I knew that I wanted to sail; that was the easy bit. The hard bit was knowing what I wanted to sail.
Two weeks on a brand new Dufour 350 with self tacking jib showed me exactly what I didn’t want. A roll threw me on to the chart table and it broke. The locker fittings broke as you opened them and we found some screws on deck at the bottom of the mast. And the noise of the flat bottom at the bow slapping the waves was awful. Four weeks on a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 were fun and most of the time I could actually reverse in to a marina, but deep down I knew I was looking for something else.
After 18 months I had read all the arguments in the Internet about sail area/displacement ratio, stability index and the angle of vanishing stability and was thoroughly confused. The only useful result of all my reading was that I was slowly getting a feel for what I should be expecting to pay for the boat of my dreams.
And then one day I saw my first Rustler 36. I was hooked. Why do you find a woman beautiful? Why do you climb mountains to ski the deep snow? Why do you shower attention and money on an old Landrover? Why a Rustler? I can not answer any of these questions but I finally knew the class of boat I wanted.
Searching for a Rustler is a lot easier than searching for a Beneteau or Jeanneau. All the Rustler 36 currently for sale in the world fit on to one Internet page so you don’t have to scroll much to see the choice.
I had dreamed of a boat Commissioned by an experienced sailor for ocean sailing so that I could benefit from their years of experience. My logic was that if an expert had already made all the hard decisions then I could just “ride on his shoulders” and enjoy the fruits of his years at sea. In my dreams this boat would have been well maintained, recently refitted and now be sitting waiting for a new owner.
What is the chance that of the five Rustler 36 on sale, one would perfectly match my dream specification? Probably a million to one, which is great as Terry Pratchett has already explained that million to one chances happen most times. And so it was that I found Artemis of Lleyn in Ardfern. (She had been renamed by her last owner to Pennyblue but that sounded more like a rare stamp than a boat.)
I needed some one I could trust to give me hard facts about this boat that had bewitched me so I sent all the details to an experienced yachtmaster I know and asked his opinion. The answer was clear – “definitely something I would consider myself if I had the money. Get yourself on a plane and go and have a look.”
As broker, Mark Cameron from Ardfern Yacht Center was working for the seller but he fully understood that his real job was to make us both happy by organising a professional and fair sale. Mark was always available and answered all my questions quickly and competently. His experience meant that he had already anticipated some of my questions and had the answers ready. His evaluation of the boat turned out to be absolutely correct. I am not surprised that Google shows Mark consistently achieving five stars in reviews. He will be receiving another five from me.
Experience had shown that boats are often listed in Yachtworld that are actually either “under offer”, “sale pending” or already sold so I was happy to hear that Artemis was still available. I was even happier when the seller agreed to my offer in principle which justified a flight to Scotland and a drive across to the West Coast. Arriving after midnight at Edinburgh airport, receiving a rental car I didn’t know, trying to drive on the left and a discussion with the police all added to the fun of the trip to Ardfern.
I first saw the boat on the hard in Ardfern squeezed in between two fishing boats and on struts for the winter. I suppose that all those who passed by each day didn’t even notice her but I was hooked and found her “beautiful” – probably in the same inexplicable way that parents find newborn babys lovely. I spent the next six hours going through everything including lying on all three bunks and dreaming of the adventures we would have together.
A fisherman asked if I was going to buy her and assured me that “she’ll look after you that un!”. Later in the pub a rigger told me that a Rustler 36 will take you anywhere. Even the B&B owner was giving me positive advice. So the next morning I returned to the Marina and made my offer subject to survey.
The Surveyor: Colin Brown from CB Marine Services was sympathetic right from the first email he sent me in which he answered all my questions specifically and in detail. He understood that this was a big step in to the unknown for me and that I was totally reliant on his professional opinions. He prepared reports that not only allowed me to decide to buy but also gave me a complete list of the work I should do in the coming months. He had the final word before I said “I’ll buy her”. I thoroughly recommend Colin.
I was still determined to be objective about the purchase (even though my heart had already decided) so I had a surveyor inspect the boat on land and then return to test her in the water and finally take an engine oil sample to be sent to the laboratory. All this took time and the suspense definitely distracted from normal life. In total I received 29 pages of reports from the surveyor but the summary was what I wanted to hear – the flares are out of date but there is nothing else stopping you setting sail tomorrow. Actually there were almost fifty actions suggested to have the boat ready for anything the weather and seas will throw at her. A fantastic addition to my “todo” list and exactly what I had asked for.
After the good news from the surveyor, all that remained was to send the balance of the agreed sum to the broker which I did the next morning. And now I have another tick on my list – “buy boat” is done.