Boat Search Email

John-

Tracy got my cc info taken care of.  What do we do to start?  I’ll attach the questionaire and give you a summary of where we stand below.  Bear with me or skip to the questionaire.

I have noted some boats on the internet, but like many new buyers, I’m not sure exactly what I want, or what I can handle.

I could give you a list of of my goals, though they’re fairly flexible — and also dependent on my wife’s approval.  We’re newlyweds, and though my wife is definitely on board, she’s more hesitant.

If I were still solo, I’d say damn it all, get the best boat I could afford right now minus food for 6 months and see how far I get.  I wouldn’t head straight for Fiji (though I’d be tempted) and prudence and caution might leave me anchored in Puget Sound until I’d found the skills to head out.  I tend to project that I am  more reckless than in actuality, but she still considers “brakeman” an important part of her job description.

Honestly, I don’t know if we’re in the position financially yet, or if we have the needed skills.  One other factor is that we are thinking about having a baby, and by “thinking” I mean not preventing it from happening naturally.  So if the stork comes before Christmas our plans will change, though probably only delayed a year or two.

I want to start shopping now, gain a bit more education, and see where we stand when the snow starts falling (not in Seattle, in Montana — where I’m from) but am not dead set against making the right purchase right away.

Our alternate plans are:
1) Move to Ecuador in January if no baby is coming and no boat.
2) Move to Montana in January if baby is coming and no boat.
3) Stay in Seattle and work to pay for boat and baby if both arrive.

In either place, I’d work on starting a software business I could manage via internet or get a telecommute job via the same.  She’d teach English and volunteer at an orphanage in Ecuador while I’d train locals on computers and learn Spanish.  After a year or so at either location we’d hope to still be in the position to buy a boat with the possible perq of a source of income that could follow us around the world with the help of a satellite antenna.

I don’t count on that, though I do think it’s a fair opportunity.

Right now we have $25,000 we can spend.  I have a $10,000 kitty on top of that which we’ll call savings.  I know that’s a tiny budget, and I want a big boat.  I’m not picky except regarding seaworthiness and her comfort.  Most of her comfort can be achieved by assuaging her fears, and that leads back to seaworthiness and competence of the crew.  A watermaker and an aft cabin with a soft bunk that we can share while hove to  would probably suffice to meet her requirements.

The watermaker isn’t a necessity, but I’ve been told it’s the best first luxury, and it would open up the market to more boats.  One of the first things I look at on a boat description is tankage, with the eye that it’s a good first indicator of the previous owner’s intentions, if not actuality of taking her out to sea, and thus, her potential seaworthiness.

The second thing I look for is an autopilot, again, as a barometer of the craft’s capabilities, but also, having had my introduction to sailing brought about by the failure of said object on a shorthanded catamaran out of Fiji.  I was hooked and came back from Fiji with only two intentions:  to marry a girl named Kelsey and to buy a boat and return there to.  I have so far accomplished half of my stated objectives.  I hope, with your help, to achieve the latter, and then spend the remainder of my life pursuing her goals, hoping to make some of them my own and perhaps to influence others of hers towards my own inclination.

Of course I look favorably on the addition of a windvane because of that experience.

Additionally, a good electical system is a desirable fourth component, because my goal of working with computers onboard requires plentiful and reliable elecricity.  I am no electrician, but I feel I can accomplish that goal through my own labors.

If you’ve read this far, then you’ve probably come close you earning your fee, and are probably considering proffering a refund, but aa a bit of a sop, I’ll try to be briefer.

In 6 months time we should have an additional $10,000 saved.  I see our finances thus by end of year:

$25,000 down for a boat
$10,000 equip/repair boat
$10,000 savings

That leaves no cruising kitty, since my wife won’t let me touch the savings, and no additional money for repairs or a more expensive boat.  Two things can be done, however:

1) We could finance the boat.  This would mean either an established income that would continue while cruising, or continuing to work until the boat is paid off.  A loan on the boat may mean getting a boat that can be insured, which may mean a more expensive boat than we want, and possibly restrictions on going offshore.

2) We could put more money into a boat, and rebuild our kitty by continuing to work.  Then, unless we are living aboard, moorage fees + rent would mean lessen our ability to save.

Go ahead and tell me now if we should stop shopping for a couple years.

I’m hoping it may be worth my while to shop for a “bargain” or a bigger boat in the interim, and if we don’t find it, at least we’ll be better educated.

So we’re looking for a boat in the 36′ to 40′ range with an aft cabin (probably not a quarterberth) that is seaworthy most of all.  Because we are planning on long passages (even California seems like a long haul, I’m afraid of hugging the coast from Neah Bay to San Francisco), an autopilot seems a must, but could be installed.  A windvane and watermaker could be installed at some point before crossing the South Pacific, and I could do electical and cosmetic work, including woodwork.

We probably want to buy in 6 months to a year, but if we find the perfect boat, we’d grab it if we could.  It seems the best deals on bluewater boats would be on the east coast, either hurricane damaged, or New Englanders trading up or retiring their boats.  I wouldn’t rule out moving to a boat, or delivering it — though both of those options would need discussion with my wife.

One advantage of buying a boat on the east cost or Gulf of Mexico which I could see is there is a more intermediate cruising ground there, not having to start] with the lee shore of the North Pacific as soon as we graduate from Puget Sound, though I do feel a spring of repairs and a summer of NW cruising would prepare us adequately for a fall passage to California, perhaps with a hired crew, a winter in Baja, and then either a passage across or more work back in California to rebuild the kitty and prepare the boat.  I think I could get work in California easily and we could live aboard if we could find a moorage.

This should give you a good start and something to read for a few nights if you suffer from insomnia.  Go ahead and shred it and ask me what you really need to know.  I could also send you links to a few boats for your analysis.

-Aaron Evans

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