From time time on Wandering Wives, we give the opportunity for other awesome travellers to tell their story. This week Georgie Moon tells us all about her retirement aboard the yacht, Fandancer:
My name is Georgie and I live on a boat. I didn’t mean that to sound like a confession! My husband Tim and I bought Fandancer together in March 2010. Tim had owned other boats throughout his life, but this was my first venture into owning a yacht. I’d only ever sailed on a flotilla holiday, where you can spend all week doing very little if you wish – if only I’d realised that owning and living on your own yacht was nothing like that! I remember clearly the first time I visited Fandancer in the marina on a cold morning in March – she looked very unloved, tatty, faded, and she smelt of stagnant water, mildew and general mustiness.
“Oh-my-God, please don’t let this be my future home”, I prayed to myself while Tim eagerly inspected lockers, bilges and the engine room. But it was too late, the boat was already ours and we now had a mountain of work ahead of us to make her shipshape. Tim worked so hard to renovate her and he single-handedly renewed the majority of boat equipment. To start with I mostly gave moral support, made the coffee, and passed the correct spanner when required. But I gradually got to know the difference between a nut and a bolt, what the different grades of wet and dry paper were used for, and could identify any power tool at thirty paces. It was also my job to sell old boat parts on Internet auction sites, with great success. It’s amazing how your old trash is someone else’s treasure! Tim also installed a new engine, (what an exciting day it was when that was craned aboard).
One of the last jobs was the hull treatment. We spent about three weeks scraping off by hand many layers of old anti-fouling, the blue paint flakes getting everywhere. Despite a headscarf, goggles, gloves and a protective suit, at the end of every day I resembled one of the blue skinned extras from ‘Avatar’. After three coats of primer and two of new black anti-fouling paint, Fandancer was ready to be launched. I shed a tear or two when the huge crane gently lowered her from her home in the yard into the water. Now our adventures would really begin…..
One cold but sunny afternoon in October, we left Portsmouth and headed into the Solent, turning to starboard as we passed the Isle of Wight, and I embarked on my first Channel crossing. Twenty hours later, we had reached France! We took the masts down and carried them on deck, so we could take Fandancer under the low bridges of the French canals. We really enjoyed our French experience! It was Autumn, and the red and gold colours of the trees contrasted with the beautiful honey coloured stone of the ancient towns and villages we passed through. Apart from some huge commercial barges, we hardly met any other boats at all. When we passed through the biggest lock in France, the size of a huge cathedral, with a water drop of 85 feet, we were the only boat there.
That winter, we lived aboard Fandancer in a canal town called Beaucaire, near to Arles and Avignon. We were moored with lots of other boats with people living aboard, just a few yards from several wonderful French restaurants, and I remember sitting outside eating lunch in the sunshine on New Year’s Day, wearing tee shirts. However, a couple of weeks later, a friend of mine came out from England to stay for a few days, and the temperature dropped to minus seven and we had ice surrounding the boat!
In April, we left Beaucaire and headed further south to the coast, and into the Mediterranean Sea. After having our masts put back in, we became a proper sailing boat again. We began our voyage to Greece, and arrived in Corfu in mid-June, after visiting Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and the toe of Italy.
We have now visited over 40 different Greek islands in the past four years. Fandancer is our home – we don’t have a permanent base in the UK. I describe ourselves as ‘floating gypsies’ and my life has certainly changed in a way I could never have imagined. As we started this adventure when I was 55 and Tim was 64, it just goes to show that you are never too old to start new experiences. It hasn’t all been plain sailing, but we’ve certainly had some fun!