The search has begun!

After years of clicking through thousands of photos of sailboats on various websites, Shannon and I were finally able to step from the virtual world into reality.

Last Friday, we rolled out of bed at 4:15, gathered Pete and some clothes, and took off to catch the 5:30 Ferry to Galveston. We had scheduled visits with two yacht brokers near Corpus Christi. There were 3 specific boats that we had found online that we wanted to see.

An Endeavor 37:

A Nicholson 35:

And an Ericson 32.5:

Online, all three looked fairly good, and seemed to be what we wanted, but there was not way of knowing until we stepped aboard. We quickly learned that pictures on the internet and reality were significantly different.

We met the first broker and toured the Endeavor 37 Ketch. First impressions were excellent as the outside of the boat looked great. Clean hull and deck, it all seemed to be well maintained and cared for. Another bonus was that it was ketch rigged. This was something that I had wanted in a boat as it means that there are a lot more options in your sail plan and can perform better in a wider range of conditions. That initial impression continued as we looked inside. The A plan layout of this boat was the main reason it was on our list, it was open and roomy as it takes the V-birth (forward cabin, usually a v shaped bad) and turns it into a large salon (dining room). This really opens up the interior and makes the living space seem much larger. It has tons of storage, and it looked well maintained and clean.

That’s where things started to fall apart a bit. There was not much more to this boat than its good bones. The electronics were ancient, and essentially non-existent. The power system was minimal, and looked jury-rigged to its limits. I expect to have to replace most of the electronics as a geek, but I was not intending to rewire and re-power and entire boat.

Overall we were happy with the Endeavor and felt it was a great start to the search. We had several more boats to look at so we hopped back in the truck and headed to meet broker number two for the main event. The Nicholson 35

The Nicholson 35, according to what we saw online, was exactly the boat we wanted, and was the main reason for the trip. It was a solid full keel ocean cruiser, and its description and pictures were quite exciting. Unfortunately, that excitement quickly evaporated once we got to the boat. It was a LOT smaller than it seemed, and a lot older. We both felt it as we looked at the aging paint on the hull, and that feeling grew as we stepped inside to see that everything onboard looked to be original 1976 vintage. While it looked nice in pictures, it was really just too small, and too much work for what we wanted, so we moved on fairly quickly.

Right across the dock was our next boat, the Ericson 32.5, it was a bit more expensive, but also quite a bit newer and better equipped than the other boats. Ericson is a capable boat in general, but its more of a coastal cruiser than a big heavy bluewater boat, which is more of what we are looking for. This particular boat was less than half the weight of the other boats we had looked at so far, and for some reason that kept us from fully embracing the idea of it. (or it might have been the bummer that we were feeling after the last boat.) It was a fine boat, and in pretty good shape, but so far it was only 2nd on our list, and just a bit more money that we wanted to spend for “mostly” right for us.

The advantage of going though a broker started paying off at this point. We had already looked at several boats and everything that we had planned, but while we talked with him he had come up with some other options. He recommended we look at this C&C 35 that had just gone up for sale and was not yet listed. It was a bit out of our price range, but it was another opportunity to see what was out there and “tune” our expectations. Turns out that it was more of a racer than a cruiser boat. Though the previous owner had made significant changes to make it more of a cruiser, it still wasn’t all that comfortable. With that and cost and general layout of the boat, we had quickly written it off.

Once we had decided that, we spent a good half an hour chatting with the broker about our goals and what we want in a boat. This gave me some hope as he really seemed to want to help us find the right one. He had hinted that there was one more, and Islander 38 C, that he thought we would like a lot, but it wasn’t even for sale yet, and was several miles away at another marina. It was getting late and with the assumption that an Islander was automatically be out of our price range, we decided not to go check it out that evening, but agreed to meet him in the morning just to have a look. What else were we going to do while we were there.

The next morning, we met him at this other Marina. As we were walking to the dock I spotted my kryptonite, a boat with a good looking curved deck and a nice bowsprit. I pointed it out to Shannon just as a “hey look at that nice boat.” As we were admiring the nice lines, not at all thinking that it was the one we were there to look at, the broker hopped aboard, and started unlocking the cabin.

We pretty much knew then that this was exactly what we wanted. As we stepped aboard, and walked into the cabin it just began to solidify for us. This one felt right. It was spacious, and beautiful inside. Large pilothouse windows all around, large cockpit, tons of storage space. While we were touring, the broker got a call and walked away for a bit. Shannon and I just kept talked to each other and it was clear we were on the same page. The more we walked around and looked at everything, the more we wanted this boat.

Unfortunatly, its just not for sale yet. We talked to the broker, and while the owner is talking about selling, it certainly hasnt been decided yet. Even if he does sell, the price may be way more that we want to spend.

While driving home and the whole next day, we discussed all the boats, pros, cons, money, what we want. In the end we just couldn’t stop thinking about that Islander. So we emailed our broker, and essentially said we were very interested and to call us first when he talks to the owner (and have him subtly hint that he should sell it to us).

Now we wait, and hope.

We cant just sit around though, there are TONS more boats to look at. In-fact, we just got back from Kemah after looking at five more boats! But we will talk about them next time.