In May 2009 we completed our voyage on Papillon so this page is now a description of the whole trip. Please do not e mail us via sailmail, but you can still e mail through this website.

To all of our families and friends who followed our journey on their maps. We have now included the "Our Voyage Map" page which shows the complete journey track in Google Earth and all of the places we visited.

Also take a look in the Gallery area too , for pictures of our adventures, visitors and other friends we met on this journey.

Click here on Magazine Article , to see the "Multihull World" feature on our journey.

 

Buying the Boat (September 2001)
    Life's great adventure happened to us more by accident than by design. Having met in 1999, whilst taking part in a round the world yacht race, Dave & I attempted to settle back to life together in the UK. It was on a reunion weekend at the Southampton Boat Show that the accident happened. Whilst I stayed at home, Dave went to see one of the skippers from the race, who had delivered a Catana 431 to the boat show. Since that moment, Dave could not stop talking about this boat, so I knew it must be special. However, having just purchased a house, buying a boat was not on our list of priorities, or so I thought. A few months later, we were halfway up the Eiffel Tower in a daze, having been to the Paris boat show and somehow ordered a new Catana 431. This is where things had accidentally got lost in translation. After looking over the boat, we were offered the chance to put our names down for a test sail and I urged Dave to go ahead. It wasn't until the champagne appeared that we realised it was too late. In arranging the test sail, we had also agreed to place a 10% down payment to secure our boat. In 18 months hull number 54 would be ours, so we had to decide what we were going to do with it. A four-year plan was made to sail as far as Australia.
   
Boat Launch (June 2003)
    The time flew by and launch day was upon us all too soon. Having made several visits during the construction process, 26th June 2003 saw us standing nervously on the pontoon at the factory. The boat was finally being launched. More champagne was consumed and we returned to our hotel in a daze, the reality of the situation slowly sinking in. The first 2 weeks were spent commissioning, learning about the boat's systems and loading our things on board what someone later described as a floating condominium; It certainly felt like it. Pots, pans, cutlery, bedding, towels all the comforts of home. After all, this was to be our home for the next 4 years at least.
   
Starting Out
    As France prepared for the Bastille Day celebrations, we prepared to embark on the first leg of our voyage. Our time in the Mediterranean was limited, as we had signed up for the ARC 2003 leaving Gran Canaria in November. We did have time to sample the delights of the Isles D'Hyeres, Corsica, Sardinia, Portofino, Cinque Terre and Majorca, before holing up in Gibralter waiting for a weather window to make the break for the Canary Islands. It was on this passage that we experienced the highest winds we have encountered to date. The low over Biscay did not move north as forecast and whilst we were en route, it moved south. We exited the Straits, expecting north easterlies, but found ourselves sailing into near gale force winds. Deciding to brave it out, we carried on for 24 hours, putting the double line reefing system to the test. The concept of not having to venture out of the cockpit to reef the mainsail was new to us. With 2 people on board, we successfully reefed the sail and have subsequently managed the system single-handedly with relative ease. As the winds increased, we admitted defeat, changed course and motor-sailed into 40 knots of wind and the small fishing port of Larache, Morocco. We learned two important things from this experience. The first is how well Papillon coped with this severe weather, giving us great confidence in the boat. The second is that weather forecasts are exactly that, forecasts. Anything can happen.
   
Crossing the Atlantic. (December 2003)
    Getting used to sailing a catamaran was a steep learning curve. Being mono-hull sailors it felt strange for the boat to always be flat and getting used to the shorter rocking motion also took some time. I felt a little seasick for the first few months on board, questioning whether I was wise to embark on this journey and if I could cope with feeling off-colour for the next few years. Thankfully, a few days out of Las Palmas, I got my sea legs and was able to cook up a storm in the galley, keeping the four crewmembers well fed during our 17-day passage (we chose not use our engines during the rally). With a large fridge and separate freezer on board, we had fresh food to eat until a day or so before our arrival in St Lucia. Having spent quite a bit of time on the yacht race cooking for a crew of 14 on a 19 metre racing mono-hull, ricocheting around the galley and getting battered and bruised, it was a welcome change to cook on a multi-hull. Looking out into the cockpit, I had lots of space, a fixed stove, comparatively little boat movement and the odd piece of non-slip fabric around to stop things sliding away. Our water-maker was fully tested on this passage. Making a litre per minute, we never had a problem, even with 5 on board there was no excuse not to shower.
     
Caribbean. (December 2003 to April 2004)
    Since Papillon's launch we'd had lots of visitors on board. So it was in St Lucia that we bade farewell to our crew and we were finally sailing on our own. We spent two seasons in the Caribbean. Christmas Antiguan style, New Year in St Barts as we travelled north, to one of our favourite sailing areas, The Bahamas. This was after a long day sailing across the Caicos Bank. The 35 miles of shallow water, 2 metres in some places, provided good practise for the waters around the Bahamas. Once away from the major tourist centres near Nassau, there are hundreds of anchorages, most of which we had to ourselves. This is where having a catamaran was a very big advantage. With only a metre draft, we had access to many shallow anchorages, inaccessible to deeper draft vessels, though nerves of steel were needed to negotiate the reefs. We anchored very close to beautiful deserted beaches and practically walked ashore. It was in The Bahamas that we discovered another use for our dagger-boards. Normally we lower them by 1/3 to ½ when underway, to help with leeway and the auto-helm, lowering them entirely when mooring in windy conditions. Their extra use is as an early warning device before running aground. Lowered 'till they are just deeper than the rudders, they protect them in shallow waters. As we have experienced, it is far easier to remove and repair the dagger-boards than the rudders.
   
US East Coast (May to November 2004)
    We spent the hurricane season sailing along the East Coast of America as far as Rockland, Maine. Using the famous Intracoastal Waterway for some of the journey, we found it easier and less congested to go out to sea, set the sails and the auto helm, and then relax. This boat is made for oceans. Papillon's first anniversary was spent anchored in Sand Hole, a tiny lagoon just north of New York City. We had befriended several people whilst moored in the Worlds Fair Marina, in the shadow of Shea Stadium and we formed a small flotilla as we sailed to Sand Hole. By the time everyone had arrived we had anchored with a yacht rafted on each hull, with the final boat arriving later that evening and tying onto the outermost end. We must have made quite a spectacle. Papillon's beam is 7 metres and with 3 other yachts attached, we nearly filled the bay. Our large cockpit was an ideal meeting place where everyone congregated for sundowners. A guitar appeared and the mood was set. By the time the final boat arrived, we were well into our singsong, getting louder with every glass of wine. Suddenly a keyboard appeared and the ensemble was complete, our neighbours given no chance of a peaceful or early night. It was a great way to celebrate our first year and we have made lasting friendships with our fellow musicians.
    We fell foul of some of the thousands of lobster pots in Maine and had to have a prop repaired as a result. Unable to find a place for a haul out at an acceptable price, we found a boatyard willing to haul Papillon using a crane. Large shackles and ropes were attached to our chain plate amidships and the strong points at the stern, the boat was lifted very carefully and left dangling while we got to work. We had seen the boats regularly lifted by crane in the Catana factory in France, but it was quite a nerve-wracking experience to be doing it to our own boat in America. The whole procedure was a success and with fully working props, we headed south. Unable to venture below the 35th parallel until the end of October, we found a delightful marina in Deltaville in the Chesapeake, where we left the boat to experience New England in the fall, which was wonderful. We also visited friends met while cruising in the Bahamas. Based in Little Switzerland, North Carolina, we spent a few days with them riding motorbikes along the roads curling around the Blue Ridge Mountains. Then it was back to The Bahamas where we celebrated our second Christmas and New Year afloat.
   
Back in the Caribbean. (November 2004 to June 2005)
    We continued on to Puerto Rico after another trip across the Caicos Bank, making our way through the Caribbean islands to Trinidad for the next hurricane season. Our second anniversary was celebrated in Bequia, The Grenadines. Once again our cockpit was the meeting place and music featured heavily as a saxophone was on board as well as a guitar. With a rusty rendition of "Tequila," we all managed the words quite well, screeching tequila at the appropriate moment and sometimes not. Happy Hour lasted a bit longer that night, another peaceful anchorage shattered by our revelry.
   
Trinidad to Columbia. (December 2005 to January 2006)
        Arriving in Trinidad, Papillon was hauled out for a few months, this time with a travel lift, a lot kinder to our nervous systems. With the hurricane season over, we returned from a tour of Chile, Patagonia and Argentina and wasted no time re-launching the boat. Papillon looked as good as new having been re-anti fouled, polished and we had fitted a small genset. After 2 weeks of cloud in St Lucia, we decided that we needed a back up for our 8 solar panels, which until then had been more than adequate for re-charging the batteries, as long as the sun was shining. We finally left Trini, the fridge, freezer and vast amounts of storage space, crammed with supplies to last until we reached Panama. I had to draw a diagram of the boat, with a list of where I'd stored everything, as a reminder. We sailed along the island chain that skirts the coast of Venezuela and Columbia. With strong easterly winds, we had some great passages using our heaviest and largest sail, the gennaker or screecher. Now standard on this model, we paid handsomely for this extra sail and the upgraded mast, but it has been worth every cent. We use the gennaker the most, as the majority of our route has been down wind and the spinnaker should not be used in winds greater than 15 knots apparent. Spending a peaceful Christmas in Bonaire, where we could snorkel on the reef wall right under the boat, we moved onto Aruba for New Year, it's casinos and night-clubs quite a contrast to the laid back style of Bonaire. With some time in hand, we had the great debate as to whether to spend a few days Cartegena. The skipper won and with hindsight it was a good choice. Continuing our love affair with South America, we really enjoyed this ancient and historic city, even buying some famous Columbian emeralds.
   
Panama Canal. (January 2006)
    We sailed straight from Cartegena to the San Blas Islands, which lie along the east coast of Panama. They have their own autonomy, being ruled by the indigenous and resourceful Kuna Indians. Once anchored, various tribe members visited the boat. First was to collect a small fee for anchoring in their waters, next it was the hard sell as long dugout canoes arrived filled with local women selling Molas. These are colourful, intricately embroidered and appliquéd pictures and I don't think any boat escaped from purchasing at least one. After checking in at Porvenir, we soon discovered why some cruisers had recommended using an agent. The paperwork was immense. We stopped counting at 15 forms. So as we approached Colon we enlisted the help of local agent Enrique Plummer to handle our transit of the Panama Canal. The investment was worth it, especially as we were on a tight schedule and had to transit within a few days. It was a fantastic experience helped by the fact that we used a local line-handler. He liased between us and the pilot we had on board and he also handled the VHF, which was particularly useful as our Spanish is limited to ordering food and drinks. During our transit, we managed to contact friends and family at home, who logged onto the Internet and watched us go through Miraflores Lock on the live web cam.
   
Panama to Tahiti. (January to March 2006)
    After a brief stop at the amazing Ile de Coco it was onto Galapagos. Once again we used an agent in Porto Ayoro, saving time and money. Whilst the undersea world was abundant with sea-life, provisions in the islands were limited. We were glad we had the space to take on everything we needed in Panama to last us until Tahiti, including our longest ocean passage of 3000 miles to Hivo Oa, Marqueses. The water was flat calm as we left Galapagos. With the help of a weather router, we soon discovered that there was no wind within 500 miles north or south of the area and 1000 miles west. Papillon has two 40hp engines to power us along. When we are cruising we use only one, alternating between the two to maximise our fuel consumption, yet losing just one knot of boat speed. This potentially increases our range to about 1200 miles. Unsure as to whether we could refuel in Hiva Oa, there was a limit to how much motoring we could do and still have enough fuel for Tahiti. As we were debating at which point we should stop the engines and just drift, the wind came and we had a great sail, mainly under spinnaker, completing the journey in 19 days. With a crew of two, we have found the spinnaker very easy and comparatively safe to use after being on a monohull. The risk of accidents reduced by not having a pole. The spinnaker is balanced between the hulls, which also enables us to centre the sail and go dead downwind.
    Sailing through the Pacific was a true test for boat and crew. When we chose the specifications for Papillon, we tried to keep it as simple as possible with low maintenance in mind. But despite this, it seems never-ending. With parts and expertise almost non-existent in the Pacific, it is even more vital to preserve the boat and keep it in good working order. It certainly pays to be as self-sufficient as possible. With his engineering background, Dave has managed to effect most repairs, despite the limited resources and was pleased that he acquired enough spares as was practical whilst we were in America. We did find the Pacific challenging in that respect and were very happy to reach New Zealand, where parts and expertise where readily available and realistically priced.
   
Tahiti to New Zealand. (May to November 2006)
    French Polynesia is another of our favourite sailing areas. Obviously much larger than the Bahamas or even the Caribbean, we really enjoyed the uniqueness of this region. From the Marquesas to the Tuamoto's, Tahiti and beyond, each area had it's own character. Some people found the sailing challenging, but we just ate up the miles, enjoying putting Papillon through her paces as we continued west. The beauty of sailing in the Pacific are the numerous choices of islands available. Whilst attempting to sail to Raratonga, the winds dictated otherwise. A quick look at the charts, we turned right and headed for Aitutaki, spending Papillon's third anniversary quietly at sea. We were holed up for a very enjoyable week waiting for a change in the weather. Whatever the conditions, there was nearly always an island to sail to for refuge. Anchoring in some smaller bays, we were happy to be on our cat, as we watched the monhulls rocking and rolling in the swell, whilst we barely moved. This is definitely a big advantage, especially with my tendency to seasickness.
    Taking advantage of some settled weather we aimed for Beveridge Reef. We decided to visit there after talking to a yacht already anchored there on the daily radio net. The only way of identifying the reef was by the wreck of a tuna boat that had been washed up in a storm. It was an incredible sight seeing a wreck in the middle of the ocean and with only co-ordinates of the cut to guide us we held our breath and went in. The water was incredibly clear and we could see sharks swimming under the hulls as we entered the cut. The 10km by 5 km reef is submerged at high tide, which was when things became a bit uncomfortable, even for us, as we were caught in the cross swell. The next morning we went snorkelling, sharing 2 meters of water with a vast array of fish, including a couple of white tipped sharks. Despite the wealth of food for the sharks, we felt a little vulnerable in our swimwear, mask and snorkel so gently swam back to the boat, which was rocking and rolling in the high tide. We decided that being at sea would be more comfortable and left the cut, raising the spinnaker, en route to Nuie, Tonga, Fiji and beyond. On our way to New Zealand, we were fighting 30 knot headwinds, so the decision was taken to heave-to overnight. We have heard that this is not a recommended practise for a cat, but we did it successfully and would do it again should the situation arise.
   
A bit about life on board
    On our travels, the boat has attracted a lot of attention. The high freeboard and outside helms have raised a few eyebrows and lots of questions. The high freeboard and bridge deck makes for a drier boat and minimises wave slap. However the increased windage can be a problem when mooring, but lowering the dagger boards helps counter-act this and of course having two engines substantially increases manoeuvrability. We have been very happy with the outside helms as they offer a clear view of the way ahead and of the sails. The high freeboard, coupled with the 7-metre beam leaves the leeward helm pretty dry. The only time we get really wet is when we helm in the rain, a rare occurrence. Though an image springs to mind of us negotiating the Savannah River in a violent and torrential storm. Unable to use the auto helm in the confined space, Dave opted to wear his mask and snorkel, but this was definitely an isolated incident.
   
News at July 2007.....
    I July 2007 we were in Darwin, on the North West corner of Australia, making final preparations for the final leg of our circumnavigation, planning to leave in a few days with the Sail Indonesia Rally, sailing on to Malaysia, Thailand, The Indian Ocean, Red Sea and back home to the Mediterranean. Having taken 4 years to get this far, we would be sailing the quick route home. It should only have taken a year, but as with all the best laid plans it wasn't to be.
   
Darwin to Indonesia - July - October 2007
    This final stage of our adventure took us to a whole new continent we had not visited before - Asia. We had one of the best ever passages from Darwin to East Timor - 72 hours under spinnaker, only lowering it as we approached the islands - the wind grew too strong. Sadly the spinnaker did not get much of an airing throughout Asia. There was either too much wind (The Sumatra) or no wind at all.
    Indonesia was a real assault on the senses. 240 million people living on 17,000 islands. This was our first close up experience of a developing nation and for the locals, a new experience meeting western people. Whilst children in the Caribbean wanted to touch my hair, here I was approached several times by people wanting to stroke my pale freckled skin. We arrived during Ramadan. Whilst this didn't impact on us too much, it certainly affected our sleep. At sunset the numerous mosques would come alive with the call to prayers. This would continue through the night - every night. We called it competitive wailing and were grateful for our earplugs.
    Dave was left to his own devices for a month as I returned home to take care of business. When I returned, the race was on to get to Singapore & leave Indonesia before our permits ran out. Many of the islands were beautiful, however the sailing in between could be treacherous due to the numerous unmarked fish traps laid in the sea. Made from bamboo, they lurked just below the surface usually weighted down by an old car. Definitely not to be tangled with. We don't think we hit one, but there were lots of scrapes & scratches along Papillon's waterline.
    The highlight of Indonesia was our visit to Kalimantan (South Borneo) and our overnight trip on a riverboat to see the orang-utans. It was here that Dave got mugged. Whilst strolling through the rainforest, minding his own business, a female orang-utan swung down from the trees, going straight for Dave's backpack & an almighty tussle ensued. The animals associate backpacks with food, but no one told us this. "Get off you bugger!" shouted Dave. Sadly, she didn't understand as a tug of war continued. Eventually she was beaten off by the guides & skulked back into the forest. We felt a little shaken after our up close & personal experience.
    We left Kalimantan amid major storms & squalls, lining up like soldiers with thunder & lightning striking all around us. The dawn was the most welcome sight ever after a very tense night. We now understood why this stretch of water to the Malacca Straights is called Lightning Alley.
   
Singapore to Thailand - November - December '07
    Our arrival in Singapore heralded our return to the northern hemisphere and life on board became that bit easier again. No more jerry cans of fuel & water. We were in a marina so no wet dinghy rides & beach landings. The supermarkets were full of fresh food, not just noodles & biscuits. We even discovered a Carrefour supermarket - heaven. No more fish traps, mosques, minarets & late night wailing, except for when England lost the rugby world cup final.
    After a couple of weeks, with Papillon all washed & polished, we were on the move again, sailing up the west coast of Malaysia. As we arrived in Port Dickson we were blasted by the infamous Sumatra; a tropical storm, which blows up from nothing to gale force winds without warning. Easy to see during the day, but impossible on our overnight passage. We had been too lazy to hoist a sail, but we watched a few boats around us broach. Thankfully they recovered quickly, shaken but unscathed. We really enjoyed Malaysia & had several guests to share the experience with. Whilst moored in Penang, we had a week to spare & did a quick side trip to Cambodia. What a beautiful country, despite it's chequered past. The trip was marred by both of us falling ill with bad cases of jippy tummy after visiting 2 different French restaurants. The moral of this story is to trust the places your guide recommends. We spent more time visiting the chemists than the amazing temples. One pharmacist appeared from under his counter, bare-chested & covered in flies, which did not bode well, though the medicine did work.
    On our return, we welcomed guests on board & sailed to Langkawi where more guests awaited. We managed to dine at The Datai, notoriously unfriendly to yotties. The duty manager tried to head us off, but it was too late, we were in & almost acceptably dressed. The manager scrutinised us from head to toe "You're even in your high - low shoes!" She exclaimed. Sadly heels & boats are not a happy partnership. So whilst Philippa & I were suitably dressed from the ankles up, expecting high heels, the manager was quite shocked at our flip-flops & directed us to the restaurant where we'd "feel more comfortable!" It was worth it & we had a lovely experience. After taking advantage of the islands duty free status, we sailed on to Thailand for Christmas, the bilges clinking full of enough bottles of wine to last us 'til the Med - we hoped.
    Stopping at some excellent snorkelling spots en route, we celebrated a very chilled out Christmas in Phuket's Yacht Haven Marina, away from the hustle & bustle of Patong - christened Sin City by us. However the Tesco & Carrefour supermarkets were fab. It felt a little strange shopping in Tesco so far from home. New Year was spent with friends in Bangkok, and then it was back on board for more guests before Papillon was hauled out for her annual maintenance & we flew home for a few weeks.
   
Thailand - 2008
    On our return to Phuket in March, the race was on to get the boat ready to cross the Indian Ocean before the monsoon changed. After a weeks hard work, we were ready. Looking as good as new, Papillon was fully stocked with enough goodies to get us back into the Med. We met friends at the airport, who were joining us for the passage, cleared customs & immigration and we were off. Our last stop before sailing into the big blue was the Surin Islands. Far away from the tourist boats we enjoyed a very peaceful stay here with some beautiful snorkelling followed by sundowners and dinner, after which the heavens opened. Thailand had one last surprise in store for us.
    With only a matter of hours before we escaped lightning alley - disaster struck in the form of a lightning strike. All went dark & the smell of burning filled the boat. Armed with torches & fire extinguishers, we raced around to check we weren't on fire. Then we checked all the seacocks were sound & we weren't leaking. Then in fear & trepidation, we checked that the engines worked. In a direct hit, it has been known for the gearbox to be welded by this incredible force of nature. Thankfully for us, both engines worked fine, but the starter batteries were damaged. Finally we studied our insurance policy. We were covered - thank goodness. Shocked & devastated, we fell into bed with no chance of sleep.
    The following morning our friends, who were anchored nearby, came on board & we assessed the damage. Nothing electrical worked. This meant no instruments, auto-helm, depth sounder, GPS, radio, lights, water pumps, fridge, freezer - nothing. The VHF aerial from the top of the mast lay in several blackened pieces on the deck. Dave had managed to by-pass the circuits to get the water pumps going. We also had a GPS dongle plugged into my laptop so we had some sort of electronic charts to follow. We mainly followed our friends back to Phuket, which took a few days. With nothing working, we couldn't sail at night. We had some amazing meals en route as I cooked up the special treats from the freezer before they spoiled.
    After saying farewell to our fellow yotties only a week before, they were a little shocked to see us back in Thailand, so were the customs officials, who overcame this after a little inducement. Having missed the weather window to cross the ocean, our crew had an impromptu holiday. Jerry & Davina had always wanted to visit northern Thailand. So we waved them off as we prepared to do battle with the insurance company, fearing the worst until we managed to get the boat surveyed. The boat is riddled with carbon. It's a wonderful component for strength but also an excellent conductor of electricity. We were very lucky, as lightning strikes go; we had been hit by a side flash. The lightning struck the water next to the boat & arced across. It still caused $45,000 of damage, as all things electrical needed replacing. Fortunately for us we were in the sailing capital of Asia, so getting replacement equipment proved a little easier. After getting quotes & settling with the insurance company, there was nothing left to do but fly home, our travel plans on hold for the year. We didn't want to fix the boat until the last-minute in case we got struck again.
   
Thailand - The Red Sea - Winter '09
    Returning in October, Dave fixed the boat before I joined him at the end of November, eventually. I got caught up in the blockade of Bangkok airport. We were beginning to feel as if we would never leave Phuket. Finally we did, spending Xmas day at sea en route to the Andaman Islands. This was after an upsetting stay at the Similin Islands. At 9.30 am on Xmas Eve, as we left the anchorage to go snorkelling, we saw a very sad sight, a boatload of refugees. I had frequently joked about the tourist boats being like refugee boats as they packed so many people into them, but the reality was something else to see first hand. When we returned in the afternoon, they were all lying on the beach with their hands tied behind their backs surrounded by Thai police & tourists taking photos of the raggle taggle bunch. With heavy hearts, we left the next day. There was nothing we could do, except try to find out their fate when we got to land. It seems this was not the only boatload to land in the area. The people were from the no mans land that exists between Myanmar & Bangladesh. We discovered that some boats were towed out to sea to go wherever the current took them. There's little sympathy & no political asylum in Thailand. On a brighter note, The Andaman Islands were wonderful. We used an agent to handle all our customs & immigration paperwork and being an ex colony, there was lots of paperwork. It was great to be island hopping again, having anchorages all to ourselves and experiencing our first taste of India.
    Straight after New Year, we were off again dodging fishing boats around Sri Lanka & huge ships converging at the southern tip of India. This was where our AIS - ships identification system, came into it's own. Previously we would have to identify a vessel by reading out the lengthy co-ordinates of their position over the VHF & hope that they are listening properly. With the AIS, each ship relays a message giving their name, heading & speed. This meant that we could get their immediate attention by calling their name over the VHF. It also helped us steer a course out of their way. However this is not always the case. Some ships switch off their AIS whilst sailing through the pirate zone, so a good lookout is essential, as Jerry found out whilst on night watch heading towards the Red Sea. He was contacted by a British Navy Vessel & asked if he had seen anything suspicious in the area. He had noticed a ship, but it didn't appear on the AIS. "That'll be us sir!" came the reply. At which Jerry looked behind him to see that the Navy vessel was so close, they could've tapped him on the shoulder with a boathook. They had the good grace to muffle their laughter over the radio.
    We arrived in Cochin in the dead of night - as usual. Checking in with customs & immigration was a 2-day affair. No agents here to speed things along. Jeff & Linda joined us for a weeks tour of Kerela which was truly wonderful. The Indian people we met where the friendliest & most helpful we had encountered on our adventure. Jerry arrived and the 3 guys set sail to Oman whilst Linda & I took the fast route home, on an aeroplane.
    The wind was kind on our sail from India to Oman. As well as the Royal Navy vessel, we did get hassled by fishermen a few times and as usual their boats were big and battered, so we didn't want them alongside damaging Papillon. Therefore we spent some fun times trying to outrun them. It's difficult to know whether their intensions are honest or not, selling fish or pirates? We always chose to just avoid if possible. Our other worry was their drift nets. These are difficult to spot in the daytime and impossible at night, but can cause havoc if they entangle our rudders or propellers.
    All around the world we have been able to get a fantastic array of fresh food. Oman was no exception. We even managed to buy some "under the counter" beer. Not easy in a strict Muslim country. Then we were ready to brave the Gulf of Aden and the threat of pirates. We must thank Jeff and Jerry for helping get the boat through this area safely. Fortunately we managed to sail in a newly designated "security corridor" which was manned by military vessels from many countries and stayed in radio contact with them most of the time. Not a guarantee of safe passage but certainly reassuring. However, we still breathed a sigh of relief when we entered the Red Sea at its southern end. This part of the world is renowned for high winds and it didn't disappoint. We were blasted by 40 knots of it, fortunately from behind. We reduced sail again and again and eventually with no sails at all we were still being blown along at 10-12 knots, extremely exciting stuff.
    The towns of Massawa and Suakin in Eritrea and Sudan were our ports of call heading north. Both have been ruined by past armed conflicts and neglect but the people were friendly and helpful, despite a number of them toting AK47 rifles over their backs. You get used to them after a while. We continued our journey up the Red Sea as fast as the wind allowed, hiding behind reefs when the wind blew from the north and dashing to the next point of refuge when it stopped. Vicki was at home, constantly checking the weather forecasts & emailing us when to get going, not always successfully. The waters were teeming with fish and the snorkelling was superb but unfortunately time was against us and we had to miss much of what the area had to offer. We did manage to swim with Dolphins off one reef though, an unforgettable experience.
    By early March we made it finally to Hurghada in Egypt, where the boat was to be left as Dave, Jerry and Jeff headed home after 5 weeks of adventures.
   
The Red Sea - The Med - spring 2009
    The clock was still ticking when we got back to Hurghada mid-April. We had arranged to meet our potential buyer in Kos in May. Plenty of time - we thought. Naturally the weather was against us from the start and we finally reached Suez over 2 weeks later. It had taken that long for us to cover a mere 200 miles. We finally passed through the Suez Canal, experiencing a huge swell of emotion as we re-entered the Mediterranean Sea, 6 years after we left it via Gibraltar. The reality & enormity or what we had achieved finally sinking in. We had been so busy planning each separate part of the trip we never considered it as a whole until this moment. Sadly the euphoria was not to last. Dave's face started to swell rather rapidly. He had developed a very painful tooth abscess. We could not continue & diverted to Cyprus for treatment.
    Another week goes by & the clock is ticking. With the weather in our favour, we push on to Kos, where Bill & Lois were waiting. We made it. A few days late, but still in time, just. We spent a day cleaning all the desert sand off the boat, inside & out. Papillon was ready for inspection. Bill & Lois came on board & we went for a test sail - with little wind but we still managed to try out all the sails. The surveyor followed and we had a nerve-wracking time while he carried out the survey. It was like having a tax inspection. He complimented us on the condition of the boat. All that hard work over the years was worth it after all. The all clear was given & that was it, the deal was done & Papillon belonged to someone else. We packed all our stuff up to ship home. 15 boxes & 340 kgs later (no wonder Papillon was a bit slower) we bade a fond farewell.
    It has been said that the two happiest days in a boat owner's life are the day he buys the boat & then the day he sells it. We're not so sure. It's been quite a wrench. It's the end of this particular chapter, but who knows what the future holds.
   

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