If you rent a car to explore France, like we did, you’ll need to get up close and personal with roundabouts. The French, and I suspect a lot of other Europeans, love these quintessential urban infrastructure anachronisms. On the one hand, they are highly efficient traffic cops, shepherding cars to their next exit without delay. On the other hand, they are technology-free, minimalist designs that could easily have existing hundred of years ago, and in fact they did, making your driving experience a true journey back through the centuries.
For some reason, Karen and I had never, collectively or on our own, ever visited France. Maybe it was my high school language choice of German (which didn’t get me too far in Germany!), or our leaning towards warm, tropical get aways. I must admit that after hearing several friends come home from France and report that the French were tough on those that didn’t know the language made this foreign language neophyte especially hesitant!
We are inching closer to the launch of our new boat, Sea Rose, with every day filled with to do lists – the kind that shrink one moment, and grow the next! Our boat is a couple weeks off schedule on it’s delivery and commissioning in Canet-en-Roussillon, but that’s a blessing in disguise, as we try to get all of our ducks in a row before the big splash. It took us over ten years of tweaks here and there to get Thalia to where we needed her for long-distance cruising, and while we are bringing that school-of-hard-knocks experience to bear with the commissioning of Sea Rose, it still feels like cramming many years of boat improvements into one Spring launch.
The fourth Nor-Easter storm in as many weeks had Tom and I out skiing deep powder well into the later days of March! We have thoroughly enjoyed our first winter being able to ski mid-week and despite some tough conditions in late January and into February, early season and March have been terrific! To tell the truth, though, it was actually quite helpful to have poor ski conditions mid-winter since we had huge projects standing between us and a summer of successful cruising in the Mediterranean on our new sailboat.
Here’s an update on what we’ve been up to – this video will cover it in some detail or you can read about the details below!
Our boat construction is underway and is right on track to be turned over to us in early May … AND, we have an official hull number. ‘What’s a hull number’, you ask? Well, every boat within a specific boat model is assigned a sequential hull number according to the order the boat is manufactured. The first boat of a new model is hull # 1 and, for as long as that model of boat is created, the hull number continues to incrementally increased! When we looked at the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 last October, we were aboard hull number 3 since the model had just been launched! Our boat will be hull number 40 – I wonder how many Sun Odyssey 440’s will be made!
The shipment of our equipment and gear could be going better but we think we’ll still be ok on timing if nothing further delays progress. The shipping company picked our stuff up on February 16 but our things didn’t make it into a container and on their way away from the US until late March. The projected arrival in Rotterdam is April 6. After arrival in the Netherlands, the shipment will go through customs and then be transported over the road to where our boat will be commissioned and launched, Canet-en-Roussillon on the Mediterranean coast of France. Our boat is scheduled to arrive there in pieces around mid-April and since some of the things we shipped are to be installed on the boat, we hope customs clearance doesn’t take too long!
Finally, the biggest news of all is that we were granted long-stay tourist visas for France so we can stay up to a year if we wanted or needed to. I go into significant detail in the video about all that we needed to supply to convince the French authorities that we wouldn’t be a burden on their society. I understand all of the requirements and was happy to provide the detail. The process was smooth and the people at the French Consulate couldn’t have been more helpful! We are very excited to be able to remain in the waters around the Schengen states for longer than 90 days!
Our previous video on shipping our gear and equipment to France can be viewed here:
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It’s winter in New England, which for some of you might conjure up romantic notions of snow-filled meadows adjacent to a snug log cabin with a rousing wood fire burning inside. What it is not is a time for sailing, unless you are one of these crazy devils from the Boston Sailing Center’s Frostbite Racing Series.
Instead, for Karen and I, we have been busy preparing to take delivery of our new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 “Sea Rose” in France this Spring. I can assure you we will be posting lots of pictures and videos of our experience in the Mediterranean, where the only ice you will find is in the freezer or the cocktail glass!
In the meantime, I just recently completed two YouTube videos related to our preparations. The first video explains our boat buying experience in Annapolis this past Fall, including the standout features of the Jeanneau 440. The second video details our new travel companion – the Google Pixel 2 phone and Project Fi service. I’ll admit it didn’t take much to bring out the inner geek in me, but for any of you that travel overseas and need an easy way to stay in touch and online, these two solutions should be on your short list.
If you enjoy the videos and want to be reminded when new ones arrive, simply click on the button at the end of the video to subscribe to our channel, LifeFourPointZero, or go here. And a thumbs up is always appreciated it!
After owning and nurturing Thalia for 14 years, it is time to move on. Thalia is now up for sale at Navy Point Marine, in Sackets Harbor, NY, and we have bought a new boat! Our future adventures will now be onboard a brand new 2018 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440.
If you had asked me several months ago if we would ever sell Thalia, I would have told you an emphatic “NO”! She had taken us up and down the East Coast, to the Canadian Maritimes, and to the Caribbean. The year we spent with the boys onboard filled our family bank with priceless memories. And our most recent adventure this summer, breaking into new territory in the Great Lakes and the canals, was more beautiful and charming than we could have imagined. Thalia was at her finest sailing us across the waters of our choosing with ease and grace, and at the end of the day we could enjoy her new amenities, including this year’s new dodger and varnished mahogany cockpit.
But, alas, we ended up at the Annapolis boat show in October, walking the docks and the decks of as many new boats as we could manage during the show’s opening hours. Through it all, I remembered why we had not gone to a boat show in the last 14 years. Seeing all the shiny new boats, I knew the temptations would be too strong! The wheels had been set in motion when we listed our boat for sale with Navy Point Marine and realized they were a Jeanneau dealer. And conveniently, we hauled out a week before the Annapolis boat show. And, OK, I’ll come clean by admitting that there were a few days in the summer that I had been browsing the Jeanneau website and accidentally left a page open of a new beauty, as Karen was taking over the watch!
The Jeanneau 440 is their newest generation of cruising boat design and has some very appealing features, the most notable of which is an inclining side deck that leads around the helm into the cockpit, making the transition from cockpit to deck very smooth. Unlike a lot of sailors that keep getting bigger boats, we are downsizing with this new boat, but Jeanneau has done a fantastic job with the use of space, making it feel very similar to the size of Thalia.
With the Jeanneau plant in France, we opted to take delivery in the Mediterranean. If all goes as planned, she will be bobbing in the water in late Spring, ready for us to grab the reins and start exploring the Med. More news to come as it gets closer! In the meantime, if you want a fantastic long distance cruising boat, check out this listing! The wonderful folks at Navy Point will take good care of you.