Beneteau 40.7 'Space Race' sails to her new home

Space Race Delivery Trip – Hamble to the Clyde April 2017

Boat owner: John and Sylvia Welbank

After ten years without a proper boat I had decided it was about time we finally got round to getting ourselves a new ship. Due to time and financial commitments I spent around two years trawling the internet for likely candidates. The main criteria was based on price, sailing ability and size. Age was also a factor as I didn’t want anything to old as the potential resale value down the line becomes a real issue. Although we wanted the boat primarily for sailing holidays with the family I also wanted something that was a proper sailing boat and not a floating caravan. We also wanted a three cabin layout that would give us the ability to have more friends and family on board if required.

You would think that there were lots of options in the 38-40ft market but this is simply not the case. Most cruiser orientated boats appeared to be at a premium compared to more racey options. Many other boats were simply on at stupid money. I also have a pathological hatred of roller mains and coach roof main sheets – old school I’m afraid.

After a few highly speculative offers a Beneteau 40.7 reappeared on the market in Southampton. Most importantly the owner had priced sensibly and was keen to conclude a quick deal. Space Race had originally been used as a corporate charter boat and in her last ownership had been used as a weekend racer. Although originally designed as a cruiser racer she did have all the required kit for both scenarios. As a result she seemed to fit the bill.

The boat was advertised by Simon Walworth of The Yacht Brokerage Ltd. After an eleven hour round trip to the Solent and a  quick negotiation the deal was done. I’d already seen a previous survey but wanted something in my name. The boat had clearly been well worked but the key components of rig and keel had all been well maintained. Issues that needed resolving were numerous but generally minor and cosmetic.

The main hurdle was that the boat was on the Hamble but my chosen cruising ground was the Clyde in Scotland as we live in South Cumbria. From viewing the boat to the delivery trip was only three weeks. It quickly became apparent that getting anything done on the Hamble in April is near impossible but despite this Simon used every contact he had to get  minor pre delivery trip works done before Space Race went in the water.

As a Scottish cruising boat the one essential I did require, preferably before we headed north, was a spray hood. After chasing quotes from a number of companies both the best value and best reviews were from Tecsew in Gosport. Not only could they manufacture the sprayhood in time but also fit it within two weeks of the order being placed. In the end this investment proved critical to the delivery trip. Due to the conditions we faced we simply couldn’t have done the trip without this extra protection.

Launch day was Friday 28th April – the first available slot at Hamble Point. The plan was for me to drive south on the Thursday night loaded up to the gunnels with gear, food etc. Boat in the water at 9.30am, riggers to land mid-morning to fit the roller forestay then head up to Hamble Point for the night to meet the crew. What could possibly go wrong? In the end, and mainly due to Simon Walworth nothing actually did. He helped launch, rig, fix and even help me sail up to Port Hamble. Now that’s what I call proper brockerage service.

The crew landed Friday night for a Saturday morning off, which despite a few minor technical issues we achieved. The first day saw a full on champagne sailing run down the Solent and west past  Portland Bill to Brixham. 105 miles averaging over eight knots. Not bad for a cruiser. Unfortunately this was about the last time the weather played ball.

That night the met office was forecasting a gale from the south west. Not wanting to push our luck we stayed in Brixham. Despite the pouring rain and the distraction of the Brixham pirate festival the gale never materialised. We did however manage to sort various minor boat issues. Next day we set off into a lively SW 5 which quickly built. By the time we got to Start Point the tide had turned and we were beating into 5m swells and a strong foul tide. Three hours trying to round Start Point had the crew, if not the boat suffering. The original plan was to head for Falmouth but this was quickly adjusted to a ten hour run to Plymouth instead. This also allowed for a simpler crew change.

As we had already lost a day in Brixham I was keen to push on. 4am on the Wed morning we were off again. Conditions were very benign with light winds and blue sky. A pleasant chug across to Lands End saw us turn the corner north by early evening. That night provided a very pleasant motor north into the Bristol Channel but by the early hours the wind was building again. As usual from the worst possible direction; north east. The choices were either to run for Milford Haven or keep bashing on to Holyhead in North Wales. Difficult decision but the boat had clearly proved her sailing abilities around Start Point. Although it was going to be unpleasant it was still safe so the decision made, we crashed on. Beating up the entire length of St Georges Channel took a further twenty four hours  - 56 hour run in total from Plymouth to Holyhead. Thank goodness for Tecsew’s sprayhood! By the time we reached Holyhead we were ready for some proper food and at least a few hours sleep. I was going to spend the night in Holyhead but a reasonable forecast of Easterly 4/5 spurred the crew on for the last jump so six hours after getting there we were off again. As always happens the East 4/5 soon turned into a NE 6/7. Triple reefed main and handkerchief of jib still saw us bowling along at over 7 knots to windward. The boat was just incredible. In the early hours, off the Isle of Man the wind finally eased and we had a stunning and slightly more comfortable blast up the North Channel under starry skies.

After dodging a few ferries coming out of Loch Ryan we finally headed into the Clyde. Surprise surprise the wind also turned the corner and headed us all the way north but by this stage I didn’t care. Cloudless blue skies over Arran and a short chop weren’t going to stop us know. We finally picked up a mooring off Great Cumbrae Island at 9pm – another 27 hour run. Cold beer and hot food on a flat table were very welcome.

After an early start the following morning we finally motored into James Watt Docks Greenock at 9am exactly seven days to the hour since leaving the Hamble. The total logged distance was 641 miles. Not bad for a shakedown trip.

Lessons learned are as follows. Buy through a decent broker and you don’t get much better than Mr Walworth and Co. Get yourself a decent sprayhood – now ordering a stackpac from Tecsew so no need to look further. And finally get yourself a decent sail boat. Space Race took this trip in her stride despite the conditions. Give me a fast sea boat any day to a floating caravan. Don’t tell anyone, but they’re also cheaper!!

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