Meanwhile, in France…

It’s been a while since I posted, and mainly because we have been busy with work and getting our family established in Aix-en-Provence (near Marseille). Things are going well on both fronts, but it has been a bit crazy.

We spent some time at the Multihull boatshow in La Grande Motte, which was good, but I found out later that I missed out on seeing this amazing catamaran!!!! If we ever feel like Wildling is too small or too slow, I’m going to try and convince Robin we need one of these!

Outremer had quite a few boats on display at the show, including the new 4X, which is a performance version of the Outremer 45. They added carbon and changed the ratio of solid layup to foam sandwich in the hulls to remove weight, increased the power of the headsails and extended the transoms to increase waterline length. The 4X is now 47 feet long, faster than the 45 but still as seaworthy.

Also at the show was a new foredeck canopy manufactured by Delta-Voiles and on display on one of the new 5X boats. Great idea, especially at anchor in the tropics, we’re going to order one of these for Wildling.

This new canopy is made by Delta-Voiles in France for the Outremer 5X, great idea!

This foredeck canopy is made by Delta-Voiles in France for the Outremer 5X, great idea!

In between boatshows and starting new schools for the kids, we caught up with our friends in Marseille, who as usual blew us away with their seemingly endless supply of excellent wine, we loved this one!

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We’ve had some issues with our B&G instruments lately, I’m starting to worry a bit about our decision to go with B&G, as I’m not sure the reliability of the new H5000 equipment is as good as the older Hydra systems we had on our last boat, that were rock solid the entire time we owned it.

In the last three weeks, we had to replace the masthead sensor unit because we lost our wind direction information. Then we had a problem with the main chartplotter not retaining the configuration for the boat speed sensor, so we had no boat speed information. It seems this was an issue that occurred when the system software was updated. And this week, the sea water temperature went haywire, so we are going to have to replace the water temperature sensor. I hope we can get these systems stabilized soon!

I promise you the water temperature in the Med is a lot less than 49 degrees Celsius right now!

I promise you the water temperature in the Med is a lot less than 49 degrees Celsius right now!

The biggest headache we have had to deal with since arriving in France was to find a marina berth for Wildling closer to where we are living. I called nearly every marina between Marseille and Nice and nobody had any room for us. We owe a huge thanks to François from Outremer for recommending we try Port Corbières just west of Marseille, I called them and they found us a place, so we are all set! We visited the Port today and it’s a really nice and very well equipped marina, and it’s only 25 minutes drive from where we are living in Aix-en-Provence. Marseille is also a great base to keep the boat. There are lost of good cruising locations nearby and it’s a good departure point for Corsica and Sardinia, which is where we are planning on cruising this summer.

Wildling's new parking place in Port Corbières.

Wildling’s new parking place in Port Corbières.

Looking east from the dock, there's an excellent view of Marseille

Looking east from the dock, there’s a nice view of the city of Marseille.

I also talked with Sergio from EWOL today about our new, smaller diameter propellers. They are going to be ready in about two more weeks, so we will probably install them after we move Wildling over to the new marina, sometime after the Outremer Cup which is taking place next week in La Grande Motte.

Although we have been busy, we are still finding time to enjoy life in France!

Don’t worry, although we have been busy, we are still finding time to enjoy life in France!

Back to France

We’re on our way back to France! Our first stop is La Grande Motte, to get back to Wildling and catch the International Multihull Boat Show for a couple of days. I have a work assignment in Europe for a while, so we decided to enroll Gavin and Lindsay at the International School in Aix-En-Provence so they can continue their studies, and improve their French while we are staying in Europe.

April also marks the beginning of the sailing season in the Med, and we are very much looking forward to doing a lot of sailing this year. I’ll post more info on our travels as we go along. We will be starting things off with the Outremer Cup, which is being held in La Grande Motte on May 6-8. François Trégouet from Outremer has agreed to skipper Wildling for us, as I am no racing sailor, and he has a lot of ocean racing experience. We also have some room on Wildling if any of our blog readers will be in the area and would like to come along. Please contact me and I’ll see what I can arrange.

Stéphane from Outremer is currently bringing Wildling back from Canet-En-Rousillon where she was hauled out to have new bottom paint applied, and to have the annual saildrive service done. They also installed the new EWOL propellers that I wrote about in this post, and I am anxious to find out if the EWOL props will give us some improvement in motoring and sailing performance. Wildling should be back home again by the time we arrive on Tuesday morning.

What’s cool at Boot Dusseldorf

I’ve been hearing about it for years, but had never seen it for myself. As unlikely as it sounds, the world’s largest boat show is actually in Dusseldorf Germany, 100s of kilometers from the sea, in the middle of winter! I visited the show this year and wore out a good amount of my shoe soles visiting each of the 17 halls of this massive exposition, which includes just about everything you can do in, on and under the sea.

Here are some of the things I found that I thought were particularly cool:

The Outremer folks were there, although, unlike Lagoon they didn't bring any boats.

The Outremer folks were there, and although they didn’t bring any boats, they did have their cool, new, virtual reality theater running. With this you can walk around a model of a boat to see it from outside and inside, and you can also become a passenger on a 5X under sail. Definitely a cool experience!

Hybrid SUPs

These Hybrid Stand Up Paddleboards that have a sail attachment to convert to a windsurf board were really nice. Not only are they inflatable, so easy to store on a cruising sailboat, but their ability to be used as a regular SUP and also a windsurfer, makes them a really versatile water toy when at anchor!

The best Man Overboard device I have seen is this Jon Buoy

The best Man Overboard device I have seen is this Jon Buoy from Ocean safety. Not only is it really easy to spot from a distance, but it’s actually a mini, 1, person liferaft that you can climb into while waiting to be rescued. To deploy, you throw the rail mounted canister overboard and the whole thing self inflates when it hits the water.

Inside the Jon Buoy, there's room for 1 person, and it has an attached PLB beacon. The system includes an integrated harness with a lifting strap to attach a carribiner

Inside the Jon Buoy, there’s room for 1 person, and an attached PLB beacon. The system includes an integrated harness with a lifting strap to help lift the raft onto the rescue vessel.

Lagoon where at the show with two of their new model boats

Lagoon was at the show with two of their new model boats, the 42 (in the photo) and the 450S. And while I don’t think their boats are that great, their ability to get them inside an expo hall in Dusseldorf is definitely cool!

This little device will pull you along underwater at high speed and is very maneuverable, for the ultimate human-dolphin experience!

This little device will pull you along underwater at high speed and is very maneuverable, for the ultimate human-dolphin experience!

More and more sailors are using drones for filming, but there are a lot of casualties

A lot of sailors are using drones for filming, but there are also a lot of drone casualties due to unintended water landings! The folks at Splash-Drone are making a waterproof drone that can not only survive a water landing, but can also take off from the water surface!

EWOL propellers is a company in Italy that is specializing in

EWOL propellers is a company in Italy that is specializing in high thrust, low drag propellers for catamarans. They use an ingenious 180 degree rotation design, along with a very low drag sailing mode for their propellers. I’ve been researching these for a few months now, because our motoring speeds on Wildling are a bit weak. The boats that have switched to EWOL props have reported anywhere from 10% to 50% increase in speed. This photo shows the propeller in forward thrust position.

Propeller in sailing position

Here’s the propeller in sailing position. The blades rotate straight, so there is very little drag compared to a standard folding propeller.

Here's the propeller in reverse

Here’s the propeller in reverse thrust position. The blades rotate almost 180 degrees from the forward position. When you compare this to the first photo you can see that the blade profile is very close to the forward position but with a reversed angle of attack. This gives a high reverse thrust compared to a standard folding prop, that just spins backwards with the same blade angle as in forwards.

When we ordered Wildling, I was disappointed to learn that Outremer was no longer offering flexible

When we ordered Wildling, I was disappointed to learn that Outremer was no longer offering flexible, bimini roof mounted solar panels because they have had too many reliability problems with the panels they were using in the past. The folks at SunWare in Germany have been making their flexible panels since 1987 and believe they have perfected the art of building an electrically efficient panel that can withstand the rigors of long term cruising and high use. They are the suppliers to Leopard Catamarans, among others and have experienced almost 0 failures of the panel systems. I’ll be looking to add a few hundred more Watts to Wildling before we cross the Atlantic next year.

Here's the state of the art in dive masks

Here’s the state of the art in dive masks. The full-face design eliminates fogging because the regulator is built-in, and produces an airflow over the mask lens surface. It allows for underwater communications by connecting to an integrated 2-way radio system, and the visibility is supposedly better than a standard mask. I was curious about how to equalize pressure because you can’t squeeze your nose like a regular mask. The OceanReef guy explained that they use an adjustable nose pad system that allows you to press you nostrils closed by pushing on the top front surface of the mask when you need to equalize, but breathe normally through your nose the rest of the time. Very cool indeed!

The final stopoff on my tour of the show, was the Montenegro tourism booths to find out about marina logistics in that country. Because foreign flagged vessels only have an 18month visa for cruising inside the EU, we have to find a non-EU location to exit in order to restart our visa clock. The traditional choices of north Africa are too unstable these days, and even Turkey is becoming a concern, so I though Montenegro might be worth a look. In addition to their existing marinas, there are several new marinas under construction that should be completed this summer, and there are also some yacht management companies that will help with booking logistics and taking care of your boat while you are away.

We will need to exit at the end of this summer, so I’ll continue to research this and report back on what we decide to do.

Back to Wildling!

The wait is almost over, and we will be back on-board Wildling next week for a mini-voyage during the kid’s Autumn school vacation. This time we are planning to sail to the Balearic Islands of Majorca and Ibiza, then following the east coast of Spain northwards back to France.

In the meantime, Wildling has been representing Outremer at the Cannes boat show, under the watchful eyes of François and Jean-Pierre. She will be back in La Grande Motte this week, and should be all ready for us to leave for Majorca when we arrive on Wednesday.

Here are some photos that Matthieu took of Wildling at the Cannes Yachting Festival on September 12th.

Wildling at Yachting Festival de Cannes

Wildling at Yachting Festival de Cannes

Wildling at Yachting Festival de Cannes

Wildling at Yachting Festival de Cannes

Sanctuary Cove

Tag 60 at Sanctuary Cove, Queensland

Tag 60 at Sanctuary Cove, Queensland

Since Wildling isn’t quite ready for us yet, we decided to get our catamaran fix at the Sanctuary Cove boat show on the Queensland Gold Coast last weekend. It was great to see the new Tag 60 and Catana 59 in Australia, and we were able to spend some time on board and chat with the founder and designer of Tag Yachts.

It’s also interesting to see the different directions the catamaran builders are taking with their latest designs. Here’s a summary of impressions we had when we toured the new boats:

Tag 60

It’s hard to compare the Tag 60 to any other catamaran we’ve seen. It’s also hard to figure out what the design objectives were for this boat. It is certainly beautifully made, and very high tech, with all carbon fiber construction and sail controls operated by electronic joysticks driving hydraulic actuators. The living spaces were designed to separate the sailing operations from the living areas as much as possible, with the two outboard helm stations and the interior nav station / bridge deck being separated from the living areas by walls and bulkheads. I got the feel that this boat was designed so that professional crew could operate it, and not get in the way of the guests onboard, which is certainly an advantage for owners that don’t want to be involved in sailing. The Tag founder, told us that he designed the boat to be the ultimate round the world cruiser for a shorthanded couple. The technology on the boat would certainly allow for this objective, but there’s also a lot of complicated systems that could go wrong and require considerable expertise to fix. That said, it is great to see so much out of the box, creative design thinking in a modern catamaran.

Catana 59

Catana is continuing down their path of building luxury catamarans that are fun to sail, but not as high performance as their earlier designs. They seem to be targeting buyers looking at Lagoon and Leopard catamarans, that have lots of interior space, with big decks for carrying passengers and charter guests. Catana differentiates from Lagoon by offering a more luxurious interior, and better sailing abilities, but still nowhere near the sailing performance of Outremer, Tag and Gunboat.

Catana 59

The Catana 59 is a BIG boat! Much larger and heavier than the Tag and 5X, but also with a lot more interior room.


The new Lagoon boats are much the same as in previous years, with their huge living areas, and high flybridges, that elevate the boom to a point where the mainsail seems a bit of an afterthought. They give the impression of a motor sailor, rather than a true sailboat, and given the number of Lagoons sold into the charter fleets, where they spend a lot of their lives motoring from place to place, this makes a lot of sense.

Lagoon 56

Lagoon 56

It is interesting to note that Lagoon will start offering a SportTop option without the flybridge, presumably in an attempt to attract buyer’s considering the higher performance Catanas.


Unfortunately there are no current model Outremer catamarans in Australia right now, so no Outremer boats at the show this year. Even so, I thought it worth noting the differences between the 5X and the other 59+ foot boats we saw. The 5X is smaller inside, in fact it feels more like our previous Catana 471 with a larger salon and more headroom, and a lot more waterline length. The 5X is ideal for a family of 4, whereas the Catana and Lagoon can carry more people and gear, although they do give up a lot of speed and ease of sail handling versus the 5X.


Our biggest accomplishment at the show was meeting Angela from ANALU Italian Linens. We were hoping to find a company that could make all of our bed and bathroom linens for Wildling in the colors and sizes that we needed, and ANALU was a great find. We spent over an hour with Angela from their Sydney showroom selecting all the fabric styles, colors and logo placements. Because all of the linens are made in Italy, they will deliver them directly to the Outremer factory in France for us, which saves a lot of time and hassle.