Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Search Resumes

Our van La Gitana (the Gypsy) at
City of Rocks, New Mexico

The Search Resumes

November 21, 2012
We hadn't given up our dream of going back the cruising life. In fact, we began planning in earnest how we would raise the rest of the money we needed for buying a boat, manage renting out our house, and provide for our nearly 17 year old cat, Sophie. The last was going to be agonizingly difficult for us. We'd raised Sophie, along with her sister Georgie (for Georgina) from kittenhood and since Georgie had died a few years ago, Sophie had become much more attached to us, and we to her. But could we let our attachment to a pet prevent us from fulfilling a dream? We weren't sure how we were going to deal with that.

We forged ahead with our plans, selling La Gitana, our camper van that had taken us on joyful trips all around, Mexico, the Canadian maritimes, and the southern and western U.S. We held a yard sale to get rid of extra stuff and prepare our house for rental. And then we set about trying to find the right boat for us.

The internet makes shopping for a used boat easier than it used to be. There is a great website, Yachtworld, where brokers from all over the world list boats. You can set the parameters of your search however you like--type of boat, age, size, price range, even the area where you want to look. My first search came up with more than 30 pages of listings—a bewildering number of choices! Soon I learned to eliminate all of the lightweight plastic boats churned out for the charter trade—the Beneteaus, Jeneaus, Endeavors, and the like. Since each listing contained numerous pictures, with Angie's help I began narrowing down the search to boats which appealed to our aesthetic taste. We were both drawn to a classic look (remember the Hinckley?) and so not interested in the overly beamy boats with interiors outfitted like RV's which seemed to be designed more for sitting at the dock than for serious sailing. 

We soon found that there were a few boats, by a very few designers, that kept catching our eye—notably the Bristols and Valiants and a few others influenced by them. I made a list of all of the available boats along the east coast and in Florida, and we began comparing specs. This one has a centerboard (a long extension that can be lowered from the keel to give the boat better performance to windward). Did we really want that? This one only has a 30 gallon fuel tank—not enough for long range cruising. Then I began reading reviews, seeing what the experts had to say about the construction quality, seaworthiness, and live aboard comfort of each one. One important criterion was headroom. Since I am 6'2” tall, in some of the boats we liked in the 37 to 42 foot range that we were looking for, I would be bumping my head every time I turned around below decks.

We finally had a list of about a dozen boats that we thought might suit us. Most of them were located in New England, around Annapolis, Maryland, or in Florida. Since our search was taking place in late October and early November, most of the boats in New England had already been or were about to be hauled and winterized. We decided to begin looking at boats in Annapolis, thinking that we could take a winter vacation in Florida to look for boats there, maybe hitting Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia on the way.

I emailed the broker Richard Kahn in Annapolis and asked him about the headroom On Outrageous, a 42 foot Tayana listed in Yachtworld that had caught our attention. Some of the designers—and all of the yacht brokers we later talked to—were short people and didn't envision six foot plus sailors clunking their heads as they tried to navigate below decks. “I'll have the owner measure it,” he replied, and a little later the answer came back that it was 6'4”. Outrageous was on a list of seven or eight boats in the Annapolis area that we were interested in, so we called some brokers, set up appointments and booked our flight.

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