Finding the right boat…

So when we set out to find the right boat for us we had a few objectives in mind (many of these have changed/been added to along the way!)

Our main concern was enough living space. We’ve lived in a caravan before for a year when building a house so knew it was possible if we downsized our ‘stuff’, but with sailing there’s generally more necessary gear (wet weather gear, sails, spare parts, tools etc) and we’ve always relied on having a barn to store most of our accumulated crap!

So having two cabins was high up there, we’d sleep in the aft and use the fore peak as additional storage/workshop space. Also having two cabins usually means two heads, bonus.

Also a covered centre cockpit/pilot house quickly became a priority once we had viewed a couple of boats with one. Your living space is almost doubled, there’s much better visibility, and it gives you a protected sailing position if the weathers not so nice.

Both the above obviously relied on the size of the boat, so we looked for boats in the 37-45ft range. However we did view a stunning 1984 Vagabond 47 in France (the first we found) which makes me laugh now as it was far too big for us first timers! The rationale (from Ben) was that the bigger the boat the safer you are so to speak, but mainly the living space if we were to be living on it. It was huge!! I remember seeing it thinking how would I ever be able to sail that?! It was dark green and quite imposing on hard standing and looked like a big ‘ol ship to me, it even had a couple of scooters on deck ha! The interior was really well looked after and had a galley fit for a house.

However, it was way big and way expensive, so a no (but maybe someday in the future?).

Another too big but awesome boat was a Formosa 47 in Lisbon, I loved it but he-who-knows-much-more-than-I had major concerns with the condition. Here I learnt how persuasive brokers can be, and how naive I am! Anyway…

A ketch rig was preferable, for manageability….and also a long/full keel (we knew we might have to let her sit in the mud on most moorings in our local estuary so something solid that would sit nicely would be a necessity).

We looked at a few boats dotted around Europe as we were on a 6 week trip in our T4. We saw a gorgeous little 1980 Tayana 37 in Portugal and that’s when we realised 37′ was the absolute smallest we could cope with. Great for a singleton but Ben has me tagging along 🙂

There was an Oyster 39 also in Portugal but needed a lot of updating and even though they’re quite wide the headroom if bigger than my 5’3″ is shocking. A local called Sergio in Olihao showed us the boat, he lived on a great big wooden motor boat that would look more at home on a river, complete with small piano down below. He spent nearly more time showing us his than the Oyster, he was a real dude and we’ve vowed to visit him and take him up on his offer of a drink when we finally get aboard and on our travels.

I find boats that were meant to look modern and fashionable when built end up so dated (the oyster was mid 80’s), and what I would call cheap looking. Ben says he reckons my ideal boat would be wooden as I only like classic, old styles.

When we got back we found a Nauticat 38 for sale in Dartmouth! We couldn’t believe we’d found a boat so well suited to us so close to home. She was a lovely boat but unfortunately it wasn’t to be as another, more experienced, buyer got in there at the last hurdle and we lost out 😦 We were pretty gutted and have kicked ourselves ever since, but being very new to all this we were probably over cautious. However, I am a great believer in everything happening for a reason.

So now we find ourselves at the point of purchase with our soon to be home! It’s been a rollercoaster deciding if this one is ‘the one’. We’re constantly second guessing ourselves as we have no previous experiences to call upon, but bloody hell we’ve learnt a lot in the last few months (including just how expensive boats can be!!). She has her problems and will need lots of work, after all she is 40 years old, but the current owners have really treasured her and we’ve had to accept you rarely get out what you invest…but we’re investing in a way of life now.

Not wanting to jinx things with any more info…hoping to complete in the next week or so. Aaarrgghhhh!!

Until then, more panic attacks and finger nail biting.



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