This was the easy and most enjoyable part. After wandering round the 1996 Southampton Boat Show and inspecting all suitable boats on offer, the Hunter Pilot 27 was the only boat which seemed to satisfy all our needs. All we had to do was to dream and to find the money to buy one.
A much more difficult decision to make. However, it was eased by the idea of buying a kit boat and completing it ourselves - all I needed to do was to retire from work and to spend the time fitting it out. Hunters claim that you can save about £11,000 by completing the fitting out work yourself. And so the decision was made - retire early and spend the time working on the boat.
Of course you have to have one of these - ours was in mid January on a cloudy, overcast and foggy day with the wind blowing a nice Force 3. The friendly Andy Cunningham took us out for a quick dash across to Calshot (we know it well - (Tiger Lily's home port). It was not really a good test of the boat in harsh weather, but we had heard from Eric Smith (another Swift 18 owner) about his trip across the Bay of Biscay during a force 10 in a Hunter Pilot and so we had every confidence that the boat could stand up to heavy weather conditions.
We had spent some time at the London Boat show investigating all the possibilities. This proved to be a bit mind blowing, but gradually we managed to sort out exactly what options we wanted on the boat. The first stage was to decide on the 'creature comforts' and safety features. We decided to leave the choice of electronic and navigation equipment until much later.
Again a tricky problem. Our criteria for the name was that it should have some connection with Tiger Lily, it should be short and easy to say and be understood over the radio. Heather discovered that there is a flower called the 'Siberian Iris' (Iris Sibirica), but this was a bit of a mouthfull. By using the association that a Siberian Tiger is a Wild animal, we decided on Wild Iris as the name.
Will the boat fit into the garden? What is the footprint for the bilge keels? What will she stand on? When will she arrive?
Lots of questions and no answers, so a quick trip down to Hamble Point to find out. She measures 27ft with a 9ft beam, and the keels are 140cm long, 140cm apart and with their leading edge at 370cm from the bows. Time to make some scale model paper cut outs and try them out for size. Having decided the position, then it was off to find some paving slabs to act as the base - we did not want one fin sinking into the grass and creating 'the Leaning Boat of Hampshire'.
The next task took far longer than expected. Hunter's do provide a long inventry of parts but because they are packed according to physical characteristics rather than placement within the boat, it took more than 2 weeks to go through all the boxes and pieces of equipment and identify what was what (I suppose you could call this another preparation task).
We want to equip the boat for legal cruising in the Mediteranean and Baltic - this really means having a holding tank. A great deal of mental effort has been expending on the design of the dirty water systems on Wild Iris. I do not know how successful it will be - we will have to wait and see how it works out.
The Progress log contains further details of the tasks completed so far.