I realise that the title suggests that I have met someone else, but I’m afraid it relates to a my boat and not an actual person. She is a high maintenance lady that has undergone minor plastic surgery even though she is not even a teenager yet. And she just made me buy her a complete new wardrobe. For a while, I considered replacing her before this trip. To do what men at my age have done for a long time, go for a younger model with less mileage. This is why I didn’t.
I bought Saoirse new and specced the order myself. But I have also continuously upgraded her to make her into a home and a capable blue water cruiser. She is now able to generate her own water and electricity, has a sail wardrobe fit for any occasion and she has been kitted out to take care of both my comfort and safety needs. More importantly though, I know everything that has happened to her. Her weak points and what has broken in the past. This means that I now have quite an extensive set of spare parts onboard for things that I think could break or will just need replacement at some point. I really don’t want to start all of that again with a new boat. It would take me a long time to get back to where I am now.
I also know how she performs in most weather conditions. Her flat bottom, high mast, deep keel and limited weight makes her quite fast. At times too fast for her own good. On my way to Lanzarote she was surfing on her flat belly, generating speeds up towards 15 knots. Making it very difficult to control the course, so I had to ask her to slow down by reducing the sail area to almost nothing. And if you want to do this, you start with the mainsail as she always prefers the jib to the main if you only allow her one piece of clothing. Oh, behave!
Her flat bottom also makes her deceiving. She can go from a comfortable lean to a broach with very little warning. A broach is when the boat heels over to the extent that the rudder no longer is in the water and the boat spins into the wind. A very uncomfortable experience, particularly in large following seas. All of this is easy to prevent, if you know her temper and reduce the sail area in time.
Equally, she can be really frustrating. Like when you want to do a simple thing like pull a cable through the interior or change the heating element in the water heater. Simple jobs that can take days just because of where they are located and what is in the way. We certainly have our moments when we wish we parted company, but I have continuously been getting better at handling Saoirse. All boats have personalities and will retaliate when treated badly. And in doing so, they express less remorse than an actual person would. But she is fun, comfortable, capable, caring, beautiful, temperamental and well maintained. What more could you ask of a partner?