Here we are! We have achieved it, I am pleased to announce the arrival of our new companion on the road, home, and full-time office, our wonderful new sailboat:
MENYR, an Oceanis 423 from 2003
How to change sailboats when living and working on board?
This is the subject of this article: we have just experienced it, and here is our testimony about this challenging journey.
Everything started with a “no”!
Passage du cap Sant Antoni en direction de Cartagena. Ma dernière navigation en solitaire avec Øya.
I remember the difficulties I had expressed in my last article about living on board and working together on Øya. Øya, our previous sailboat, was, among other things, too small for both of us. Despite having spent a pleasant 2022 season on board, we decided to change it within the first three weeks of the season.
So, it was in August 2022 that we left Øya in the Valencia Mar port while I went to meet with banks to apply for a loan. If we were to get approval, we could then switch to a more suitable sailboat in the autumn or winter. Valencia was a strategic choice so that we could quickly bring Øya back to the French coast, put it up for sale, and immediately search for its successor.
The power of saying ‘no’
‘No,’ of course, was the response from the 5 banks and insurance companies I contacted, despite my ‘great income’ from the past two years. As a micro-entrepreneur, it takes three years of proving oneself before these organizations are willing to lend to us for a decade, which is quite understandable.”
After all, until then, I had only worked when I needed to, which is to say, 7 months out of 12… That was my dream: to have no loans or very few other expenses, to be my own boss to allow me to work according to my needs, and to explore everything that was missing from my ‘life of before’.
Feelilng good all the time, even during winter!
In short, the bank said no, and we absolutely don’t want to stay ashore here and there while waiting for financing. I need to be at home, even if it’s “uncomfortable”.
So, we decided to spend the winter where it’s warm and where we can surf, a place I know: Portugal.
A 5-day journey with a family member propelled us through Gibraltar after tearing a mainsail and catching a fisher’s buoy at night, followed by a diesel engine failure. After anchoring at Trafalgar to commemorate the bitter Franco-Spanish defeat against the English, we reached Cadiz where we moored Øya for two weeks, already in early October. We explored the city while searching for the perfect job opportunity, funds are needed to purchase our next vessel!
Le port de Lagos vue depuis Øya, ambiance surf et fish n’ chips!
When we cast off, heading to Lagos, I negotiate the final details of the contract that will secure a contribution for a future loan, as well as its payment. It’s a good thing done!
The wind is favorable until Faro, where we have to start the engine until we dock in Lagos, which happened on October 28, 2022, it was our last maneuver with Øya.
The idea was to enjoy Portugal until spring and then bring Øya back to Lorient where I had bought it. In the meantime, we posted the advertisement to measure its success, without having too much hope for a sale from Portugal.
To our surprise, several serious individuals contacted us, and two came to visit. The first, a long-distance cyclist, happened to be passing through on his way to Morocco. Coincidentally, he was an acquaintance of the family, but even though he was impressed by the boat, he would have needed to trim the bowsprit to fit it into his berth at the port. His schedule was too tight to include this operation.
The warmth suits us well; we took a break from the sea during the winter period in Morocco.
With these more than concrete signs, we understood that the sale in Portugal was indeed possible. We then opted to rent storage space in a warehouse. So, it was time for boxes, moving our personal belongings to empty Øya, and thoroughly cleaning it.
The second visitor was the right one. He arrived by plane at the end of February with €2000 in cash to finalize the sale. After a thorough inspection, we signed the bill of sale.
Amazing how in such a short time, we find ourselves without a home!
Not entirely, though. We agreed that we could continue to occupy Øya until Easter.
Identification of the successor
It’s not a small matter. Selling the old one is important, but knowing what we want to move towards is equally crucial. This purchase determines our lives in the years to come, and we are fully aware of that: making a mistake here would have significant consequences. So, we need to define our criteria.
It all depends on the budget, the program, and our preferences.
Raquel does not want to go where it’s cold, with ‘cold’ defined as below 15 degrees, and I completely agree! This rules out the need for a steel or aluminum hull. Among polyester boats, we have a very wide choice. I did not want to opt for a recent model because their reputation in terms of quality is not the best.
As it is a sensitive topic, I will give my opinion: builders have adapted their construction to the market. Today, many more boats are rented than bought; the boat remains a vacation object for one to three weeks a year. For builders, there is no need to produce sailboats for long-distance journeys; the majority is therefore dedicated to vacation rentals and not permanent living. Of course, the market for long-distance sailing boats still exists; we cannot ignore Amel, Alberg Rassy, Contests, Malø, and others. These sailboats are completely out of budget, too old, or too small.
So, we have targeted boats from the 1990s to 2005-2010, a period of transition in the market. Many of these models can be found on oceans worldwide; they have proven themselves!
Minimum temperature for our navigation program
Minimum model year
Maximum model year
The luck of having a wonderful family
Banks didn’t want to deal with me, but I am fortunate to have a mother who supports me in all my endeavors. The bank trusted her, so she was able to borrow on my behalf, and I pay the full amount of the loan from the first installment, as if the loan were in my name.
The idea was to borrow the most to have a boat that allowed us to live in comfort: on a daily basis, for work and entertaining, all far from Europe, hence as self-sufficient as possible.
In our criteria, we have identified a few models, all from Beneteau:
Oceanis 411, 423, 473, 500, and Beneteau 50.
In other words, a standard boat for a standard program
Waiting for the opportunity
It is March 2023, Øya is sold, and we must move at the latest by Easter. We have no leads for a new boat, but we have the budget. We are completely powerless regarding our future.
The wait feels endless for me (a week), but one beautiful day, an Oceanis 423 owner’s version with performance features appears on Leboncoin. I immediately call the owner and book flights to visit it in Fréjus a few days later; I am the first to see it.
The next day, another stunning Oceanis 423 owner’s version appears! There had been none for the past 8 months, and suddenly two appear in less than 24 hours. Immediately, I call the owner who is sailing in Galicia, and we agree to a visit the next day near La Coruña.
Week 1: Exploring Galicia and the French Riviera.
On Thursday, after a morning of work, we hit the road from Lagos, Portugal, with our rental car. We will arrive at the hotel in Sada around 22h, tired but very eager to do our visit!
A somewhat unpleasant news dampens the atmosphere a bit about the health of a family member that has deteriorated significantly and had to be hospitalized.
On Friday morning, the owner of ‘Blue Jack’ and his crew warmly welcome us. We tour the boat, and it looks brand new. There were three people on board, yet not a hair or a sock out of place. Except for the teak deck, which is at the end of its life, everything seems perfect, and we are impressed! For the record, the owner bought it less than a year ago, but their plans changed due to unexpected reasons. The previous owner had the means to have everything done by professionals, including cleaning and cooking. That explains it.
870km séparent Lagos de La Corogne
We leave in the afternoon and cover the 870 km in the opposite direction, arriving in Lagos around 2 am.
Saturday morning, the alarm rings early to catch our flight to Marseille, where my mother will welcome us.
On Sunday, the journey is long from Nîmes to Fréjus on the French Riviera. There, we meet the owner of Le Stan, the first Oceanis 423 that appeared on Leboncoin a few days before. After seeing Blue Jack, the effect is not the same. Le Stan is dirty, its technical condition is quite good except for the sails that need replacing, but some details give the impression of a neglected boat. We immediately retract our interest with the owner, who, very amicable, had welcomed us warmly. We tell him the truth: if it hadn’t been for Blue Jack, we would have bought Le Stan. So, our choice is made. We call the owner of Blue Jack from the dock in Fréjus, and I send him 1500 euros to secure the sale in our favor.
On this sunny Sunday, in just 4 days, we have become the proud future owners of a magnificent sailboat.
Weeks 2 and 3: Farewell to Øya in Portugal.
After a week’s work, we set off again for Lagos on Saturday 25 March, packing boxes.
We’ll be going back and forth between Øya and the warehouse all week, in the evenings after work. We’re vacuuming, erasing all traces of our life on board, and removing every photo that made this object our place of life, love and happiness.
In the meantime, I’m working full time during the day, spending my lunch breaks on the phone with experts, crane operators and ports to organise the Blue Jack expertise. Because yes, this time I want to see things through to the end, whatever it takes. I had anticipated this and asked Blue Jack’s owner if it would be possible to raise the boat so that we could inspect the hull out of the water.
L’achat du successeur d’Øya est amorcé, il est temps de lui dire à dieux.
We finally managed to schedule the appraisal for Thursday 6 April, not without some difficulty, as spring is the peak season for appraisals and other preparations for the summer. Once the appointment had been booked, the national strike notice came down for 6 April. I called the port to confirm that everything was in order for the boat to be lifted, and then, lo and behold, they went back on their confirmation: it was impossible to lift Blue Jack, the boat was too big for the crane!
On Saturday 1st April, we sold the famous dinghy engine I’d bought in Portimao in 2021, and all the tools we wouldn’t be needing on Menyr. That evening we organised a farewell party with our friends in Lagos, and the next day I was very sad to learn of the death of my relative.
I accompany Raquel to her plane early on Monday night, while I take mine on Tuesday 4 April after returning the hire car.
Week 4: Blue Jack’s expertise in the Basque country
Tuesday 4th April, after a day’s work in the airport, my Ryanair landed in a dry atmosphere on the tarmac at Mérignac. My cousin was on his way to pick me up, so we carpooled to my aunt’s house in the Landes region. Patatra, he’s 5 minutes from the airport, but on the side of the road with a smoking engine… It’s broken down. Luckily, another car pool found on Blablacar app was scheduled half an hour later and I could make it to the Landes while my unfortunate cousin was with the tow truck.
On Thursday I met up with the owner of Blue Jack on a parking where my aunt had kindly dropped me off. We arrived on board and before long Alain Borja, the expert I’d arranged to come from Vaucluse (one day driving away), was on board.
He begins his inspection, and I’m confident. He’s professional, friendly and meticulous. He didn’t mention that the table was wobbly, but he did look at all the essential control points. He pointed out things that the owner hadn’t mentioned: screws added to the teak, sheaves that were a bit tired. A stratification operation was carried out correctly on the bow thruster, even though it’s original, perhaps an operation carried out under the manufacturer’s warranty… He climbs the mast, and the owner, who was also very confident but thought the expertise was useless, now seems convinced by the operation. It’s apparently the first time he’s seen an expert do his job properly.
Because there are some ‘clowns’ out there!
It was a beautiful day during Blue Jack’s inspection, which would later become Menyr.
We haven’t seen the hull with our own eyes, but we do have an inspection video which shows a few check points: the rudder isn’t warped, the keel bulb doesn’t show any impact and the keel gasket is clean. As for the rest, osmosis and the gap in the rudder stock, among other things, can’t be checked… Too bad, at some point you have to move on.
I sign, the previous owner hands me the keys.
I am now the owner!
Week 5: 3 families, 3 countries
On Friday 7th of April, we set off in a carpool with my uncle, aunt and cousin to celebrate Easter with the family in the centre of France. As we were leaving after lunch, the car windows were stuck open and we couldn’t close them, so we continued the few hours of driving in very relative comfort.
The weekend went very well, and getting together with the family is always a pleasure!
On Easter Monday, I left the venue by carpooling with other aunts, uncles and a cousin who was going to host me in Paris. The journey went well, but on arrival we noticed that the hot-water tank had sprung a leak. The most important thing was that I would be able to go to my relative’s funeral the next day, whether the shower was cold or not.
In the center of France, we celebrate Easter with the whole family.
On the morning of Tuesday 11th, I managed to meet the manager of the local LaBanquePostale branch with all the documents I needed to transfer the payment for the boat. Apparently all he needs is an email to complete the transfer within 24 to 48 hours, which is excellent news. I take the opportunity to send the papers to put Blue Jack under my name, which will then be called Menyr.
I then head off to the funeral.
At 9am the next morning, I took off from Orly airport for Faro in Portugal, arriving in Lagos early in the evening to find Øya’s new owner on board, very happy with his purchase! I had indeed promised him a proper handover of the keys, with the boat being lifted for inspection and cleaning of the hull, followed by a sea trial to show him the subtleties of Øya.
Meanwhile, the former owner of Blue Jack tells me that he would like to receive his transfer before Monday’s deadline, as he has to go to the other side of the world to convey a boat.
What’s going on at LaBanquePostale?
I phone the manager who had given me his business card and the message service tells me that he’s not working, so I leave a message. Maybe he’s on holiday? I call my usual advisor, who can’t do anything. The next day another branch called me back and told me that the business card was out of date: the number didn’t match the branch number…
I had promised the new owner a proper handover with the water jet cleaning of the hull.
The weather is good, the hull is in perfect condition and the antifouling paint could easily last another season. We don’t even have to change the anodes, which are worn but still have a few months to go.
The next morning I noticed that my bank account was empty, as the transfer had been made. I wished good luck to Øya’s new owner, who would be setting sail the day after tomorrow, and headed for the airport myself.
Everything is falling into place!
I took off from Faro on Friday 14th with the good conscience of having done things right. I landed late in the evening in Majorca after a connection in Barcelona.
I am exhausted
On 14 March we made an appointment to visit an Oceanis 423.
On 14 April I landed with the keys to the new boat, after having handed over Øya, lost a loved one and travelled thousands of miles by plane and car pool across 3 different countries.
The carbon footprint was dismal, but the operation was a success: changing our yacht is a done deal! We’re taking a week’s holiday to give ourselves time to digest all these events.
As I finish writing this article, it is the 30th of April and yesterday we moved aboard Menyr. We’re getting our marks while we work, and we’ll be doing a detailed tour of MENYR in a future article!
We’ll be travelling to Lagos to collect our belongings, which are still stored there, and then finally crossing over to the Canary Islands. We’ll be sailing slowly during the day over the weekend, gradually getting to grips with Menyr. We’ll stay within a mile or two of the coast to avoid the orcas…
Orcas… that’s all we need now…
We can’t wait for the Canaries!