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Under the skin of the letting market

Here we share news and views on both the local letting market in & around Oxfordshire and all planned and recent legislation.

Diaries of the Caribbean

Sailing has always been a passion for clients Andy and Trudy Marshall, but their dream of buying a yacht in the Caribbean remained just that. The day jobs continued; Andy, freelance consultant to large IT projects, and Trudy, Purser for British Airways long haul.

A series of serendipitous events led them in a different direction. Trudy was offered a tempting early retirement /redundancy package. They sold their Georgian former School House in Nuneham Courtenay, and planned to move to the Lake District where the family cottage stood.

Then Trudy explained, “We had a bit of a wobble – was this really what we wanted to do? I was staring across the road, feeling unsure, then the Eureka moment struck. The village post office and cottage opposite had been empty for a few years, unsold. It needed loads of work, but it had potential and it could be let too.”

Andy continued, “We put in an offer. It was accepted. Buying a yacht in the Caribbean became a realistic possibility if we sold the cottage in the Lake District. All of a sudden life was exciting again.”

Everything fell into place and renovations continued apace. They bought ‘Manureva’, a four-cabin 43-foot sailing catamaran in Martinique.

“We had previously contacted letting agents in Abingdon. The Manager of Finders Keepers Abingdon branch had been out to advise us on letting earlier, so we were able to ‘press the button’ on marketing the Old Post Office, having put all the preparations in place. We were delighted it let quickly to ideal tenants,” said Trudy.

Here are some edited highlights from their Caribbean Diary, excluding the endless maintenance and sheer hard work that goes with owning a yacht:

June 30th: Arrive in St Lucia and immediately board ‘Manureva’ with our cargo. Sail from St Lucia for Martinique, moor up. Open Champagne for a small toast for Neptune, then collapse, exhausted.

July 10th: Our first time on the boat on our own. It feels great. In St Lucia at Soufriere bay, between the Two Pitons, we have our first swim in the sea – marvellous.

July 15th: Eight-hour sail to Wallilabou on St Vincent. The ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie set has been left as it was when it was put up. Then to Bequia with full canvas and the engine off. Quiet bliss. Flying fish and a pod of 20 dolphins join us as welcome sailing companions.

July 26th: To Canouan then to Mayreau, beautiful small islands and Carriacou, the smallest and loveliest part of the Grenada. Tropical storms brew, but potential Hurricane 91L will miss us.

August 4th: Arrive in Grenada, the markets are great. Red-skinned avocados, all kinds of fruit and vegetables to buy. Next day it’s carnival – we go to a warm-up evening with costumes and dancing that you just have to see to believe.

August 23rd: ‘Cruisers net’ lets us know about weather; restaurant specials; musician jams; security information, as well as ‘treasures of the bilge’ where you can swap or give away things. When a Dutch guy asks if anyone wants his grumpy wife, he’s abruptly cut off!

December 3rd: Arrive briefly in Mustique – for fun we went to the infamous Basils Bar (where Bowie, Jagger and Collins are known to frequent) with prices to match.

January 13th: Back in St Lucia, our friends arrive. We sail downwind at 10.5 knots. It doesn’t get better than this. At Jalousie Bay we dive in – best snorkelling with fantastic fish and young coral in clear waters.

February 19th: In Antigua we are ‘liming’ for a while, Caribbean for not doing much. At last the legendary perfect sunset. The sun unobscured by cloud or land sinks into the sea without trace.

March 1st: Returning to Antigua we spot whale spume just 400 metres ahead of us. They speed away never to be seen again.

March 21st: Set off late afternoon for St Maarten/St Martin, sailing with no moon but glorious stars. It’s shared between the Dutch Antilles and the French Department. Next day we have lunch in Café La Gare – it’s just like being in France.

April 18th: In St Eustatius. Fort Oranje Baie is quiet with well-preserved buildings from the 17th century when it was the busiest harbour in the world (sugar and slave trade). Wild macaws screech in the early evening.

May 2nd: Arrive in Guadeloupe catching a tropical storm full on. The traffic lights, road signs, architecture – all totally French.

May 4th: Trudy dives off the boat to discover a huge barracuda lurking contentedly between our hulls.

May 16th: In Dominica we swim up through the Titou gorge to two waterfalls – the gorge is very narrow and covered by rain forest until you get sight of the waterfalls – unforgettable.

May 26th: Back in Martinique we are tempted by another catamaran – whatever, we’ve made the decision to carry on sailing further afield…….. We book tickets to come back for a couple of weeks to the UK. What an incredible year.