Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Visited another Amel in Kemah

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit another Amel Super Maramu 2000.  A man named Alexandre had recently purchased this boat (I think in St. Martin?) and hired a captain to deliver her to the Seabrook marina near Kemah.  Alexandre had communicated with Bill via the Amel Owners Group on Yahoo! and had numerous questions about his new-to-him yacht, S/V Nikimat.  

S/V Nikimat is hull#289; our BeBe is hull #387.  Amel built 30 -35 boats per year at the time these vessels were manufactured.  BeBe left the Amel factory 23 January 2003; so considering the difference in hull numbers, Nikimat was probably manufactured in year 2000.  The hulls for all Super Maramu and Super Maramu 2000 boats are all identical.  The rigging is all identical (when the boats left the factory).  The boat systems are all identical.  But there were minor interior differences in each model year of production.  (Note:  Amel stopped production of the Super Maramu 2000 model in year 2005.   Hull #497 was the final one produced.)  This blog sums up Amels very nicely:

Review of Amel Super Maramu yachts 

It is always interesting for us to visit another Amel like ours.  Every single one we have visited thus far has been different inside than ours; some minutely different and some very different.  Sometimes we get ideas on how we might want to 'improve' the interior of our boat, although we haven't made any major changes yet and might never do so.

When Amel first produced the Super Maramu in 1989 the cabin sole was wooden.  Later they changed to have mahogany trim and fiberglass floor hatch covers.  These were first beige, so the cabin sole was wide dark mahogany trim around beige rectangles, covering the very deep and very large completely dry storage spaces that all we Amel owners love so much.  When the SM 2000 model was first produced in year 2000, the factory changed to blue fiberglass floor hatch covers.  That is what we have on BeBe.  Lots of people do not like the appearance of the blue and mahogany floors, but we like it.  When we were shopping for Amels at boat shows for 4-5 years, we decided that the blue combination was our favorite.  The wooden floors looked too dark and the beige floors looked too monotonous with the beige upholstery; the blue floors added some needed color to brighten the interior in our opinions.  Just lucked out that the boat we chanced to buy had the interior colors that we preferred.  S/V Nikimat has the same blue.  It was almost like stepping into our own boat.

We arrived at Nikimat one weekday mid-morning on a cloudy day, hoping that rain would hold off while we talked about the boat.  Alexandre had already gone through all the spare parts the previous owner had left onboard and had these organized into bins stacked in the cockpit.  But first we went through the sail lockers.  Bill and Alexandre pulled out the stored sails and Bill illustrated how each should be flown.  The spinnaker was damp so we left it hoisted up inside its sock to air out and hopefully dry on that cloudy day.  The previous owner had added an inner stay to Nikimat so she is cutter rigged.  We couldn't provide any comments about that rigging arrangement because BeBe is not cutter rigged. Alexandre is on his own to figure the best way to use that sail.  

After reviewing the spinnaker, the foreward ballooner and poles and how to hoist and lower, various dock lines and halyards and other lines, we then hoisted the mizzen ballooner.  The previous owner had already had the mizzen ballooner installed into a sock; something we had done in Thailand and really enjoy.  We hoisted the mizzen ballooner to illustrate for Alexandre how to rig it; then left it up to air out in the breeze.  By now it was time for lunch.

Alexandre is Swiss, but really French-Swiss.  He holds dual passports, lucky man.   Alexandre wanted to prepare lunch rather than go out to a restaurant.  And he certainly did not disappoint!!  Starter was smoked salmon on lightly buttered toasted artisan bread.  Wonderful!  But before the starter Alexandre honored Bill with allowing him to open a bottle of champagne with a ceremonial sword.  This was a first for Bill.  He had read about this procedure but neither of us had ever seen it performed.  Alexandre explained how it is done.

First, the bottle must be thoroughly chilled; the colder the better.  The bottle should be refrigerated a minimum of 12-16 hours or should be placed inside a freezer for minimum 2 hours.  It will not work if the bottle is not thoroughly cold.  Next, hold the bottom of the bottle with a cushioning absorptive cloth.  Then, using the BACK of the sword, move the sword up and down several times along the curvature of the bottle; ending with a smooth movement up to the knob ring around the top of the bottle near the cork.  One does not strike the bottle; nor does one hit the knob hard with the sword; it does not take much pressure to cause the thoroughly chilled bottle to break smoothly and evenly just beneath the knob ring at the top neck of the bottle.  It worked perfectly! The cork went flying.  We tried to fish it out of the water (pollution and all that) but could not find it.

The champagne was fabulous.  I drank too many glasses but couldn't stop myself.  It was just too good!  Bill limited himself to less than 1 full glass and I finished it.  Alexandre also limited himself to only 1 glass.  Pig that I am, I think I drank the rest of the bottle.  And enjoyed every single sip!  Don't remember the brand name, but it was the one with the flowers on the bottle, and it was fabulous.

Accompanying the champagne, Alexandre prepared some lovely duck breasts and Swiss style potatoes with grilled endive.  An excellent lunch.  And served in the cockpit where we enjoyed the ambiance of all the other sailboats, the high bridge nearby, and the view of Galveston Bay.  Like a taste of being home on our own boat again.  This was a wonderfully enjoyable few hours.

Lastly, Bill went through each of the bins of spare parts and identified each part as Alexandre took notes in a composition book.  This took almost 3 hours.  The parts were well organized and there was a good selection of what a cruising boat should have on hand.  Alexandre is well stocked.  There are only a few things he might want to order from Amel to complete his inventory.

Rain held off until we were 1/3 way back to Houston.  It was pouring by the time we got off Hwy 225 west at Loop 610 South.  Hope Alexandre was able to get both the mizzen ballooner and the spinnaker down and back into the sail locker before the rain started in Seabrook. 

I took several photos of Bill opening the champagne with the sword, but I cannot find those photos.  They should be somewhere on this laptop, but they are not in the photos file.  If I ever find them, will post a few with this blog.  Until then, my written description must suffice to give readers a mental image of the process.

We very, very much enjoyed our visit with Alexandre aboard S/V Nikimat.  Maybe he will invite us again before we return to BeBe in Turkey.