Adventures in Boat Buying

Matt's Musings

Choosing the "next" boat seemed like an overwhelming task. There are about 30,000 sailboats listed on Yachtworld at the moment! We drew up a list of our “requirements”, and then we did about a year’s worth of Googleing. Thank goodness they don’t charge per Google.

The term “bluewater boat” gets batted around quite a bit and I’m not sure anyone could agree on what makes a boat qualify. There once was a blog by a couple who sailed a Gemini catamaran around the world. Many folks have sailed Lagoon 380s around the world. To us, these are not bluewater boats, and it’s not because my two examples are catamarans. It’s because they’re both crappy boats to take into “bluewater”. Here’s just a few items that come to mind when I think about a salty, bluewater sailor.
  • Redundant rigging so that if one part breaks, chances are you will have time to save the rig by taking simple actions
  • A flexible sail plan for all weather
  • A protected rudder
  • No saildrives or other obvious design weaknesses (and for us, this included centerboards)
  • A comfortable, forgiving ride to reduce stress and fatigue on the crew
  • A strongly built and well designed hull from a reputable builder
  • A comfortable layout for use in all weather
If you're looking for more information on bluewater sailors, I highly recommend Sailing a Serious Ocean by John Kretschmer. In the book, Kretschmer lays out his recommendations for features to look for on an ocean cruising boat. It’s a great read.

Beyond these basic requirements, we had a few of our own:
  • Shoal (ish) draft. We don’t want to change what we do too much, so we picked 5’ as being the maximum draft we were comfortable with. This is the one thing that limited our choices more than any other. 
  • Sexiness. We don’t want to drive a Catalina, a Hunter, or a Beneteau. Those are, of course, bad examples since none of them are bluewater boats (in our opinions!). They are fine boats for certain purposes and we loved the Hunter we used for ASA classes. It's a case of different horses for different course and we are looking for our horse for our course. We want something beautiful that we can really be proud of.   
  • Budget and Size. We wanted the whole package (including refit and upgrades) to cost under $100k. We also didn’t want a boat any longer than the catamaran, so we limited ourselves to the 34-38’ range. 
White fiberglass boats
After an exhaustive search and talking to every “expert” we knew, our list was remarkably short and all Crealock designs. I would say we have a type, but it just happens that Perry’s designs that we liked all had deep drafts and shoal versions were very rare.

Cabo Rico 38
Cabo Rico 34
Pacific Seacraft 37 (shoal draft)
Pacific Seacraft 34
Island Packet 31, 32 or 35

Island Packets were removed from our list due to a design issue that we weren’t happy with. With embedded chainplates that are difficult to inspect properly, we didn’t feel comfortable crossing oceans in one. 

After getting aboard a Cabo Rico 34, it was removed from the list. It looks great in photos, but is just a tad small to sail across oceans on with several people and stores to keep them comfortable. They are also quite rare (only about 30 were made) and they are quite expensive (more expensive than the Cabo Rico 38). 
Cabo Rico 34
The Cabo Rico 34 floorplan. It looks fine, but each area is a total hobbit hole! Aft cabin suited for Hastings only. 
The Pacific Seacraft 34 we found to be a bit small too, but it is a lovely boat that we both really like. We could have made either one work for us, but we knew we’d be more comfortable with just a few more feet of space.

Pacific Seacraft 37s are remarkably expensive. We found a few of them that were shoal draft and whose owners were, for lack of a better term, desperate. But they still came out to be $20-30k more than the CR38. We liked the Cabo Rico 38's interior better.  Once the choice was clear, it was just a matter of finding the one. 
Cabo Rico 38 line drawing

What's your dream boat?

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  1. Interesting musings and info, Matt. I find your road of selling Inde and finding a replacement vessel fascinating. I couldn’t quite tell from the drawing, but does the CR 38 have two berths? And one or two heads?

    1. Thanks for reading! It just has one head. It has a V-Berth and a quarter berth. The V-Berth is the main cabin and has lockers and a door. The quarterberth is double size and quite long, but really has no privacy. It hosts the battery bank underneath and is also the nav station seat. The port side settee is about 7 ft long and can be a bunk if needed.


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