We just killed two birds with one stone! As we were negotiating to obtain insurance coverage for Oxalis Borealis, it became clear that our intensive training could not compensate for our lack of offshore experience. In parallel, we were looking for an excuse to go visit the shipyard in France and see our boat under construction. Therefore, when the occasion presented itself to cross the North Atlantic on a catamaran similar to our own, with its destination in Brittany a short drive away from the Nautitech shipyard, we jumped on the opportunity. In addition, Isabelle’s brother joined us, so we could have a third member of the family with offshore experience.
All that came from the difficulty to find an insurer that would cover us adequately to cross the Atlantic towards the Caribbean this fall. Initially, they were requesting four additional people on our boat with previous offshore experience for the Canaries – Martinique crossing. Three beds for 6 people for three weeks on a small boat, I don’t think so… That actually sounded like an additional level of risk for us if not for the insurer. All this may be complicated by the fact that offshore insurance is not exactly easy to find in Canada. European insurers, who are historically more experienced in this domain, are not allowed to insure non-EU boats anymore… And although there is somewhat more choice in the United States, we chose to deal with a local Canadian broker, at least initially.
So, 13 days and 1200 nautical miles later, we can attest that this new experience will be invaluable in feeling more comfortable with our own boat in addition to becoming a bit more desirable for insurers.
We learned a few lessons on the way. I thought I was immunized against seasickness, and Isabelle was worried about her own occasional bouts of seasickness; we now know what it is (it’s bad!), and more importantly that it does go away after a day or so. We appreciated having an experienced skipper next to us as we went through the shock and awe of a catamaran banging into the waves and rocking in the swell; we would have been seriously wondering about the integrity of our boat if we heard such noises and vibrations without previous experience. We also will be much more comfortable establishing the routine for multi-day crossings on Oxalis Borealis, especially when it comes to travelling into busy cargo and fishing areas which can be quite intimidating at first. We’ve seen a multitude of dolphins, some of them clearly looking at us and playing under our eyes and we had numerous whale sightings. After the initial seasickness that made us question our choice, we now can confirm that this is the life that we are looking for.
Our sincere appreciation goes to Jean-Luc Bourret, an experienced French skipper, and his boat “Motu”, an original Nautitech 40 from 2003 (hull #1!), for taking us onboard for their crossing from Ponta Delgada, Azores to Le Croisic, France. We also found a true friend in Willy, the other French member of the crew who accepted to be swamped with three French Canadians for almost two weeks.
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