New Project for Us

WILDLING has been sold! The new owner lives in France, so WILDLING will be staying in the Med. We wish the new owner many safe and happy miles of sailing on this exceptional catamaran!

We would like to sincerely thank the team at Grand Large Services, led by Pierre Delhomeau for managing the sale of WILDLING. GLS is a sister company of Outremer Yachting and handles the post-warranty servicing and management of Outremer boats. Pierre managed the entire sales process for us and took excellent care of WILDLING throughout. I was in and out of hospital and physical therapy during most of this, and needed someone I could completely trust to handle the sale. I can’t speak highly enough of Pierre and the GLS team, they are super professional, kept me informed at every step, and went above and beyond to take care of the highly complex process of selling WILDLING. I never imagined selling a boat of this size could be a stress free process, thank you all!

On the personal front, my shoulder is coming along nicely. I’m now at the point where I am beginning to use it again, but I’m still 6 months away from full recovery. It’s a slow and painful process, and requires more patience than I was born with, but I’m starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

We are building a new sailboat to replace WILDLING. Robin and I decided to downsize our next boat, because most of our sailing will be just the two of us, with our kids away at university. We want a boat that is safe, comfortable, capable of crossing oceans, but still fast and able to be sailed single-handed by either of us. After much discussion and research of potential boats, we have chosen an Outremer 4X.

Our 4X is named PUFFIN, after the little sea birds that we love. She is currently under construction at the Outremer factory in La Grande Motte, and will be launched in August this year. We have booked passage on a yacht transport ship to bring PUFFIN from Palma to Brisbane.

We have been working closely with the Outremer team to customize PUFFIN to our needs. The basic 4X design is excellent, so we have focused on some additional weight saving options to make her faster, and a number of sail handling changes to make her easier to sail solo. We have also been able to incorporate some of the construction techniques from the Gunboat line into PUFFIN, which is a great benefit of the same company owning both Outremer and Gunboat and having both construction factories co-located in France.

I will detail all of this and more in our new website and blog. I’ll post a link to the new website as soon as it’s ready. In the meantime, here are some preview photos of PUFFIN under construction.

Outremer 4X, PUFFIN – Hulls and bridge deck
Port hull, looking Aft
Starboard hull, looking forward

Valletta to La Grande Motte

Satellite tracking history of our passage from Malta to La Grande Motte via, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica.

We had an excellent passage from Malta to France. We left Valletta on Thursday morning at 10 am and arrived at La Grande Motte the following Tuesday at 10:30 am, so 5 days at sea without any stops on the way.

Since the forecast was showing a Mistral wind was going to arrive on Wed or Thu, we decided to go non-stop to avoid any chance of having to beat into it. After our previous experience sailing in France in 2016 where we had 55 knot winds from a Mistral, I’m pretty motivated to never do that again if I can avoid it!

The PredictWind weather models showed very light wind for most of the passage, mostly from the northeast, which would mean a lot of upwind sailing and motoring required. Definitely confirms the saying in this area that Med stands for Motoring Every Day! We did manage quite a bit of sailing without the engines though, which was really nice, and the light wind meant calm seas for the most part.

The first part of the passage was all sailing with wind 8-12 knots at 70-80 degrees true. This gave us 7 to 8 knots boat speed close hauled at 40 to 45 degrees apparent. In these conditions we had full main and staysail up and the boat tracks perfectly in this configuration. The helm is well balanced with the autopilot holding the rudder angle between 0 and 1 degrees the whole time.

Once we cleared the southwest corner of Sicily and headed for Sardinia, the wind increased to 15 to 18 knots, which pushed our apparent wind to 20 to 25 knots. There was also one of those awful Mediterranean steep wavy seas against us. These happen frequently in the Med, and when you’re headed upwind you just have to pound through it. I hate these conditions, they make you wish you were anywhere else but suffering the crashing and banging required to make headway. Not only is it uncomfortable as hell, it’s stressful to have the boat crashing down off the wave tops all night. We put in a 2nd reef to keep our speed under 8 knots so the motion was a little better, but it was still a long night.

By the morning of the third day we were closing in on the east coast of Sardinia, and the seas calmed down a lot. The rest of the passage was smooth sailing and really fun. We had light winds forward of the beam most of the way, so we had to motor pretty much all the last 2 days. Wildling is slow under engines, so I never like being forced to motor, but we had to beat the arrival of the Mistral so we couldn’t pull in somewhere and wait for better sailing conditions.

When motoring long distances I always run a single engine at a time at moderate RPM, which for us means one engine at 2,000 RPM. This gives us about 6 knots boat speed. If I run both engines at 2,000 RPM we add about 1 knot of speed, so it’s not worth the extra fuel and engine wear. What I find works best is to keep the sails up while motoring and sail an angle where we can use the apparent wind generated by the boat’s forward motion to get some drive out of the sails. In most cases we can get an extra 1 to 2 knots of speed when motoring by doing this.

About an hour out from La Grande Motte, I called the Outremer folks and Sylvain came and met us as we pulled up to the welcome dock. He then helped us maneuver into one of the catamaran berths in the marina.

My injured shoulder did OK on the passage. I was pretty worried about how we would go, particularly since we don’t have Gavin with us to help with the more physical maneuvers. My shoulder was definitely very painful and pretty much out of action, but a combination of mostly light winds, lots of help from Robin and Lindsay, and our electric winches, allowed the three of us to sail the boat with no problems. Robin and I traded watches during the night and Lindsay did a long watch each morning to give us a chance to catch up on sleep. It worked out really well!

We are in London this week so I can have my shoulder looked at. While we are away the Outremer team is doing some maintenance projects on Wildling, so we will be ready to continue on towards the Canary Islands when we get back. I’m really hoping I won’t need surgery on my shoulder, as that would put me out of action for quite a while. I’ll find out the verdict tomorrow!

ARC, owners groups and Nest video

Update on ARC prep

Following my post last week on our less than stellar compliance with the ARC 2018 entry requirements, I sent a message to the ARC organizers with some questions, but still have received no response. I also posted on the Outremer owners group and within 4 hours I had detailed answers to all my questions about the ARC from both owners that have made the voyage already, and also from people at the Outremer factory.

Here are a few of the items I sorted out this week:

Independent navigation lights: battery powered lights are not accepted by the ARC. A tricolor on a rotating mast is indeed not an option, but a set of portable lights that can be deployed in an emergency and connected to the main battery bank is OK. The solution we are going with, and also adopted by other Outremer owners, is a set of portable rail mounted lights and cables with a 12V lighter plug that can be connected in the cockpit and deployed if needed.

Portable rail mount bracket

LED stern light

The challenge I ran into is finding a strong enough bracket system that can be attached and removed easily. These lights from Signal Mate meet all the Colregs requirements for boats up to 50m and have a good strong bracket for mounting.

Radar Reflector: It turns out that a radar reflector that meets the 10m2 RCS requirement is very large, and mounting the thing on the mast is a complicated affair. ARC will accept the inflatable reflector model from Echomax that easily meets their RCS requirement and can be hoisted on the flag halyard below the spreaders. Although these are not permanently installed units, there are plenty of reports of people leaving them in place for 5+ years without any damage.

Echomax passive reflector

Lifejackets: All the other items on the list were pretty straightforward and I was able to order them all from Force 4 in the UK. For the liejackets, we are going with a Spinlock Deckvest 5D, 170N for each member of our crew. Each vest is fitted with an AIS PLB. Here’s a video demo of the Spinlock Deckvest

Spinlock Deckvest 5D combination lifejacket and harness meets all ARC 2018 requirements

The value of online owners groups

The rapid assistance I received from our owners group this week made me realize yet again just how valuable it is to have this resource. When we owned our Catana 471, I really appreciated the active Catana owners group. There is a wealth of knowledge shared in this group, and as a first time multihull owner I had lots to learn and needed to ask a ton of questions. Although I still made many mistakes, I could always ask the group for help on how to avoid repeating whatever stupid thing I had done. Their assistance definitely improved my experience owning a Catana.

The only negative with the group was that the Catana factory NEVER posted or replied to a single question in the 4 years we were active in the group! My biggest criticism of Catana is that they don’t support their owners online, and it’s the reason I looked elsewhere when buying our next boat.

Outremer takes the opposite approach. They maintain their owners forum and they are very active along with the owners in responding to any questions or problems. It’s very reassuring to have their constant input and feedback on any issues raised, and there’s not a week goes by that I don’t learn something valuable from the Outremer group.

Outremer Owners Group. An active, valuable resource!

Nest video update

It’s been about 9 months now since I installed the Nest cameras on Wildling so we can keep an eye on things when we are away from the boat. I have to say, I’m really impressed. The cameras have been running non-stop the entire time, with zero issues. I just need to top up the Orange 4G modem SIM card once a month, which costs about 10 Euros for all the data I need, and I can check in any time and see what’s happening in Tunisia on the boat.

Here are screen shots from the two cameras that I took this week:

Nest IP camera mounted inside the salon looking forward

Nest IP camera mounted in the salon looking aft into the cockpit


Propeller Replacement Video

This is a video I took in May 2016 when we craned Wildling out of the water to remove the EWOL propellers that were the wrong size for our 5X and causing a huge vibration. We re-installed the original Volvo folding props, and fixed a rudder alignment problem during the liftout. We found the cause of the vibration is that the blade edges were too close to the hull surface, which creates a lot of turbulence and cavitation.  EWOL is working with Outremer to try and find the correct propeller match for the 5X. Until then, we will continue to use our Volvo propellers.

Back to Volvo & Adventures in Corbières

On May 23rd, Outremer had arranged a crane to lift a new 5X into the water, so we were able to take advantage of that to lift Wildling out so we could check to see if the saildrives were damaged when we changed over to the EWOL propellers.

The smaller diameter, replacement EWOL propellers weren’t ready in time for the crane lift, but we decided to lift out anyway because I needed to know if the engines were damaged, and the only alternative was to take the boat over to Canet-en-Roussillon which is a 3 day round trip journey, and a major hassle.

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The lift out was very easy, the guys have done this many times, and you can tell. They have it down to a well organized process. The Volvo engineers came and removed the EWOL propellers, then inspected the drives and used some instruments to measure the  shafts to make sure there were no problems with the bearings or the shaft geometry. Everything checked out fine, so they put the original 4 blade folding Volvo propellers back on.

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Our Volvo props back on and ready for action

As soon as we lifted out we noticed that there was a large misalignment between the two rudders. Since the boat was hauled out the previous month in Canet en Roussillon, the misalignment must have been present at that time, but nobody noticed? In any case, it’s another reminder that you should always be there in person when your boat is being worked on!
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After correcting the alignment of the rudders, we put Wildling back into the water, and the following morning we took her out for a quick test drive to make sure the engines were OK. All the vibration and noise that we had with the EWOL propellers was gone, and our engines were back to their previous smooth and quiet operation. A huge relief, but also a disappointment that our EWOL propeller test didn’t work out as I had hoped.

I discussed next steps with Xavier at Outremer, and we decided to wait until the next scheduled haul out to try the new model EWOL propellers, so we will be using our Volvo props for the rest of this sailing season.

The following Sunday morning, Robin, Gavin, Lindsay and I left La Grande Motte, to sail over to Marseille. I had called the Port Cobières marina the Friday before to make sure they had our place ready, and they told me everything was fine. Turns out, not quite!

We left at sunrise (or at least at the the time of sunrise, because the weather was nasty) in a cold drizzle, with very little wind. The forecast called for 15 to 20 knots from the South West by mid morning, so we hoisted the main and jib, and motor sailed for about an hour until the wind picked up.

After an hour, the wind lifted to around 10 knots, and later built to the foretasted 18 to 22 knots, so we had a beautiful sail over to Marseille, sitting between 10 and 13 knots boat speed. The wind was coming from dead astern of our intended course, so we gybed back and forth the entire way, keeping the boat between 150 degrees and 160 degrees to the true wind. This is a nice point of sail for Wildling, with comfortable motion and decent speeds.

I really like coastal cruising like this when we’re tacking or gybing back and forth along the coast. The only tricky part is to not wait too long to come about when we’re on a course that will intersect the land. It’s deceptive how much ground you cover at over 10 knots and a couple of times, I cut it a bit close!

Robin and Lindsay were not feeling too great on the trip over, so they took some seasickness meds and had a sleep, so I was single handing the whole way. This is when I love the self tacking jib! Gybing the mainsail is easy also, so single handing is pretty simple on Wildling, and for me, it’s a great way to spend a day on the water.

We arrived in Port Corbières just after lunchtime, and went to our designated dock, but there was another boat already there, and no places free! Damn! We ended up tying up to a concrete pier near the public boat ramp just next door. Not very safe, but there were no other choices.

I called the emergency numbers for the port, and a guy came over and found a temporary place for us. Robin and I started over, but just as we were arriving at the new place, another catamaran came in ahead of us and took it! Damn! And then another catamaran came in behind us and took the place on the pier we had just left! So we were stuck, and had to hold position in the channel while we negotiated with the port after hours staff and the other boat to let us take their spot.

After about half and hour, the interloper agreed to move to another spot. He was smaller than us, so he had more options of where to park, so we could finally go in and tie up at the dock. We were positioned at the dock in between two rows of boats, which meant we were blocking 4 other boats from leaving their slips, so not an ideal situation, but OK for the night, and we were told the guy who manages the port would sort it out in the morning.

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Finally tied up in our “temporary” spot in Port Corbières

The next day we met the port manager and he assured us he would find us a place that afternoon. He said the same thing the next day, and the next, and the day after that, but finally he moved the boat out of the place he had assigned us, and we were able to move Wildling into her new home on Saturday morning!

It seems the sense of urgency we are used to doesn’t really exist here. People are pretty laid back, which mostly is a really good thing, but Robin and I were getting pretty anxious by the end of the week, so we’re happy to finally have Wildling tied up in a safe place.

Outremer Cup – Day 3

Day 3 of the Outremer cup was a mixed affair for us, we did really well with our sail handling and maneuvers, and didn’t make any mistakes on the racecourse, but our propeller issues took us completely out of contention for any prizes, which is a real disappointment.

The weather was a lot nicer, sunny, warmer, and winds between 15 and 20 knots, we were sailing with full main and jib, and used the Code-D gennaker on each of our downwind legs. Lindsay and Gavin came along today and we had our same crew from yesterday (François, Bobby, Kent and Belinda), plus Riley and Elayna from Australia, and François’ girlfriend Sara also joined us. Having extra experienced people really helped, and we pulled off all our sail changes, tacks and jibes perfectly! Bravo team Wildling!!!

All in all we had a very nice day on the water, but this propeller issue is really bothering me. What we’re finding with the EWOL propellers that we had installed, is that they are not feathering correctly when the engines are turned off. They are supposed to feather to a flat position that offers very little drag, but this isn’t happening. We had to try several times on each engine to get them to feather at all, and even when they did, they were still spinning under sail. You can feel the vibration of the gears turning slowly in the engine rooms, and there’s a rotating stream of bubbles in the wake of the boat that clearly show the propellers are dragging. The result is like driving a car with the handbrake half on, and it cost us a lot of boat speed.

It’s disappointing, as I know a lot of people are using EWOL propellers and they are working very well, but they are certainly not working on our boat. I’m going to switch back the the Volvos and ask Outremer to fully test to see why the boat speed under motors is so slow with the Volvos. I’m also afraid that the saildrives have been  damaged by the EWOL propellers, the grinding and vibration noises that we get when running the EWOL props are pretty alarming! Hopefully it’s a water turbulence noise, and not a gearbox mechanical noise, but in any case I’m sure Outremer can find out where things stand and get my 5X back to her former speedy self!

Here are some photos Robin took of our day…

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Outremer Cup – Day 2

OMG, sailboat racing is mayhem! Today was my first experience racing a sailboat, and it was pretty crazy! We went out after the briefing to do a timed run and two group races. It was windy, 20-30 knots, and cold! So being a cruiser and not a racer, I wanted to reef the main and sail with just our self tacking jib for a headsail. The timed run was pretty cool, well that is, it was cool until I got too close to a crab pot flag and snagged the pot line with our daggerboard, and we ended up dragging the damn pot for half a mile before we agreed it wasn’t coming off on it’s own, and we had better stop the boat and disengage it. We continued on minus our crab pot, but our timed run was a disaster.

Then the group racing began, this was pretty stressful for me, because there are so many boats going in all directions and coming so close you could reach over and touch them. I nearly had about a dozen heart attacks as we had multiple close encounters! Lucky for me, I had François Tregouet from Outremer with us, so he coached me through the boat dodging process!

We were doing pretty well in the first race, and the wind had dropped below 25 knots, so we got cocky and thought we  would unfurl our Code-D gennaker on the downwind leg. The Code-D worked so well that we immediately accelerated to 17 knots boat speed and nearly ran over the boats in front of us, which required more boat dodging coaching from François! And because we went so fast, we ran out of room and started furling our Code-D too late, and then the furling line got caught up, so we had to continue our downwind leg for an extra mile while we got the Code-D in before we could get back on course and continue the race, so obviously our first race didn’t go as well as we had hoped.

On the final race of the day, we were waiting for the start, and it wasn’t until all the boats began charging for the start line, that we realized we had turned our radio down and missed the starting call. Oops! So we crossed the line dead last, but François had us turn opposite tack on the beat to the windward mark, and we caught up to most of the boats as we rounded the mark. We skipped the Code-D this time and stayed with our reefed main, and jib which wasn’t super fast but at least kept us in the hunt and we crossed the finish line not too far behind the lead group.

So, after a few stiff drinks, and some time to calm down a bit, I would say that while racing is not really my thing, I did learn a lot, and I was really impressed with the other boats and crews out on the water today, these guys know their stuff. Let’s see if we can do a bit better tomorrow!

Here are some photos that Robin took today…

Francois and Robin out on the race course

Francois and Robin out on the race course

Francois giving me some coaching

Francois giving me some coaching

Nice and close!

Nice and close!



Adjusting the traveler

Adjusting the traveler

Steady there big fella!

Steady there big fella!

In the groove!

In the groove!

Downwind leg

Downwind leg

Our very excellent crew!

Our very excellent crew! Back row Francois, Bobby and Kent, front row Me, Robin and Belinda




Rigging the Code-D gennaker

Turns out that Code-D really works!

This Code-D thingy really works!

Outremer Cup – Day 1

The annual Outremer owners regatta began today in La Grande Motte France, with a friendly prologue event where all the boats went out together for a social sail. We all took along passengers that mostly consisted of people that work at Outremer and their families. We owe these folks a lot for all the care and skill they put into building our boats, and it was a pleasure to be able to go sailing with them!

The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm with about 10 knots of wind. Here are a few photos…


Leaving port

Gavin getting the mainsail ready to hoist

Gavin getting the mainsail ready to hoist

Off we go!

Off we go!





A fleet of Outremers beautiful!

A fleet of Outremers, beautiful!

Robin and me loving being back on Wildling again!

Me and Robin loving being back on Wildling again!



Thanks everyone who came out with us today on Wildling!

Thanks everyone who came sailing with us today on Wildling!

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.