Who are we?
We are Ed and Chris van Zadelhoff – we are in our 50’s and are lucky enough to be able to spend every summer sailing the Mediterranean. Until recently, in the winter we ran a ski chalet company Ski Amis which meant we worked non-stop from November to the end of April without so much as a day off – so in the summer we made up for it by sailing and living aboard while keeping in touch with the business remotely to keep things going with the help of our great management team in France and the UK. In 2018, we decided to retire fully and we sold the ski company in December – this meant our sailing was almost zero last summer unfortunately as the sale process was all consuming. We are now able to live aboard on a full-time basis and cruise around the world, which has always been our lifelong dream. We will be doing that on-board a new boat which is being built in China – and as a result we are sadly selling Liberation :(. Our new travels will start from the Far East at the end of 2019 and we will be blogging on a new site for our new boat – MV Destiny.
Ed is Dutch nationality but he has been resident in the UK since 2002 when we took over the ski company, so speaks English better than Dutch – in addition to fluent German and pretty good French. Chris is dual Dutch and British nationality and also speaks fluent Dutch and French along with getting by in Greek and understanding a bit of Spanish and German. Our yacht, Liberation, is now Dutch registered having been changed from the UK in 2018. Brexit is likely to have a big impact on our lives as they were and although at the time of writing nobody knows what will happen, we decided to take preemptive action to secure our lifestyle. We are now both Maltese resident, Chris now has Dutch nationality to retain EU treaty rights without question, and Liberation was registered in Holland and is Croatian VAT paid. We’re a bit of a mix-up and are what you could call “True Europeans” as we have both lived and worked in many countries all our lives spending our time split between Malta, UK, the French Alps and the Mediterranean countries. Of course, for the future, this is going to be much wider spread!
Before we bought the ski company together, we both worked in senior management roles in the Logistics industry – Chris as a Supply Chain Management Consultant and European Logistics Manager and Ed as a senior Project Manager and Distribution Centre Manager for a market leading third-party logistics company. We’ve always worked together since we met – and are used to spending all our time together – so living on-board our yacht has been no problem at all.
Our Boating Experience
We have had boats all of our life together – and Ed for longer than that as he grew up among the rivers and canals of the Netherlands. Until 2013 these were fast motor cruisers and speed boats ….. and we converted from the dark-side in 2013 when we bought Liberation. Our new boat Destiny will be going back to a motor boat – we will miss sailing a lot, but recent medical issues have made handling a sailboat much more difficult. Destiny will, however, be a slow trawler – a Selene 60 Ocean Trawler – so we aren’t really going back to the dark-side!
We started with a very small 16ft speed boat which we towed behind our motor home but after several holidays in Rosas, Spain then spending 6 weeks on a campsite with it in Croatia in 2003, we were longing to stay on the boat all of the time and not come back to base every night …. always wanting to push the boundaries of how far we could go. Our first cruiser was a 27ft Larson Cabrio 274 which we bought as a wedding present to each other in 2004 – this was swapped in the following year for a 31ft Larson Cabrio 310 (petrol engines … mistake!) and in 2006 we swapped again for a 40ft Larson Cabrio 370. We have made the same journey several times – delivery of the boat to the south coast of England, crossing the channel and taking the inland waterways of Holland, then on a truck to Koper in Slovenia – from where we cruised year after year the coasts of Croatia, Montenegro and the Greek Ionian – then taking it back again to the UK at the start of the following season to swap in for the next boat.
With the last motor cruiser we ventured through the Corinth Canal to the Saronic Gulf but discovered that the big waves of the Aegean were not really possible with a small-ish motor boat, so we did a circumnavigation of Peloponissos and returned to the Ionian. We sold the last motor cruiser in 2007 – the ridiculous fuel consumption just didn’t feel right any more, apart from the cost of it! Travelling the distances we wanted to go meant using a full tank of fuel every day we were moving – 1000 litres at a time. The final straw came when we crossed from Dubrovnik to Corfu – via Brindisi as the range was not enough to go down the middle – and consumed two full tanks of fuel in 24 hours.
We were without our own boat for a few years while the ski business had to cope and recover from the economic crisis – all our money and effort went in to keeping us afloat in other ways! We chartered a few times – a Selene Ocean Trawler 53 in Florida for 3 weeks was the highlight – and in 2012 we decided to charter a sail yacht in Croatia although we had NO intention to haul those flappy things up :). However, we discovered that even if we didn’t intend to sail, our powerboat qualifications would not allow us to charter a sailboat so we set about doing our RYA Day Skipper Sailing course in a bit of a hurry!
Learning to Sail
We learnt to sail in the Solent – a “crash course” in sailing from zero to Day Skipper in a week – which we booked two weeks in advance. Of course, the theory and a lot of the boat handling skills were the same – the thousands of miles we had cruised did mean that we knew most of what we needed to know, as long as the sails remained firmly in their sailbags!!! It was also a challenge that we both had to pass individually and not as a team – so we both had to navigate (instead of just Chris) and we both had to helm and moor the boat (instead of just Ed).
Arriving at Gosport Marina and being welcomed on-board by our instructor, Alistair Watson, we were asked “how long have you spent on a sailboat?” …. to which we looked at our watches, and said “about 10 minutes”. Alaistair’s face fell – he looked at us in horror – and we had to convince him that we would do everything necessary to get through the course. Fortunately, it was Cowes Week (which we didn’t know) so there were no other skipper trainees that week although we had a lot of training in collision avoidance! Alastair managed to do the most amazing job to get us through, although I’m sure he wanted to jump overboard many times during the week. The days were long – from 6am to 10pm of constant grilling, shouting, winching, tacking, jibing … wind awareness was not Chris’s strong point (understatement!) ….. and Ed could not get used to the idea that you can’t just point a sailboat where you want to go and take it there! We had no idea what ANY of the lines were or why you needed them at all, no idea how to hoist a sail or even why we had two sails, no idea what a point of sail was or that sailboats didn’t just go just fine with the wind behind them. Tack? What’s that???.
All credit to our poor instructor and Commodore Yachting – it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done, and we were both physically broken by the end of the week but Ed had scraped through the Day Skipper and got his ticket. Chris failed first time but after we had chartered the yacht in Croatia and spent three weeks of hands on training ourselves (of course we DID put the sails up now!), we went back for a private refresher weekend and Chris got the ticket too.
Converted to sailing – we have no idea why we never did this before! We are competitive – not meaning that we want to start sail racing – but with ourselves and our boat. We prefer to sail UPWIND – and trimming the sails for optimum performance is Chris’s constant challenge with Ed calculating optimum tack strategy. Although it’s nice to take a downwind cruise sometimes, that never really seems like sailing to us.
Where have we been with Liberation?
As with all our other boats, we started in Slovenia but this time with a VAT unpaid boat which we immediately imported to Croatia – taking advantage of the one off opportunity of them joining the EU in 2013 to get an EU VAT paid boat at very low cost. Pure luck – as we discovered this possibility just by chance! After Bavaria commissioning in Isola (Slovenia) we spent several months making our own major upgrades in Umag (Croatia) – more about what we’ve done to the boat on Our Boat page. We left Umag in July 2013 and cruised Croatia – the Istrian peninsula up as far as Opatija, the islands of Krk, Cres and Rab including the infamous Velebitski Canal – described on almost every Croatian weather forecast as having “isolated thunder storms” – then down to one of our favourite locations, Mali Losinj. From there, we cruised through the Kornati Islands to Pasman and Murter before continuing down the coast towards Split. Although we have cruised these islands many times before, we sailed Brac, Hvar and Korcula and this time also managed to get out to Vis and Lastovo which were too far out to be reachable with the motor cruisers, when we didn’t know what the fuel situation would be. From Mljet we went into Dubrovnik – and then on to Cavtat where we checked out of Croatia.
We decided not to explore Montenegro this time – the cruising permit is very expensive and the cruising grounds are very small – and we’d seen it before with the last motor boat. Although the Boka Kotorska is amazing, we decided to skip it this time – and made the 36 hour passage overnight to Greece, arriving at Ereikoussa before checking in at Corfu. At the end of the first season, we cruised the Ionian again – Corfu, Paxos, Antipaxos, Lefkada, Meganisi, Kastos, Kalamos, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos and over-wintered at Cleopatra Marina in Preveza.
In 2014, we started with sailing the West coast of Peloponnese after a training session with our new Parasailor cruising chute from Zakynthos – we then covered all the three legs on the South, staying for a while in Kalamata – then crossed to Kithira, Antikithira and on to Chania in Crete. We visited inland Crete for a few weeks and then circumnavigated the island going West from Chania, taking in the deserted south coast of island where we sailed in gale force winds downwind for miles and discovered some off-the-beaten track anchorages and harbours. After a couple of weeks in Agios Nikolaos marina doing repairs and waiting for spares, we waited for a weather window in the middle of August to cross to Kasos and Karpathos – one of the heaviest meltemi areas in the Aegean! We skipped Rhodes – but did Chalki and Alimia before crossing to Symi from where we zig-zagged up the Dodecanese to Tilos, Nisiros and Kos – where we checked out of Greece and crossed to Bodrum to check in to Turkey. We cruised South/East on the Turkish coast – Bodrum, Datca, Marmaris, Gocek, Kas and on to Finike where we over-wintered at Setur Finike Marina.
In 2015, we left Finike and crossed directly to Cyprus – landing at Pathos and cruising the south coast to Limassol, St Raphael and Larnaca – then crossed back to Turkey and cruised the East side of the Bay of Antalya – from Bozyazi, Anamur, Gazipaza, Alanya, Antalya, Kemer and back to Finike for a few days. We then continued along the Turkish coast covering the same grounds as the previous year then carrying on to the Northern Dodecanese islands of Kalimnos, Leros, Lipsi, Patmos and Marathos before crossing to Samos, where we over-wintered at Samos Marina.
In 2016, we left Samos (Pythagoreio) with the intention of crossing to Mykonos and exploring the Northern Aegean – however, due to work reasons we did not leave until early July by which time the meltemi had already set in big time! We got as far as Fournoi and came to the conclusion that downwind was the only do-able thing – so we headed south to Patmos, Levitha, Amorgos, Schoinoussa and Ios – then upwind again to Sifnos and Serifos – having skipped a whole load of lovely islands in between! By this time, we were fed-up with battling the almost constant 25-30 knot winds and 2-3 metre seas – so decided to pick a weather window and “escape” the Aegean by making a 100 mile crossing to Peloponnisos and the Saronic Gulf, longing for calm water and gentle wind 🙂 We spent the end of the season sailing to Nafplion, Tolos, Koilada, Porto Cheli, Spetses, Dokos, Hydra, Ermioni, Poros and Aegina before heading to Zea Marina in Athens for a few repairs. From Athens, we transited the Corinth Canal west-bound and cruised the Ionian for a few weeks before over-wintering again at Cleopatra Marina in Preveza.
In 2017, we were determined to reach the Northern Aegean early enough – Ed arrived in Preveza in March to do some major upgrades (see more on Our Boat page) and Chris was able to get away early this year as well and arrived at the start of May. We headed out of the Ionian as early as we could – and transited the Corinth Canal east-bound, heading for Aegina and Sounio. We cruised the inside coast of Evvoia – including the dramas of the Chalkiss Bridge crossing – and reached Volos where we stayed for a few weeks. We then cruised on to the Sporades – Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos and Peristera, with some dramas in Skiathos during a major storm. The next step was further North with an overnight stop at Kyra Panagia before crossing to the “three fingers” – Halkidiki. We stopped at Koufos then continued up the first finger to Thessaloniki where we spent a few weeks at the marina, before heading south again and across to the 2nd peninsula where we spent several relaxing weeks in Diaporos. We took in the Athos peninsula (keeping the required distance off-shore!) and then retraced our steps to Preveza for the winter again.
In 2018, we had intended to head in a different direction and explore westwards into Italy, Sicily, Sardinia and Malta. However, the business sale curtailed our sailing and we made it as far as Malta with a three day passage from Preveza. After several weeks of working at our house in Malta, we concluded that sailing was not going to happen – so we crossed to Sicily and left Liberation for the winter in Marina di Ragusa, on the water for the first time ever. She is currently laying happily there – and as soon as the weather allows, we will be moving her back to Preveza where she will be put up for sale. At least we’ll get a week or so of sailing in 2019 we hope to say goodbye!