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Rusting, neglected and with it’s glory days behind it, the fishing cutter Eldorado has undergone a total sea change and was taking a breather in San Miguel marina with a new image and new purpose. Forty years of fishing out of Ostend, Belgium took it’s toll but Jan Van Klaveren from Holland rebuilt from the water line up to extend it to a two mast gaff sail schooner ready to take slow sedate cruises to La Gomera from 26 November 2012.

Sat on deck surrounded by mahogany and steel Jan described the five year labour of love to make the ship a floating home for 12 guests and four crew. ” The hull was strong but all the fishing gear had to go and myself and three helpers cut away eight metres at the front and back and rebuilt to increase the length from 30 metres to 37. Dutch inspectors visited us each week to make sure we used the minimum amount of wood to avoid fire risks and also to check the quality stamps on the local steel, we could have brought it in from Poland for half price but it wouldn’t be approved.”

Home comforts are important for crusing, I couldn’t help noticing the lounge bar was well stocked and the galley was well equipped for cooking. The cabins had showers and toilets as well as decent sized bunk and double beds and a compact laundry room, fridge and freezer completed the functional must haves. Being nosey I had a good look around on deck, reclining on the rear netting, there was even a Jacuzzi waiting to be filled ““ perfect to soothe the sea legs. The masts looked imposing at 28 metres but sturdy enough to display the crowning glory, 325 square metres of sail.

Eldorado has already tested the European waters. ” We took to the sea in May 2012 and have sailed to Germany and Denmark, and came over to Santa Cruz to deliver a lady from Madrid. It took six hours to sail down to San Miguel, it will take a day to ease across to La Gomera from Los Cristianos, perfect for a weekend cruise and the other islands are well placed for slightly longer voyages.”

Eldorado carries her 170 tons with grace and style, it’s a far cry from the days of fighting the waves for the best of the catch. A new lease of life will see the sails billow with the spirit of adventure to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace.

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