Windy said afterward that the most difficult part of her time below was the noise of the ocean pounding on the hull. The crashing. The amplified sound had her questioning the integrity of the hull. Del Viento was a Newport 27 production racer-coastal cruiser, much like the venerable Catalina 27. Her skin wasn’t flimsy, but neither was she stout.
When we finally sold Del Viento in Ft. Lauderdale, Windy and I knew we wanted to get back out there. We were resolved to do it next time in a stout boat, a heavy, full-displacement cruising boat. We wanted to feel that come hell or high waves, none of us would be down below questioning the integrity of the hull.
That is pretty much where we were at the start of our 5-year plan to get back out there, launched 4 years ago. But times have changed. Weather forecasting is better and forecasts can be more easily obtained given the advancements in communications technologies. Many argue that it is better to plan your weather windows and be in a boat fast enough to narrow those windows, than to be in a relatively slow boat built for punishment.
As the economy nosedived in 2008, the added expense of a bulletproof blue water boat began to seem more significant. At the same time, sailing magazines abounded with stories of cruisers out there circling the globe on relatively light displacement production boats. Catalina’s booth at the sailboat show seemed to feature the words “blue water” on every sign, even displaying their “Hall of Fame:” profiles of sailors who have made significant passages or circumnavigations aboard Catalinas. The lure of the price of a used production boat became a siren.
The cost is nearly 50% less. Not only because the supposed quality is lower, but because the designs of these boats, many tailored to the charter trade, offered comparatively more space down below. Beamy to begin with, this beam extended further and further aft, beginning in the early nineties. Therefore, while a 36-foot Catalina would easily serve the cabin space needs of our family of four, a 38-foot Hans Christian would not make the cut.
By the time of the 2009 show, we were nearly resolved to buying a production racer-coastal cruiser, a bigger version of what we’d been out on before. Nearly resolved. Questions still lingered and I was determined to get answers from sources I trusted.
When we launched our 5-year plan in 2006, our house was worth more money than it is today. Our investments were worth more money. $160K was something we could manage. In 2010, things look a lot different. Our timeline is unchanged, but our budget is not. Our decision to go with a production racer-coastal cruiser had helped a lot. But now…?
Don and Jim thought about our sincere offer, but they were not ready to commit to selling. We were disappointed, but prepared to wait, as they gave us right of first refusal for when/if they do decide to sell.
Several weeks later, I noticed a Fuji 40 in Puerto Vallarta: $79,900. The boat looked good, and she was competitively priced (lowest of the three for sale worldwide). I’d first seen a Fuji 40 online in 2006 when we first began looking. There was one in Ventura, listed at $110K. I loved the boat. It was a mini-version of the Mason 43, but with an aft cabin every bit as large, greater headroom, and no teak decks. Hmmm.