the Mediterranean and as far as the Balearic Islands (Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca) before returning to Gibraltar to winter outside the Schengen zone.
Recently they departed Gibraltar to cruise further into the Mediterranean.
Long-term, they will gradually make their way back to Australia. “Sailing back through the Sydney heads will be an incredible moment – the culmination of an amazing adventure,” Marita said.
You can follow their adventures on the Youtube channel Let’s Dance Sailing and via their blog, letsdancelucia.wixsite.com