For the 19 years we owned our boat Chardonnay we had a lot of fun, exploring the coasts of England and France but also a lot of hard work to keep her clean and properly maintained. Every year she had to be lifted out of the water to have her hull scrubbed and anti-fouled. When we lived in England it was quite easy, the boat yard was only a mile from our mooring in Portsmouth harbour but here in France things were rather different. The local harbour were not as careful as we would have liked so we chose to sail round to Paimpol where they had a good strong lift and plenty of space to work.
The passage to Paimpol is not very easy, either passing through many rocky areas with some strong currents or going a very long way round the outside to avoid the overfalls. I drew this sketch after our last trip there before selling the boat. I can remember being quite scared as the swell was very deep with white tops as we sailed along with a reef in.
We got there safely and started on the work. The propeller was usually my job while Bob concentrated on cleaning off the slimy weeds with a pressure sprayer. One year we had this wonderful colection of sealife, animal as well as vegetable which really was this colourful!
It was jolly hard to get everything off and restore the prop to it's former beauty with some elbow grease and lots of Brasso!
We usually stayed in the river Trieux on our way to and from Paimpol where it was very peaceful and we could relax after all our work which usually took at least a week. It was lovely to just tie to a buoy and watch the sailing school giving their lessons, the oyster farmers tending their crops and having a barbecue for our tea as the sun went down behind the hills.
We eventually decided to sell the boat as she was becoming more demanding, needing lots of expensive bits replaced and we seemed to spend more time working on her than enjoying our sailing.
We found a keen buyer who had been looking for just our boat, a Vancouver 36 foot, and quite a rarity as only 12 were made in that model in the 1990s. It was a sad day when we handed over the keys but we knew she was going to a good home in North Wales and would be sailed to her full potential as an ocean cruiser. This summer we were delighted to receive a postcard from the Azores where she had safely carried the family who now own her.
We carry on our exploring now on land in our camper car but we still have a few moments now and again when we smell the sea air and remember our happy days with 'Chardonnay of Solent.'