People not interested in sailing – such individuals are said to exist, rather like unicorns, and are equally difficult to believe  in – should just admire the picture.  If you are a unicorn the rest of this post will be rather boring.  Sorry about that, but I expect you have a pretty interesting life otherwise, avoiding virgins and what-not.

GUMA is an Amel Super Maramu 2000 – a 52 foot (16 metre) ketch launched in 1999.  People in the know will observe that 13 is quite old for a sailing boat – but the exigencies of our limited budget collided with the ambitions of our plan and GUMA is the result – oldish but well-maintained and solidly built.  Not unlike me.

We chose this builder – Amel – after years of sailing other types of boat (mostly Beneteau and Jeanneau, admittedly) and visiting countless boat shows.  The boatyard is in La Rochelle in France and the company is essentially a workers’ co-operative since Henri Amel gave it to the workforce on his 70th birthday.  A bit like John Lewis.  One might say that this ownership structure ensures the high quality and pride in their work for which the yard is renowned, but I would be wary of where such assertions might be leading.  I would not wish to encourage Messrs Clegg and Cable.

The attractions of this boat are its safety, comfort and easy handling.  The centre cockpit is sheltered by a permanent spray-dodger, and in normal circumstances the boat can be sailed without leaving this cockpit.  The sails are of manageable size, because of the ketch (two-mast) rig, and all furl by rolling.  Main and genoa are controlled by electric motors.  It’s all very civilised. There are huge reserves of water (1000 l) and fuel (600 l) making the boat’s autonomy enormous.  There are lots of comforts aboard, such as washing machine and dishwasher, entertainment centre etc – and masses of batteries charged by a separate diesel generator as well as an alternator linked to the propeller shaft. I could go on for much longer but I suspect that even the non-unicorns are getting bored now, so voilà.  We hope that this boat will let us implement our plan safely and in comfort.