So the search for a comfortable, safe, affordable yacht had to continue. Next, Dominik came up with some more boats, among them an Amel Santorin and a Sunbeam 44. Both in Italy, both in the Adriatic Sea. One near Trieste, the other in Pescara. Dominik liked the Sunbeam a lot – they had reviewed another 44 for other clients and were very happy with the quality and sailing characteristics. He suggested to move quickly saying that those boats would not be on the market for long.
Beginning of February I drove down to Italy. First to Trieste to look at the Amel. The ship broker had sent a rigger and his wife who met me and showed me the boat. Again, the ship looked its age of almost 30 years. Electronics were old, many things needed a workover.
I was impressed by some of its features (like the waterproof hatch to the bow section, electric winches, the comfy chair in which you can sit at the wheel with reasonable protection from bad weather etc.) But – comfort… For some reason the bed in the owner’s cabin has a U shape – with space between the beds so two people don’t get too close. I don’t think this layout is very romantic – which was a deal-breaker for me.
Time to look at the Sunbeam in Pescara. Another few hours on the road. In Italy you can listen to the BBC world service on DVB (digital) radio. Great if you don’t speak Italian well and want to be informed about what’s going on in the world. In those days a lot of the news revolved around a new virus of the Corona family – causing more and more infections in Wuhan, China. Like another Corona virus before, it caused a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). So this was the second Corona Virus causing SARS, hence named SARS-CoV-2. While the Chinese were trying to lock down Wuhan, the rest of the world had strangely felt very safe apparently. No closing of borders, no travel restrictions. It was a Chinese thing, why worry in the West? Maybe politicians though it would be similar to MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) which was caused by SARS-CoV-1. MERS had infected about 8000 people worldwide, killing about 800. But there was one big difference: an infection with MERS was hard to miss, while the Corona Virus Disease of 2019 (CoViD-19) often causes mild or no symptoms which helps to spread the virus by people who are infected but don’t know (yet).
Driving to Pescara I began to wonder whether I was a bit too late… Ever after having read “The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston – a book on hemolytic viruses like Ebola – I thought that an independent ship might be the only safe option if a real dangerous virus should strike. Real dangerous as in: long infectious incubation period, easy transmission to other people, very lethal. SARS-CoV-2 is not really dangerours if you follow the above definition, because the case fatality rate across all age groups is low. By the way – if you want to read about a real dangerous virus which does exist today, I recommend reading “The Deaemon in the Freezer”, again by Richard Preston.
After a long drive and a long day, I spent the night in a hotel at the seaside, not far from Pescara. Thinking about buying a boat also made me wonder how to organize life so that I would be able to make good use of the ship. Working in hospital I would possibly be able to get a week off in a month if I reduced my work hours. Possible – maybe.
I think if you want to find where life is trying to lead you, you must keep your eyes and ears open. And so I started to wonder, whether there was a message for me in the signs that I saw in the hotel that night – and which I liked a lot…
The night was pleasant, I enjoyed the view of the sea from my room and the “rumore del mare” and on the next morning I continued to Pescara.
In Pescara I was met by the owner’s wife Francesca and by his brother Stefano. They both spent a lot of time to show me the boat. Coming on deck it felt like the Princess was about four or five years old. She had been overhauled by her owner Massimiliano, spending about 1.5 years in the wharf, refurbishing her inside and outside, putting new navionics in… the Princes had been his baby. And that’s what she looked like. Alas, she was getting too small for him – his family was growing and the Princess is a comfortable ship with 3-4 people on board.
While she did not come with all the bells and whistles I was looking for (independence from land-power, water maker, davits) she was just beautiful and in great condition – not only for her age. So the Bootsprofis needed to check her out. If they could do that in March and if they were as happy with the ship as I was, I would buy her in March, quit my job in June and start sailing in July. Well – that plan did not take into account border closures and massive Covid lockdowns in all European countries… Which goes to show that even the most elaborate plans never survive their confrontation with reality.