Researching the next boat

If there was any way that we could take Pegu Club cruising with us, we absolutely would.  We love her.  She’s solid, dry as a bone, we like how she sails, and she’s very forgiving of our mistakes. She’s built to sail anywhere we want to go.  But at 24′ feet and with only 15 gallons of water (not to mention insufficient headroom for Jeff), we knew she just wouldn’t work long-term, so for the past year or so we’ve been heavily researching what we want in the next boat – the one we want to sail away on.

The sheer number of boats out there is almost overwhelming, and everyone has an opinion on everything.  Just for the keels there are full keel, modified full, fin keel, wing keel, bulb keel, or centerboards.  There’s shallow draft, deep draft, spade rudders, skeg rudders.  There are cutter rigs, sloop rigs, ketch rigs, etc.  How do you prefer the hull-to-deck joint to be attached?  Bolted?  Screws?  Bolts and screws?  How beamy do you want it?  How long?  What about headroom?  Are you going offshore or simply coastal cruising? Of course the big one: what’s the budget?

We started by making lists of boats that are typically considered to be good off-shore boats (some needing a few more modifications to make it so than others).  Then we set our minimum requirements – headroom, beam, draft, construction – and started winnowing the list down.  Our first go-around we were way too restrictive and ended up with very few possibilities.  So we reevaluated and started all over again.  It’s no exaggeration to say that we spent hundreds of hours researching.

We first dipped our toe in the water last year when we went to see a Niagara 35 in Noank.  Heavy, full keeled, beamy, decent headroom.  It was a possibility on paper.  We contacted the broker, told him that we were still a few years away from buying, and arranged a time to see her at his convenience.  She was definitely not the right boat for us, but it was good to start seeing what a bigger boat would be like.  We also discovered later that Niagara 35s have a foam-cored hull which we did not want, causing us to go through our list again to see if any others needed to be crossed off.

This spring we started to focus heavily on the Allied Princess.  36′, 11′ beam, 4’5″ draft, full keel, full standing headroom for Jeff, ketch rig.  We saw a beautiful Princess in Noank in March which was overpriced (in our opinion), but we were smitten and decided that a Princess was going to be our next boat.

After kicking it around for a few months we went to go see another Princess in Mystic that was much more reasonably priced.  By now we had done a ton of research on the model, and had even joined the Yahoo Groups owners forum to see what common issues we should look out for.  We read extensively about the need to replace the original, 70 gallon fuel tank.  This was a a huge job involving removing the cabin sole, then removing the water tank before you could access the fuel tank.  Plus, there was a chance that the engine might need to be moved in order to get the fuel tank out.  However, we decided that we could do this.  If the boat was in good shape and it felt right, we would make an offer on her.

Bottom line, when we went to go see her a few weeks ago she didn’t feel right.  She was solid and basically watertight, but she didn’t feel like “our boat.”  Not to mention that she had not had her fuel tank replaced, and once we could see in person what that job entailed we had zero interest in doing it.  However, the higher-priced Allied in Noank had a new fuel tank.  And she “felt” great.  What to do, what to do.

We went back to Pegu Club and decided to take another look at the high-priced Noank boat the following weekend, then we sailed off to Chocomount Cove.

As we spent the weekend relaxing, we talked a lot about what we really wanted, and needed.  We spoke (not for the first time) about how if Pegu Club was just a bit wider and a bit longer, we’d be perfectly content.  We’ve never missed not having pressure water or a hot water tank.  We don’t wish that we had 110V for our electrics – we actually prefer the 12V.  We haven’t even really wanted a ton of extra space.  More space and more systems = more work, more money, and less time for fun.  Maybe an Allied Princess was more than we really needed, or even truly wanted.  It was certainly more than we wanted to spend.

By the time we went to bed on Monday we had completely switched gears and zeroed in on a boat model that should have been obvious to us, but we had missed it due to our arbitrary minimum length requirement of 30 feet.  The Bristol 29.9.

5 thoughts on “Researching the next boat

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