Meet an X-Sailor

Lisa - Xc 38

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tiistai 4th kesäkuu 2024

I have been sailing for about 30 years, always as happy crew. I was lucky to have sailed the X-332 a racer/cruiser out of the Hamble in the UK almost right from the beginning and it is no surprise that I fell in love with X-Yachts from then on. We bought our first boat, a J109 for a few years for messing about at the weekends in the Solent but once I moved to Salcombe I needed a more substantial yacht that would cope with the seas around Devon here in the UK.

I had my eye on the Xc 45 for a while but then found I was alone so I changed my thoughts to the smaller Xc 38 which I knew I could happily sail short-handed but she would still take me everywhere I wanted to go. For me the Xc 38 is perfect, she is fast, stable, wraps around you and keeps you safe when out at sea but sails beautifully in all conditions. At anchor and in the marina she is a home from home with everything I need. The Xc was perfect for me with all of the necessities for cruising like bigger water and fuel tanks so staying at anchorage and longer passages is easier.

I have asked Stuart Abernethy at X-Yachts UK to keep an eye out for me for an Xc 38 in 2022, they are in demand and I waited for what seemed like an age, but luckily Stuart found the perfect yacht for me. Nigel and Sue her previous owners had looked after her perfectly in partnership with X-Yachts UK and she really was like new. She has all the things you could possibly want for solo and shorthanded sailing. I snapped her up straight away and collected her in the 6 weeks between my two children´s weddings, sailing straight to her home berth in Salcombe Devon after a very excited handover.

Realising that I needed to up my game and change from happy crew to a skipper, I had just spent a couple of summers doing my RYA Yachtmaster training and getting in a lot of nautical miles. I had a brilliant instructor, Marcus, and we covered many miles and a huge amount of learning for me.

After a few summer months in 2022 sailing Elixir around the Devon and Cornwall coasts, the winter was beckoning so she was due to come out of the water. I was enjoying her so much that wasn’t for me, so instead made a last-minute dash across the Channel to Brittany to squeeze in a few more weeks at sea.

One thing led to another and port-hopping south along the French coast was so much fun, I just carried on heading South. Tidal gates are interesting here and the weather in November held me up a bit but the sailing, people, places and food made up for any slow weather progress.

It was often a challenge to find friends and family who wanted to jump on board in the French winter, so I started to sail solo – just like that – and found that Elixir and I loved it!

I discovered regional airports and trains are super convenient for getting between home and the boat easily so I spent that winter popping back and forth between Elixir and home.

The Xc 38 is the perfect boat to handle solo, on pretty much everything comes back to the cockpit so I can manage her from a safe position, she has an electric winch for the main and single-line reefing which proved very useful indeed!

Elixir has the shorter keel option (which is a treat for getting over the bar in Salcombe) and draws just 1.68m. This proved to be no downside when sailing, even when close-hauled but is also very handy when coming into a strange marina or anchorage – there is always room for me!

Spring began to arrive and so I headed south to San Sebastián from La Rochelle and from there West along the North Spanish coast. What a revelation this was. There are very few cruisers, and many fishing boats – none of which seemed to use any AIS or navigation lights – which made night sailing a watchful exercise! The marinas are not expensive, are super welcoming and the anchorages are beautiful. I would say that this has been my favourite during the trip down to Palma. The food all along this coast is just incredible, the cities, and ports are beautiful and the people are just lovely.

It’s Atlantic Biscay sailing which of course can be challenging but the weather forecasting (local, PredictWind and Windy) is pretty accurate. Elixir coped brilliantly and regularly with 3-6 meter swells and some very windy anchorages, a lot of chains with a snubber is a must. I learned that rigging a preventer on both port and starboard sides is useful when sailing solo and gybing. The G1 gennaker is brilliant in light winds (up to about 15KTs) and is a joy to sail with. The sea mist appears even along with the wind, so radar is a must around here, especially at the Northwest tip of Spain which was exciting!

From A Coruna, it’s a long trip down the Portuguese coast to Vilamoura ready for the next stage through the Straits of Gibraltar and across to Palma. The balance between fishing nets close to shore within the 20M contour and orcas in deeper water is an interesting balance, but I had no encounters with either.

For the Straits I was joined by friends as the Orcas and tidal gates were a little too daunting for me alone….. we didn’t see any orcas but many dolphins and we made it beating upwind through the Straits in about 30KTs of wind. Elixir held her own, keeping us snug and safe as we flew along ahead of the tide. A quick rest, dropped off my crew and then for me a leisurely sail along the southern Spanish coast.

My experience so far of Mediterranean sailing is that it is very different from Atlantic sailing. The wind changes a lot during the day from 5 KTs to 25Kts in a few minutes, headlands create different conditions, the waves are much shorter and seem to follow a ‘triangle’ pattern – it’s actually not as simple as I had imagined. I also quickly learned that a bimini was essential as was a passerelle even in the winter sun.

It was a 30 hour passage or so from Denia on the Spanish mainland to Palma with a brief sleep at anchor in Formentera which even in the dark was stunning. It was now November again and the weather window was tight – blowing a healthy 35 Kts on a downwind/broad reach and she was sailing at 12 Kts on just a reefed headsail – she is quick! I arrived in Palma just before the storms started in earnest to be welcomed on the Pontoon by David from X-Yachts Palma.

Since I arrived David, Silvia, Danny and the team have looked after both me and Elixir brilliantly.

After a few thousand miles of sailing, she needed some maintenance to keep her like the new boat I inherited from Nigel and Sue. We made a list of everything that needed doing including the new bimini, passerelle and at 9 years old a new set of sails. The rigging check showed no major issues, the engine serviced and the annual lift out with anodes, bow thruster and prop all having coped well from her travels.

The X-Yachts team in Palma here are second to none, they have organised everything, even all of the minor snagging, keeping me up to date at all times when I am in the UK and are just a joy to be around. I feel very lucky indeed to be here in Palma and to be looked after by them – a clean yacht inside and out, fresh laundry and the bottle of rose in a cold fridge waiting for me when I return to the boat – true luxury!

For now, Elixir is all perfect…. Ready to explore the Balearics and the Med….. and funnily enough, more friends want to come and stay which has been fantastic.

For me, X Yachts are the perfect combination of speed, safety and quality, I wouldn’t buy anything else.

I took a sneaky peek at the X43 at the Palma boat show, what a beautiful boat she is….. ah but could she tempt me away from Elixir who is quite simply my magic carpet.

‘People say I am brave, but actually I am lucky. I have definitely scared myself at times, learning as I go. Elixir and the X-Yachts team have looked after me every step of the way along with my call-a-friends Marcus and Meg – a huge thank you to you all.’