003 - Woh we're going to Miami
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
I spent the remainder of 2015 leaning from the flop that was the Snowgoose delivery, and I purchased our own life jackets, EPIRBS, tether lines and we enrolled on a marine engine course! We also began reading up a lot on the Antares. If the site hasn’t changed and you want to know a lot about the “Why’s, How’s and What must be done’s” in catamaran design try out www.catermaranconcepts.com or look at “The Serious Liveaboard” in www.liveantares.com . Ted Clements has designed and written about catamaran design for some time and makes some excellent points about what makes a good liveaboard catamaran.
I digress a little but that said The Antares 44i would at the time, if it were cheaper, be my top choice. However, the price of even second hand Antares, was just too high for us and we began to do more research into “our” best cat. I talked Pook into going to the Miami boat show to look at what the world had to offer. We went online and booking.com'd our hotel. We were due to fly from Gatwick, which is definitely not our local airport but flights from East Midlands or Birmingham to Miami just weren’t available.
We set off at 5am leaving plenty of time for the 130 miles trip – the internet said it would be a 2.5hour trip so we organised a 3 hour window and built in the 2 hour ideal time in the airport. We hadn’t gone far before roadworks on the M1 meant using the A roads, but that was OK. When we reached the M25 we had a choice – anticlockwise was the recommended route but a crash on it meant the road signs were saying there were delays, so we decided instead to go clockwise. We made great time right up until the Dartford tunnel where it stopped dead. The radio said there were 2 hour delays due to a car crash. We were a bit worried but sat waiting in the queue.
By the time we’d reached the other end of the tunnel we were distraught. The crash was still a few miles ahead and we were not moving. In a desperate attempt to get to the airport on time I turned the car around and went back through the tunnel, the thought was to go in towards London and go south from the centre out again. Our problem is that the backlog of traffic meant this quickly became a foolhardy plan.
Desperate times call for desperate measures… with absolutely no chance of driving to the airport on time we decided to head to the nearest train station in Grays and catch the train to Gatwick, fighting through the traffic we eventually found a car park we could leave the car in that wouldn’t be ridiculous prices and ran with our cases to the train station. We then discovered that there are no trains from Grays south of the river (the one we had already crossed twice that day) and that we had to go into the centre of London to get out again. Running from one train to another we finally caught one to Gatwick. As you can probably guess, by now we were running very late and as we ran up to the empty desk we realised our fate. We had missed our flight.
We pleaded with the airline but when buying cheap tickets you get cheap service and we could not transfer them and would lose our £800. Not only that, but with the hotel already paid for plus the tickets to the boat show we decided to find the next available flights. They were the following morning from Heathrow!! So whilst we caught the 4 or 5 trains back to Grays and set off anticlockwise back round the M25 to Heathrow, Pook emailed booking.com and the hotel direct to make sure we kept our hotel rooms (we thought there wouldn’t be many available) but that we would be 24 hours late. This added another £900 to our budget though.
Our journey by taxi the next morning wasn’t as troublesome and the flight to Miami went well. Our taxi dropped us off at the hotel but they hadn’t received our email and could not find our booking via booking.com. Thankfully they arranged for us to stay at a sister hotel next door and finally all was well
Miami is a very large city and the next morning we caught an Uber for the first time in our lives to the show. Miami boat show is a huge show and my research over the last year had led me to want to look at a St Francis 50, an Xquisite X5, an Antares 44i (our dream boat at the time) and possibly some others. As expected all the big players were there (Lagoon, Leopard, FP etc) but looking round them only confirmed my impression that I wanted to be (in my opinion at least) more astute with regards to a live-aboard boat. We were most surprised with the Leopard 48 that we (with our budget) thought we could afford and should seriously look at. The front seating area with its hard roof meant that I found myself having to stand on tip toes to see one of the bows. Pook is shorter than me and for her to see the bows when mooring would be impossible. The sales rep said that a camera was available so you could steer by TV but it really did put us off this model. This was a shame because I’d had high hopes for it.
We also looked at Nautitech, Helia and Saba 50 but what I remember most about the Saba was the lack of knee space when sat on the WC. My knees were hard against the door.. and at 1 metre 77cms I’m not exactly tall. Anyway, I have written about our considerations and our personal thoughts on lots of boats we have considered here.
St Francis were sadly not there (pulled out at the last minute) which was a real shame because the boat we’d expected to see was Hugh Howey’s Wayfinder that had had extensively reconfigured to make a good boat even better. There was however a boat called Privileged One, a Privilege Series 5 that we hopelessly fell in love with. Not only was it luxurious but it was spacious and as far as we knew sailed well. What’s more, the owner had installed an extra 3 fridge/freezer units so that he could entertain guests with his culinary skills… this was perfect for us, but without our house sold we were unable to take our interest further. Extra freezers or not the Privilege Series 5 or 515 remains on our shortlist.
Actually getting aboard an Antares 44i was a little disappointing as we felt the accommodation let it down. One cabin got an ensuite but the other side had two cabins and the ensuite for the foreward cabin was foreward of the cabin, meaning the rear portside cabin would have to walk through the other cabin at night to use the WC… or walk over the saloon and use the cabin at the front of the main cabin. This, together with a galley down (Pook definitely prefers galley up… less chance of feeling sea sick) meant that even if Antares became affordable, it was sadly slipping off our shortlist.
Call me tight but since the annual increases in minimum wage in the UK, I have found myself less and less likely to leave a tip. 10 Years ago when waiting staff were on £4/hr a tip seemed justified for good service. Now that the same staff are on £8+/hr it just doesn’t seem necessary (my wages certainly haven’t doubled in that time). Now as big foodies we went out for quite a few meals in Miami and loved everything, eating out in Miami wasn’t cheap though, we found prices plus the inevitable addition of a large almost non-discretionary tip meant we had to choose carefully where we ate.
The Miami boat show wasn’t the cheapest way to look at catamarans, particularly as we’d had to pay double for the flights… but we did marvel at the size, architecture and cleanliness of the place; we loved the (albeit expensive) food and the boats we saw cemented some of our views and changed our minds on some as well.