In 1999 my partner Sue and I decided to give up our jobs and go on a journey and we began looking for the best boat we could find for a cash budget of £30k. We looked at a lot of fairly tired GRP yachts around the UK, then we came across a small ad with no picture for a “gaff cutter” built 1997. We went to view at Barton on Humber and found an immaculate “as new” steel yacht with a really top quality wooden cabin. The boat was being sold by the builder, Eric Hammond (trading as “Offshore Steel Boats”) an ex-fisherman who specialised in small inshore commercial fishing boats but was also a classic yacht enthusiast. He had built the yacht in his spare time from a design he worked out with Alan Pape and had launched her in 1997, although when we saw her she was still a bit of a work in progress lacking some inessentials (she had a fresh water pump for example but no sink). The yacht seemed very cheap and I guessed this was because she had been built using spare labour and materials from the Yard’s main business. We commissioned a survey which basically confirmed our view. I think Eric sold the yacht because he had one boat too many, his principal love being a sailing trawler which he had restored.
We moved the yacht to the Medway and over a year or so carried out works at Gillingham Marina to get her ready for a long cruise. This included fitting shore power, a battery charger, larger fresh water tanks and making an “A” frame to simplify raising and lowering the mast. We also fitted sheet winches (Eric had sailed her without) and an electric anchor winch.
We left the Medway in June 2002 and went to London.
We then went across the Channel and through the French Canals before hopping in short day sails down the Mediterranean coast of France and Italy to La Spezia where we overwintered.
La Ciotat 2002
What came as a real surprise was how good “La Fulica” was on the French canals and rivers. We can step the mast and stow the rigging ourselves in about a day. Having a gaff rig, the mast does not overhang the yacht and with a steel hull, 35hp diesel and lifting keel she is actually very at home on inland waterways and looks pretty tidy as well.
In 2003 we cruised from La Spezia to Elba, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily then back up to Rome to over-winter. In the Spring of 2004 we made an offer on the house and olive grove in Puglia (the heel of the boot of Italy) where we now live and sailed “La Fulica” round to Taranto in the summer of 2004, taking in the Lipari Islands en route. In the winter of 2004 we moved her to her current home in Brindisi, where she has spent most of her time out of the water apart from a couple of weeks of local cruising. She had a refit in 2008/9, including a hull and deck respray and complete renovation of all the woodwork, masts and spars, plus 2 new batteries and a new solar panel. We have finally decided to sell her because ownership doesn’t make economic sense – we now work all over the world on short-term contracts and in between we have our land to maintain and so we simply do not have time for sailing.
As well as being excellent on inland waterways “La Fulica” is a very stiff and safe sea boat. On a couple of occasions when we got caught out in bad squalls with really horrible short, steep Mediterranean seas she coped extremely well (better than I did!). She also handles well in cramped marinas going astern predictably and having much less tendency to get carried away by strong breezes than a modern grp yacht (especially with the keel down). Overall, we lived aboard very happily for over two years, despite having nothing other than a solar deck shower. When over-wintering in Mediterranean marinas she was a great boat for entertaining, having a cosy and traditional interior and a really good-sized cockpit, where six can actually dine in comfort. She is an excellent yacht for someone who prefers aesthetics over practicality and who wants to sail something a bit different from your average Bavaria. On the downside, the accommodation is limited, because she has a beam of only around 10’ and if there are four of you cruising then you need to be good friends. Also the gaff rig, though very pretty is not the easiest for short-handed sailing and for much of our cruising we tended to motor-sail.
Ashore October 2010
For passage planning we worked on an average 5 knots under power or sail and she usually out-performed this a bit. She can motor at 6.5 knots if need be and with a good force 4/5 on the beam she will cream along under sail at 7-8 knots. She is also surprisingly good in light airs, if you have the patience. By sheer incompetence we ran out of diesel in the Gulf of Squillace in Southern Italy and she ghosted along at 1.5 knots in a breeze that I could not feel.Viewing La Fulica
Brindisi airport is served by a number of budget airlines including Ryanair (London Stansted, Brussels, Stockholm, Eindhoven, Barcelona, Bergamo, Pisa, Rome and other locations), EasyJet (Paris, Milan, Geneva), Air Berlin (Cologne, Monaco) and Tuifly (Frankfurt, Brussels, Zurich). There is also a connecting bus service from Bari airport (which is also served by Ryanair, EasyJet and many other carriers) to Brindisi airport which takes c 90 minutes.
La Fulica is on hard standing at a yard close to Brindisi’s large modern marina (“Brindisi Porto Turistico”) which is close to the airport runway and just over a mile from the city centre.
The owner is happy to meet interested persons at Brindisi Airport and take them to view La Fulica and on to hotel or B&B accommodation, which is readily available for c £50 per room per night or less, through booking websites such as “expedia”. Alternatively, there are taxis available at the airport as well offices of most of the major car hire companies.
[ La Fulica ]
For further details or to arrange to view, please contact Adrian Espin at: - Astonbury Marine Services
19 Colne Road, Brightlingsea, Essex, CO7 0DL Tel: 01206 305 996 or +44 1206 305 996
or email to: adrian@EasternYachts.com
In this case we are acting as Brokers only. The Vendor is not selling in the course of a business. Whilst every care has been taken in their preparation, the correctness of these particulars is not guaranteed. The particulars are intended only as a guide and they do not constitute a term of any contract. A prospective buyer is strongly advised to check the particulars and, where appropriate, to have the vessel fully surveyed and inspected, sea trialled and opened up. All Content is copyright - All Rights Reserved.