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Buying Bigger

We bought Elektra in November 2016

This is our new adventure having owned and sailed a Hurley 22 over 5000nm during the last eleven seasons, my wife Vicki and I (Bruce) decided to look for a bigger yacht back in August 2016 having spent a nice evening on a Sadler 34.

Then we began the search for our new yacht soon after, we put our H22 on the market in September. We looked at Hurley 27s first before moving on to Hurley 30s but it soon became clear we were not going to find a good one. we liked the size of the H30 but we needed to be able to over winter any yacht we bought up a creek. So in the end we searched the internet looking for bilge keel Westerly Konsort,s  and Sadler 29s. We looked at lots but it was when we got to Poole to see a S29 we knew we had found her, I made a silly low offer subject to survey thinking it might take all the winter to come to an agreement on price but to our suprise the offer was excepted three days later.

After three months of free storage ashore was offered by the broker we decided to leave Elektra in Poole and do the delivery passage in March have got all the winter jobs plus new standing rigging done before she goes in the water.

It was a five hour drive one way to Cobbs Quay in Poole from our home in Cornwall, we looked at Elektra in October and made an offer subject to survey, we visited her again in November for a week after the paperwork and payment had been made to arrange jobs. Again between Christmas and New Year for three days and again in February for final jobs and launch. For our last visit we hired a car one way picking up Bryan our friend and delivery skipper from Plymouth on the way in March 2017. In some ways it would have been far easier to have done the delivery passage at the end of 2016 but while she was in Cobbs Quay, Poole we had new standing rigging, new cabin heater and got Elektra ready for the passage home.

On the way to the sea
 

Winter work

Elektra had come ashore at the end of October for easy access by marine trades for work needed. But getting trades to do anything had proved difficult.

Bespoke black water tank

I had been busy working in November and December but had allowed myself the whole of January to get on with jobs aboard, first on the list was fit a bespoke black water tank which had been made in 2021. I would never have beleaved it would take so long to fit! But like all boats access proved difficult and some other jobs were added to the list. Our shower mixer tap had been broken since we owned Elektra, we hadn’t ever used, it seemed sensible to replace while l had the head out but if l knew it would take one whole day to remove, l don’t think l would have started! So it was the end of the second week before the job was completed and l could refit the head.

Black water tank fitted at last

Then came the turn of a replacement water tank. Our 50lt pillow water tank had proved to be on the small side for our off the grid cruising, only enough water for 5 days. We had been carrying 25lts in a can stowed in the wet locker giving us enough for 7 days. I had managed to buy a second hand bigger bespoke solid water tank which had come out of a Sadler 29 which had crossed the Atlantic. The first job was getting it into the fore cabin!

Replacement water tank

I had to remove the steps to get though the companion way hatch and then remove the doors to get into the fore cabin, once in place it didn’t look so big anymore! The plumbing in proved to be much easier, the only real problem came getting the new filler pipe run in, but done in the end.

Water tank in place

At the beginning of November l got onto the stainless manufacturing company having back earlier in the summer agree a price. Sandy the boss came over to St Anthony to measure up and told me the earliest would be Christmas for delivery. Christmas holidays came and went, l finally fitted the new frame this week gone. The solar panels had also arrived the weekend before, l am not in the process of making aluminium frames for the solar panels to connect onto the stainless frame.

New stainless steel solar frame

Work is on going, wil post more info later.

Deliveries

Most of my early boat ownership didn’t involve a delivery passage because I built them myself in our garage.

But when we bought “Gala” our Hurley 22 she was in Emsworth on a trailer. We were living in Cornwall, 6-7hrs drive one way. We went to look at her in August 2005 checking one road going and another coming back, looking for roads without any steep hills. Liking what we saw made an offer subject to survey and “Gala” became ours in September.

Now to tow her home! I am well used to towing trailers as I have done 75% of my working life, reversing isn’t a problem for me. I checked with my friend “Jay” a engineer what I needed to check re bearings of trailer, he said to jack up and check movement, should spin easy but there shouldn’t be any lateral movement. I checked weights the HOA website said the yacht weight was 1.75 ton (I found out later after the tow, that this weight was dry hull factory weight and didn’t include anything else). The van I was going to use for the tow was rated to 4 ton all up gross including van weight. The trailer was 1/2ton, the van was 1ton and I allowed 1/2ton for extra’s, which added up to 3.75ton, with in limits I thought!

Early in September we set off in my van to tow “Gala” home, checking another road for steep hills on route. By the time we arrived up to Emsworth the second time we had checked 3 roads all of which had a steep hill somewhere, so we were going to have to try another road which we didn’t know yet. Not being rich we stayed aboard “Gala” that night and I remember sitting in the cockpit a lovely starlight night and watching the lights of the planes fly over head. Next morning I was out early doing my bearing checks and the boatyard pulled “Gala” out onto the exit road for me to hitch up on tarmac. Mast strapped down to “Gala” and “Gala” to trailer. I checked the height of load in case of any low bridges, she was a lot taller than the van.

Then we were ready to go, the time had passed, it was 11am. We had looked at the road map book again and decided to go north up the motorway and join the A303 running west. This we did “Gala” was towing well but there was quite a rattle coming from the trailer, I pulled over to check, it turned out to be the solid brake rods rattling in their holders. It was slow going, our max speed was 50mph because she would snake above that speed. All was good until where the A303 passed over the A350, we came along a level to the bottom of a steep hill and I thought to me self this is going to be a tester! We were in the crawler lane and cars even lorries were passing us up the fast lane, we were in 3rd then down to 2nd and then 1st. We almost made it to the top! The van stalled just before the hill started to level out. Well we couldn’t stay there on this busy road, so I reversed back down over the hill in the slow lane to the level and parked up. I crossed the road on foot and asked a farm worker if the minor road (cut though to A350) I was standing in was steep, he said “no, it’s a gentle incline compared to the A303” I thanked him and crossed the road again backed to my van. My next problem was crossing the A303 from inside to turn right onto the minor road, I am glad to say other motorists stopped to let me do so, she was heavy and slow to get moving, one moving I didn’t want to stop, up this minor road we went and out onto the A350 heading south, up the slip road to turn right back onto the A303 heading west!

Continuing west each hill after that, the thought in the back of the mind was are we going to make it! But all was well until Honiton the A30 had been blocked by a landslide and we were diverted to join the M5 at Cullompton. We decided stopping at the Exeter services was a good idea for food and toilet break. There we would of stopped for the night but it wasn’t permitted. We decided the A38 wasn’t a good option due to the steep hill so we went on west on the A30. After Okehampton we turned off a minor road to Roadford Reservoir carpark for the night. That evening I phoned “Jay” and explained the problem with hills! I asked weather he would come out with his works Landrover if we couldn’t get up a hill somewhere, he thought for a bit and then said, “I will give you a route to avoid steep hills” which he did. Next day we carried on west on the A30 to Blackwater Roundabout and then we went back to Truro on A390, Truro to Falmouth on A39, Falmouth to Helston on A394, then on to our local roads, we had to go to Gweek to avoid another steep hill and on out onto Goonhilly Downs to avoid another, but we got back home in the end. The total journey time had been 11.5hrs excluding stops. Having done that tow, I said “never again!” But I did tow her to and from the water with my Landrover Discovery at the beginning and end of seasons for a number of years until I saw sense and used a local farmer with a 4×4 tractor.

“Gala” ready one season between 2011-2014 for the 2 mile tow to the sea.

When we sold “Gala” in 2017 the new owner arranged with a boat transport company to tow her to South Wales, the companies base was Porthtreath in north Cornwall, the owner came with a Landrover to tow “Gala” on her trailer to his base where she was loaded onto a low loader for delivery.

This my last photo was “Gala” awaiting Landrover tow to Porthreath, and then low loader to South Wales.

Boats I have owned

I read a post from another blogger a few days ago, which talked of the feelings of selling a past yacht, having bought bigger or for another reason.

This got me thinking of my past boats and yachts. My father being a teacher thought very quickly I wasn’t going to have brains to go to university so encouraged me into using my hands and later a trade (in later years I realised I was dyslexic). So dad thought building a dinghy from plans would help, so one winter at the age of 12, I built an plywood 8ft pram “Scamp” dinghy. The following summer in Gillan Harbour I was pushed off from the shore to find out how to sail the hard way. I found I loved sailing. This dinghy I kept, it was used as a punt in later years to get out to other bigger boats on swing moorings, until around 15 years old it started to rot and it ended life on a bonfire. But I still have it’s mast.

The following winter, I bought a plywood kit “Embassy” 10ft dinghy which I built, more sailing at Lochwinnock, later I had my one and only sailing lesson on Loch Lomond with my uncle John who was a dinghy instructor, I learnt a few things but mainly the calls for going about and gybing. I sold this dinghy to buy the next sailing dinghy.

At 15, I bought a 14ft “Enterprise” dinghy which I sailed lots over the next 3 years until I got interested in sea kayaking and sold her on after not sailing much for 2 years.

At the age of 17 after I had started my apprenticeship as a carpenter, I built a plywood “Falmouth Bass Boat” from plans, we used for a few years but it wasn’t a sailing boat, she was painted orange and called “Outspan”. It got stored ashore in a barn at a local farm one year. The barn had fallen down around it by the time we got her back 23 years later, the local young farmer who drove the tractor couldn’t believe boats had been built of wood! The plywood had rotted and the cost of replacing was more than the value of the boat, so this was another which went on a bonfire!

“Outspan” the Falmouth Bass Boat I built around 1977 before she got moved to the farm shed, she was collected again around 2000 but rotten was later burnt.

At 18 I got into sea kayaking and bought a new GRP “Baidarka Explorer” I called her “Banana Boat” which I paddled over 4000nm during the next 5 years, mainly on the West Coast of Scotland, when I moved to Cornwall in 1982 there wasn’t any other’s doing this sort of kayaking (in Cornwall at that time was surf kayaking) This kayak I sold in around 1990 having not paddled for years.

The only photo I have of me kayaking

At about 18 I bought my first GRP boat a new 16ft “Plymouth Pilot” called “Sara May” (inboard open motorboat) hull and deck to fit out. This fitting out I did during holidays in Cornwall, so took me 5 years to complete. She was first launched in 1982 and I took up fishing but soon found I didn’t like fish much. I sold this boat in 1988 having not put on the water for a year.

Here is “Sara May” still being fitted out, sometime around 1980, I think that’s the back of my head at the aft of the boat.

I got married in 1986, my wife came from a farming family and liked cattle, so I left the sea for a while, we lived on a small holding we kept a sucker herd of Herefords until my wife left around 1998. After that I played golf for a while, I loved the game but I gave up playing in the spring of 2009 because I needed to work some of the time!

In 2003 I met Vicki and she moved in spring 2004. I continued to play golf but we wanted something we could do together, I suggested sailing. Vicki hadn’t ever done any but had been on a few canal holidays. So we hired a dinghy from Sailaway at St Anthony, Vicki loved it from the get go. We hired a few more times though the summer and then bought a “Bradwell 18” called “Acorn” in August, which we used the rest of that summer and during the season of 2005. Although “Acorn” was a lovely day sailing yacht, she wasn’t a cruiser, it would have been camping! So we started looking for a bigger yacht.

Around August 2005 we set off to look at a “Hurley 22” called “Gala” in Emsworth. She had a fin keel but came with a trailer, which was the main reason we went to look, as the cost of buying a new trailer was nearly the value of the yacht. We made an offer subject to survey, which was excepted. It was an interesting road delivery but that’s another story! Over the winter 2005-06 I did my RYA Day Skipper and RYA VHF/DFC Radio. We sailed “Gala” over 5000nm during the 11 seasons we owned her, including 3 passages (60nm) to and from The Isles of Scilly, only once having to return via Newlyn due to a bad CG/ Met Office forecast in 2013 and that poor forecast was my reason to buy my first smartphone later that year. As yachts go 22ft is small but “Gala” was a very capable little yacht, we had been at sea a few times in a force 7 without any problems. I did a complete internal refit during ownership including a new inboard diesel. We sold “Gala” in the summer of 2017 having bought a bigger yacht “Elektra” at the end of 2016. We got a lot less than we had paid for her back in 2005 but I wasn’t too worried because we paid about £12-14,000 less than the 2005 value buying Elektra. Values of yachts fell by half between 2008-2013 and it was a buyers market between 2014- 2020.

“Gala” at the HOA Plymouth Rally during the season of 2006

Boats come and go, all you can do is look after them while you own them. It’s no good getting to upset when you need to sell, hopefully you well have enjoyed sailing them during your ownership. The best you can hope for is the new owner, gets as much enjoyment. Sometimes it’s better not to know what happened to your last yacht or boat. “Gala” didn’t go to a good home, I think she may have been launched in 2018 but then laid up in a boatyard and she hasn’t been back in the sea since.

But I have a theory about yachts/boats and their use……….. 50% never go in the water and 25% never leave their moorings. 12.5% only leave their moorings when there isn’t any wind! Only 12.5% go sailing when it’s windy and half of them are racing yachts………… When cruising, we see the same cruising yachts again, again and again though each season. And on a nice windy day sailing, looking around, there are very few other sails, and I think to myself where is everyone?? So when you have to sell your pride and joy, the chances of her going to a good home is only 12.5%.

We had been thinking of a bigger yacht for a few years. In November 2016 we bought Elektra which this blog is about. Since owning Elektra, I have met her PO and we chat when we see each other. Elektra was his first yacht which he bought in 2010, he traded her in for a new Bavaria 33 at the London Boat Show 2016.

Photos from 2022

January waiting to start work
February still waiting to start work
March after a rushed 4 days to get Elektra ready for the season
April, mooring safe in Carne Creek from the East winds
May, Elektra makes it onto her seasonal mooring but we only manage one weekend away
Early June Elektra seen here at the SSOA SW rally off Fowey entrance.
Late June our first holiday, Elektra seen here sheltered from the SW gale at anchor in Gillan Harbour
July, our second holiday heading east with good winds off the land 😀
July, anchored off Frogmore Creek in Salcombe
August, our 3rd holiday in Fowey, the weather had been fabulous though July and August
September, we only managed one weekend aboard Elektra, seen here and Malpas
October, after just 2 day sails Elektra was pulled out for the winter for work ashore
November, old solar gantry removed ready for new. And rudder removed for repair.
December, new winter cockpit cover fitted, zipped into old spray hood

Summing up for 2022 Season

Elektra had been launched after a rush 4 days to get the jobs done on April 5th but she wasn’t ready to sail. It took most of April to load the stuff needed to go cruising and I only managed one day sail alone during April logging 11nm.

Still not ready in May we only managed one weekend away (to find out what we had forgotten).

Elektra off Fowey entrance at the SSOA rally

It was the beginning of June before we managed to do much sailing at all, out most weekends and a week long holiday at the end of the month which turned out to be wet and windy! We logged 130nm in June.

It was July before the real summer weather started and with it the dry slowed the grass so I could have another holiday, this month we logged 97nm.

Heading east

But by August the dry weather had stopped the grass altogether and we were able to get away for 2x 10 day holidays, the first of which allowed us the time to sail east to Salcombe. With this fantastic weather we also had good winds, which don’t often go to together. The 2nd holiday we just sailed around our local area and managed to log 197nm in August.

At anchor in Salcombe

With September came the rain and we only managed one weekend away.

Last weekend aboard, at Malpas

I only managed 2 day sails in October and Elektra was pulled out for the winter on the 28th.

The numbers are, we were aboard 62 days, 45 nights, 34 of the nights at anchor. We sailed 36 days logging 513nm which isn’t much but better than any one of the last 3 seasons.

Bigger yacht??

In resent weeks a few yachts have come onto the market which would have suited us. Having been converted from fin keel to bilge keel we don’t want to go back, not many bigger yachts have bilge keels. The cut off seems to be about 35ft possibly because of the yachts weight at that size.

We have been spoilt with our Sadler which were designed to sail well even with bilge keels or as Sadler called them twin keels. Many of the Westerly’s look like the bilge keels are an after thought!

Anyway a few weeks ago a very nice twin keel Sadler 34 came on the market which had been completely updated since 2017, I saw the add 2 days after it was posted and contacted the owner by which time there was an interested buyer flying back from the Med to see her. Needless to say the yacht was sold inside a week so I mist out. There was another Sadler 34 up London way, although 10 years younger the present owners hadn’t spent any money on her during the last 10 years so she was in need of a major refit, having seen her details we weren’t interested in looking partly because of the 6.5hr drive one way. I told the agent she was overpriced, he suggested putting in an offer. We thought about it a little longer but having priced up work she would need, we decided against. Sailing friends were suggesting a very low offer but refits aren’t just money they are time as well. It had taken us 6 years so far to update Elektra and not finished yet, we didn’t want to start again!

Then a Sadler 290 came on the market. S290s are a more modern design, we had looked at these a few years before but with only 48 built they didn’t come on the market very often and we couldn’t find any. I enquired about this 290 but being 60k she was out of our price range.

Looking at all these yachts got me thinking of just how much time and money I had spent updating Elektra and I went to the effort of writing it all down. You sort out a job but you don’t remember what it was like before. Looking at the list made me think, why change now we have the yacht nearly like we want her?

So there it is, after looking and pondering about buying a bigger yacht we have decided we are happy with Elektra.

Elektra had a new furling gear in the late summer and I ordered new set of sails at the end of the summer, these were delivered the day before Elektra was pulled out for the winter, so ready for next season. Our solar frame was always an add hoc arrangement and we had thought of replacing it but we never had the funs. So this winter a new frame has been ordered and 2 new 80W solar panels are also on their way.

Then after arranging all this another excellent bilge keel Sadler 34 came on the market at the end of November, everything had been updated in resent years, for a little while this chucked a spanner in the works while we decided what to do! I contacted the owner and we were going to view but after a day or two Vicki and I confirmed to each other, we were happy to continue to sail Elektra until age or bad health stops us, she is big enough.

Last sail for season

The weather was poor though October, one low following the next, finding any time to go sailing was difficult but I could see a possible day out and having sailed the last time in almost no wind I didn’t want that again.

So it was Wednesday 12th October when I went sailing next, The forecast was SW force 4-5. Being alone again I didn’t pull up the main just sailed on genoa alone. I decided to sail east round Nare Point and Southeast to Manacle Buoy then close on the wind South until I felt I wanted to turn around. This is what I did, following Elektra out of the Helford River about 1/4nm behind was another similar sized fin keel yacht under full sail. I hadn’t really looked at the tides but being springs the tide must have been running south at 2-3kts off the Manacles. I was seeing 7kts SOG most of the time, Elektra was going like a train!

I continued to sail south for another 2nm or so before going about. Then I could see the tide stream when heading north, even with Elektra was surfing down the waves her SOG had slowed to 3-5kts. It was a lovely sail, I picked up Elektra’s mooring 3hrs after dropping having logged 14nm. On the GPS the fastest speed was recorded as 7.8kts!

On the 16th of October I moved Elektra into her Carne Creek mooring as there was a easterly blow coming and there wouldn’t be enough depth to move her in there later in the week. The wind has continued to blow and we are now waiting for the boat yard to pull Elektra out for the winter.

Elektra in Carne Creek

A day sail in October

I had been busy at work over the last fortnight but was keen to get out sailing again but Vicki wasn’t interested as she thought it would be to cold on the water, so I said I would go out alone on Saturday 8th.

The tide was dropping away fast as I got the dinghy down to the water. Not deep enough to lower the engine but deeper than wellies depth, so I rowed into deeper water and then lowered the engine. Getting out to Elektra it looked like it was going to be a nice day. I set about getting Elektra ready to leave the mooring, I have to be more ready when sailing alone, have the tiller pilot plugged in and ready to use.

I dropped the mooring at 1000hrs and motored her gently out of Gillan into Falmouth Bay and set all sail but almost no wind! I sailed around a bit at 1-2.5kts for a bit before giving up and motoring in towards Helford. We hadn’t been into the Helford River all summer, so it was nice just to doodle along and look at the yachts. I dropped anchor off Portnavas Creek at 1200hrs and put the kettle on for lunch.

After around 1.5hrs I pulled up the mainsail and pulled up Elektra’s anchor, she started getting a little close to a moored motor launch so before stowing I went back to the helm and turned her to starboard across the river before walking back to the bow to stow the anchor in locker. Then I motored Elektra back out down Helford River, in the narrows the tide was running in at about 3kts so a little slow going for a time. Once clear of the narrows I started sailing Elektra towards Durgan, this was good but when we tacked south back across the river the wind died off so I had to motor again. As we neared Mawgan Sheer the wind filled in again and we were sailing at 3-4kts. Almost sailing due east, I continued like this for a while before going about and heading back to Gillan. I picked up Elektra’s mooring at 1530hrs having logged 14nm in 4hrs.

Sunday 25th September

There wasn’t any hurry to leave Malpus, with the low water being at 1216hrs and the sounder showing 0, we waited until 1320hrs before casting off. The sounder was still showing 0 but Elektra didn’t ground leaving the pontoon. Vicki motored Elektra slowly out and back down the Truro River with very little showing under her keel while I coiled lines and stowed fenders.

Elektra at Malpus

At around 1400hrs south of Turnaware buoy I set all sail, and we sailed on slowly on making around 2-3kts SOG against the tide. Slow until we past out of the Carrick Roads into Falmouth Bay were SOG increased to 5-6kts, it was lovely sailing and I picked up Elektra’s mooring in Gillan at 1625hrs having logged 11.5nm

Sailing again

After getting back from our holiday it rained for a week which meant my work took almost 7 days to finish. Then another week with the grass growing fast and more rain meant no sailing for most of September.

Elektra on mooring

It was Friday 23rd before we got out for another sail. We couldn’t get aboard 1330hrs due to the tide. The weather forecast was for northerly force4 gusting 5. Elektra was bucking up and down on her mooring when we arrived out to her which meant difficulties getting the outboard off punt and aboard Elektra and also the punt onto it’s davits. Once done we didn’t want to stay there long and cast off at 1500hrs with 2 reefs in mainsail we motored out and set half the genoa before stopping engine. We were heading north into wind. The conditions always look worse heading into wind but by the way Elektra was handling we felt sure the wind was north east force5 gusting 6.

Heading northeast into northerly wind

Our first tack was almost due east, when we tacked we went northwest! Before tacking again in a northeast direction, now the wind had shifted and was blowing from the north. That tack took us over to St Anthony lighthouse before we tacked again towards Pendennis Point. The next tack was northeast towards St Mawes Castle. The west to Falmouth Harbour breakwater. Next tack was right into St Just in Roseland, just south of the moorings we tacked and headed over to Mylor. We almost made it past north of Mylor moorings but had to tack again, this time over to the west shore again about a 1.5nm north of St Just at which point we started the engine and motored around Turnaware buoy and up the Fal River and dropped anchor in good shelter off Cowslands Creek having logged 13.5nm in 2.75hrs

Looking east along the Fal River from anchorage
Elektra on Malpas pontoon

On Saturday we motored north to Malpas pontoon because l had booked a meal in the evening at the Heron Inn.

Walk ashore pontoon for £25 for 24hrs, £6 for 2hrs