I expect this news will come as a surprise. It should because it surprised the heck out of us, and we made the decision. We've listed Matilda for sale.
I know, I know, it's a big change. You may have questions like "What on earth brought this on?" and "Didn't you just spend big money on upgrades in Türkiye?" Both of these are very valid questions. But as I explained to one friend this week, cruising plans can change quickly. If you'd asked us even two weeks ago, we'd have said, "No way we will sell. We're keeping Matilda for the next few years." So what changed?
It's complicated! There are a lot of interrelated things that tie together, but broadly speaking, we've always planned to eventually move on to the canals in Europe, most likely on a barge. That's never changed. But the timing of it was uncertain. We've just spent a lot of time with the kids, and after a lot of conversations, something that was clear is that they have plans for the future that we'd like to be part of, too, which means eventually being located a little closer.
We started working backwards from where they (Ella & Inge) want to be, where we want to be and what we want to be doing in a couple of years' time. It should come as no surprise that it will still involve boats – a barge on the French canals, but the part that might surprise you is we have decided that we want to run a hotel barge.
Working hasn't been part of our immediate plans for a while, but this is something we're excited to try. We love sharing our lives onboard with others and being able to make a bit of money off that at the same time seems like a nice combination. It will put us much closer (an hour and a bit instead of four hours and a bit) to Scotland and Norway, and also, it just strikes us as an exciting new challenge for two people who, while we're happy to laze around swimming all day, also never like to stand still for too long.
So we decided to start investigating what was involved, and that included a conversation with our yacht broker, Sotiris. The initial thought was that we might sell Matilda at the end of this season, but as we worked through it all, it just didn't really make sense. For one, we're not actually going to be spending that much time cruising this year anyway with Ella's wedding, a visit to Eurovision in Sweden and family visiting from Australia. Plus, if we want to be established in France in the next couple of years, we really need to start making moves towards that now.
As Sotiris pointed out, boat sales are very uncertain, and while Matilda could sell this month (unlikely), she might take twelve months or more (hopefully not). The best time to sell is at this time of the year before the summer season, so listing at the end of the year means it may take even longer. Then, there's the other side of the equation: getting established and licensed to operate a barge commercially in France will take a year or more, too. Worst case if we listed Matilda at the end of this year, it might be 2027 before we could start taking bookings. The best case would be 2026. Whereas, if we list now, the realistic worst case is 2026 and best case, we can be ready to operate from 2025.
No matter how we tossed it around, as we tried to plan for the future and gathered more information, we just couldn't see how to reliably make the goal of being on the canals within a two-year period happen without listing now. So reluctantly, that's what we've realised we needed to do.
This is not to say we are THAT reluctant. We're very excited about the new plans and the adventure ahead, BUT it's also true that we have some regrets and sadness about listing Matilda for sale now as well. I think what we've learnt is that there's always another boat. We may yet complete this season in Greece (although it will start late), and if not, we can always buy another boat and cruise the seas again in the future. We've got a lot of time ahead of us!
Anyway, making the decision has been the obsession for the last couple of weeks. Then, with the decision made, we moved right into it, getting photos organised and working with Sotiris to get the listing up online. Here she is, Matilda, for sale – if you know anyone in the market for a very well-maintained trawler in the Mediterranean, please point them this way! Unfortunately, there has been some trouble getting all the photos loaded up. We have better ones available, but for some reason, YachtWorld won't load them – the video covers it all well, though.
This week then has been deep cleaning the boat, taking photos, putting them online, chasing lots of little bits and pieces and preparing to go to the UK, all while making sure that Matilda is able to be shown if someone happens to want to visit while we are away.
It was a relief to get to Thursday when we left Mytiline early in the morning to head to England. We had the smoothest run we've experienced in quite some time with no delays at all – in fact, a couple of early departures! We were joking that the day was going so well that when we got to the rental, we'd be offered an upgrade at a reasonable price. After some negotiation, we moved up several classes of the car into a proper AWD with high clearance for only 100 GBP extra for the month!
We like to arrive a day or two early for pet sits, in case of delays so we had booked accommodation near Reading for our arrival. It was in a small country pub (basically the cheapest thing we could find), and while eclectic and a little odd at times, it was a very comfortable stay. The worst part of it was driving down the very tiny English country roads after dark in the pitch black with the locals pushing 60 miles an hour on roads that can barely handle that speed in the daytime.
Friday, we headed to Oxford for the day. We had thoughts of visiting Bletchley Park (the home of the Enigma machine and code-breaking in WWII). Still, once we arrived in Oxford, we realised that instead, we were quite happy pottering around that lovely small city for several hours. We had a great breakfast, walked past the marina and tried to peek a look at several canal boats. Then to the covered markets, some historic buildings, more food (doughnuts), a visit to Tolkeins grave (surprisingly unassuming for a person of his fame) and eventually (17,000 steps later) back to the pub to rest!
Saturday morning, we were up early and drove to the house sit 20 minutes away in a small village called Aldsworth, which is up near the Ridgeway Trail and the Thames River. We were greeted by the homeowners, and we're now looking after their lovely house (an old barn conversion) and their two Staffordshire Terriers, Reggie and Bonnie.
It's interesting how different all the dogs are at the various house sits. These two are very chill and happy with each other's company, just contented that we are here to hang out with them. They are very secure dogs that have no issues being left at home for a few hours, so we're going to get good opportunities to cruise around and visit things in the area. No doubt, with the Thames nearby, that will involve looking at canal barges.
Karina has been getting very good at scanning for house sits, and she managed to find another one for the two nights we had free between this sit and the next.
That's us for the next few weeks. Exploring the South of England, enjoying being in proper houses with proper ovens, playing with other people's dogs and waiting for any news about how the listing for Matilda is going. Realistically on that last one, we expect it to be a slow process, but you can always hope!
Until next time,
Tim & Karina