The sightless eyes of the 7th-century Anglo-Saxon king’s helmet looked down us as we sipped our leek and potato soups. We were in the café at the Sutton Hoo burial site just above the River Deben in Suffolk. It wasn’t the real helmet, as that was safely tucked away in the British Museum in London, but a shiny replica, but none the less impressive for all that.
We were in Suffolk to look at sailing boats, with the idea of finding one that would be spacious and sea-worthy enough for us to live on for extended periods during our retirement so that we could explore the west coast of Scotland, then the rest of Europe, then, well who knows? We had spent evenings and weekends over the last year scanning websites advertising boats of every shape and size, weighing up specifications and prices, and going to see some of those that we were interested in. It had been a lengthy business, and at times we despaired if we would ever find anything in our price range that we were happy with.
We had seen four over the last two days alone, and as we pored over our notes for each one again, one in particular seemed to stand out. She was a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 39i with the intriguing name of Ruby Tuesday, and which seemed to tick all the boxes. New sails, new standing and running rigging, engine with plenty of power and low hours, updated electronic instruments, autopilot, a recently fitted bow thruster, and tons of room inside for us and any visitors we might have.
The Anglo-Saxon king’s helmet looked down over our shoulders impassively. A fertile imagination might have thought it could detect a slight smile indicating its approval at our favorite. The helmet’s owner was thought to be Raedwald, the king of the East Angles around 600 A.D., and it seemed that he might have been a bit of a boating man himself, as the original discovery had been of his funeral ship in which he was buried underneath one of the mounds overlooking the river. Well, we thought, if Raedwald himself was approving of the Sun Odyssey, who were we to disagree? We hoped it was a good omen for our own future voyages, and decided there and then to make an offer for Ruby Tuesday.