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January: before the holidays we spotted an advert for a "Zoufri", an aluminium lifting-keeler for sale in Saint Malo, which may give us a good excuse for a nice trip.    Despite the attractive price though, some aspects of this boat are not to our liking: it's a bit too small (under 9 meters), the hull shape is antiquated, with a very small stern and an external lifting rudder that looks weak.   In the end we decide to not pursue this purchase.

A "Zoufri" similar to the one for sale

January 30th: We go to Aprilia Marittima, few meters from where we used to keep Shaula3, to see a Bavaria 340 and an Elan 31.   The Bavaria is not bad, although it needs some repairs and the price is higher than our budget.    On the other hand the Elan is in very poor condition, the first example of many: at the price we have in mind, boats on offer are either old and poorly maintained, or of little-known makes or models.   We are also surprised to see how boats claimed to be "ready to sail" are actually very far from being in good condition!

If we want a more recent boat, or one which has been already refurbished, we need to increase the budget by at least 45-50%.

February 20th: we saw the ads for two Bavaria 320, both German-owned and moored in Croatia and for sale at a price which is in line with our objectives: we get in touch with the Brokers, in view of organising a visit.

March 15th: we make a quick trip to Fiumicino, near Rome, to see a french-built aluminium lifting-keel boat: it's a "Légende 10.40" built by the Grardel yard which we never heard of, it's above the 10 meter tax-exemption limit and the price is higher that our objective, but the kind of boat is exactly what we would like.

First disappointment, the boat is nice and certainly strong, but very neglected, the deck is in urgent need of a repainting, same for the interior woodwork, and inside it's utter chaos!

Nice hull, still modern lines

The interior is chaotic, there's even the outboard clamped to the saloon table (and dripping fuel on the floor)!

We leave very disappointed, we like the boat but its status is terrible and it is definitely not worth the asking price, and the broker tells us that the seller is not willing to negotiate; we make an offer for little more than half the asking price and leave, knowing we have very few chances.

March 23-26th: we've never been in Croatia, so the trip to Zadar and then Sebenik, to visit two different Bavaria 320, is a good excuse for some tourism.

And what about the boats?   Not bad, both of them, properly maintained although they are beginning to show their age, and the price is within our limits.

Also the trip has been pleasant, we saw a Country we did not know at all, and obviously we kept an eye on the "nautical" aspects, in view of a possible future cruise in the area.

A nice and well-kept Bavaria 320                                   On our way back, we stopped at the Scardona falls

Relaxing in front of the falls...                                      ...and in the roman amphitheater of Pula

April 3rd-4th:
we wrap up our conclusions about the boats seen so far and, despite the obvious maintenance problems, we have to admit that what we liked most was the Légende 10.40 we saw in Fiumicino.    We get in touch with the broker making a compromise offer, and after a lot of bargaining we reach an agreement on the price.

We take an appointment for the final negotiation to be held in Fiumicino in few days' time!

April 9th: it's done, we signed the sale agreement, we are once again owners of a sailboat!

April 14-26th: we travel to England for the second Blue Water Rally 2007/09 participants' meeting that this time is held in Coniston, in the Lake District.     We go there by car because the idea is to take advantage of this voyage for a bit of tourism in little-known places and we also plan on our way back to stop at some ship-chandlers in the Southampton/Portsmouth area for shopping.

Of course, bad luck hits us full-face, in the shape of a red light on the car's dashboard which lighted up just when we are about to reach our destination!     We bring the car to the nearest service station, just to be told that the particolate filter is clogged and needs replacing, a 2500 GBP job, and requiring several days because the part must come from Germany!

We have no other choice than renting a car and, once the Blue Water Rally celebration is over, move to another hotel while waiting for the car to get ready: so much for our touring plans, and we say good bye to a lot of money as well!...

Group photo of the Blue Water Rally 2007/09 participants' reunion

While we are having fun (...) we make sure that the boat's papers are sent to the agent that will take care of the transfer of ownership and the flag change, from French to Belgian.

We also arrange for a professional survey, requested by the insurance.

We are doing things in a rather hurried-up way, but our main concern is to reduce as much as possible the time we will have to spend in Fiumicino before moving the boat to Jesolo.

April 26: we arrive home, with the car full of boaty stuff, just in time to get the quotation from Pantaenius, which is more-or-less in line with our expectation, so we can proceed quickly.

May 3rd: we move to Fiumicino, again with a car-load of stuff, ready to begin the work on the boat.

We begin the works!   Cleaning the hull...                        ...and the interior as well!

May 7th: our initial plan was to put the boat back by the week's end, which meant first to finish some jobs which require the boat out of the water, such as:
- install the new log/depth transducer
- repair or replace the dangerously worn stern-gland
- fix the rudder-lifting system, which is not working
- clean the topsides, which are filthy
- clean the hull and re-apply antifouling paint

The two of us, working like two busy ants, may barely do it, but...

IT'S RAINING!!   Hell if it is raining!   And the forecast is no better until next wednesday!....


May 9th: the list of urgent jobs is getting longer and longer:

- the stern-gland is a lump of rust
- the hull is still dirty after one week of hard labor
- the oven is broken
- the gas pipes date back to 1992
- there is no VHF
- nor a chartplotter
- log and depth-sounder are good for a museum
- the flares are out of date
- there is no first-aid kit
- the keel-lifting cable is broken and poorly patched-up
- 3 stanchions are bent and to take them out the lifeline must be cut and replaced
- the clutches on the rooftop are obsolete and dangerous
- most winches do not turn freely and all are badly worn out
- the tiller handle is broken
- the interior was last painted in 1985
- the electrical wiring is scary (too thin wires going everywere, often festooning around)
...and so on, and on...

But at least it's not raining!...

May 23rd: it took 4 days of hard work, but finally the first important repair is done!   Now the prop-shaft is equipped with a shining, modern "pack-less stern gland"!

It's been tough, the old stern-gland would not come off, so we had to saw it off piece by piece.   It's going to be replaced anyway, we thought!....

One day to get rid of the old parts, and we begin chasing for replacement parts, and there PANIC begins, because our shaft and housing are of a strange size and we find NOTHING suitable!!   (and the old parts are in little pieces, totally un-usable!!!...)

...enter Ceresoli, a huge and incredibly well-stocked store in Fiumicino that caters only for professional nautical equipment; they are very knowledgeable and very kind as well, and spend a lot of time to find us a solution, but we have to wait for a part to be shipped from Bologna.

Two days later, we are at Ceresoli once again to collect our part: they spend a lot of time to explain how to install the whole stuff, and off we go to work on the boat!
Of course, not all is well, to connect engine and prop-shaft we need bolts which are 65mm long, no more no less, and of course they do not exist, so Baby starts her search for a vise that would allow us to cut 8 10mm bolts down to size, so in the end all is in place!!   (thanks to the vice lent by Hendrick, more about him in a moment...)

Oh, of course in the meantime it rains!!!

Tomorrow sun is expected, the program calls for a splash of antifouling in view of putting the boat in the water next week.

May 29: yesterday was the day, we put the boat in the water, after having applied two coats of anti-fouling, of slightly different colour, because here around it's very hard to find aluminium-specific antifouling paint in any quantity!

With the boat merrily floating in what should be her element (if you see the Tiber water you will understand why we say "should"!!), the first thing is to make sure that water is not entering via the new transducer or the new stern-gland.

All OK, we are officially afloat: too bad we have been rafted as the fourth boat out, meaning that to go aboard or get back on land we have to merrily jump across 3 boats, maybe while carrying a toilet or an oven, it will be funny...

Being rafted 4th off is not very convenient, having to work on board!

June 4th: to be fair, the WC we found on the boat was operational, sort of-
It was an antique though, which required the services of a huge bilge-pump, prominently installed at the back of the toilet and connected with rather filthy-looking pipes which were making the long route to the through-hulls, even partially blocking access to the tiny wet-locker.

Everything off then, and we install a brand new toilet, similar to the one we had on Shaula3, before meeting a new problem (there HAD to be a problem, didn't it?):

Question: what diameter should be the fittings at the two ends of a pipe?
Answer: depends on the pipe's size, but for sure they should be THE SAME SIZE, no?

Well, no, that would be too easy!    The fitting on the WC is SMALLER than the one on the through-hull, so the pipe that fits nicely to the WC is far too small to fit on the through-hull (which is made of plastic, so better not to risk breaking it...)

And of course they are not soft-plastic pipes, they are super-strong, wire-reinforced ones!!

Tough work on a vice and using an heat-gun to soften the pipes, but in the end we succeed, the toilet is installed and operational!

Next day, a relaxing job: replacing the oven!   Small work, if not for the fact that we are the fourth boat out and we had to carry the old oven ashore and then the new one aboard without tripping on one of the thousand lines on the decks of our neighbours!

Installing the new oven took a full day, because it was half-centimetre larger than the old one and we also had to replace all the gas hoses (one was labelled "a remplacer entre le 1989"......). We also took the large but alien french gas bottles and put two classical Camping Gaz (hell how expensive they are!!) in their place, then the usual fight with the pipes and then we can try lighting the oven...just to discover that gas is not flowing!!!.....

Actually, gas is flowing, but too few: what could the problem be?   Lazy gas???   The metal pipes and taps are the original ones, maybe there's some dirt somewhere, replacing everything is feasible but would take a lot of time, dammit!...    In the end we decide we can live with that for a while, we will fix it for good in Jesolo.

In the meantime we bought new stoppers and winches for the roof-top, to replace the antiques we have there, and the sailmaker has visited to try out the frames for the new spray-hood and bimini: guess what?  They do not fit, tomorrow they will have to come again and devise a modification....

And time is passing...

June 5th: difficult to describe it, imagine the cry of a door which was not opened for 20 years, and you may get close!   SBRAAAAA!

This is the noise made by the huge cockpit locker's cover, each time we try to open it!    The yard had the bad idea of making the hinges in aluminium, soldered to the door, and time and electrolysis have done their job and the hinges are stuck solid!
Not only there's a terrible noise that can be heard at the other end of the yard, but two hinges out of four are already broken, if another one fails there will be no way to keep the cover in place!!

And then?   And then we buy 4 bog-standard stainless-steel hinges, we cut off the old ones and we make 24 holes for the 6 x 4 screws needed to install the new hinges, then 3 hours lying in strange positions to put nuts on and tighten them, and the SBRAAA is gone, together with another day in which we got no closer to the departure day!!!....

And this is the big problem: instead of doing the minimal-jobs-before-sailing, as we planned, we are continually running to fix new problems.    Nothing catastrophic, but time is passing by!!!

June 6th: the Tecnomar yard-cum-marina is one of the many which litter the last stretch of the Tiber river; it is reported that nearly 3000 boats are moored here!

Just a 40-meter wide stretch of land between the road and the river border, divided in properties each not much more than 200 meters long; the ground hosts boats on their cradles, and along the river boats are moored 4-or 5-deep; a team of Indian (of all places!) boys take care of moving the boats when one wants to go out, handling with ease rafts of two or three boats in the river's current.

A very easy-going management, a very relaxed atmosphere, everybody is friendly and no opportunity for a good chat gets missed.

Enter Hendrick (or Henrik or Henry).
Hendrick is a character on its own: he showed up at Tecnomar in year 2000 with a 16-meter steel boat he built himself in his homeland Poland.    When talking of self-built boats, one often thinks of a rudimentary, poorly built bucket of a boat: not this one, this was a simple but well-built offshore boat which could well have been professionally built in a yard!
During the return leg of a transatlantic circuit, sailing from Brasil where he had been hit by a nasty food poisoning, Hendrick and his wife were capsized in a storm, suffering serious wounds which were not attended until they managed to sail into the Azores, 18 days after the crash!

Arriving in Fiumicino after they had recovered from the wounds, and with further health problems coming up, the two decided to put the boat for sale and go back to Poland.   Eventually, the boat was purchased by one of the owners of the Tecnomar Yard.

End of a dream?

Maybe not, after all: despite the obvious lack of funds, Hendrick came back after some time and managed to obtain the permission by Tecnomar to build a new boat on the premises: he called the new boat "Barca Piccola" ("Small Boat" in Italian) because it was only 13 meters long!

Hendrick walking around in the yard                               "Barca Piccola" covered by a temporary structure

Years have passed, also because Hendrick's finances are clearly very limited and he managed to earn a living by doing small jobs in the yards of the area, but slowly, working in the open and using rudimentary rigs, the hull of "Barca Piccola" has taken shape!!

Hendrick is now 70, and he cannot work full-time and must make do with occasional small jobs and rig the boat with whatever he gets or with discarded equipment from other boats: he says that next year the boat will be ready to sail towards the Caribbean, but perhaps he does not believe it himself.

Funny character, Hendrick: he has learned a passable italian, and is always ready for a chat and a beer: he tells he was a lawyer, but also a spy, although his remarkable skill with iron works would rather indicate a long experience in a nautical yard: he built his boat by eye, without any drawing, just as they did for centuries!...

Will he ever be able to sail away, or old-age and lack of money will stop him?    I like to think that he will be able to fulfil his dream and spend his last years peacefully at anchor in a Caribbean cove!

June 9th: slowly, slowly, things are progressing:

- stern-gland and prop-shaft coupling replacement: done
- installation of the new speed/depth transducer: done
- anchor and chain check and length marking: done
- antifouling paint: done (well, two coats of two different colours...)
- toilet and plumbing replacement: done (and it works, too!)
- oven and gas bottle replacement: done (more or less, doesn't work well)
- stanchion and lifeline replacement: done
- coachroof stoppers and winches replacement: done
- restoration of freshwater faucet in the bathroom: on hold, the piping is missing!
- outboard fuel leak repair: done (by a mechanic)
- sheets and halyards replacement: done, partially (they cost a lot!)
- a billion small jobs, accessory installations, various arrangements: eternally ongoing job
- installation of new electronics: just started
- engine check, oil and filters replacement: still to be done!
- fuel tank refilling: to be done
- victualling: mostly to be done

LEAVE!!! (still a lot to do before.....but we can see the end of the tunnel approaching!...)

June 15: as we said before, the area along the two branches of the Tiber river are completely used-up by moorings and hard-standing spaces which host a total of more than 3000 boats, most of them sailboats.

There's everything around here, from full-fledged marinas to 5-abreast moorings, and also the boats range from very modest ones to some which are really nice long-distance sailors.

Generally the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, and there is not any show of wealth as it is often the case in Marinas more north, but another aspect that is characteristic of this area is that it is a true heaven if you need to do any kind of work on the boat.

In the area you can find a lot of shops and workshops catering for all possible needs: you need chandlery items?   There are at least 3 or 4 shops, and if they do not have what you are looking after, normally they can order it for you and get it in 2-3 days.

You need stern glands, filters, dedicated marine-grade batteries?  No problem, there's Ceresoli with their huge stock!    Want to replace the standing rigging?    There are at least two different places where they can make the new one for you.
Need repairs to an inboard- or outboard-motor?    Mechanics and spare-part resellers aplenty!

Sailmakers?   2 or 3, famous ones and less so.

Electrical cables and equipment, which are normally very hard to find?    There's Sbrega, who sells everything!

You need something to be fabricated?    There are a couple of old-timer shops, where you can have everything custom-built!   I needed to solder a part of the new oven, and they even did not want any money for the work!...

Plexiglass?   In Rome.

Tools?  In Nearby Ostia or in one of the many shopping centres.

Supermarkets?    Several within few kilometres.

Only problem, you really need a car (rental available locally).

June 28: there are still a lot of works needed to bring this boat in line with our wishes, but the first priority was to bring the boat up to condition for a 1000-mile journey; we thought to spend about one month for this, but due to bad weather and unexpected problems, we are still here after two months!

Now it's time to move though, the engine is not leaking water like the proverbial sieve anymore, the prop-shaft has an hi-tech stern-glan that does not leak even a single drop, sails have been checked by the sailmaker, electronics have been brought to the right century, sprayhood and bimini are new as well as the lazy bag, engine oil and filters have been replaced, part of the running rigging is new, the new switchboard gives power to whatever devices are willing to work, the toilet is new as well as the oven and the gas bottles and hoses, we are in reasonable conditions to sail away (and with instruments telling us where we are and where we are heading, as well!), cooking, sleeping and going to the bathroom are all taken care of: it's time to leave!

The forecast is a bit uncertain, but by tomorrow or maximum the day after the conditions should be good, perhaps we will leave for good!...

Follow on this page the story of the transfer trip from Fiumicino to Jesolo

August/September: back to work, there are a lot of things to do, and many jobs are inter-related (the position of the batteries dictates the position of the fridge, but also of the water tanks, and the gas locker will condition the positioning of the black-waters tank, and so on...), but gradually ideas are taking shape, and we can start working!

We begin with the electric system and the instrument panel, which will require building some new furniture.

The new instrument panel under construction

The chart table before....                                    and after!

September 13: we place the order with the "i 40 Ruggenti" shop in Milan for the remaining Raymarine equipment still pending: Radar antenna, a second chartplotter, wind instruments, AIS receiver, autopilot.   A big expenditure, but we do not feel like giving up on any of these devices (we hoped to do without the chartplotter in the cockpit, using an iPAD networked by wi-fi with the chartplotter under-deck, but trials during the transfer cruise were disappointing).
We also order two new Harken sheet winches: pity, the ones on the boat are not bad, but they are quite worn-out.

September 16: we finally received the Belgian "Lettre de Pavillon": now the boat is officially named SHAULA4!!

The "Lettre de Pavillon Belge" is not very spectacular, just a light-blue sheet of paper, printed on both sides

September 18th:
back in May we ordered some Raymarine equipment to a British retailer, and everything was delivered in few days except the VHF radio, which we selected because it featured an integral AIS receiver, without the need for an external receiver and the obligatory antenna-splitter.   Too good to be true, apparently!    After several months of week-by-week delays, the shop makes the proposal to deliver, for the same price, just what we did not want, a radio with separate AIS receiver and splitter!    Assuming this means that the wait could last for a very long time, we give up and in few days we get the stuff.

October 25th: we got from Belgium also the Radio-License, now we are ok with all the papers!     Handling paperwork with Belgium is very simple, sometimes even feasible by e-mail or phone, next time we will do ourselves without recurring to an (expensive) agent!

November 6th: at the end of the month we will have to go back home in Milan, so time has come to put the boat on the hard, and we will take advantage of that to dismast, both to replace the rigging and to make installing stuff on the mast much easier, and we also take the engine off for an in-depth overhaul.

Few days working on the boat ashore, and it's time to go.    Anyway, weather has deteriorated, it's often raining and the temperature has dropped, work is not progressing much!

December 15th: we bought an EPIRB, and then we sent to Belgium (by e-mail) the form to register the device on the radio-license and to get the code to be programmed in the EPIRB itself (strange procedure, most Countries do the reverse and just take note of the code that was programmed on the device by the manufacturer, based on the boat's MMSI number).



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Last Update: 07/09/2017

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