Archive | January, 2016

The Making of a Dream

26 Jan

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This time around, buying a boat is a little more complicated. We had to fly out to Greece from the UAE, as I’ve posted before, just to see her for the first time so we had to be pretty sure of what we wanted before even doing that. This meant Neil had trawled through numerous brokers’ websites, read reviews and so on for some time. I suspect this was a labour of love, though. I’m sure you can picture him sitting in an office in the desert heat of summer and see why a boat had such an appeal. Of such stuff are dreams made.
I was probably the one who had to be convinced. Those few days before Christmas in the Ionian certainly made both of us realise we were ready to head back to Europe. The boat itself, sitting “on the hard”, ie on dry land in a boatyard, did the rest. She’s a Bavaria 33, the same make as our previous boat, but a smaller model being some 7 feet shorter. That doesn’t sound like much but the space has to come from somewhere and the all-important thing was would we be comfortable with how this had been done. And the individual boat had to be up to scratch, of course.
So we made an offer which was accepted and flew back to Abu Dhabi. Now is when it gets more complicated. Dreams come with paperwork. The boat is in Greece but registered in Germany with the boat priced in Euros. We were paying in Sterling and wanted her registered, under a different name, in the UK. But we are not in Greece, Germany or the UK. We are in the Middle East with a postal system which is, shall we say, a bit different. And it was Christmas.
Thank goodness for the wonders of modern technology. The contract was attached to an email, printed, signed subject to survey and posted with fingers crossed to the UK office of the broker, the Greek post leaving a bit to be desired in these impoverished times. The office was shut for the holidays. No worries, though, and sorted in the New Year. We’d spoken to a surveyor while in Greece and now asked him to do his thing, got the report back, ironed out a few queries and gave the broker the thumbs up.
By now it was mid January and, wouldn’t you know it, the currency exchange rate had taken a turn for the worse with stock markets plunging and those guys in the red braces basically saying we had to fork out quite a bit more if we still wanted to go ahead with the purchase. We did. A bit of to-ing and fro-ing between accounts, with banks doing their usual best to stop us getting at our own money, and the boat was paid for.
What remains to be done? She’s on the German ships register and needs to be deregistered from there – that should takes about a week – and then put on the British Small Ships Register in her new name (usually takes about 20 days). Once we have the SSR number, insurance can be sorted more or less immediately and the Title Deeds can be prepared by the broker at the same time. That should take about a week. So in about five weeks we should be the registered owners of S/Y Desert Dream.
Inshallah.

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Dream On

24 Jan

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It looks like we’ve bought a boat.
Really? Really.
Really, really? Well, she’s paid for.
So it really looks like this is going to happen.
A boat. Our boat.

Day of Contrasts

18 Jan

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It can be a bit difficult sometimes to know what to do with guests in Abu Dhabi. Sure there’s the Grand Mosque, the theme parks on Yas, the Corniche and its beaches as well as the beach clubs but when it’s a second visit, well, I thought we might struggle a bit. There were some things we knew would be welcome repeats but anything new deserved a bit of research. Added to this, the weather this January has been a bit temperamental. We’ve had several days of rain, for a start, and 21°C can feel a bit cool in the shade.

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I needn’t have worried, though. Alex is a pretty easy going bloke, happy to go along with suggestions and we seemed to feel the cold far more than he did. I guess when you’re leaving a soggy UK January maybe 21° isn’t so bad. It probably wasn’t the best week for sunbathing but there was still plenty of scope. A rainy day had us nosing around and drinking coffee, complete with gold leaf, at the Emirates Palace. Oh yes, and chocolate lava cake (rolls eyes in rapture at the memory). The same day saw us in Dubai’s Global Village (aka Dubailand according to the road signs) which was, I suspect, a rather different experience in the rain.

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The day that will stay in my memory, though, was a day of complete contrasts. I’d booked a morning “desert safari” after seeing a money off voucher and though it didn’t entirely go to plan (long story complete with missed pick-ups and vehicles stuck in the sand) I finally got to spend some time in the actual desert. OK, so maybe dune bashing isn’t my thing but just to be out in this wilderness, complete with camels, was extraordinary. 

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Another voucher led us to the Donut Boats. These are solar powered, round, yes round, motor boats that meander along at little faster than drifting. After tearing across sand dunes at whiplash-inducing speeds, floating on the flattest of seas among the mangroves couldn’t be more different. We’d bought ourselves a bit of a packed lunch and just put the boat into first gear to eat it as we watched gulls diving into the water for theirs. A gentle sun warmed the skin and herons called to each other from the banks. What could be nicer? You don’t get far but rounding the bend was enough. Just the thing to set you up for a night on the town. And a return to snow and minus 10°.

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Stewpot

10 Jan

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It was with the fleeting sadness that is probably appropriate to the death of someone you never actually knew that I read of Ed “Stewpot” Stewart’s passing. But something has stayed with me all morning. Another part of my childhood has gone.
Before watching “Robinson Crusoe”, “White Horses” (does anyone remember anything other than the theme music?) and “The Banana Splits” on Saturday morning TV, there was Stewpot’s “Junior Choice” on the radio. He was inescapably the voice of the weekend along with those songs deemed suitable for a family audience: Max Bygraves’ “Pink Toothbrush”, Danny Kaye’s “Ugly Duckling” and “Inchworm”, “Nellie the Elephant” (I learnt to do CPR to that rhythm) and, my favourite, “Three Wheels on My Wagon”. Week after week pretty much guaranteed and all very Establishment.
But the times they were a-changing. The unstoppable advance of television brought the anarchic Tiswas to our living rooms. We no longer listened to the radio in the kitchen, mostly entertaining ourselves as Mum pottered about, we were separate, soaking up a culture our parents just didn’t get, a generation being primed for the arrival of Punk. Did Sid Vicious sing along to “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”, I wonder? Now there’s a thought. He’d have been about 10.
In my memory it is an innocent time but, of course, it was anything but, as Operation Yewtree showed only too clearly. Perhaps naive is a better word. Were we the last generation who found it unremarkable to laugh and sing along as a man yelled “Get back in the wagon, woman”? Probably not.
The picture at the top shows Stewart with pictures of The Osmonds and David Cassidy, as well as Mark Bolan and David Bowie but I just don’t associate him with their music. OK, maybe “Puppy Love” but did he really play Ziggy Stardust? I suppose I can imagine him giving T-Rex’s “Ride a White Swan” airtime but “Solid Gold Easy Action”? Oh, no. The Junior Choice I remember was way less cool. Now that really is saying something.