Due to various circumstances we got the green light for our sabbatical just after ordering our raceboat Tontín. This resulted in the peculiar situation where we would need a second boat to sail our sabbatical, as Tontín is too small and racy for such a goal, more so taking into account that 60% of our crew is under 4 The other drawback was the limited time we had to prepare our sabbatical boat. This was mainly self imposed, as we wanted to race Tontín during the July and August months. We further were looking for a medium to quick design, preferably an ex-cruiser racer, putting speed before the advantages of low draft.
With these parameters we scanned the internet for opportunities. We started in the US, as prices are much lower there and many C&C’s are for sale there. Realizing the work and risks for getting the ship under Belgian flag, mainly due to the CE mark requirements, we eventually refocused to yachts flying an EU flag. The time constraint also eliminated yachts with “pending maintenance”, so the race was soon down to yachts mainly located in Holland.
After a first inspection by grand-daddy, the list boiled down to 3 candidates. A Kalik 44, a Van De Stadt Carribean 40 and a Sadler 39. The first was sold before we could place a bid. For the Sadler we had doubts about her stability, as she was a shallow draft wing keel version (1,65 m). We also had a financing problem with her, due to the slightly higher price. We therefore went with the Van de Stadt 40.
She was ordered by her original owners, a couple in their early fifties, for a prolonged trip to the Mediterranean, under the name of Odusseia. It seems, from reading their trip reports, that only the husband had sailing experience. The ideas put forward on their internet site reflect the Dutch beliefs and feelings on offshore sailing, which diverge somewhat from the French school.
The result was a very sturdy built, steel boat of about 11 tons. The design is quick, even in lighter airs, but with the wind aft she screams for a spinnaker under 15 knots of breeze. For us as family with three children, a different layout could have been beneficial, but on the bottomline she quite well fits the specifications we had put forward. The two separate seats in the main cabin serve ideally as baby beds, where Hannelien uses the front one and Lotte loves the back one as her cozy spot to fall asleep or ly down under sail.
We did not make big changes to the boat, but equipped her further as we felt necessary for offshore passages. We ordered three new sails (mainsail, furling Genoa and cutter jib); installed an EPIRB; changed the liferaft for a four persons, offshore version; installed a wind-water generator; bought a second auto pilot to be mounted on the steering wheel; and installed various child proof safety systems, like a spectra retainer line on the backstay tensioner. The most visible change is the safety net which between the lifelines. Though our kids are supposed to wear lifelines once onboard, we preferred to have a secondary system in place in case of…
Main specifications of Aspro: