Vote: Which sailboat did we choose?

…we know, but you don’t…

Boat hunting at its finest: we looked at six boats in one day—quite the feat!  Our broker, Arne, drove us around on a Saturday in the fall to show us several bluewater sailboats in the Annapolis area that were reasonably within our price range.

Find out which sailboats were in the running!

And then tell us what you think by voting!

Reason be my guide

Going into the search, I was fully aware of the valuable lesson I had learned only a month before about making an emotional decision with an infatuated mindset.  This time, I wanted to keep my heart at bay and let my mind, the facts, and reason guide our quest.

Fixer-upper mindset

My sailboat investigation seemed similar to when a house hunter or fixer-upper looks at potential home investments with a keen sense of the house’s shell and bare bones.  Any couch cushion can be re-upholstered, any wall can be painted, teak refinished, system upgraded, or floor scrubbed.  But a galley cannot be moved from one side of the boat to another.  The engine would be a tough expense to replace.  And bulkheads needed to remain fixed in place to maintain the integrity of the boat’s structure.  So with that, I knew that I could make the sailboat my own, but I’d have to be content with the interior layout, the design, and most of the systems it came with.

1.  Island Packet 40

We started the day looking at an Island Packet made in the late 90s.  She was in the water at a slip only a short walk from the broker’s office.  I was really surprised at how much I liked it, especially because it had a much more of a modern feel than many of the classic boats we had been focusing on.  She was traditional with light wood floor, cabinets, and trim.

The Island Packet offered an excellent layout with the placement of the two staterooms, galley, head, and salon.  With the folding table up on the wall, the salon seemed exceptionally roomy—almost big enough floor space for dancing!  It was quite a beast of a boat, solid, heavy, and beamy (wide).

Arne had wanted us to see her because she was brand new on the market and a superior sailboat as he put it.  This particular model had actually been displayed in the Annapolis Sailboat Show for Island Packet Yachts two decades before and still “sparkled” in many ways with the bells and whistles that had initially been put on her to catch the consumer’s eye.

She was $30,000 above our price range but was “turn-key-ready” despite her age.  The galley was tight with little counter space, and in need of a face lift.  The cockpit was narrower than our Catalina, Gem&I— near the water and all non-skid fiberglass.  The wheel was relatively small, sunken into the floor and created an odd, low arc that only a seated helmsman could comfortably manage.

2.  1985 Passport 40

The second sailboat of the day was a Passport 40 named Thalia just a short drive away.  Also priced about $25,000 above our price range, Damian and I were well aware going into it that if we bought her, we would have very little monetary room to make upgrades or changes—at least not right away.

As we approached up the dock, it was evident that she had been well-cared for as her newly painted hull glistened in the autumn sunshine.  We boarded her and noticed the rigging, the deck, and the new sail bag.

Ducking our heads into the companionway and heading down below, it hit me that we were in Russ’ boat.  Our good friend, Russ, is the kind, friendly owner of a Passport 40, named Integrity, on O-dock.

And I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this model was next-to-identical to his with the engine under the salon table, the dark oak wood paneling, the head in the bow, the Pullman berth, and the galley set up.  Don’t get me wrong—we love Russ’ boat.

We have always loved it!

Truth be told: Russ’ boat is one of our favorite sailboats in the whole marina.  What it would be like to have a Passport of our own?

3.  Brewer ketch 44

The third sailboat we viewed that day was a 1988 Brewer ketch that was on the hard at another local marina.  She was within our price range and had excellent specs that matched much of our “no compromise list.”

Ketches always have had a special place in my heart with their two masts standing proud.  Their outlines not only remind me a pirate ship, but the ketch was the design of Que Coisa, the sailboat that took my great-grandparents around the world in their 1970s circumnavigation.

This sailboat had a center cockpit with portholes looking out over the water above a full aft cabin.  An aft cabin was definitely a feature Damian and I both loved, because it hinted of the aft stateroom aboard British warship, HMS Surprise, from the infamous Master and Commander.  She had wood trim around her deck and teak seats encircling the center cockpit. But little else reminded us of the classic boat design.

She was quite modern, with white counter-tops and cabinets in the galley and the navigation station.  The Brewer ketch had a lot of what Damian and I were looking for in a boat.  But her galley was tight, the salon felt cramped, and she lacked the classic charm that we desired in our dream boat.

She was definitely one to consider though.

4.  Tayana Vancouver 42

Just a few boats away in the same marina and also on the hard was the Tayana Vancouver 42 that Damian and I were both excited to see.  The Tayana is one of the bluewater boats that we had both bookmarked as a favorite.

As we climbed aboard, we immediately noticed the beautiful teak decks that outlined the boat.  She displayed teak on the seats in the shortened cockpit and the rim around the deck.

But we also noticed that this Tayana was different than the classics Damian and I were familiar with from our internet searches.

She had a wheelhouse that sat up in the center of the boat, overlooking the for-deck.  The wheelhouse exhibited a table with booth seats on either side as well as a helm with autopilot, chart plotter, and radar displays.  The wheelhouse was an interesting feature that kept reminding me of a power boat.

Down below, her living quarters were rather small.  The salon was minute compared to others we had looked at—most likely because the space had been used for the wheelhouse above.  The two choices we had for sleeping would have been a small V-berth cabin, which led right off of the tiny galley or an aft berth that looked like an over-sized twin bed with closet-like privacy doors leading off the salon.  Interesting interior layout.

5.  ????

Neither Damian nor I remember the type of sailboat we looked at next (I guess that gives it away that we did not buy her).  We do remember that it was huge—probably between 50 and 60 feet in length—and straight out of the late 70s.

It was at a nearby marina on the hard, and Arne had suggested that we take a look at it, because it was within our price range.  He wanted us to see how much boat we could get for our money.  It was a lot of boat—too much boat.

The vibe we immediately got when we stepped aboard her was that in her prime, she had been quite the party boat.  In fact, her salon displayed an open dance floor!

But the fact of the matter was: this vessel would require thousands of dollars in work and upgrades to make her sail-able.  Despite her current market value, in the long run—Damian and I would not be able to make her what we would want.  Her personality was definitely not the right fit for us.  But she was fun to look at!

6.  1985 Baba 40

Weird sounding name of a boat.  Baba.

Apparently dubbed such because the Taiwanese were unable to pronounce the name “Bob Berg,” a sailboat designer who produced this line of bluewater boat; so the locals who worked in the boatyard just called him “Baba.” Which eventually became the name of the sailboat as well.

We drove to a nearby Annapolis neighborhood shaded by mature trees to a secluded cottage on the waterfront of a small canal.  We followed the stone steps down to the private dock behind the home, where a classic, canoe-stern sailboat sat, in the late afternoon sun.  She boasted teak decks and trim, a prominent bowsprit housing two anchors, and navy blue canvas sail-bag, dodger, and bimini.  Her name read Garza Grande.  Cutter-rigged with a ribbed hull, she appeared to have been well-cared for over the years and solidly built for ocean cruising.

When we went down below, our assumptions about her having crossed oceans were confirmed.  An official plaque hung on the wall above the clock and barometer announcing that she had gone through the Panama Canal in the early 2000s.

The layout of the galley and salon offered a lot of living space.  She sat much lower in the water with her full keel, and her draft was a massive 6 feet, too deep for many of the beloved anchorages along the Chesapeake Bay.  However, she offered a wide beam and higher ceilings for head room.

Lots of light poured through the many portholes and the butterfly hatch, skylight above the wide table in the center, which took up most of the salon. It appeared to me that the port side of the settee had been re-upholstered a light blue in recent years, and the starboard side settee was still reupholstered with the original red.  Needless to say, didn’t match.  The V-berth and aft cabin offered lots of storage space with cabinets, lockers, drawers placed in any unused space available.  Damian noticed that her Yanmar engine had been recently rebuilt and had low engine hours.

Time to consider

We had a lot to think about.  Damian and I took the spec sheets home to compare and evaluate.  We wanted to make the best decision possible with the options that we had.  Six boats in less than six hours.  Damian and I were exhausted, but the time had been well spent.  We had a good feeling that our dream boat was among the sailboats Arne had taken us to see that day.  Our dream of owning a bluewater sailboat of our own was within reach.  And we were that much closer.

Vote: Which sailboat do you think we chose?

Click the link to vote today!  We indeed chose one of the six sailboats described above.  And we would love to hear from you.  What do you think we chose?  What makes you say that?