Buying A Sailing Yacht Unseen - Collection and Sail From Cowes To Eastbourne (Part 1)

There she is! that's the boat for me I thought when I saw a picture of "Peridot" in Yachts & Yachting. A Mustang 30 Deep Keel Sailing Yacht, that looked sleek, low and very fast..

Was there more information online? I did a search and up came the website with lots of pictures. She looked good. Built in 1996 the bottom had been epoxied from new so the bottom should be sound. From the pictures the boat appeared to be in fairly good condition. I checked the inventory contacted the owner and agreed a price. He asked if I was coming over to Cowes on the Isle of Wight to view the boat but I said no I would take his word for it that the boat was sound.

By now it was early July and I had to make plans to collect the boat and bring here round to Ramsgate. I was lucky enough to secure the help of a friend, Dick Smith, who is Rear Commodore Sail at the Royal Temple Yacht Club in Ramsgate. Dick had charts for the South Coast so with these and tide charts he put together a sailing plan covering two days. With possible stops in either Brighton or Eastbourne depending on our progress.

I arranged for a hire car to take us down to Southampton where we got the ferry across to Cowes on the Isle of Wight. We found the boat on her mooring and started looking around. I must say I was a bit disappointed. I realised, from the pictures that she was no luxury cruiser but this was just a shell with little in the way of creature comforts. There was no cooking facilities so a warm drink while sailing would be out of the question. First disappointment!

I checked her over a small 6 berth interior made up of two quarter berths under the cockpit, two narrow settee berths and a double up forward. This latter was really very small so only good for sail stowage. My mind was having a go at me: Second disappointment. There were no interior lights, so it was a good thing I brought a torch with me. Instruments consisted of Log and Water Speed, Wind Speed and Direction and a compass. There was, thank god, a handheld GPS and a fixed VHF radio. A few warps, sheets, fenders and an anchor was all about it. Conclusion: third disappointment.

Eventually we got the engine started a 12hp Volvo with sail drive. This was operated via a single lever control in the cockpit. Nothing unusual there, except connection was counter sunk into the cockpit bulkhead and one had to use a winch handle as a lever. It worked, but was a bit wobbly so did not give a lot of confidence. Anyway I supposed we would get used to it. At least the engine started first time and sounded good.

The seller of the Boat had been in London on business most of the day so we did not meet up with him until 6 pm at the Island Sailing Club. We had a couple of beers then went to collect the rest of the sails which were in the clubhouse locker. After lugging them down to the boat we got the main folded onto the boom ready to use in the morning. Then we said our farewells and Dick and I went of to find a local restaurant for dinner.

It was early to bed with a quarter berth bunk each. We planned to leave with the tide in the morning at 7.30am so were up bright and early. The clubhouse was all shut up so we had to make do with an outside lavatory with a cold water basin. So at least we could do our jobs, wash our face and brush our teeth.

We mad a cup of coffee on a little portable camping stove and made a sandwich each before casting of from the mooring at about 8:00am.

We motored out into the Solent and hosted the main sail. The wind was blowing fairly hard about 20 knots from the south west but with bright blue skies and plenty of sunshine. We set of at a fair clip downwind with just the mainsail up. We soon left the Isle of Wight behind surfing along at 8 to 10 knots. By the time we were approaching Beachy Head the wind had increased to well over 30 knots. We had already put a reef in the mainsail sometime before and were surfing down 3 to 4 metre swells at a very exciting pace. Regular speeds were in excess of 14 knots with the highest recorded of 16.99 knots, let's call it 17 knots, we said.

It was great fun but after a couple of spectacular broaches just off Beach Head we decided to drop the main and motor into Eastbourne Marina. This took a bit longer than anticipated as the tide was against us and motoring is not the boats best feature. We would have put up a small jib but with the seas being so large and confused neither one of us was very inclined to venture up on the foredeck. So we rolled down the swells and into the safety of Eastbourne Marina.

It was still only mid afternoon so we found our visitors mooring, tied up the boat and after taking a nice hot shower we had a look around the marina. In the evening we went to the pub for a couple of pints then dinner at the Harvester restaurant. It had been a long day so after dinner and a cup of coffee from our portable camping stove it was heads down for an early night.

Keep A Lookout For The Next Leg Of Our Journey.

Douglas Hack - Very Keen Sailor.

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