The White Swan Flies Home
The maiden voyage of any yacht is a momentous, if nerve-wracking, affair, the understandable pride of ownership being offset by major adjustment to a new machine.
When the boat in question is considerably bigger than your previous craft, and full of new and unfamiliar technologies, then there’s a colossal amount to take in and master.
And when, like this boat, she is the culmination of nearly four years of dreaming and planning, then the whole enterprise takes on a life of its own, attaining an almost mythical status for all concerned with her.
Eala Bhan (White Swan in Gaelic) is the first Boréal 55 to be launched, and belongs to proud owners Patrick and Linda Flockhart, replacing their previous (and much loved) Ovni 435 TinTin.
Named after a boat that Patrick knew well, whose owner, Willy Coll, kept a careful eye on Patrick as a boy as he explored the rugged shores of Iona and Mull in Scotland, the ‘new’ Eala Bhan was conceived as a boat capable of expanding a high latitude cruising range that has seen Patrick and Linda explore Norway and the Faeroes in recent years.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to work with them to achieve a boat as close to their dreams and needs as could be devised, and then help sail her home. So as we gathered in Tréguier (where she was built) to sail her home to Ardfern on the west coast of Scotland, there were not two, but three nervous parents gathered alongside her on the pontoon.
Eala Bhan had just returned from the La Rochelle Boat Show, where she had attracted a huge amount of admiration, helped no doubt, by the coronation of the Boréal 52/55 as the European Yacht of the Year 2015 in the Blue Water category.