Jackie Parry – author


An Englishman, Irishman, and Australian were at a market….

We are loving Buzet sur Baise. We’ve perfect autumn weather, a safe and quiet port, nice friends just down the road, all within a wonderful quaint village.

With one week of good weather forecast, Noel and I are busily painting the top sides of Rouge Corsair. It’s so easy to forget how hard painting is, this morning every part of my body aches, including my fingers!

Sunday morning we took a break and cycled 5 kilometres (uphill) to a vide-greniers (garage sale). Although it was more like a huge market with just about everything you could ever want – good stuff too.

Image courtesy of federico stevanin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of federico stevanin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Within the bustling, friendly market we met, an Australian, an Irishman and an Englishman, who have invited Noel to play cricket, tennis and go cycling. Noel thought this was rather nice, but did wonder, ‘can’t we just sit under the shade of a tree and drink beer?’

Image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chestnuts! Image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While Noel tried to convince the locals that beer, shade and trees, really was the way to go, I had great fun searching for rugs to insulate our floor for the coming winter, some blankets and bits and pieces. We had great fun with Lorna and Kim from MV Sunflower and a great giggle coming home – thankfully it was downhill!

3 rugs on the back of Noel's bike, our work-mate bench in Kim's basket (as well as their stuff) - I had a full back-pack and panniers (as did Noel!)

3 rugs on the back of Noel’s bike, our work-mate bench in Kim’s basket (as well as their stuff) – I had a full back-pack and panniers (as did Noel!)

To find out about the calendar of garage sales, flea markets and flea markets of France, Switzerland and Belgium, dial up: http://vide-greniers.org/

And if ‘coins’ are your thing, look up Richard Lytton. He is a numistatist (and a rather nice chap), www.gascogne-monnaie.com (Australian and world coins).

Kim and his  (and our) 'load'!

Kim and his (and our) ‘load’!


Journey Reflections as the page turns to the next chapter…..

As we approach our winter mooring, we’re starting to focus on the next part of our adventure, and look back at what we’ve achieved so far. The journey has been a pleasure and, conversely, a bit like a Carry-On film too. After the ‘challenges’ of buying a boat in a country where we don’t speak the language, we are now reaping the rewards.

First: The challenges Hauling-out, survey and work in a foreign place, with an angry broker (the sellers’ broker) as the sellers had accepted our low offer (our fault?) – AND, secret ‘meetings’ between the yard and previous owners, where we could never figure out what was going on and always felt like we were being led up the garden path to rip-off-land – made a rather stressful time. But, it all worked out in the end – and rather well!


After we’d traversed the buying process, in order to get going Noel spent two-and-a-half days bent over like a crone in the engine room, he fixed umpteen leaks in the wheelhouse windows and we painted a 18.5 metre boat (“why’d you buy something so big?”) – hanging up-side-down to reach the hull or balancing in the leaking dinghy.

Jackie painting (cutting in - NOT fun!)

Jackie painting (cutting in – NOT fun!)

Meanwhile, a cat adopted us, which was nice until we found out she had at least one other home. We tried to convince the cat to go home and stopped feeding her, but there was a bountiful supply of field mice. The cat stayed and continued to leave a trail of gall bladders on the carpet and mats to denote her preferred nocturnal eating spots.

Lily sleeping!

Lily sleeping!

When we set off, we tackled low bridges that caused palpitations. We fudged the drawing of the bridge curves, guessing the water height (after flood rains), and we considered several alternate suggestions from other nomadic-brained cruising folk, such as ourselves:

  1. Load up the boat with passers-by at the feared bridges, offer free beer as an enticement.
  2. Get close to the bridge and ‘GUN-IT-MATE’, which would indeed lower the roof height, as these barges do sink considerably at speed in shallow water (about 3″- 4″)

The problem with these ideas was:

  1. How do I overcome Noel’s inherited Scottish antipathy to providing ‘free beer’?
  2. We didn’t think we had the bottle to approach the offending 200 year old stone arches with 25 tonnes at 6 knots. “What could go wrong?”

We took a day off prior to tackling the low bridges, we had flood rain that night that really ensured the adrenaline reached peak levels…. with clenched teeth and other body parts…we made it – just.



We made good time south and Noel swam in The Med, he said, “It was very nice, no surf, dead flat and I managed to avoid impaling my feet on the broken glass and syringes.” (I have trouble swimming in the sea, since my shark encounter…another story for another day!)

More recently, we have sacked the planning staff on board that we used on the current co-ordination of events. (Fancy coming so far south for warmer climes to head north again!) There are vacancies in the afore mentioned position. So far, no takers.

Now: The Rewards Each day we trickle along, accompanied by the ripple from our bow. Otters ruffle the silky surface, my favourites, the Kingfishers, flash bright blue and vivid orange within the canal’s banks.

The rewards!

The rewards! Pommevic put on a marvellous display of pink and yellow this morning – (see map below).

It’s a real feast for our eyes, as we putter through villages, rolling hills, and resplendent trees where horses frolic. The relaxed way of travel heightens our senses, the breeze picks up the tangy perfume of autumn, and in the evenings iridescent dragonflies flit in the fading light.

We hear the throaty calls of the dawn chorus, eerily hidden by heavy mist. We are enjoying the cool nights where we feel the pleasure of wearing warm clothes.

Puttering through pretty villages.

Puttering through pretty villages – Moissac.

We’re no longer sailing but we’re still weather watching. Wind is still to be respected and, now, rain too.

The journey is becoming etched on our skin, by way of smiles; created by new friends, passing acquaintances, helpful locals and friendly waves.

It’s been an honour to do this journey and we’re having the time of our lives. It’s all there for the taking, just waiting for us and anyone with a sense of adventure.

The next part of the adventure We plan to renovate below decks and enjoy living in a small, friendly village, Buzet sur Baise. It’s here we’ll re-acquaint with friends that we’ve made along the way, and hopefully make new friends (while creating a nice home too).


Pommevic is gorgeous – free, safe mooring with electric and water (48 hrs maximum) – so nice, we stayed today!




It smells different here

We’re in south France. Rouge Corsair is galloping along and we can’t quite believe we are down near the Med already.

Gallician - moored on the bank, just a short stroll from the pretty village.

Gallician – moored on the bank, just a short stroll from the pretty village.

It smells different here. The salt air is refreshing, the Medittranean breeze is cooling. The dry grass is a contrast to the lush paddocks that we saw in the middle of France, but the harshness of the land reminds us of Australia – where things sting and stick-in you!

Gallician location

Gallician location – on the Canal du Rhone a Sete

We’ve made good time, enjoying the scenery pass us by is a heavenly way of viewing France. The friendly waves, the great (free) tie up places and the fun boat people from all over the world keep us smiling all day.

We love not having a car to worry about and pay for. Freedom is a moving boat and two bicycles.

Work doesn't stop for boats, we all had to squeeze between the floating bollards and the crane!

Work doesn’t stop for boats, we all had to squeeze between the floating bollards and the crane!

The midi is approaching and that’ll be breaking new ground for us.

Approaching the lakes.

Approaching the lakes.


The Battle of the B Words – “On Guard!”

They aren’t swear words. But Noel has his, and I have mine.

They are our verbal duelling swords. Each is sharp and effective at putting a shiver of fear up each others’ spine.

It’s a new tactic for Noel. Whenever I say, “I have an idea.” He stuffs his fingers right in to his ears and sings as loudly as he can, until I get the hump and say, rather sulkily, “Right, I’m not telling you now.” Which is, of course, his desired effect.

Don't let the innocent face fool you!

Don’t let the innocent face fool you!

So, in addition to this tactic, whenever I mention my B word, he slinks off and starts researching his B word.

Have you guessed them yet? Mine is Books and his is Boats!


Image courtesy of Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was talking about more book ideas yesterday, Noel went very quiet and I caught him looking up sailboats for sale!!

All I can say is, “On Guard!”

The evidence!

The evidence!


Top Ten Tips for buying a boat (+ 5 bonus tips!)

1) Research research, research

With 50 years combined professional and personal knowledge and thousands of ocean miles, we still spent two years searching on the internet  (while working on shore) before viewing boats (in San Francisco) and purchasing our second boat, Pyewacket II. Join groups in FB, cruising web-pages and read blogs that are relevant to your situation – ask questions, keep asking questions. Read, read, read.

Research, read, research and don’t stop!

2) Which material?/ What size.

Already discussed in previous articles. See here.

But, usually, the longer the boat the more cost involved, more antifoul, heavier/longer rigging., etc, but with care & knowledge it doesn’t have to be too much more. Owning and maintaining a boat that is already in a seaworthy condition is pretty much a full time job. If you want to go cruising sooner rather than later, you do not have time for a major fixer-upper.

How much work do you want to do before you GO cruising?

How much work do you want to do before you GO cruising?

3) Is it better to buy a boat from a broker or privately?

You may not have a choice. We purchased both our boats privately and sold them privately too. In the past, we thought that brokers charged too much for their service. However, we sold our friends’ sailboat on their behalf and quickly found out that doing a good job of selling a boat is an incredible amount of work. If the boat you want is for sale via a broker, do some research on the broker – be prepared. But, try to form your own opinions on the broker and remember when you are buying, the broker will be looking out for the seller (who is employing him). If you are buying privately carry out relevant checks (see below).

4) If a boat seems cheap, ask yourself why?

Is it just circumstance? Is it the market? Or is there a problem that needs addressing. Keep this in mind when viewing.

5) Verification of details

If you are buying a boat, research and verification of all the detail is extremely important and if it is all new to you, ask a friend who has some knowledge to help. If you are buying privately, we recommend that you hire the services of professional document advisers/escrow agent.


  • What equipment is being left on board
  • Who is paying for what during survey (paint, additional work that is necessary while on the hard) – make sure this is ALL clear
  • There is no money owing on the boat
  • The owners ARE the owners
  • Timeline for everything to happen succinctly (booking haul, surveyor out etc)
  • Can you have your deposit returned at survey stage if you are not happy for any reason?

6) How do you view a boat?

We viewed many boats and we were always startled by so many differences.

  • There is never a foolish question, Ask, ask, ask – research, research, research.
  • Check everything works
  • Start the engine, watch it working
  • Try the bed, enough room for you?
  • Stand at the sink – are you comfortable?
  • Find the reason why there is oil under the engine or water in the bilge.
  • Do the heads flush properly?
  • Sample the water on board, it is a good indication of the state of the tanks.
  • It is imperative that you choose your own surveyor

Is it seaworthy?

7) Technical specs

Ask lots of questions about the boat. Some of the most important things to know are:

  • Its condition, is it seaworthy?
  • The length over all (LOA)
  • Displacement (weight)
  • Draft (how deep the water must be in order to sail)
  • Age of the vessel
  • Number and types of sails on board
  • Be sure to ask if there’s any equipment that is presently on the boat that will be removed by the owner prior to the sale. For example, some owners will remove electronics like televisions, GPS systems, and even radios.
  • How regularly are the batteries charged/maintained
  • Is there a maintenance log book available for the engine?
  • At survey, you could have an engine oil analysis done (if available).

8) How many viewings? A test sail?

We always arranged a second and third visit to boats that interested us. You must spend time on board, you are not wasting people’s time if you are genuinely interested in the vessel. If we felt rushed when looking at a boat (or were constantly distracted by the broker/seller) – we viewed this as a red flag and thought there were problems that were being hidden. When we purchased our boats and when we sold our boats, the agreement was:

  • A test sail was arranged after the deposit was received (usually 10%)
  • The deposit was refundable if the test sail didn’t ‘work’(!)
  • The deposit is a good faith payment that helps filter out time-wasters wanting a day on the water
  • The deposit made the potential purchaser responsible, not so gung-ho!

9) Keep Track

If you are viewing several boats, take pictures of each. Start with the name and a full picture, then take pictures as you go through the vessel, otherwise they will all blend in to one. An organised notebook helps too. Jot down what you liked and disliked for later reference.

Finalise the test sail detail prior to going... how long, how far, deposit?

Finalise the test sail detail prior to going… how long, how far, deposit?

10) Buying the right boat

Try to restrain your emotions. While you should listen to your heart, you must follow up with your brain and acquired knowledge or your bank balance could get hurt and your safety may be compromised. Do thorough research. However, eventually your emotions will play a part.

Be broadminded and prepared to look at something you hadn’t considered previously. We started looking for something in the mid 40ft range and ended up with a 51 footer.

Cost considerations should span out to marinas or moorings. Do some research on this if you are interested in a boat in a specific area. You will need to haul it out for a survey (at your expense). It is quite likely you will have to update safety equipment: Fire extinguishers, EPRIBs, safety equipment, life jackets etc.,

Don’t forget registration will have to be transferred, this can be a sizeable expense at times.

11) Surveyor

We had all our boats surveyed. A surveyor will help verify the value of the boat and the potential expense involved in any restoration. AND highlight problems.

12) International purchase

If you are purchasing a boat in another country, research the import duty for taking it home and any tax implications in the country you purchased the boat.

13) Make an offer

Brokers will pass on any offer, it is not up to them to turn it down, they are obliged to pass it on. Put a value (you know what it is with all your research, and start low. You can go up, but not down!) The process is similar to buying a house.

Haul out and surveyor is usually at buyers cost.

Haul out and surveyor is usually at buyers cost.

14) Checks!

Check and double-check all paperwork, official numbers, licences etc. Make sure each engraved or painted-on registration number matches the paperwork.

15) Lastly

Don’t forget that boats can vary wildly – an acceptable 34 footer in one design may be too small in another design… good luck!

If you haul out for survey (and all goes well), you may as well anti-foul while you are there.

If you haul out for survey (and all goes well), you may as well anti-foul while you are there.

See our books Cruisers’ AA (accumulated acumen) for over 1,800 tips, tricks, ideas and advice on living on board.

And –coming soon– Of Foreign Build…… From Corporate Girl to Sea Gypsy Woman…. following the links above.