Well, I just returned from France. My plan to see 3 boats had been downsized to 2 boats: an Akilaria RC1 and an LC40. Here’s what happened.
Day 1 & 2
On 8/19/19 I landed in Paris on a late Monday afternoon, followed by a TGV hop to Nantes, where I tried to sleep. The next morning I hopped on another train to Les Sables d’Olonne, where I had breakfast with the surveyor, Mr. Laurent Cordelle. We then made our way to the Vendee Globe slips, where the first boat on the list, the Akilaria RC1, is berthed, and met with the owner Mr. Francois Lassort.
It was a good day of going through all boat systems, hauling out the boat, having lunch together, going up the mast, looking at sails, motoring in the marina. All was checking out nicely. I made my way back to Nantes, on a train again, and went to bed, planning the next day’s visit.
A week before leaving for France, the owner had forewarned me that another buyer had just checked the boat and was very interested. That English man was on a tour, visiting several Class 40 boats. I was reminded during lunch that this person was very interested. How often do you hear that from a seller? I just brushed it off.
The day was full and I didn’t get much chance to visit around. I left Les Sables d’Olonne without having touched the heart of solo offshore sailing. No regrets, I was on a mission.
On Wednesday, I spent a lot of time on public transportation. After trying unsuccessfully to find a reasonably priced car rental, I took the train from Nantes to St Nazaire, then a (mini)bus to Paimboeuf, and last walked 25 minutes to the dry marina where I had an appointment with the second boat. For this one, I had not scheduled a surveyor.
I’m not sure how to put this in writing without coming across as a lunatic; although on paper, the Akilaria RC1 with its 100,000 Euro refit is the better/newer design boat, something was not feeling right; that same thing, which felt right for the boat I was seeing that day, the LC 40. I knew it was more than just another stop. It was also about touching that ambiguous feeling.
I spent a few hours alone on the boat checking things out and taking lots of pictures. Then the owner of the place, Mr. Jean-Francois Mazan, came over and we talked about things. He was really friendly and invited me to lunch. I’ll also say in passing that he drove me back to St Nazaire at the end of the day so that I could catch my train. A really nice guy. Everyone I met, in fact, was really friendly. I’ll admit that I enjoyed meeting all of them: Mr. Lassort, Mr. Cordelle, Mr. Mazan and more.
He put me on the phone with the owner, with whom I must have spent about 30-45 minutes. Ultimately, between my limited time, the hour spent on lunch, the time spent on the phone, a few things were left undone: engine start, electronics start, sails check, mast check. That will have to wait for another day, maybe.
At the end of the day, while on the (slow) train to Bourges to meet with my mother, I received an email from the owner of the Akilaria RC1 indicating that he had accepted the Englishman’s offer. Bang, 600 Euro and a trip to France for possibly nothing. That boat had been sitting with no interest for many months. Talk about poor timing. For some reason, I’m not angry nor sad.
Thursday I had to catch up with work and I also wanted to spend quality time with my mother (I hope I was able to). I had been given a few phone numbers to call about the LC40: the architect Francois Lucas, the owner, a surveyor who had checked the keel, a potential delivery skipper to bring the boat across to Panama. I made those calls on Friday. On Saturday, we, my mother and I, drove to CDG airport. And I’m now back in the Bay of San Francisco, trying to decide what to do next.
If I make an offer it will be my fourth (Anasazi Girl, Pixel Flyer, #42 are the others).