Such were my 2015 sailing season and my brief but rich experience of owning an excellent boat, Mem Pas Peur.
But first things first. For lots and various reasons I haven’t been able to write a new piece in over a year. The last time I wrote something I was excited about starting a new sailing season with Mem Pas Peur, freshly painted on the bottom. Later I will also share a few thoughts about how to never trust a great deal when it comes to buying anti-fouling paint that should last one year (here).
I had barely laid Mem Pas Peur on the water, my head swirling with plans to sail to Sulina in the Danube Delta and also as far as Istanbul checking along the main attractions of the Bulgarian coast, when through an acquaintance (Bogdan V, the skipper of the Simina 2 team) I met Victor Fulicea, the founding member of the Simina racing team and owner of the Simina (Elan 410) and Simina 2 (Elan 340) racing boats. Simina had been the national champions for the past 6 years, so naturally I was both enthusiastic and nervous to meet Victor. But we got along very well and since they had an open position for the 2015 season on the Simina 2 team, Victor invited me to join the team. The entire season consisted of 8 regattas from late May to late September, plus several other weekends spent at sea for training – quite a commitment for me with a screaming, overly energetic toddler at home. Full of anticipation and excitement, I shared the news with Cris, whom I had supposed would curb my enthusiasm after my first sentence. But as it turned out, she weighed thoughtfully this proposal against the odds of me sailing solo or short-handed on Mem Pas Peur… The prospects of being part of an experienced team and the added perception of apparent safety led her to grant me permission to join the Simina 2 team.
From here on events unfolded very fast. I was appointed the role of “tailer” in charge of assisting the headsails trimmer with all manoeuvres when tacking, gybing, raising and lowering sails. Our team was a fabulous one and we enjoyed many happy moments both while racing and relaxing. Somehow we had a great chemistry onboard and perhaps I am not overstating when saying that we were one of the most cheerful teams that year. Already mentioned, Bogdan V was our doting captain, Dragos aka “electric winch” our mainsail trimmer, Cristi our headsail trimmer and inexhaustible grinder, Carmen our ferociously independent pit-“wo”man, Brandusa our restless and spirited mast-“wo”man, Anca our gentle but firm tactician, Andu aka Leo the bowman and Bogdan Gh, runner taking over different roles with equal zeal when someone could not show up for a race. All in all, a motley collection of characters passionate about sailing, always striving to show up on time for races, always disappointed about our results, never satisfied with the boat speed and performance, always joking and having a good lough, always savouring wonderful cakes, pies and cookies in the offshore races, never once getting bored or dejected.
For me this summer was a great experience on different levels. I made new friends with whom I share a deep passion for sailing and racing. And I learned enormously about boat preparation, proper sail trimming, racing tactics and strategy. And this is how little by little my interest in cruising diminished to such an extent that I started thinking about tuning Mem Pas Peur for races. I met with Victor again and discussed about how to best proceed with optimising the boat for regattas and once I started to shortlist the needed modifications and new pieces of equipment, the budget jumped somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 EURs. Although I was very enticed by the idea to transform my boat into a racer, not such an unrealistic thought given the boat’s racing pedigree in major races in France in the late 1980s, I realised that all these investments would not increase much the boat’s value. Perhaps it was wiser to try to sell Mem Pas Peur to someone who was more interested in cruising, given the boat’s current setup optimised for single-handed sailing, and then buy a new small racer.
While racing, laughing and having fun last summer, I decided to postpone my decision after the end of the racing season. As a consequence Mem Pas Peur remained tied to her mooring in the Tomis Marina for several months in a row without once having the chance to glide in the open sea. Occasionally I visited her to sleep over night when the races were organised in the neighbouring marina in Eforie Nord. I truly felt sorry for her knowing that I was neglecting her. Even more so when during my absence things, such as the horseshoe lifebuoy and the inner forestay’s deck attaching gear, started to disappear. No one from the Tomis Marina office had any clues about these thefts and furthermore they advised me to hire someone from Constanta to look over the boat constantly! Their lack of engagement, high prices and overall “don’t care about your boat” attitude convinced me to relocate Mem Pas Peur to a much friendlier place – the Life Harbour Marina in Limanu, where most of the racing boats are held throughout the year.
Thus with the end of the 2015 racing season, I reached the decision that for the foreseeable future, racing is my calling and that I need a new faster sailboat to achieve my dreams. I took Mem Pas Peur to Limanu for the winter, in a more protected and beautiful environment, started to look for a buyer and at the same time began my research for a Mini Transat 🙂
TO BE CONTINUED!