To sail or not to sail? That is the question!


We are only two months out from the estimated delivery date for Coco, our beautiful Swan 54 yacht (yes, it totally is like a birth).  There’s the process of final sail selection (I’m glad they last several years, just saying), getting sail numbers (we are NZL 9966), the teak decks have gone on (see below), the dive compressor is in, and there is enough wiring in this yacht to get a space shuttle off the ground.  We’ve still got some final decisions to make around comm’s gear but apart from that, all the major things are well underway.  But of course, we know the devil is in the detail and that’s what I’m sure will trip us up around handover date.  However…

Now we have a big call to make; originally, we were going to complete a shakedown sail off the coast of Finland then pop Coco on a ship and send her to New Zealand arriving in time for the Southern Hemisphere summer.

At the final hour, just when you think you have everything lined up, everything organised; someone throws a spanner in the works.  Why not sail Coco home to New Zealand from Europe?  The question came up a couple of weeks ago, in unlikely circumstances, while discussing shipping dates and process with the Swan agent out of Sydney, and a highly paid expert on import and duty costs for bringing a yacht into New Zealand.  As it turns out, based on the analysis from aforementioned expensive guy, sailing Coco home not only saves money, but you get a hell of an adventure thrown into the deal!  Yes, there is that small matter of finding the time to take this trip on, but that’s a challenge for another day.  A bit like hoping they put something in that large hole in the hull you can see in the build photo below.  Nice rudder though, or is she just pleased to see me?.

Okay, just what would this trip look like if we did decide to push the go button?

  • We’d be leaving Jakobstad in Finland (where the Nautor yard is) the first week of September, heading to Helsinki for the initial shakedown sail.  There we would provision & get all the things we’d need for the trip (and that list is getting real long).
  • Then heading south through the English Channel and down the coast of France before crossing the Bay of Biscay, we’d be sailing past northern Spain and down the coast of Portugal to Lisbon.
  • From there things get a little more interesting – we’d try and join the ARC rally across the Atlantic leaving Las Palmas in the Canaries mid-November, arriving in Saint Lucia in the Caribbean about 20 days later – that would mean spending Christmas somewhere like Barbados or Antigua.  Bummer, major.
  • After sailing around the Caribbean for a bit (like, thats what everyone does), a trip through the Panama Canal would take us to the Galapagos Islands (always wanted to dive that), then across the South Pacific to the Marquesas Islands.
  • From there we are almost on home turf!  A quick(ish) spin around French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia before heading south to Auckland and home…

So, what do we do, flip a coin?  heads we sail, tails we don’t?

2 Comments on “To sail or not to sail? That is the question!

  1. Hey Alex. Call me a conservative but I would be reluctant to take a trip like that without knowing the boat well and having a year of operating it under my belt.

    Theres so much to learn about every system on the boat, faultfinding, workarounds and repairs. But the middle of the ocean usually isn’t the place to figure problems out for the first time.

    That said, there is no argument that sailing home is more satisfying than sending your boat on a freighter.

    So the question becomes can you wait another season and spend a year cruising in Europe before making the trip home?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Greg. Good to hear from you! And yep, understand what you are saying. If we do this we’ll get some experienced crew to sail with us through to the Caribbean (especially doing the ARC) and the guys from Nautor will be on hand to support any issues with the yacht as we shake her down over the first couple of thousand miles down the coast of Europe. We figure we’ve got access to more expertise over there than we’ll get in NZ for a Swan so there is some upside to sailing across there. And the nice thing is, if we don’t feel comfortable we can do just as you suggest. Turn left at Portugal and head into the Med and sail her there for a year! It’s nice to have that option.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: