The short version of how Vitruvius came to be: We flew from France to London on March 16, then learned France had closed its borders while we were in the air. Having just arrived from Sonoma, California a few days earlier, we were still a little jet-lagged but so glad we were not stuck in an Auxerre hotel room for lockdown.
The morning of March 17, we met our dream boat, Vitruvius, with the expectation of spending the weekend on her, then being transported to the river a couple of days later.
The world quickly changed in those next few days, not just for us but for multitudes of people due to Covid-19. We did have one opportunity to be transported to the river but the marinas were closed and we certainly didn’t want to be floating on an unfamiliar river without services for an undetermined length of time.
My plan to slowly and carefully collect household goods was replaced with 1 big shopping trip to Ikea the day before they closed.
Their housewares are serviceable and will do for now. The following day we chose groceries from the few remaining things left on the shelves, which did not include toilet paper. Andrea Piper was gracious to share with us. Thank you again.
As the lockdown continued, we filled our days with walks into the surrounding countryside, endlessly ordering from Amazon, cooking, communing with friends and family via Facebook and Facetime and being comfy in our new home. Robert would occasionally survey the parking lot looking for a way out but for the most part, we have been content.
We have enjoyed having a ready-made family of other Piper Boat People who has been both informative and supportive. We were very pleased to finally have neighbours arrive to live on their boat during the last few weeks. How civilized to enjoy cocktails and conversation on our respective, and socially distanced aft decks. We will forever consider Tracey and Antony of Axiom our lovely friends and littermates.
Stepping back in time; we have always been boat people, often owning several at one time. Robert had done some hard-core sailing in Michigan and the Caribbean before we met. We currently own a small trawler and a vintage mahogany IOD racing boat (which my son has “acquired”) in San Francisco Bay. We also have an 11-meter Valkvlet, currently in Auxerre, France which we had been cruising on for extended vacations since 2012. We still love that boat but wanted something more spacious and comfortable for full time living.
We spent spring and summer of 2019 on our Valkvlet in France and talked of a larger boat. We are suckers for beautiful, traditional style boats and loved the idea of a newer Dutch barge replica, not wanting the maintenance burden of an ancient one. We had checked out a few manufacturers but found issues with them
A lovely lady named Susan from Napa, CA was in Auxerre and allowed me to interrupt her evening for a quick tour of her Piper 49m. I knew I wanted one. (P.S., People say I am a generous wife “allowing” my husband to buy boats, but actually, I am the boat hoarder). We decided to go to Henley and loved what we saw and what we heard from other owners. We had the opportunity to buy a boat already partially built and decided to go for it! We had 1 day with Joe making some design modifications and choosing finishes and off we went dreaming of our future.
Back to the present: Vitruvius finally got her belly wet on June 10th, almost 3 months later than planned. We will forever be grateful to Piper Boats for hosting us in their parking lot. We have enormous praise for both the quality of our boat’s finishes and Piper’s responsiveness completing our checklist. Piper Boats Limited has exceeded our expectations. A huge thank you to Simon, Andrea, Nick, Joe, Josh, Vinnie and all the Piper staff and the other Piper owners for making our retirement dreams come true.
Robert & Pamala