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Old 20-09-2015, 14:02   #1
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The Next Step - Some Med Questions

So we have been coastal cruising for a long time. We are over the next few years planning to retire and transition to a more full time cruising lifestyle. Currently situated West Coast of Canada. Our Catalina 34 is a lovely boat, but not the one we are going to use for the next stage.

Thought process goes like this.

We (mostly me) are handy on boat systems - sewn main, spin, bimini, upholstery, series drogue. Installed water maker maker, SSB, re-rigged, repowered, integrated new electronics, solar etc. Basically everything on a boat short of large structural fibreglass repair is within the comfort zone.

We are leaning towards centre cockpit monos in the mid 40 foot range. I would tend towards an Amel Santorin. My wife loves the Beneteau 44 CC. We aren't looking for a project boat, but the budget will mean we are probably doing some refit work. Need to stay under 200k ready to go. The boat is not really the issue, there are lots of nice boats worldwide.

The larger question isn't what kind of boat, but actually where do we start from? We've have cruised down to Mexico and would do it again in a heartbeat. But we don't necessarily want to start from the west coast of the Americas. It seems the Med is tricky to get into. Maybe it's the best place to start from? A few years in the Med until we grow tired of Roman ruins. Head across until rum and steel drums grow weary. Then maybe through the ditch and into the Pacific. Maybe sell the boat in NZ after a decade or maybe bring it back to Canada. We don't feel we have to circumnavigate or prove anything. We just like to explore.

It's easy to refit a boat at home. We know the yards, the vendors etc. My question is how difficult (and expensive) is this to do in the Med? Obviously there is a large boating infrastructure, but is it easy to tap into? Are there yards where you can do your own work? Or do you have pay 100 Euros an hour to have someone install your new thru hulls? Is it easy to import things? Are taxes obscene or merely egregious? Which counties are best to do boat work in? We speak English with poor French and a mere touch of Spanish - is that a major handicap? We would need 3 to 6 months to get a boat ready.

Economically, this works better if we pull the plug and go and keep our place rented out rather than flying back and forth to Canada and keeping, cars, cell phones, insurance policies and all the other land based expenses that drain bank accounts. Sailing season in the Med is what April to October? What to do in the winter? Are there nice affordable marinas in South of Spain or Greece or wherever where it is possible to tie up for a few months and live aboard or use as a base for inland travels? Is winter in North Africa pleasant and safe? Where?

Finally we will continue working for a few more years. If we were to keep a boat here we would do some extended summer cruises to Alaska and west coast of Vancouver Island over the next few years. Is a similar summer holiday approach viable in the Med? i.e. would owning a boat in the Med and using it for 4 to 6 weeks in the summer be much more expensive than owning a boat here where my marina bill runs about $7k a year? Or do the costs run 2x + airfares?

Sorry for the long post. Just trying to figure out our next move. We sold the big house and bought the little town home. Next step is sell the little boat and buy the big boat, but it is not yet obvious where...

Any thoughts appreciated (well most thoughts, just not the ones where people tell me to go take sailing lessons and avoid buying Beneteaus). Many thanks.

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Old 21-09-2015, 12:14   #2
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Location: Lorient, Brittany, France
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Re: The Next Step - Some Med Questions

Yes, there are boatyards in Europe where it is permitted to work by yourself on your boat. This is the website of the yard where I put my boat on the hard for one week each year: Prestations et services - BILLIE MARINE

For a yacht the size that you have in mind, the price would be about 270 USD/month in the open or 415 USD/month under a roof. Work done by the yard is 64 USD/hour. But we are on the Atlantic coast. It's probably more expensive in the Med, where there is more money.

Speaking poor French isn't a handicap: many French people get along while speaking poor English.

The sailing season is what you want it to be: the sea doesn't freeze, you just might have to wait a few days for a weather window. Here (N Biscay), I sail even in winter.

Regarding the taxes, you need to discuss that with the Customs, since you intent to export the yacht outside of EU.

You should discuss the visa with the consulate of France in Vancouver, for it is possible to obtain one valid for more than 90 days: Consulat général de France à Vancouver

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Old 21-09-2015, 12:35   #3
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Re: The Next Step - Some Med Questions

Hi Steve:

I have a 10 meter boat and have kept it in the Med for the last five years. I bought it in Italy and keep it there. The rates are not too horrible and I sail 4 to 6 weeks a year on the boat. I am hoping to increase that time in the near future. Currently the Euro is not very strong so the idea of buying a boat in Europe is attractive. I have paid anywhere from Euro 30 an hour to Euro 50 an hour for work performed. Be sure to confirm the yard where you are allows to do your own work. Also should you choose to buy a boat in Europe it is important to find a yard where you do not need to rent a car because this adds a lot to the cost of your annual trip. For a 10 meter boat stored in the water the cost was Euro 4500 per year. It is Euro 200 a month to keep the boat on the hard and Euro 300 each way to get the boat in and out of the water. I would be glad to share my experiences in Italy with you. PM me if you want to discuss.
Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
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