I humored Dave’s pipe dream of sailing around the world by joining him in sailing lessons, always expecting that the compulsion would pass. After more than two years of classes and chartering, we were boat in love with being on the water. Things quickly escalated when he decided it was time to make things real. It was time to buy a boat. BUY A BOAT! Of course, Dave was working full time and I was on break between classes, so I was assigned Boat Buyer Extraordinaire. Needless to say, I freaked out. What did I know about buying boats? And Dave decided on a catamaran, after we had only chartered one, the Mahé 36 at OCSC. What did I really know about catamarans? We didn’t even like that catamaran. We had charters booked in the British Virgin Islands and Thailand on a Lagoon 39 and a Leopard 39, but had yet to experience them. This was craziness! Dave said he trusted my opinion and had every faith that I would find us the perfect boat. Things just got serious!
So, the first thing we did was line up a team of professionals to help find, evaluate, and negotiate a boat. Back in February 2012, we attended a couples sailing seminar at the Miami Boat Show. Jeff Grossman and Jean Levine at Two Can Sail put on the seminar. We met other couples that were also interested in buying a cruising boat, but were not necessarily sailors. It was a good introduction to couples sailing and definitely peaked our interest to continue in that direction. We were impressed with Jeff and Jean and remembered them when it came time to buy our boat. We hired them as our advisors and surveyors. They introduced us to Ed Massey at Massey Yacht Sales and Services, a wonderfully kind and knowledgeable man, whom we took an instant liking to. We contracted Ed as our buyer’s broker.
Jeff and Jean asked us a lot of questions about our intended use of the boat, what we required and what we desired (there’s a big difference there), size range, and price range. We promptly learned that we had been looking at all the wrong boats for our needs. There is a difference between charter boats that island hop, coastal cruising boats, and blue water boats that can withstand the weather and waves of the open ocean. It didn’t matter that we hadn’t yet sailed on the Lagoon or Leopard, because they were not suited to our needs. What were our needs? We hoped to circumnavigate, so we required a stable, sturdy boat for open water that can weather the storms. We required enough headroom for Dave, who is 6’2”. At 5’7″, I can stand in almost any boat without any problem, but Dave must duck and stoop in most boats. Most sailors must be short or have very tough heads! We required at least two berths and two heads, self-sufficient power (such as solar and wind), a watermaker, and comfortable living areas (and hopefully a comfortable ride – though it is really hard to tell from touring a docked boat or even from a sea trial).
I flew out to Maryland, South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Florida without Dave to look at boats. There was an Admiral in South Carolina that looked beautiful. The owner was a carpenter and was obviously talented with wood. Jeff and Jean were passing by and offered to stop and look at it. They said the boat was nice, had a great layout, and was equipped just the way we needed, but it needed a little work and a deep cleaning and definitely appealed to a specific taste. Not sure what to make of this report, I went and saw the boat myself and immediately ruled it out. The wood was beautiful but it was very dark and imposing. Every rounded area was squared off, which really closed in the space and made multiple head banging spots for Dave. The boat was very homey but claustrophobic. I saw three more Admirals, as I really liked the layout. It was looking like we would probably buy one, a 40 footer called “Options.” I really liked the boat. There was nothing to not like. However, Jean advised me to look at 12 or more boats before making a decision, so my search continued.
We found a Manta 40 that looked great on the Internet and on paper. The Manta is a very structurally sound boat and seems to be made for blue water. I really liked it, but knew it wasn’t the boat for us. I felt it was too small for Dave and didn’t fit the lifestyle we planned to lead. However, Dave was convinced that this was the boat for us. He told me not to dismiss it on size. I told Dave I was not comfortable buying the boat without him trying it on for size, so Dave flew out to Tampa, Florida, to check it out. Alas, I was right; the boat was too small. There was only headroom for someone up to 5’11” to not have to be on constant head banging alert. Also, the self-tacking jib was weird and dropped down into a bag like the main. Dave didn’t like the jib at all. Disappointed, Dave flew back home and I continued the search. Ed and Jean had three more boats for me to look at: a 38’ Admiral, 44’ Voyager and a 44’ Dean. The Admiral was lovely and in beautiful condition. It would be a great buy for someone under 6’. Ed could never get a response from the broker of the Voyager, so this left the Dean 441.