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Monthly Archives: April 2013

The specifications we had for the boat were in most ways pretty straight forward.  Here they are:

1.   The boat had to be a strong, sea worthy, and proven blue water cruiser capable of taking us anywhere we might ever want to go.

2.   Our new boat had to be comfortable below decks.

3.   The new boat had to be fast, easy to sail with two people, and capable of consistently moving at 8 knots or faster

4.   The cockpit had to be sufficiently large enough to handle the sails without being cramped and to sleep in.

5.   It had to be pleasing to look at.

On the surface, a non sailor might think such a boat would be easy to find.  If one had an unlimited budget it probably would be.  Even though we had a substantial budget, it wasn’t by any means unlimited…so the search was on.

The boat needed to be a proven blue water cruising sailboat, strong and seaworthy.  It needed to be a proven blue water cruiser.  A blue water cruiser is one that is capable of sailing in any part of any ocean on Earth without breaking apart.  Granted no boat of any kind is unsinkable and much of survival at sea under the most extreme conditions is a dependent on the captain and crew as it is the vessel…think Titanic.  Nonetheless, time and time again some sailboats have been proven to be stronger, more seaworthy, and more forgiving than others.  Some reputable manufacturers of proven blue water cruisers are such names as Pacific Sea Craft, Hallburg – Rassey, Tayana, Hinckley, Sparkman Stevens, Han Christian, Westsail, Island Packet, Cheoy Lee, and Skookum…to name a few…there are others.  Above everything else, the strength of the boat was paramount.

Our new boat had to be comfortable, after all, it would be our home for several years at least.  One thing we wanted was a queen size bed in our stateroom, located aft and on the centerline of boat, with a private head.  We didn’t want our master stateroom to be cramped with low headroom.  The galley had to be almost as functional as my kitchen here at home.  A refrigerator and freezer were a must…as was a water maker.  The boat needed to carry at least 150 gallons of potable water in her water tanks.  The main salon and settee needed to be large enough that we weren’t tripping over each other when we were there lounging.  There needed to be at least one guest berth, with double accommodations, and with a guest head with shower.  We wanted a workshop.  These were the basics the boat had to have below decks.

The boat had to be fast, again a relative term when sailing.  However, the difference between a boat that goes 6 knots and one that goes 8 knots is significant…on just a 40 miles sailing leg that would mean a difference of over two hours in arrival time.  With sailboats speed is almost entirely governed by the length of the boat at the water line (LWL)…longer boats go faster, period.

The cockpit had to be large enough for us to handle the sails without falling over each other.  It also had to be large enough that we could sleep in it in such circumstances when at night it might be necessary for one person to be on watch with another close by…just in case.

And, lastly, it had to have attractive lines…it had to be pleasing to look at.  That’s kind of frivolous on the face of it.  On the other hand, the reality is simply that some boats are prettier than others.  If we were fortunate enough to find a pretty boat then the better.

After crunching all those variables it quickly came down to the fact that the boat would need to be somewhere between 48’ and 53’ in length and have a center cockpit design.  The length pretty much determined our speed, and the center cockpit would give us the space below decks.

After looking at innumerable yachts both online, and up close and personal at boats in the northeast US and Canada, the east coast, and locally we finally narrowed our search down to a Tayana 52. 

The search was on.

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The name of this blog has changed…from Not the Boat, a collection of essays revolving around the purchase and refurbishing of our Hunter 31 sloop, to The Boat…which will document the boat we are now contractually obligated to buy pending it passing its marine survey and sea trials.  It refers to the boat we plan to cruise and retire on. 

When we purchased our Hunter 31 it was in dire need of work…most used sailboat are.  And, work on it we did.  Essentially, aside from the hull and rigging, the entire boat was stripped, repaired, and customized.  The result was an adequate coastal cruiser.  However, the Hunter 31 was never meant to be the boat.  The Hunter was a test.  It was a test to see if me and my husband were compatible sailing together.  Both of us being strong willed, it was a test to see if we both actually knew how to sail…a test of individual and group discipline…a test of our courage in the face of emergencies…a test of cooperation…a test of our knowledge and seamanship…a test of our teamwork.  The Hunter 31 was a learning experience related not so much to the boat, but to ourselves.

We passed the test.

And, so, it was time to get on with the plan.  All along the plan has been to spend the initial years of our retirement cruising the Caribbean and east coast of North America.  We’ve discussed making an Atlantic crossing; that’s not on our radar…but it has not been ruled out either.

From the start my husband and I have both known that provided we passed the above somewhat unspoken tests, the plan would require a new boat.  Going forward, this blog will be about that boat…the new boat…the boat.