Sephina was purchased at her mooring on the Beaulieu river. Initial thoughts were to sail her to N.Wales as a delivery trip. A number of friends offered to form a crew and I started to look at possible dates. The spanner in the works came in the form of the survey and trial sail. The agent identified that the helm was very stiff and an attmpt was made to free it up by disconnecting the autohelm. This made no difference. The survey on the same day also pointed out the stiff steering and unless this was fixed it would make insurance for the delivery impossible. So it dawned that to get her to North Wales was going to involve a road trip.

Quotes were sought and due to her beam, height and length of the mast it was not going to be cheap. An added complication was identified in that it would not be possible to truck her out of Bucklers Hard due to the low trees on the exit. A delivery trip had to be arranged to get her to Lymington. Again the very helpful broker at Berthon offered to help for the short passage to Lymington. Finally a date was chosen and SeaFix were contracted to do the delivery. I decided to drive down to Lymington and pick up the broker to then drive to Bucklers to skipper my new boat! The joy was quickly tempered as the weather forecast was for 40knots of wind in the Solent. The broker was having second thoughts! A night passage with the tide against. The only consolation was that the wind was against as well thus giving us slightly calmer seas than might have been. We quickly regrouped and proceeded to Bucklers. The passage was uneventful and the stiff helm made it impossible to get a feeling for how Sephina sailed. I was relieved to arrive in Lymington and with slight trepidation manovered an unresponsive boat onto the yard wall (OK I used the bow thruster so it wasn't that difficult).

I slept on the boat for the first time and fitfully passed the hours until dawn. I was up early as the transport was to arrive the next day and I had agreed to prepare the boat for transport myself so as to save cost. I had no idea how hard this was going to be. 7am to 9pm in pouring rain had the standing rigging removed, the deck prepared, dingy stowed and every moveable object fastened down. The next morning saw the mast unstepped by the yard and a further 4 hours preparing the mast for transport. With an hour to spare the lorry arrived for loading. With lots of ums, scratching of heads and countless measuring and even more Duct tape she was loaded. A particular concern was the height of the load. As the helm pedestal had an instrument above the chart plotter it presented a delicate target for low hanging branches. Plenty more Duct tape applied and judicious use of pillows mitigated the possible damage.

The load needed a convoy vehicle to escort us out of Hampshire. Due to the size it was not allowed to transit Lymington until 6pm. This gave us more time to double check the load. When the escort arrived a serious conflab took place with lots of pointing and gestures about the height. More measuring and finally a decision was made. To avoid the low trees on the exit a route was chosen that would take us right through Lymington high street. Thanks goodness it was after 6pm. The route to the high street was through a housing estate and narrow back streets. As can be seen from the photographs it was a close thing. Avoiding horses and cyclists in the New Forest brought is to the M3 and an overnight stop. At this point I drove on home and arrived at 1am for a good night sleep in my own bed. By mid afternoon the convoy arrived in North Wales and the crane lifted Sephina off into a cradle in the yard in Conwy to begin the refit. This will be home for the next 18 months.


The Search for a boat

To go around the world you need a good boat. But what is a good boat? As an early adopter and as someone who likes good looking technology I was attracted to buying the latest new boat show yacht. With the budget I had this would mean a production cruiser. This was 15 years ago when I had not yet learnt about the requirements to circumnavigate safely. Much reading and listening to trusted friends I gradually came to realise that what was a fabulous holiday charter boat for the med was not going to get me around.

The requirements for every circumnavigator will be different and the sailing requirements have to be merged with the domestic requirements. Asking my wife had a very different list to mine. Island double bed, ability to stand up everywhere, and a washing machine! My list included heavy displacement, quality feel, above 40 feet and the island bed. The latter feature became important as we had had a caravan for a number of years with a fixed end bed. I always ended up on the inside and clambering to get out to go to the loo in the middle of the night always was a drama. I didn't fancy this for a whole circumnavigation.

So we settled on a short list of 3, Island Packet 465, Nauticat 44 and Oyster 406. It soon became clear that the Island Packet with Island bed was still too new and was going to take all our cash so the hunt settled on the Nauticat 44 and Oyster 406. Yachting and Boating World web site searches were saved and obviously the ubiquitous yachting magazines were poured over. This was two years before we actually ended up buying a boat.

After a year a fabulous Oyster 406 appeared on the market. I was sure it was going to be the one but it was in the med and so I waited for it to return to the UK. I will spare the owner blushes but he was incredibly helpful in answering my sometimes naive emails while we waited. Fate always rears its head and just as I was arranging to go and see it in Ipswich low and behold another 406 came on the market. This ended up being Sephina and the boat we purchased. If Beluga is still available I suggest you buy it! The reasons for buying this over the other 406 remains for another article but it is only fair to say it was a very very close thing.