A Retirement Project


Mister E and I became involved in the restoration of a forty year old Contessa 32. Sailing has been part of Mister E's life since he was a young boy and after deciding to sell the X37 which had served us as a family cruiser for ten years, he was itching for something smaller that he could sail solo if need be. I made the mistake of letting him out alone one day and when he returned he had committed us, subject to survey, to the acquisition of the new lady in his life. If there is any moral to this tale it is a simple one: never let your husband go shopping alone!

That was back in  April 2018, the purchase was completed the following month and following that we were heavily involved in working on her. As anyone who has ever restored anything will vouch for, there is always more effort necessary than you anticipate.

In our case, we (albeit I use that term loosely) chose to make the restoration doubly difficult by living what amounts to a six hour drive away from her mooring in Crinan.

The blog entries below tell the story of the initial saga which we thought would lead to us continuing to sail from the West Coast of Scotland for many more years:

COVID restrictions, however, intervened to delay our project either because we were not allowed to travel to Crinan or because, when we could, all available accommodation had been booked to the hilt. Enquiries about transferring the boat to a marina to make it easier to work on her there whilst staying aboard were thwarted too by a lack of space attributable to the number of boats already moved from outlying island anchorages presumably because of the pandemic restrictions.

Finally, after a gap of 2 years, we got her back in the water and (despite a slight hitch) to Dunstaffnage Marina, north of Oban. Unfortunately Mister E’s injury restricted his ability to work on her as much as he had hoped in 2022.  We missed the best weather window for working on her in 2023 when we took a short trip to the Baltic (how dare we go on holiday?) and then, after our  life was disrupted by the oil leak, made the sensible decision in the winter of 2023 to sell her on. Sadly there is no getting away from the fact that 5 years from when we first acquired her, we are both 5 years older too and the long drive now hits to a degree that was less noticeable back in 2018, whilst the labour of love itself brings less and less reward. 

There is, however, still pride in what we did achieve and the knowledge that although some of the more cosmetic parts of what we had planned were never completed, we passed on a much more comfortable and sailable vessel than the one we acquired. 


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