We are Cas and Dave, a pair of married sea shanty and folk singers who just love messing around on the water. Over the 30-plus years we have been together, we have been lucky enough to own a wide variety of boats from one-man sailing dinghies to narrowboats, but for the last 10 years we have been committed sailors, crewing for a friend then buying our own Mystery 35 sailing yacht.
Recently, though, Cas started to find sailing a bit much, especially the leaning over bit. Initially, we resolved this by sticking to motoring and only going out on calm days but the addition of two crazy lurcher-type dogs to our family, on top of our three grown-up children and seven granddaughters, meant space was also at a premium. So over the last few years, as we both increased in age and decreased in physical capability, we began thinking the unthinkable changing sail for power.
SAIL OR POWER?
Sailing is huge fun but often rather frustrating, especially when you want to get somewhere and the weather means you don’t or can’t. We have always wanted to undertake longer trips around the UK; the Scottish Isles and parts of Ireland – perhaps a grand tour over to Norway via Holland and the canals, not forgetting northern France and Brittany either. Was now the time to reconsider our boating and change to power?
A couple of years back we had visited the Southampton Boat Show and ended up looking at a few motorboats just for fun, particularly Nelson types, which appeal to yachties like us due to their inherent seaworthiness. They look good too – I mean, who wants to look back from the dinghy and see an ugly boat? We didn’t progress with the idea at the time due to some temporary medical issues. Besides, I was still enjoying my sailing too much. Slow forward a couple of years, though, and with our medical issues sorted, we decided to go to the Southampton Boat Show again. We had our usual quick wander round to see what was there and somehow found ourselves back at the Dale-Nelson and Seaward stands.
We thought we ought to have a look at their latest models, even though we had no idea if we could afford one – not a chance! But while we looked, feelings started to flow through us in a most unexpected way. We found ourselves agreeing with the salesman that, ‘Yes, it would be nice to be tucked away at a cosy inside helm when the weather’s bad outside’ and ‘That is indeed a comfortable-looking mattress on that big double bed.’
THE HUNT IS ON
Before we realised what was happening, we had made the mental jump from sail to power. The salesman even invited us back to sea trial a Seaward 39 a few days later. The boat was immaculate and we were very impressed by how easy two engines made it to get out of an awkward berth even with a spring tide. We went out and played in the western Solent for an hour or so, which confirmed why we loved the semi-displacement hull shape and the confidence it gave us at sea. Sadly, it also confirmed that our budget was way below the cost of even half a new one. Now all we had to do was find “our” boat at a price we could afford.
We cast around for a used Nelson 38 and found three for sale. Of these, one was rather old and in need of work, one was too expensive but the third looked promising. She was for sale locally through James Dickens Marine and located in Hythe. Named Victory by her first owner, she was built in 2003 and had been kept in very good condition by her second and current owner, who was downsizing to a smaller boat – another Nelson of course! Apart from a few minor blemishes inside, you would never know she was 15 years old. Her twin 440hp Yanmar engines had only done 780 hours, she came with loads of extras and she felt so solid, safe and seaworthy that we were pretty sure we had found our next boat.
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