Allures 45 L’Escale exploring the world

With the world a very different place than it was, what better time for some positive news and genuine enthusiasm for yachting adventures. I’d like to thank the owners of this impressive Allures sailing yacht for writing this article for us.  Enjoy the read and get out there on a yacht and explore. “Experience Freedom”

For Mark Ellyatt, Williams & Smithells Ltd                                                                                                                    May 2020

Allures 45 l’escale

Hello!  We are Neil (Skipper) and Kirstie (Mate) Hird, the proud and delighted owners of Allures 45 l’escale. She’s been ours from new, in 2014, and in July 2016 we moved aboard to become full-time cruisers.  Slowly and leisurely we are making our way around the world.

We have both sailed all our adult lives, and were previously owners of a Sigma 362 and raced dinghies too.  We created a prioritised ‘wish list’ of the features we were looking for in the boat we intended to live on, and spent many happy hours in research and at boat shows.

Domestically, we wanted a yacht large enough for easy living in comfort:

Having dismissed most of the British brands on the market, we were recommended Allures and visited the factory in Cherbourg for a preliminary look around.  During the detailed factory tour and unexpected test sail, we observed obvious care taken at all stages, attention to detail and exemplary finish of several boats at various stages in the production process.  Impromptu discussions with the design office, production manager and commercial director quickly confirmed Allures on our shortlist.

  • Beds generously spacious with headroom above, easy to get in and out of, with comfortable backrest and adequate ventilation
  • Space to sleep on passage separate from the main saloon/galley area, snug and secure
  • Headroom throughout enough for a 6’ skipper not to have to stoop everywhere
  • Comfortable, light, airy saloon for relaxing, dining and entertaining
  • Galley safe at sea and with enough working space for a competent cook
  • Heads with a separate shower
  • Cockpit ergonomically comfortable underway and pleasant at anchor and in port.

Technically, we had an extensive list of requirements:

  • Large volume water and diesel tanks for long-distance cruising
  • Capacious enough to carry the weight and quantity of equipment and spares necessary for extended cruising in distant locations. We are 13 Tonnes lightship displacement, and we carry around three Tonnes cruising load.  We feel this is considerably safer and more sea kindly than a typical GRP cruising yacht of this size, at around 10T lightship + 3T load.
  • Always mindful of the fact that the larger the number of electronics, electrical and other complex systems installed, the greater the time and money spent keeping them all operational, and the higher the risk of things going wrong, we wanted a yacht small enough for us to be able to hand the sails without relying on electrical winches or hydraulics; we believe that about 45’ is the limit for this
  • As standard, Allures are set up for short-handed sailing i.e. to be sailed on passage by one of us whilst the other sleeps, which is how we envisaged spending much of our time at sea
  • Simple enough to maintain on a DIY basis with the space and access to systems to do so: practical access to the engine whilst at sea, and adequate workshop space, for example
  • A boat built to withstand the physics of ocean cyclical loading, robust enough to travel the world for several years, and capable of taking an accidental grounding without significant damage
  • A yacht capable of evolving over time, from a basic budget build, and built by a boatyard willing to understand and customise to our world cruising demands

Aluminium hulls are few and far between in the UK, yet popular across the Channel. Built well, we know them to be lightweight, strong and well-suited to the sort of cruising we were looking forward to.  Having both been RYA dinghy sailors and instructors, we know how to sail with a lifting centreboard, and wanted to maximise our options regarding cruising areas, and access to rivers, canals and shallow bays for anchoring.

On paper Allures ticked a lot of boxes.  After several rounds of helpful (and patient) discussions with factory staff and UK agents Williams & Smithells, we arrived at a satisfactory specification, price and contractual terms. During the six- month build process we visited the factory several times and in-between evolved some further aspects of the specification, within the time limits and logistics imposed by the build schedule. Overall it was a very positive experience from beginning to completion.

Her accommodation is beautifully designed; roomy with good head height throughout, handholds everywhere you need them underway, and masses of storage hidden away tidily.  The galley is a sensible, stable working space, the saloon table seats six comfortably for fun social evenings, and the guest cabin is apparently adequate, judging by the number of friends and relations who’ve visited us more than once.  The heads is ‘intimate luxury’ and the master cabin incredibly comfortable, whilst the ‘tech room’ is invaluable as a workshop/bike store/utility room for airing laundry.

Usable access to the engine is generous, while many traps in the floor allow for additional storage in the bilges.  On deck she feels spacious and very secure: side decks are clear as shrouds and jib car tracks are inboard against the cabin superstructure, or right out at the toe rail, whilst all lines are led back to the cockpit.  The sail locker, just behind the anchor locker, is huge, while the stern bathing platform is wide and deep for access to and from the tender, land and sea.  The cockpit is really comfortable on passage and in port or at anchor…oh, and she sails like a dream.

Whilst every yacht is invariably a blend of ideals and compromises, we can emphatically say that our Allures 45, l’escale, meets our main requirements in spades. Are there facets we would wish were different?  Inevitably yes. It is very interesting to see that some of the necessary compromises we made for our build have been addressed in newer models, and some features first designed for us are now on the standard options list. Since delivery we have improved systems to meet needs, using the insight that only time and experience onboard can provide.

L’escale always attracts attention and curiosity, offering easy introductions as a talking point and conversation starter – we’ve met so many interesting people, and made some good friends, thanks to our beautiful yacht.  Six years on, living onboard full time in varied locations, l’escale is everything we ever dreamed of, and so much more.


Click here to follow the adventure so far

2020 Cruising Plans