You probably ask why do we sail on such a
strange-looking metal sailing “tank”. Well, here is the story and reasons why we choose exactly this boat.
We have been looking around different types of boats for about 2 years. Regularly visiting boat shows in Paris, La Rochelle and especially the one in Düsseldorf, reading different sailing revues and specialized website, we quickly got a pretty good idea about the market and prices. I knew very well bigger models of Alubat Ovni but they were completely out of our budget. Somehow I never really came across their older and smaller models. So when I first saw an Alubat Ovni 32, and realized it could actually fit our budget, I knew immediately this is the type of boat we’d need. Since then I was only looking for this model all around Europe. We visited three Ovni 32 in France and one in Belgium and were ready to visit a fifth one in the UK, but that one was way too expensive. During our first visit of Europa, we knew, this boat corresponds perfectly to what we were looking for and we agreed to buy her during that very first visit (under condition of a positive expert evaluation, which was done one Month later). Solange and Christian were extremely nice and helpful during all steps of the transaction, preparation for transport and handover of the boat. It was a real pleasure to deal with them and we and Europa will always be ready to welcome them on board anytime they wish to visit her again!
But let’s get back to our initial selection criteria. Here are the most important ones:
- Seaworthy. Of course you should select your boat according to your plan and area you plan to sail/travel to. I our case, this was not easy. Even if our main plan is to sail in the Mediterranean, we wanted a boat, which would one day be capable to cross Atlantic. Yes, we like to dream ;) But to cross the ocean, the size matters – the bigger, the better. So we needed to find a boat which is big enough to sail offshore and to berth comfortably two of us aboard for at least a few Months. But - the smaller, the cheaper. And we needed a boat which was affordable for our limited budget. As once said by Moitessier, “the best boat is the one you can afford”. 10-11m seemed to us to be a good compromise…
and easy to handle by one person. Yes, we are two, but on longer passages,
one also needs to sleep. Therefore it was important to have a boat which is
easy to handle. Europa has relatively small main sail and furling genoa, both
of which one person can easily handle. She
is also surprisingly stiff (means she does not heel easily) for a center-board
boat and seems to accept rather well some of our “less good” maneuvers and
allows us to make some mistake without major consequences.
Aluminium hulls are usually 30-50% more expensive, but we were ready to pay a
higher price. What we liked on Ovni boats in terms of safety is the combination
of aluminium hull, protected propeller skeg and lifting keel and rudder. As
somebody once said, there are two types of sailors: those that have hit the
bottom and those who will. Before I join category one, I decided to do so on a
boat with a lifting keel to limit the damage at maximum. The shallow draft of
Europa (only 50cm with its keel and rudder are up) and possibility to sit the
boat on a beach are features we don’t use much in the Mediterranean, but it’s
nice to know, you don’t need to care too much about the depth. And in case you
need to clean the hull or replace the anodes, you simply anchor in 1m and do it
comfortably with your feet standing at the bottom. Of course the combination of
aluminium (solid but heavier than GRP) and light lifting keel (which is in fact
a simple 4-5cm aluminium board of cca 120kg) doesn’t make Europa very fast, nor
very keen to sail windward. But the speed was probably the last thing we were
looking for. We had enough speed while at work, when sailing, we prefer to take
it slowly and easy.
- Some other
basic criteria. An inboard engine
in perfect condition was obvious. But we
also wanted a real navigation table, enough headroom to walk freely inside, a galley
to cook comfortably, a stern platform allowing easy access to the sea, a
cockpit table and bench seats long enough to lay down and sleep on. All these
we got. What we didn’t get is a head (bathroom) big enough to take shower
comfortably. It’s feasible, but Europa’s head is really small, especially for
Jan who is 1m82. So in summer we usually use the second shower located at the
- Credible shipyard, credible history and no need of major repairs or further investments. We wanted a boat build by a credible and renowned shipyard, and for which you can easily find spare parts and all technical information and advise needed. Alubat, the "father of all Ovnis" is a well known shipyard - they like to say "their biggest competitors are their own second hand boats" and I tend to agree. For all Ovni boats you can find a lot of technical information directly from owners, for example here: http://www.ovniclub.com/. As we already mentioned, we bought Europa from an extremely nice French couple. Solange and Christian bought her from the first owner in Brittany in 2006. They first sailed her in Brittany before taking few Months to make a complete refit and equipped her with brand new Vetus engine (25hp instead of 18hp) and many offshore features, such as the very practical stern arch, solar panels, wind generator, electric windlass, autopilot, etc. From 2011 until 2014 they sailed her across the Atlantic and visited many places passing via Madeira, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Brazil, Caribbean islands and Azores. Christian is a very handy man, who took a very good care of the boat. If you want, you can read more about the “previous life” of Europa and see all destinations she visited here: http://antinea7.blogspot.be/
So when we think about it now, we realize we didn’t only buy a boat, we also bought its spirit, and its story. We decided to keep the positive spirit alive and develop the interesting story further.
If you are about to look for a boat to buy, just write us, we might help you with some more-detailed advise or hints.
If you want to know more about Ovni boats, visit their website: https://www.alubat.com/
Photo: a glass of Champagne with Solange and Christian to seal the deal
NB: photo on the top is an Ovni 395 "on the beach", just to visualise the lifting keel, skeg protected propeller and lifting rudder, which are the same on all Ovni boats.