After living aboard, evaluating her sailing capacity, and recognizing the reality of our dreams, Damian and I chose to sell our 1986 Catalina 30 in an attempt to purchase a larger, bluewater vessel that would fit our needs and vision for the future.  Here’s why we did it!

Damian and I have always dreamed of owning and sailing an ocean cruising sailboat with a classic design and enough space to permanently live on board comfortably at anchor and in the slip.  We love the idea of being able to take our home with us as we travel the world and help others. The experiences we had sailing and living the summers on Gem&I enabled us to assess what we liked and did not like about a typical coastal cruising sailboat popular along the Chesapeake Bay.  The reasons why we chose to trade in our boat were:

  1.  More Space

Catalinas have a wide 10-foot beam and more living space than other standard, production boats at 446 sq. feet.  But despite this fact, Damian, the cat, and I were tripping over one another constantly over the summer.  I never felt like I had enough space to put things.  Storage was in hard-to-reach spaces.

For instance, our pantry was located behind a cushion on the settee.  So any time we needed a canned or dry ingredient, we had to take a part the couch, making a mess in the “living space,” to retrieve contents necessary for snacking and cooking.  In addition, our shower bags and toiletries were stored in similar, hard-to-reach spaces on the boat that had to be taken apart and put back together every time we got them out.

There were very few drawers and “cupboards” that were big enough to hold these types of contents.  Hence, why we had to fit them in wherever we could find.  We had very little space to keep towels and linens.  Not to mention our fold-up bikes, dirty laundry, and Damian’s SCUBA equipment.  The interior always felt cluttered, no matter how many times I reorganized or sorted through what we really needed and what could be left at the apartment.

2.  Safer and Heavier

When Damian single-handed at night with the choppy waves back in August, he noticed Gem&I’s cockpit bounced up and down with even the slightest bit of chop.  He did not feel that it was as safe as he would have liked.  The boat felt like a floating bath tub as she tossed to and fro with little weight to ground her from tipping from just a nudge from the waves.  Gem&I’s displacement was 10,200 pounds; and with only a fin keel to hold her down, the boat made life more uncomfortable for us than if we had a heavier, stronger boat that handled the waves with an unwavering sturdiness we could trust.

Plus, the cockpit had very little between the helmsman and the sea.  Damian wanted to find something that had a wider deck around the circumference of the cockpit to insulate those who would be at the helm and any crew sitting within this space underway.  With our aspirations to sail in the Caribbean and eventually cross the Atlantic and the Med, we wanted a sailboat that was heavy enough to endure an ocean passage and be more comfortable for us when experiencing typical ocean swells with an average height between 4 and 8 feet (not to mention when we get caught in a storm).

3.  Batteries, Generator, Engine

We really struggled this past summer on Gem&I for two major reasons: (1) our battery-life was not apt for anchoring more than a day without needing to be re-charged and (2) the heat, humidity, and lack of wind made it unbearable to anchor at night without air conditioning. Hence, we were limited with where we could sail to and when we could sail, because we were in desperate need of being in the slip at night.  Damian and I both promised each other that the next boat we purchased would be equipped with a generator that could run AC for us while anchored.  We also needed more than 160 amp hours of battery life to support us for a longer stretch of time.  July and August 2016 offered little to no wind along the Chesapeake Bay, so we ran our little engine and motor-sailed more-often-than-not while traveling.  Our 25-horse power engine on Gem&I chugged at full force up to 6 knots per hour—and that was only if the wind and current were in our favor.

4.  Classic Design

The dream of a pirate-ship-like-boat was always far off and never seemed within our grasp.


We realized that if we truly were going to upgrade to a bigger, heavier, and more functional sailboat, we could also search for one with a ribbed hull, canoe-stern, and teak decks.  For years we had wandered the docks in various seaside towns oohing and ahhing over those head-turners, the classic sailboats, we could only dream of on-day sailing ourselves.  The time to start searching for one to call our own was now.

Gem&I is a production boat.  She’s your standard, weekend coastal cruiser.  With amenities conducive for a glorified camping expedition that lasts no more than two days in mild to warm temperatures with a hospitable breeze (3 knots but less than 10).  She has her rightful place among the boating communities that line the bay and its tributaries.  Gem&I was the perfect starter boat for us, and we will always be grateful for the memories we made aboard her and the lessons that we learned from her.  But it was time to say goodbye and move onward toward the bigger mission that awaited.

When did you know it was time for another sailboat?

We would love to hear from you!  Everyone’s experience is different, but we can learn from one another’s stories.  How did you decide on what boat you needed next, and what did your must-have list entail?

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