Wednesday, September 19, 2012
I'm not sure how Angie came up with the page from BVI Yachts advertising Small World, a Westsail 42 sailing yacht. Not just any Westsail 42, but hull number 1, the prototype boat designed by Bill Crealock to be the ultimate world cruising sailboat. A year ago we had been looking at trawlers, dreaming of spending a summer or a year cruising the inland waterway of the East Coast. But we couldn't find anything that we really liked—they were too big, or too small, or too high on fuel consumption, or in the case of the one that grabbed us, the Nordic Trawler, way too expensive. We told each other that if we ever found the right boat, we would full in love and know that it was the boat for us. Then we sort of gave up the idea and made other tentative plans for the future—living in Italy for a month or two, taking a trip around the world, spending time in different places in Europe and the U.S. as the spirit moved us. Then one day not too long ago Angie called me from the computer. “Jim, you've got to see this!”
Small World was a beauty. Though she was built in 1974, she's been lovingly cared for by deep-pocketed owners. And her her present owners, Todd and Gayle, had spent 6 months refitting her out intending to take her on a world cruise. Then they decided that going into business together and building up some cash reserves for retirement was more urgent than world cruising. The boat had a new paint job over a barrier coated bottom, all new standing rigging, and every electronic device imaginable needed for long range cruising. She had a water desalinator, wind generator, and solar panels—making her, or the people sailing aboard her, self-sufficient. Everything aboard her was first class. Todd and Gayle, who are based in the Virgin Islands, had brought her to Florida to complete her refitting, and lowered the price from their original offering. We decided we had to see her.
We flew down to Vero Beach, Florida, and immediately hit it off with Todd and Gayle. They are the kind of couple you would picture as having spent their lives (individually) sailing--tanned and fit. They are a little younger than we are, but have children and grandchildren, many of them active sailors. They wined us and dined us while pointing out all of the somewhat bewildering systems on the boat. I told Todd that if we were to buy the boat we would need several days of tutorials learning how everything worked. The next day we took the boat out for limited sea trials on the waterway. The wind was light and although we had little opportunity to sail, we were impressed with how she ghosted along in very little breeze. Under power she was easy to handle, clean and quiet.
Before we left, we looked at each other with the question on our faces—shall we do it? We left with the agreement that we would buy the boat if could arrange the financing satisfactorily and contingent on the survey. The survey will be complete tomorrow. The financing is another story,