A Modern Odyssey
Some twenty or so years ago whilst towing our newly purchased Ajax – Teal - from the East Coast to Cornwall we were in a traffic queue and heard someone call across - “That’s an Ajax!”. Iain Loch went on to explain that a friend of his, an Albert Saner, had bought the second boat built and had it delivered to him in Switzerland. Iain followed up this brief meeting with a letter to us which gave us a little more detail and which for some strange reason we kept.
Well Teal came and went – largely due to our moving around with jobs and not having enough time in those days to justify two boats. Now having retired and returned to live in Cornwall and wanting to race again, it was obvious we had to buy another Ajax. Enter Aeolus – ex-Primavera now refurbished and racing again – albeit not very well!
Cedric Thomas’ triumph in locating Aquilla and retrieving her from Ireland, plus other conversations about the “missing Ajaxes” reminded us of the Swiss boat. Just over a year ago Dudley started searching – starting with the letter from Iain Loch followed by an Internet search. Iain is now retired and a user of e-mail, and the internet, so contact was established and he agreed to help. In fact he became the main search engine due to his fluency in French and German, and sheer tenacity. The trail took him through various boat registration authorities in Switzerland until finally, after more than a year, we found the owner a M.Weiss who lives in Montreux.
The initial contact was made by Iain, then we phoned M.Weiss. This was an experience – his English being of the same standard as our French – so he would speak in French and receive answers in English! He speaks German, and fortunately one of the crew of Aeolus – Maggie George – is fluent in German. She became our conduit for questions and answers.
M.Weiss we have now discovered is a lawyer – hence the lengthy and expensive phone calls from Lanhay to Montreux! We negotiated to buy No.12 – unseen – really just another mail-order purchase you could say – we had after all done the same thing with Aeolus in a phone call from Jersey. M.Weiss agreed to sell her, now all we needed was a trailer and the time to fetch her.
That was at the start of October – 850 miles down and 950 miles back as we used the Swiss motorways around Geneva with a ton of boat behind in preference to the scenic route with just the trailer. We arrived in Montreux late afternoon on Saturday and after unpacking set off on foot for the harbour. Dudley spotted the harbour and the first boat that hove into view was No.12 sitting on the boatyard cradle – much excitement.
This enthusiasm was slightly tempered by the discovery of some patches of osmosis on the underwater surface – we had asked about this and been told there weren’t any obviously a language hiccup - but not really a problem – we know how to fix those! The inside of the boat is as M.Weiss says “tip-top” – well nearly anyway. She has certainly been well-looked after and little used. The mast looks almost like new – no nasty little salt eaten patches to worry about around spreaders. There are some interesting winches with internal handles that were made in Italy and fitted when it was refurbished in 1987. At this time the teak inside was replaced and looks like new. What a difference a freshwater environment makes! We were also presented with a folder of papers including an original order form – with some rather nice prices on it. £4:10s for a different coloured gel coat from white!
There are a couple of interesting pictures too – an Ajax dressed overall for a launch – which Ian tells us is probably the prototype.
So now there is another boat in the Falmouth fleet – sitting snug and drying out inside our barn and awaiting some TLC that will be lavished on her in the coming months. In Switzerland boats are not necessarily given names. She is no longer called Yannick, which Iain has told us was her original name. We looked for one in keeping with our local fleet.
What else could No 12 become but Odysseus?