So here we are in Greece on the island of Kefalonia. everything between our last post about signing up for the sailing course and now went flawless and the guys at Sea-Trek have been very forthcoming with information and helpful in the planning. while most of their clients are from the UK, where one just hops on a charter flight from London directly to Kefalonia, we had a somewhat more challenging trip, which involved:
Seaplane from our island to Maldives International Airport
Plane from Maledives to Doha and then from Doha to Athens
Overnight stay in Athens
Bus from Athens to Patra
Ferry from Patra to Kefalonia and one last bus to the yacht base.
Yes, this really was the quickest way to get from A to B!
but we did arrive and when boarding the boat, our home for the next week, the first thing I noticed: where is the steering wheel??? naive as I was I never considered that the boat we chartered might have a tiller instead. well, I guess something more to learn 🙂
the next challenge was for me to answer the question: what sailing experience do you have? As most people signing up for this course are complete novices it came a bit of a surprise when I told my instructor that I had about 1500nm under my belt, including a crossing of the Indian Ocean, hiding from pirates and navigating with not much more than an iPhone 😉
well, it was not quite that bad, but in principle this is what i had done not too long ago, so I still felt it would be good to learn a bit more and to get that much desired piece of paper confirming us as proper sailors 🙂
so lets see what the coming days will bring us.
after our disaster with the American Sailing Academy in Greece, we kept searching and finally found another option.
Sea-Trek, a UK based sailing school specializing in teaching novices to sail in ONE WEEK! We literally stumbled upon this company as they were not easy to find (their SEO must have been programmed terribly!).
not sure how much they could teach us in one week we contacted them by email and we quickly received very positive and informative responses. it really gave us the impression that they cared and knew what they were doing. best of all, the cost was lower than any of the other options. for only £675 per person, we got the entire course, including our private yacht (306 Feeling). in addition there were a couple of extra fees, but everything was clearly explained in advance. the other benefit, the teaching was done to IYT standards, which is the international certificate we wanted to begin with.
we quickly signed up, paid the deposit and we started our plans for completing the course at the end of June. so we had about one month during which we had to complete the online learning portion of this course. all was done quickly and easily and after paying our $100 fee to access the course we were off to the 13 sections of the course.
so we have about 4 weeks to complete all modules and get our certificate, which is required to be eligible for the ICC (International Certificate of Competency). this is actually the same certificate that we could achieve after 21 days in Thailand (see previous post).
We have been looking at several websites and forums, we even subscribed to fellow sailors’ blogs and actually found them quite useful. But, there is alway a but. Once you find something that you like, or you think you like, it is seriously difficult to track sailors’ first hand experiences, more ‘insider-style’ news and something that is not written by the broker or the charter agency. Like for example, we wanted to find out more about a Nautitech 40, the pros and cons and found very little on the net.
The whole ‘search’ started with a Mahe 36 in mind, and we really think that it would the right boat for us, and there’s plenty of info on line to entertain you or…like me, to scare you. Now we got the book ‘Sailing for dummies’ www.amazon.com/Sailing-Dummies-J-Isler/dp/076455039X – and started reading it. Not bad, beside the continuous jokes about obvious rules of sailing, anyway we have plenty to learn and if you look at the time, not so much ahead.
Now it seems we found a new lead in Seychelles and hopefully would be able to go and see some boats there soon, as we said before, we live in the Maldives and it’s not easy to find owners’ boats nearby. Let’s see what happens.
So of course we started doing what any wannabe sailor does, check out yachtworld.com. Being new to the game we quickly found many boats that we liked and thought could be suitable for us. We had already decided from the beginning that we wanted a catamaran as we feel that space is important. From there it was a matter of finding the best match. again we researched and felt that anything between 36 and 40 foot would give us enough space and also allow us to invite 2-4 friends once in a while. If history teaches us we will have many more friends than we think we do as even now we get the occasional emails a-la ‘do you still remember me from when we met once back in 1992? oh and by the way, can I get a good deal at your hotel in Maldives?’…
Narrowing it down further we now focus our search on the following:
Fountaine Pajot Mahe 36
Fountaine Pajot Athena 38
Clearly there are plenty available of these models, if you live in the US or the Caribbean, that is. we on the other hand live across the globe in the Indian Ocean and all of a sudden the choice becomes either very small or non-existant. no problem, we thought, we’ll just look for something in Europe and get someone to sail it to us via the Suez Canal. Wrong again, it seems that this is a no-go area due to the constant pirate issues in that part of the Indian Ocean.
Posting a quick post on the CruisersForum we received some hope by posts that maybe some cruisers would be happy to sell their boats once reaching this part of the world from the Asian side, so maybe we will get lucky there. but realistically, our search is now focused on places like Malaysia, Thailand and Seychelles.
another big hurdle is the import tax for Maldives. any boat that remains in these waters for more than 90 days must be imported and operated under a Maldivian Flag, which automatically means 25% import duties on the value of the yacht (or whatever the customs officers feel the boat might be worth). this is a hard thing to swallow, as 25% is not a small number.
a little glimpse of hope is that there is a change of law in discussion in parliament that could have a big impact on people like me and might allow us to temporarily import a boat with much less fees for a period of up to 5 years. If all goes to plan, we should be well into our cruising life by then! lets keep fingers crossed that this new ruling will become law…