The time came where we made up our minds that we could, with some planning take up to 6 months away from work, (with some remote working) and home tutor our daughter for a couple of months either side of her summer holidays. Josh, our son, had finished his business degree and was now available to take the reigns of our business and keep things running while we are away. The timing was right and we decided to bring our retirement plans forward while we are young and fit enough to go for it! Our dream was to purchase a sailing boat large enough to live-aboard for several months at a time. The next decision is where to sail. We decided on the Mediterranean for its beauty, warm sunny weather, a welcome change from the rain in Ireland and the none tidal waters make things all the easier. The plan is to start in either Spain or Greece and with no set time limit or schedule make our way to the Ionian Sea to sail the Greek Ionian Islands. Once we have sailed the Ionian Islands, which could be months or even years, the whole point is no schedule, to sail up the east coast of Italy to Venice and eventually over to Croatia then turn south to sail through the islands off the west coast of Croatia.
For many years my dream boat has been the Amel Supper Maramu as I believe it to be one of the best ever boats designed for live-aboard blue water sailing. At the time we were not intending to change our boat as we had invested the last 2 years into updating and refitting WHUATI 2 our Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2, ready to cross the Atlantic Ocean. However a string of events lead to us looking at the possibility of owning and Amel sailing yacht.
We were in Kefalonia and berthed stern to on the town quay between an Amel Super Maramu and an Amel Sharki. The Super Maramu was flying an Irish courtesy flag, so we said hi! From there we became good friends with Eammon and Caroline, the owners of “Travel Bug”. We buddy-boated with them form time to time and I installed new Raymarine instruments for him. During this work I got to see all the Amel systems and how the boat was built, very impressed. This got us looking for Amel yachts for sale on the internet, though still thinking they would be out of our price range. However the price of second hand Amel Super Maramu boats has dropped and we found one in Spain needing quite a bit of maintenance work and updating. PAOMIA was found, could we actually get an Amel!
We contacted the broker and started negotiations, only to find that the boat was sold subject to survey. However after a while we were told the buyer had backed out due to the survey listing many recommendations, but no failures. We put in a low offer that was accepted subject to no further negotiation. We had a copy of the latest survey, it was extremely thorough and although there were 56 recommendations many of these were just maintenance or upgrade / refit issues that we intended to do anyway. Not being put off in taking of a substantial refit project as we had already carried out such work on our last 2 yachts as we did a €50000 refit on WHUATI II. Flights were booked and Jay and Hannah flew out to Barcelona for 4 days to have a good look at PAOMIA. We were happily surprised as PAOMIA was in far better condition than we were expecting. The hull, rig, masts and all the main parts were in very good condition for a 26 year old yacht. There was also much evidence that the previous owner had indeed spent money maintaining the boat. The main issue was a problem with the heat exchanger on the Yanmar engine, a €4000 part required! However we had the same engine on WHUATI with a similar problem. so we knew we could have the original heat exchanger welded and machined for around €500, fixed like new.
We spent 4 days going through every part of PAOMIA and got an offer accepted, so decided to buy her. However we would need to sell WHUATI first to liquidate her value towards the cost of PAOMIA. We listed WHUATI for sale on Apolloduck in October 2018. Lots of interest as she had just had a full upgrade including new sails, new Raymarine instruments, Victron electrics and new solar panels etc. she was ready to go!
With the decision made to buy Whuati and the deposit paid Jay and Josh booked flights to Greece to view her for the first time. The best price flights from Ireland to Greece were out of Dublin to Milan, Bergamo airport, then a 2 hour stop over before flying on to Athens. As we flew down the east coast of Italy the Ionian Sea came into view giving us an aerial view of our new cruising grounds with Corfu island below.
Upon our arrival in Athens we collected the hire car and started the 6 hour journey to Nidri on the island of Lefkada, 410 km with 250 km or roadworks! We arrived in Nidri at 10pm and after 14 hours traveling were glad to get to our apartment overlooking the bay. We stayed at Nidri Bay Studios where Mia made us very welcome. The evening view over the bay from the balcony was fantastic. Nidri is a town with a slow relaxed pace of life that comes alive at night. There are many restaurants and bars to relax in and take in the views and the atmosphere. We found it so easy to slip into the relaxed lifestyle and slower pace of life.
The following morning we were finally going to get to see WHUATI for the first time. We met Lorna from Ionian Boat Assistance and made our way to Vliho Boat Yard where WHUATI was is stored on the hard. When we got to the boat were also met Horatio from Horatio C Todd who had already started the boat survey. We met Lorna from Ionian Boat Assistance and made our way to Vliho Boat Yard where WHUATI is stored on the hard. When we got to the boat we were also met Horatio from Horatio C Todd who had already started the boat survey. Our first impressions of WHUATI were good, but she clearly had been out of the water for some time and the strong sunlight and dust had taken effect. It was clear that there will be plenty of work to do to get her back in the water where all boats belong. She needs a good clean and removal of the antifouling paint and new to be applied. The UV from the sunlight had also destroyed the varnish on the woodwork, all jobs that we expected would need to be done.
The more we looked over WHUATI the better things became, sure there are faults she is 26 years old, but she also had her good points, many of them. Over all she was in good condition, just needing the usual preseason work and cleaning. As we looked in cupboards and under seats we were amazed by the amount of gear we found on-board, she really has everything you need and spares, oh and more spares. It took Josh and myself five days to go through everything stored on the boat and catalog what was there and where it is stored.
Horatio did a good, thorough job of the survey, taking three days in total and including a full rigging inspection. He was happy with the results and apart from some recommendations he found no reason for us not to go ahead a purchase WHUATI. We called home to give Hannah the news and to get her to transfer the final and full payment for the boat. Then came the paperwork and legal side of registering the sale in Greece. This had to be done at the town hall in Nidri and all the documents are of cause in Greek. Lorna from Ionian Boat Assistance was great. We met at her office where she had the paperwork all ready, so we went to officially register as the new owners. This took five minutes! In the building, passport and ID check, official stamp and out. Thanks Lorna!
Josh and myself spent the rest of our time in Nidri sorting through the boat and making a list of jobs to be done before WHUATI can be put back into the water. Now the thing with a job list is the way it keeps growing! Some of the main jobs to be done are:
Remove the old antifouling paint and prepare the hull for new paint
Clean out the holding tank
Clean and sterilize the two water tanks
Upgrade the electronics, (new plotter and wind, speed and depth instruments)
Fit the new head lining we found in the boat
Replace a failed bearing in the roller furling for the head sail
Service the engine and give it a full overhaul
Re-wire some of the electronics and increase the amp hour rate of the house batteries
This list is just part of the work required! As any boat owner will tell you there is always work to be done, but I’m sure we will also find time to relax.
On our last day we took time out for a trip to see Nidri Waterfalls. The falls are a short 2 km drive from Nidri to a car-park with a restaurant. It is then a walk through a stunning canyon to the falls. It had been dry for a while so there was not much water flowing over the falls but the views were good and the water was refreshing to swim in. We fell in love with Vliho Bay while we were over looking at WHUATI and have decided to hang around the area for the first season and use this location as a base while we get used to our new boat and work on all the jobs and upgrades we want to do. I guess they don’t give it the nick name of “Velcro Bay” for nothing!