I am going to need your help here.  It has become evident that I should bring Mary home.

When I visited on the 20th June (2016) you could see this view from Pisa marina.  It is very beautiful there and I regret not sailing back around the south of France or making it down to Naples.  I am just finding it hard to keep up with (and enjoy) the maintenance.  Mostly as I have to shoe-horn it into a week due to limited holiday.  I am also overdrawn on the long holidays away from the family.

The strength of the sun is quite incredible and as you can see here most of the top sides needs repainting.  She is not in bad shape and I don’t think the work too significant.  The rubbing strake has peeled but checking the wood underneath I think it is solid.  There are a lot of the little jobs that are a pleasure to fiddle about doing, given time.

So I need to borrow a trailer and get some advice on hiring a towing vehicle.  I have 3 weeks holiday booked in August and fancy doing a bit of a caravan holiday while bringing her back with the family.  What are the costs of the ferry/tunnel etc…


11 thoughts on “Bringing Mary Home-Non abbastanza vacanze

  1. Well Mary is now back in Suffolk Yacht Harbour.  If it wasn’t for the weather I would like be working on her.  In fact iit was so nice on the Tuesday she arrived I considered putting her straight into the water..

    Using Bob was the right thing to do.  It was no stress, though I did worry about the marina in Le Lavendou as you can’t always count on marina’s doing stuff on the day.  But they were good, friendly and on the button.

    I am really glad Nick was able to join me for the holiday part.  We had a couple of days of proper sailing some beautiful evening sails and alot of motoring under a bimini.  If I had understood the weather patterns better we would have done more sailing.

    I will share more pictures when I can. 

    Now I am just looking forward to a bit of east coast sailing.

  2. On an incredibly dull note ‘midst all the excitement, you are suffering from paint incompatibility which the sun has exacerbated !  White is reflectively bright, cheap, blends in for touching up and is easily available but boring. An aluminium base reflects the UV but needs a good ‘cover coat’. I have used aluminium hardwood primer, red metal primer, grey undercoat and white gloss on Tuan Mac with good results but not in the same climate, quelle chance ? All, from my local marine paint supplier, Wickes.

  3. Thanks Chris,  I must say I am impressed by the generosity of association members 😉

    But it is things like blown tires that has a similar effect on the budget.  But the logistics of me spending my holiday sailing or driving was the deciding factor.

  4. I used Land Rover hire/trailer company (Tridenttrailers.com) to bring  KP  back from Belgium when I acquired her in 2011. I did not need to hire a trailer as KP had her own – needed 2 trips because a tyre blew out on trip 1 and had to return the next week – I have an Atalanta trailer if you need to borrow one (stored in Rye).

  5. That makes sense now!

    I think you also understand why I bring Calista home every time. 

    Chas and Mandy Hammond have kept Walrus in Mali Losinj (undercover in a shed at a marina) for the last 12 months. 

    I don’t think there is a cheap way of doing this, but it is certainly brilliant sailing in what is mostly lighter winds and with the sun (usually) shining. 

    Cant see any way around the fridge issue. Don’t send it out by carrier to wait for you – it might disappear.

  6. Ah, yes sorry, that vital piece of information. 

    Bob, the boat transport company, is going to pick Mary up from near Toulon.  This means I take my holiday sailing from Pisa to Toulon.  I have holiday and flights booked giving me three weeks.

    Taking flights means I can’t take the fridge as it contains compressed gasses.

    I am still keen on understanding the cost of transport as I hope this isn’t the last time I sail in the Med.  But for me the cost of hiring the 4×4 combined with the need to get back to the UK pick up the 4×4 and trailer then return to the south of France to pick up Mary and drive back.  Well I would need another holiday…

  7. Sorry you have totally confused me now!

    I am not sure how that works. Is a boat transport company bringing the boat back for you? How are you getting the holiday – or is the holiday totally separate?

    Fridge – bit confused there as well. It is a stand alone unit. So are you worried about it flattening the boat battery, or wondering how to use it on holiday away from the boat, or not sure where to keep it on board?

  8. Ok things are starting to take shape.  I have gone with using Bob at fen boat transport.  Probably for the most part to make best use of the holiday and not stress over the shifting of the boat.  I am now considering route planning.  I expect spectacular scenery so hope to share some photos.  But it is still over a month away ;-(.  One of my biggest concerns is that I have bought a fridge (Webasto TB18) which I have at home and would like to have on the boat.

  9. Alistair

    To answer your points in order:

    I think that the closer you can get the boat before you start to tow the better. After all sailing is more fun!

    Now it is interesting that “the tolls in France are considerable” – that isn’t my gut feeling. Now that may just be that I am mentally balancing out the total cost of the trip against 6 to 8 weeks sailing in the sun. I am particularly balancing the cost of the motorway in France against the ease of driving on open roads with light traffic (well most of the time ((Paris! Periferique)). 

    Class charged. The short answer is class 2 same as car and caravan. However what you actually get charged can vary. During the summer holidays the toll booths are staffed by students as far as I can work out, and they sometimes undercharge (I think!) As mentioned in my last message in theory you become class 3 when the total height is over 3.5 metres. The only time that was an issue was at the French side of the Mont Blonc tunnel. Every time I have paid there the height of the mast off the ground was measured. The other side from Italy they don’t seem to care.

    Going on to your budget tally:

    Have you found a hire car? Pay particular attention to what I said in the last message about taking hire cars across national boundaries. Make sure it has a tow bar!

    Breakdown cover. Now there is a real issue. You will find it almost impossible to get it.

    No one in the UK will cover a double axle trailer with an Atalanta on it. Neither the AA, RAC, or any of the others will cover it in the UK or on the continent. Green Flag will cover it in the UK but not in Europe. 

    They will all take your money but when you read the contract it will not cover it. So do you take a risk and pretend it is only 1.5 ton, or do you save your money on the basis that they will let you down when you need them?

    When I had the breakdown I had bought insurance through the Caravan Club Red Pennant service ( about £400 if I remember correctly). I was very open with them and explained exactly what I intended to do and with what. When I broke down they were helpful to begin with but then they became extremely obstructive, and did their best to break the contract. They also organised for the vehicle to be repaired by a back street bunch of rogues in Dover, who charged a fortune for fitting parts which were not fit for purpose. I did eventually get a significant sum of money back from the breakdown insurance, and after 2 years of threatening legal action got full compensation from the garages insurance. The Caravan Club would not respond to my letters asking them to remove the rogue garage from their list of approved garages. So I can’t turn around and say I was “satisfied” with the breakdown cover.

    During this period we had been trying to join the German equivalent of the AA, which is called ADAC. They cover the trailer in the UK and Europe, as well as many other benefits. BUT they got into trouble for letting Brits join. The international federation of motoring clubs insists that you have to join your national motoring club, not one in another country.  I can guess which organisations objected. The issue was that it was getting around the British motor caravaning groups that you needed to join ADAC to get your motorhome covered in Europe. It was by searching motorcaravan forums that I found out about it – but it was too late it had been stopped.

    I think that since these motoring organisations are no longer really “clubs” but huge businesses that such a stand may be illegal, protectionist, anti-competetive etc. Anyway that is an opinion.

    Dinah of course is fluent in German, and by writing to them to explain the issues, eventually she was able to persuade them to allow us to be members. We keep paying that membership – not to be allowed to lapse! The change of mind was due to the fact that the national organisations could not cover the vehicle combination.

    We also have a campervan body that fits on the pickup – so it is doubly advantageous to us.

    As an aside, we have made that trip to the med many times, and only once needed the breakdown cover. We have never needed to call out ADAC. 

    So to summarize the breakdown cover issue: If you are driving a fairly new vehicle and you have carefully checked the trailer do you really need it? On the other hand if the unexpected happens perhaps you are glad to have it. It is just that if you do need it, it had probably better be worth the paper it is written on!

  10. Thanks Trevor, I hoped you would reply to the post rather than the email.

    I have asked and got a reasonable price from Fen Boat Transport FBT.  These are the people Richard used to return Colchide home.  I have also contacted suffolk yacht harbour.  So I have a backup plan.

    This is for Bob (from FBT) to pick up from Pisa marina and my mind is starting to look at alternatives…  it also gives me a budget.

    One of the big things is that I should really sail across the south of France.  It would be rude not to really?  Partially this was to avoid the Alps.  But as Bob pointed out the tolls in France are considerable.  I think I must have payed nearly Euro 200 when I drove down to drop the cover off.  So does anybody know what category a 4×4 towing a twin trailer actually is.  See http://www.autoroutes.fr I calculate as a car with caravan E300 but a truck with 3 axels E400 but this seems to include fuel.  That is to get to Toulon.

    My plan, if I can swing it, is to sail to ‘Le Lavandou’ near Hyeres, where I turned right to Corsica.  That means an 800 mile drive up the Rhone valley.

    But the tally as I currently see it.

    • 4×4 hire £500 for a week
    • tunnel £500
    • tolls and petrol £800
    • Liftout in Le Lavandou £200
    • Breakdown cover ? £100

    Does this seem sensible?  It is certainly eating into that budget.

  11. This is really a reply to a message that Alistair sent to me via the website message facility. Since he started a blog post, I will leave a reply which can be seen by everyone who might be interested.

    Firstly the towing vehicle. I don’t think that a van with a towing capacity of 2 tons will really cope. I know my boat and trailer are different to yours, and of course heavier. Thinking about Atalanta’s specifically and discussions I have had with others such as Dominic, Chas Hammond, and others, you will be lucky if the weight is less than 2.5 tons, and it will probably be more. The bare Atalanta is 2 tons, unladen. The trailer will be at least 0.5 ton. Then you have fittings, and fixtures which are not covered by the 2 tons. I believe that lots of kit needs to be transferred to the vehicle to get the weight of the boat down to 2 tons. Of course that is what other owners tell me – Calista is different. I have to work to get the weight down to 3.5 tons. That is partly my 6 wheel trailer, and partly the equipment, liferaft, roller reefing, oven, heater, fridge, etc etc. Bear in mind that the 2 ton weight claimed for an Atalanta might always have been optimistic.

    So what to tow with? Well anything which can tow 3.5 tons will tow the weight. The larger Landrovers, Jeeps, and Tourags all tow 3.5 ton. The Izusu DMax and Ford Ranger pick ups (if they are less than 2 years old), can also tow 3.5 ton. Both Peter Crane and I now tow with Izusus.

    Most pick ups, and 4 x 4 cars can only tow 2.5 tons.

    Clearly it is up to the individual how much one tows compared to what one should tow. However I try not to  overload, there are plenty of hills on the route, and the task is stressful without worrying about being stopped (I was stopped once by Italian police, but they rushed off after someone more interesting). All routes lead through the Alps, even if you no longer have to climb up to the pass and can use a tunnel instead.

    You asked about hiring a towcar. I found the normal hire companies extremely expensive for this sort of thing. I could only find Discoveries and Rangerovers for hire as executive cars without towbars. The second problem is hire companies make it difficult to cross national boundaries even within the EU. You can hire a car in France but you have to give it up at the ferry port, as far as I can work out.

    I did hire a Discovery (with 400 miles on the clock) to tow Calista from Dover to Italy, and my son drove it back to Dover. I hired it from SHB. You see their vehicles on construction sites, and motorway repair works. They were able to provide hire paperwork to allow a hire vehicle to cross national borders, but you have to provide your own insurance. They are geared to hiring to companies. Companies have fleet insurance which includes hire vehicles. I got around that because my vehicle had broken down and my insurance provided suitable insurance. Not all insurance companies will do that, in fact some won’t insure SHB vehicles at all. If you can sort out the insurance I recommend them.

    Ferries and Tunnels. I have used Dover / Calais car ferries in the past and the channel tunnel more recently. The return fare will be around £450 if you pay the full fare. I have used Tesco vouchers for a long time to pay for these fares. In past years you could use the vouchers for the ferry, but you can only use them to get to Ireland by ferry now. You can still use them for the Channel tunnel, guess why I use the tunnel now! The advantage is that there is a “multiplier” applied to the voucher. What the multiplier is varies and I have not looked for this year. If the multiplier is 4 then you can exchange £100 of Tesco vouchers for a £400 channel tunnel voucher. Last year I used this for two return trips (with the demountable camper on the Izusu rather than the boat towed behind). 

    Pisa Marina – is that mainland Italy? If it is on an island watch the cost of that ferry!

    If as I think it is mainland Italy (west coast?) then I can offer some advice about route.

    I have used the Mont Blonc tunnel in the past. The route is south through France, turn left skirting the bottom of Switzerland, through the tunnel and down into Italy crossing the northern plain around Milan. French motorways have tolls, as do many Italian ones. There is a fee for the mont blonc tunnel, about £30 each way. Make sure the tip of your mast does not exceed 3.5 metres from the ground – if it does the fee is £150 each way. Only one tunnel shared by north and south going vehicles (not nice). The route has the advantage that for about £80 of motorway tolls (if I remember correctly) you can drive on the under used French motorway system. Of course you have to drive Italian motorways to the marina.

    My favourite route is via Germany (going to the Adriatic at least). Up into Belgium, around Brussels, cross into Germany, down to Munich, across to Austria, turning south on the outskirts of Salzburgh. Through the Touern tunnel (spelling probably wobbling there) and out into north eastern Italy. Then just a few hours, down hill all the way to the Adriatic coast between Venice and Trieste. The advantage is that the motorways as far as Austria are free. Austrian motorways you have to buy a vignette at the border (about £10 for 2 weeks).  The tunnel is £11 each way. The tunnel is double – one duel carriageway tunnel each way which is MUCH safer.The disadvantage as far as your trip is concerned is that the motorway across the northern plain of Italy is HORRENDOUS. Traffic is really heavy, and it goes on and on. then you have to go SW towards the marina.

    So I would probably recommend the Mont Blonc route.

    Making a holiday of it. A good idea. The only issue is campsites. I have been turned away from campsites, particularly in Italy. I used to choose campsites when I was planning the trip, write letters and enclose a photo. Pre-booking. Trying to make sure the site had no excuse to refuse me access! Still had to argue at times.

    I think that many campsites on the continent (and increasingly here as well) are expecting you to spend your 2 weeks summer holiday there. They don’t like one night stands! Certainly turning up without a booking is discouraged. (It is here as well). So avoid the ones on lakes, or with entertainment, they will turn you away if you arrive with an Atalanta in tow.

    If you use the Mont Blonc route we might be able to suggest campsites which will welcome you.

    Just in case you need to know there is another alternative while actually travelling. I know it has the potential for problems, and the caravan club say you should not do it, but I have spent lots of nights at motorway service areas. I think it is probably safer in an Atalanta than a Caravan! Sometimes there are specific caravan slots but mostly you park among the lorries. I try to choose major service areas, the ones which have fuel, shops, and restaurants. They have people around all night – less potential for problems. Only issue is you have to stop for the night early. Leave it until 20.00 and there is no space left. Lorries everywhere, including the access roads and almost blocking the fuel station. 

    Just as a further aside, if you are travelling with an empty trailer on the way out, you cant sleep in the boat. There are cheap hotels in France. Our son Magnus swears by them. Prefabricated buildings, automatic toilet cleaning, shower, thin mattress, but cheap. About £10 per night. He says it is cheaper than camping. I am sure I can find out the name of the chain if it helps.

    Hope all this helps.

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