I've had my Fairline Targa 40 for three seasons now, all based at Brighton. I love the boat and our first season on her was fab; the high point was probably a lovely September day when we decided to turn right out of the marina and see how far we could get - and the result was Dartmouth (trip report and videos here).
Second season, 2010, was ok although the patchy UK weather kept getting in the way. We still managed a few good trips though, and the highlight of the year was definitely our cruise in company with Illusion of this forum (dolphin report and wobbly video here).
But 2011 was rubbish; the decent weather only turned up in April (when we were away) and in October; for the rest of the summer we just didn't seem to get the opportunities. For a while now the idea of trying a med season has been in the back of my mind, and at the end of the 2011 season I asked the forum for opinions on the best small boat for the med. The consensus seemed to be to keep the boat you know, and mod it for the med - rather than having a wholesale change to a boat you don't know, with potential probs you don't yet know about, in a location you don't know. Fair enough.
So in November I headed down to Antibes in the south of France to do a bit of work, and to have a look at a couple of berths. It seems that the berth situation in the SoF is a bit different to what we're used to in the UK - here, you get an annual contract with a marina which gives you a berth with security of tenure for the period of the contract. When you want to go off on a trip, marina hopping is pretty easy, you can usually get a space, and it's all straightforward and transparent.
Down in SoF the marina berths seem to be mostly privately owned, and so if you rent you are largely at the whim of the owner and/or the capitanerie. This means that if you are unlucky you can find yourself suddenly without a berth in the high season with just a few weeks notice - ie it appears that there's no security of tenure. (However, bear in mind that I am a complete novice to the SoF scene so I could be very wrong about all this...). If you want security - then buy a lease. Taking Port Vauban in Antibes as an example - a lease expiring at the end of 2021 for a 15m x 5m berth might typically have an asking price of say e250k, plus annual service charge to the port of say e3k - so a crude total of about e28k pa. If you can get a rental, then for the same sized berth you might be looking at about e18k pa all in. From a simple financial perspective (and ignoring the point about security of tenure) then renting seems to be significantly more attractive than buying a lease.
Anyway, back to the story: I had a look at a couple of berths for sale in Port Vauban, but the numbers didn't really work, and I didn't particularly like the location of the specific berths. Mole Sud in PV is the prime location, but my 12m Fairline Targa is a bit too, ahem, modest to live there without appearing to be somebodies tender...
Then I got a wholly unexpected PM regarding a rental berth that was available in Port de la Rague, which is between Mandelieu and Theoule Sur Mer. I'd never been to the port before, so I hopped on the train to have a look - and it is lovely. We have friends in Mandelieu, so it all looked promising. All I needed now was swmbo's approval and I could get things moving. A couple of days later she turned up, had a look, liked it - and the deal was done.
Next thing was to work out what the boat would need to make it ready for the SoF. This is my to-do list:
- engine and leg service
- antifoul and polish
- install air conditioning
- install underwater lights (once you've seen them in action in med seas you'll know why)
- increase the length of the anchor chain
- reupholster the sunpad on the garage and the coachroof cushions
- organise transport for the boat
- buy a load of flights
I'm a bit wary of lifting the boat, doing a load of work below the waterline, and then not putting it back in the water until it is several hundred miles away. So what I've decided to do is lift it, do the servicing, aircon and underwater lights, put it back in the water here in the UK for a couple of weeks and try everything out properly, then lift it again, do the antifoul and cosmetics, and then get it on to transport and away.
First part of the plan was to line up all the suppliers. We have an excellent relationship with RK Marine at the top of the Hamble, so they were the obvious choice for the servicing work. After a bit of research at the boat show, we did a show deal on an aircon system from Dometic, who recommended Seacraft Marine for the installation. Underwater lights have to be Lumishore. C&J Marine came and had a look at the boat in Brighton and with a bit of luck (they haven't confirmed this yet) they'll be doing the sunpads and some other upholstery changes.
Fairline Southampton have been relentlessly helpful, as they have throughout my ownership of the boat. They'll be assisting with the prep of the boat for trucking, and they've recommended Coast to Coast for the transport.
So the first step on the road to the Med is to say goodbye to Brighton, and move the boat to Swanwick so that all the prep work can be carried out. I spoke to the marina office at Brighton, who were incredibly helpful. It turns out that Premier have relaxed their visitor night policy - so now you get 42 visitor nights which you can use without restriction in any other Premier marina, subject availability. So to move the boat to Swanwick for a few weeks to get all the work done was going to cost me ... nothing. I'll just use my visitor nights.
In terms of timings, I thought that I'd need a couple of weeks in Swanwick for the servicing works, a couple of weeks back in the water to try things out, and a week or so for the cosmetics. Allowing for some contingency time, and a bit of flexibility with the transport company, this meant that the boat would need to move to Swanwick from Brighton during the last week of January if I'm going to have a reasonable chance of getting her in commission in La Rague by say the end of March, ready for the season.
So a couple of days ago, it all began: this is Vega on her berth at Brighton on Friday, about an hour before I left:
And this is where I hope to end up. This is Port de la Rague:
So, this is it. We're off! Wish us luck...