Wow, Buying an Offshore Sailboat is Really Hard

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For only the second time in nearly 30 years, Phyllis and I are actively looking at buying a boat.

Yes, you guessed it, we are starting to at least think about selling Morgan’s Cloud. There, I said it. The reasons are complex and best saved for another article on the issues facing an aging voyager. I will write that in due time, once I have it sorted out in my own head, but the short version is that now that we are only sailing three or four months a year, and no longer living aboard, she is too much boat for our needs and so she should be passed on to someone who will really use one of the best long distance offshore live aboard sailboats ever built.

The interesting thing is that after years of thinking about our next boat, including flirting with the idea of a motorboat, we have decided that what we need, or at least want, is a sailboat that sails really well, of around 40 feet and about 20,000 pounds displacement (half load), at a price of around $US200,000 to $250,000, ready to cross an ocean—we are not looking for a project boat, been there, done that.

The boat that I’m guessing a lot of you readers want, too. (If you need to spend less, read on.) And guess what? Even though $US200,000 is a hell of a lot of money, that’s a really hard specification to fill.

Many of you are now saying, “duh, John”. You are right. Although I have repeatedly lamented about how hard it is to find decent offshore boats—yes, I still want to be able to cross an ocean—I had not realized just how bad the problem is. That is, until I started combing through the listings on sites like Yachtworld.

Sure, there are thousands of boats for sale, but I would not touch most of them with a 10-foot sterilized barge pole.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that over the next year or so we will be sharing:

  • The things that disqualify most boats and why. I know, sounds negative, but actually knowing what we are not going to buy is a great step to getting a good boat.
  • The type of boats that interest Phyllis and me, and why.
  • How to do a self-survey in just a few hours that can save us untold grief and money.

Of course, US$200,000 is still way too high a price for many, particularly in today’s world of uncertain career paths, so as part of this, we are also going to take another look at the whole “buy an old boat and refit her” strategy to see if there is any way to get a safe, and reasonably pleasant to live aboard, offshore sailboat ready to go for less than US$100,000 (owner labour not included). Doable? I don’t know, but let’s find out. One thing I’m pretty sure of, said boat will be smaller than the one I sketched out above.

And, best of all, this won’t be just my take on all of this. Colin is going to be part of it, too. And, as many of you know, Colin knows more about more boats, particularly in the above-targeted ranges, than any person I have ever met.

And, of course, we will have the benefit of the huge combined wisdom of our members in the form of discussion in the comments. Undoubtedly the highest quality reservoir of offshore boat knowledge and experience in the world.

Should be both fun and interesting, and the cooperative aspect will be much like the Adventure 40 project; one of the most fun and, I think, most valuable things we have done around here, even though it did not result in an actual boat.

By the way, if the Adventure 40 existed, Phyllis and I would buy one in a heartbeat and so save ourselves all this grief—it’s still by far the best option.

But that’s pie in the sky, so let’s get on with dealing with the boat buying world the way it really is. Stay tuned.

Comments

So what boats do you think Phyllis and I should be looking at to meet our criteria?  Remember, no project boats.

And do you have any suggestions for a boat that could meet the $100,000 (owner labour not included) price tag, when ready to go? Project boats are OK for this category, but not ones that need rebuilding. Refitting is one thing, but let’s not condemn anyone to 10 years at hard labour and/or an old age in poverty, both real risks of refitting the wrong boat.

Please leave a comment.

Further Reading

In the meantime, don’t forget that we have already done a lot of work on just this subject:

Like what you just read? Get lots more:


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Meet the Author

John

John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

185 comments… add one
  • Charles Oliver May 18, 2019, 10:39 am

    This sounds like fun! Looking forward to following the process. Good luck!

  • Damian Heaney May 18, 2019, 5:13 pm

    Hi john,
    This one is, ok not exactly a fit but a lot of quality for $200,000 that some one will enjoy.
    https://au.yachtworld.com/boats/2002/kasten-bos-carr-steel-schooner-2487691/?refSource=standard%20listing
    Damian

    • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 19, 2019, 8:00 am

      Hi Damian,
      while she is definetely a beautiful boat I would not recommend it to an aging sailor (sorry John – but at least we’re both in the same age range) who is looking for a smaller boat that might be easier to handle for a shorthanded crew.
      Two mast gaff? Beautiful to look at, but sail handling, reefing, etc needs at least two at the mast, and a lot of work.
      No secured cockpit, and two deck holes (I would never call them “companionways”) to get downstairs? Think of how “easy” this will be when going gets rough.
      Beautiful boat, something for a crew of at least four preferably young people. And overpriced, IMHO.

      • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 19, 2019, 8:19 am

        After looking at the extensively photo-documented technical details I completely retract my consideration of her being overpriced. Still I wouldn’t recommend her for the other reasons I stated above – but I have to admit that she has a lot of well-thought of details on her technical side that make her a very serious boat.

        • Damian Heaney May 20, 2019, 6:09 pm

          Hi Ernest, John,
          As i said maybe not a exact fit, but the fact is for an ocean going vessel at a asking price of $200,000 its a yes on at least those to points in my opinion, and yes too
          heavy and, and, and, but i guess $200 was my point the rest is personal on what one will or wont accept. When her new owner comes along he or she is going to get a lot of value out of her compared to a lot of other vessels on the market in the same price range.
          Damian

      • Richard Hudson May 20, 2019, 1:53 pm

        Hi Ernest,

        I look at that Redpath-design schooner and see a boat setup to be singlehanded.

        Though I don’t own a gaffer now, I have sailed several thousand miles on gaff-rigged schooners, both singlehanded and doublehanded (meaning the person on watch handles all the sails by themselves). The double topping lifts on this boat help keep the gaff under control when raising/lowering/reefing. On this size of boat, there should be no problem with alternately hauling on the peak and throat halyards to raise the gaff sails (more details at https://www.issuma.com/rhudson/RR/SchoonerSailingNotes.htm ), so sailhandling on this boat could definitely be a one-person job.

        The booms are short (for a gaffer), so I think this boat is probably setup for jiffy-reefing, and no reef points (which I don’t see on the sail plan drawing) need to be tied. The main boom gallows look like they’ll help keep the main boom under control while reefing.

        Though I think it’s only of value when short-tacking up a narrow channel (ie, not offshore), all sails look to be self-tacking on this boat.

        As to going below when at sea, I look at the companionway into the forward cabin as something that one holds onto the mainmast while climbing up and down. Entering the aft cabin, one holds onto the grab rail around the compass. Entering the forepeak, one holds onto the foremast.

        The lifelines look fairly high to me (their height is not listed), implying the designer, builder and/or owner was thinking about going to sea.

        There isn’t a picture of the hull out of the water that shows the bow, but judging from the stern, there is probably a fair amount of rocker in the hull, and it’s definitely not flat-bottomed, so likely to be pretty sea-kindly.

        I completely agree with your comment that the technical (electrical & mechanical) systems on this boat look quite impressive. And that it’s also not a small boat (36,000 lbs).

        Best regards,
        Richard

  • denis Foster May 18, 2019, 5:47 pm

    Hello John and Phyllis,

    This will be a very instructive project.

    We have had three boats : An Amel 53 ft Meltem, then for limited budget and coastal cruising a Beneteau 43 and finally our present boat a Hallberg Rassy 46.

    All GRP but the construction process and system integration are very different. Our sailing experience is very limited compared to yours and many AAC members.

    To summarize :

    GRP by Amel and HR iare extremly sturdy and both are adapted to the stress loads of offshore cruising. Beneteau is lighter in all aspects , in offshore cruising it will age quickly. it s a cost killer during construction and a money spender to upgrade to blue water cruuising.

    Amel was very well built but didn’t sail very well. The ketch rig was logical before all modern systems that allow a midlle age couple to sail. Modern technology now favours mast head cutter rig with in line spreaders as the ideal rig for a 40-60 foot offshore cruiser.

    When we chose our HR 46 we were very influenced by John and Amanda Neal’s extended offshore experience. The only alternative would be a Discovery 55.

    In that choice we went against our prevention about in mast furling. For cruising which is most of the time down wind that is a very good option now that our fears have vanished.

    Central cockpit with a comfortable rear cabin is great for extended cruising. A real stand in engine room is a definitive plus.

    This is our humble contribution to this on going discussion. I know I will learn more than I can share, and I am grateful to you and AAC members to instruct me.

    Regards

    Denis Foster

    • John May 19, 2019, 7:35 am

      Hi Denis,

      A very good analysis, I think, thank you.

      • Dirk Jacobsz Jun 3, 2019, 6:30 am

        John
        i am also looking for a 40′ boat. Would love a Boreal, but don’t have that cash. But even the HR’s and Amels are not cheap..

        • John Jun 3, 2019, 8:15 am

          Hi Dirk,

          There are a lot of cheap boats out there, but pretty much all of them are cheap because they are crap. Good boats are surprisingly expensive, I’m finding. As I say in the article, I think the best compromise is to move down in size rather than buy a bigger boat with big problems.

  • Dick Stevenson May 18, 2019, 6:21 pm

    Hi Phyllis and John,
    Firstly, what does 20,000 pounds half load approximately translate into with full tanks and cruising kit and supplies for off shore? Aside from the tanks, my casual guess is that the kit I would have for an offshore boat/passage would add 2-4,000 pounds over the kit I would choose for coastal cruising and, perhaps, jumping out to the Bahamas say.
    At first blush, that weight seems to narrow the field considerably. I have seen J boats in roughly that size out and about, certainly making offshore passages, and they are that light, I think. Many of the others that come to mind are, I suspect, more hefty.
    My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

    • John May 19, 2019, 7:39 am

      Hi Dick,

      That’s exactly it. I will write more about the spec that Phyllis and I have developed for our next boat, but suffice to say she will be smaller and lighter than say your Valiant. Now that we are no longer living aboard, we just don’t need the load carrying capacity of a heavier boat. In fact I would be happy to look at even lighter boats. One that intrigues me in the J120.

      • Marc Dacey May 19, 2019, 11:05 am

        Fast, light but worthy of offshore use? The Saga 43s seem to be in that realm and some of the earlier ones are coming to market as the owners swallow the anchor. But those who know about them are keeping the prices comparatively higher, too.

        I will add that our pilothouse with a 48 by 27 inch gas-strut-lifted hatch leading to a spacious engine bay has been the feature visitors express the greatest envy over. We literally inverted the “living space” for “access” equation and have not regretted having a vessel on which it’s hard to fall over in a blow without a handhold presenting itself.

  • Rob Gill May 18, 2019, 7:18 pm

    Great topic John, a question though – will you be sharing in detail the revised scope that this new vessel needs to be capable of?
    The voyages you both have made with Morgan’s Cloud would put you in the sub-1% of cruising sailors and the boat in the sub-1% of suitable craft. Reducing the scope, and thus the specifications, brings into play a much wider array of boats, including production designs that many of us more modest sailors (in cruising goals) own, or dream of owning.
    Looking forward to following your search.
    Br. Rob

    • John May 19, 2019, 7:40 am

      Hi Rob,

      Yes, I will share the goals for our next boat. Still working on that, but I should have it sorted out in a month or so. It’s an interesting process.

  • Terence Thatcher May 18, 2019, 9:12 pm

    Look forward to the discussion. Critical it seems to me is what Rob says. There are probably many boats that are suitable for round the world voyaging, as long as one stays out of the high southern latitudes. Even some older boats in the lower price range you suggest, assuming you then add on costs for cruising equipment.

  • Paul Clayton May 18, 2019, 10:43 pm

    Lightly used Pacific Seacraft.

    • John May 19, 2019, 7:42 am

      Hi Paul,

      Certainly an option, although I’m pretty sure that we will end up with something more performance oriented. A lot of this is about having an easy to handle smaller boat that we can really enjoy sailing.

      • P D Squire May 25, 2019, 6:47 pm

        WOW! Sharing your journey towards a smaller performance cruiser will be a fascinating, instructive journey. I’m excited!

        Pogo 30? Wide interior, but I suspect the central table/keel-cover will keep anyone from falling in a wild seaway. Extremely well constructed (the money is spent on structure instead of cupboards, and boat-show dazzle.) Sailing systems well set up for short handing based on Pogo’s Mini Transat DNA.

        On the other hand you and Phyllis might be too tall for it, and you might get cold if the intended 3-4 months include any winter months. Mind you it is possible to look forward cozilly from inside.

        It’s a short, wide, shallow boat – a style you’ve credibly decried in the past, but IIRC you’ve softened a little towards this style in recent times. And a brand new one (with carbon rig) is within the budget.

        • John May 26, 2019, 11:15 am

          HI PD,

          Now there’s a fun idea. That said, I think I’m getting a bit old to withstand the discomfort of sailing Pogo.

          Also, I have not changed my thinking on boat design. Generally short wide boats do not make good cruising boats because they are so uncomfortable to sail once the wind is forward of the beam and are poor weight carriers. The point being that I’m not against short wide light boats as a group, but rather I’m against selecting them for a task that they are not suited for.

          • P D Squire May 26, 2019, 5:57 pm

            Fair enough. The P 30 takes both short and wide to an extreme. And I was jumping the gun anyway. We need to see the requirements, which will be fascinating and instructive, before proposing solutions.

            In my defense: jumping to conclusions is fun;-)

  • Alain Bedard May 19, 2019, 5:12 am

    Dear Phyllis and John,
    Exciting News! I am looking forward to this developing story as I will also be in the market for a similar boat for use in the Pacific Northwest once I retire to Victoria in a year.
    Best regards,
    Alain

  • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 19, 2019, 8:07 am

    John, this might even be the one online book that turns out most valuable to me within the next 2-3 years, and will certainly influence the selection of my “retirement boat”. While the targets are a bit different (I am planning to live aboard for extended periods) we have a lot of issues in common, mainly the issue of age.
    Looking forward to keeping up with your and Phyllis process on that!
    Best regards, Ernest

    • John May 19, 2019, 8:33 am

      Hi Ernest,

      Good to hear. My goal is to make this useful to as wide an audience as possible.

      • Andre Langevin May 19, 2019, 4:05 pm

        Hi John

        I was in the same situation 12 years ago searching for < 200k ocean ready sailboat. I never found the right boat and since I was younger and still working, I decided to build one from scratch-never regretted it.

        It all depend if you want a real traditional ocean guzzling sailboat or the more modern lightweight design. If you go the traditional route there are some (mot many) Chatam 43 and 47 from Gilbert Caroff the now deceased French architect. This one is close to you: https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1993/caroff-47-2939640/

        I have a Chatam 43 this sailboat is in the 38000 lbs range and I can navigate alone on it. They are CE Category 1 approved on plan which mean ocean capable. The Alubat is another good choice.

        Ease of later resale might be an important variable in your equation. If so a modern boat could be a better bet even though there won’t be any comfort at sea.

        Good luck !

        • John May 19, 2019, 6:04 pm

          Hi Andre,

          That’s interesting, but we have no interest in a boat that heavy. MC is only 48,000lb and I can still easily single hand her, so no benefit in changing. Also we (or rather me) want FAST, so so will be modern underbody.

          • Andre Langevin May 19, 2019, 6:45 pm

            Hello John
            What is your miles-per-day target and your targeted weight ?

            Remember the waterline formulae… there is no weight in it 🙂 But there is a ratio for displacement vs planning hull. It is possible to find a 40 footer that can still do 200 miles per day, but it rather the crew that shine here rather than the hull.

            Maybe you should precise what “ocean capable” definition you use. Doing the Newport-Bermuda race is not in my mind for a real ocean ready sailboat. I would call it extended offshore. There are plenty of boat that could qualify for the Newport-Bermuda race but would not be fit for circumnavigation.

            For example fitting a decent ground tackle system on a production ULDB could be quite a challenge.

            If your french is up to date, you could have some very interesting reading from Pierre Lang who has been navigating for the last 18 years on his wooden epoxy boat. 8 tons for 12.5 meter.
            https://www.thoe.be/irisoft40/home.php

            What are your navigation destinations for the next 5 to 8 years ?

            cheers

          • John May 20, 2019, 7:45 am

            Hi Andre,

            Good questions.

            I will be publishing my full and detailed criteria in a future post.

  • Michael DeLorenzo May 19, 2019, 8:45 am

    I liked Perry’s Nordic 40 when I went through the same exercise a few years ago. Just couldn’t find one in decent condition at the time.

    • John May 28, 2019, 10:45 am

      Hi Michael,

      Sorry, I missed this. I think you are right, although I have not done much research, the Nordic 40 looks like a very nice boat. I will take some time to learn more about them. Thanks.

  • Robert Newman May 19, 2019, 9:16 am

    I suspect the J120 might be a bit light for your purpose. What about the J42?
    A boat that intrigues me – it seems to offer more than any other current boat in its size range and in the production-cruiser-for-offshore-work category is the Saare 38. Price might be a problem – it was first built in 2014.

    • John May 19, 2019, 10:22 am

      Hi Robert,

      Light is not a problem for us now. In fact we like light a lot. More on why in a future post.

      That said, I agree, the J42 is a nice cruising boat. I was on one last summer. One problem, a lot of them have way too much stuff crammed into them.

      • Drew Frye May 19, 2019, 2:37 pm

        At this rate, you’ll talk yourself down to a dayboat!

        There are times when I miss my cruising cat; my F-24 simply does not have the legs for cruising. But on the days when I’m just out for a spin, I really like the lightweight and ease of tacking. My little sports car. Small can be fun for an older guy, so long as your balance is good.

        • John May 19, 2019, 6:01 pm

          Hi Drew,

          That’s a real possibility. One idea is just keep MC for a few more years and then buy a Bullseye! Or maybe an Alerion Express.

          • P D Squire May 25, 2019, 6:52 pm

            I’m loving my RS Quest😃

        • Petri Flander May 22, 2019, 6:22 pm

          Now that Drew broke the ice…

          If:
          – Need for speed, Ready to cross an ocean, on marinas and on hook, goes reasonably well uphill and downhill, shallow draft is a plus, if no chart table no deal…
          Um,

          Dragonfly 1200 Tri … with some luck

          Why?
          Absolute thrill / ‘Because I can’ 🙂

          • John May 23, 2019, 7:04 am

            Hi Petri,

            Yup, a lot to like about multihulls. That said, Im not sure the lack of a chart table would disqualify a boat for me, as long as there was room in the cockpit to navigate properly.

  • Stephen James May 19, 2019, 9:54 am

    John,
    As a long time lurking member I find I’m motivated to comment due to being in the same “boat” . Beginning to think of selling Threshold, Paine/Kanter 55, after 20 years leaves the big question of “what then?” I will follow with interest where your search leads you.
    After being owned by a world class, every ocean capable boat I find it hard to imagine 40’ offshore. Age has a lot to do with this I know. Spoiled? Yes. But, I still feel more capable and safer in the boat I know. Additional crew is the temporary solution. That, I know, is only temporary.
    Your constraints are extremely tight. Boat = Compromise. I wish you luck and will follow closely with interest.

    • John May 21, 2019, 3:34 pm

      Hi Stephen,

      Sorry, somehow I missed answering your comment. Anyway, great to have someone in this who is in the same situation.

      I will look forward to hearing your thoughts as we move forward.

  • Paul Clayton May 19, 2019, 10:02 am

    My understanding is that very few Sarabande 41s were built, but that they are essentially a slightly stretched version of the Sancerre 38. From what I have read, and this may just be marketing hype, this boat was designed and built to handle North Sea conditions. I would be very interested to learn more about the boat, perhaps some of the international sailors at this site might have an opinion.

    I know of one Sarabande for sale in Edenton, NC that might be of interest to anyone looking for a well-found boat from the Paul Aubin yard in France. Of course, it would take a survey to prove it, but I have been aboard the boat and she looks to be in fine shape.

    https://neuseriversailors.com/moriah.html

    Or email me directly and I can send you more information. My email address is on my website:

    neuseriversailors.com

    • John May 31, 2019, 9:52 am

      Hi Paul,

      I agree, at least at first glance, those look like very interesting boats. Thanks for pointing them out, I was not aware of them.

  • Reed Erskine May 19, 2019, 10:59 am

    My wife and I are guilty of cruising an overloaded J42 since 2005, for the last 8 years in the Med, after double handing from St. Martin to Bermuda, the Azores and Lisbon. The J42 is a “small 42” with the advantage of being able to fit into tight places and, being shoal draft, tiptoe into skinny water when the need arises. Carrying spares, bicycles, 2 thirty gallon fuel tanks, 2 fifty gallon water tanks, and the comforts of home on a boat with capacious storage space in the cockpit locker and aft lazarette, year after year, it’s easy to accumulate the many necessities for all circumstances, but she’s nothing if not versatile. 5000 pounds of baggage and gear didn’t keep us from running the 1000 miles from Ponta Delgada to Lisbon in 5 days. Designed as an homage to the classics, she’s become a classic in her own time, as a weekend family racer, or comfortable long distance cruiser. Hard to find for sale as owners seem to keep sailing them into their seventies (our case) and eighties (hopefully).

  • Mark Wilson May 19, 2019, 11:38 am

    Hi John
    There are two Bowman 40’s currently advertised on Yachtworld.
    Excellent designer – Chuck Paine.
    Excellent builder – probably the best of British.
    Right displacement – 19000 lbs.
    Handsome.
    Long legged, purpose built ocean cruiser.
    Skeg hung rudder and encapsulated keel.
    Perkins engine may drink oil but has no known sell by date.
    I went to see the one in Wareham in January. Its teak deck will have to come off sometime in the next few years. Rigging needs renewing. Electronics are old but that doesn’t mean they don’t work. She hasn’t done as many miles as she ought and doesn’t feel tired. Funnily enough I met Mr Paine aboard her at The Southampton Boat Show in 1987 a year before I swallowed the anchor for the next three decades and at the time she seemed me me to be the perfect fibre glass cruising boat. Too expensive for me then and sadly, at £90,000 now plus the necessary work, still too dear.
    PS I like the look of the J boats mentioned here. How strong are they when things start to go wrong ?

    • John May 19, 2019, 5:47 pm

      Hi Mark,

      Not for me. Remember I said no project boats. That said might be a good boat for someone who wants a project. Me? Been there, done that…many times.

    • John May 31, 2019, 9:59 am

      Hi Again Mark,

      After looking at a lot more boats, it looks like I may easily need to go with an older boat and then pay for some work to get what we want. So I took another look at Bowman. I agree, nice boat, although I would prefer a deep keel to the Sheele and I really don’t want to deal with teak decks again!

  • Glenn Wilcox May 19, 2019, 11:44 am

    Hi John – I’m very interested in following this story. Curious what you will end up with. We went the 100k route. Found a 30 year old 39′ (10 ton) french built aluminum centerboard sloop in St. Martin that had been well cared for but needed a re-powering and some refitting. The boat had just finished its second Atlantic loop – so was a well found blue water boat. Purchased for 80k and 20k later in upgrades, doing all the work ourselves, we have a boat that can take us anywhere in the world, short or single handed.

    • Kristoffer Naes May 24, 2019, 9:14 am

      Hi John,
      Thank you for raising a very interesting debate. I find his very relevant also for those of us that mainly do coastal/extended coastal cruising, myself mainly Scandinavian waters implying crossing only “small oceans” .
      Have you consider Scandinavian builds like Hallberg Rassy 37 and 372 and the older 39, Malø 37 and Najad 38? Those will be at your price tag.

      • John May 25, 2019, 5:39 pm

        Hi Kristoffer,

        There’s a lot to like about all those boats, so I will surely take a look. That said, many (most?) have aging teak decks and that’s not a project I ever want to do again!

        • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 25, 2019, 5:52 pm

          Hi John,
          I looked but found only a single mention of your teak deck job, is there or do you plan a story about this obviously unpleasant exercise?

          • John May 26, 2019, 11:10 am

            Hi Ernest,

            No, I have not written in detail about our teak deck removal and probably won’t since it was some 18 years ago and I have blotted it out! And ours was a comparatively easy removal job.

            That said, I do know enough about this to write a warning article about teak decks, so thanks for the suggestion.

  • Gary Cummings May 19, 2019, 11:54 am

    Come on John, flirt some more with a motorboat, or at least incorporate some powerboats into your articles. I really enjoy reading about what I could have done, but since I am several decades past the learning curve for Adventure Sailing. I jumped straight into the powerboat. My wife and I will be full time cruisers on the great loop this fall on our American Tug 34. Can’t cross oceans, but those boats are outside my means.

    • John May 19, 2019, 5:52 pm

      Hi Gary,

      I might play with a motorboat yet. But what I realized last summer is that I’m really a died in the wool sailor, so that’s the focus right now.

    • Kit Laughlin Sep 2, 2019, 7:26 pm

      Gary wrote: “Come on John, flirt some more with a motorboat, or at least incorporate some powerboats into your articles.”

      I would very much be interested in this too; I have a 40′ ex-cray wooden boat, with an extended wheelhouse (so “sedan”). It has a Sharpie-inspired design (sharp bow, flat aft sections) so handles very ‘snappily’ in confused seas. I have read all the articles here on FPBs and similar, but these are way out of my price range. Your $200,000 figure is doable, but I want a motor boat that is ocean capable. John, I know you are a die-hard sailor, so I know what you’ll be looking for, but digressions into power boats will be most welcome (at least to Gary and me!).

      • John Sep 3, 2019, 8:53 am

        Hi Kit,

        I have done quite a bit of looking at motorboats over the years and based on that I think getting one for $200,000 that is ocean capable is a big stretch. Yes, you can get a not too shabby, although horribly inefficient, inshore trawler for that, but I just don’t know of anything ocean capable for under $500,000 and even that’s not a big budget.

        That said, I will be looking at an interesting efficient inshore motorboat in October and if I see stuff I like I will write about her.

  • Richard Elder May 19, 2019, 12:00 pm

    Hi John
    I’m not surprised that an old ex-sailmaker should be intrigued by a sport cruiser like the J 120. Great fun for an afternoon sail or gunk holing during a New England summer. Or even a one way sail to Bermuda. That said, I’ve done two long ocean deliveries on flat bottomed ULDB style racer/cruisers, and living inside a pounding drum for a week or 10 days is not my idea of pleasure. I’d choose Dick’s Valiant 42 any day and arrive safer and more rested in about the same time.

    The first step in any boat decision is a well thought out mission statement. Looking forward to your future article—.

    One of the columns in my personal mission statement contains the automatic rejection items. And among them is “no balsa core below the water line.” Hundreds of wet core J boats attest to that choice. I was recently offered a nicely equipped J 40 for $25k. No sign of interior water damage, but wet core everywhere. Or the 50K J 130 that needs an entire new bottom. In principle resin infused balsa as used on the J 120/130 should be impervious to moisture, but if it were my boat I’d require epoxy resin construction instead of polyester, no gell coat to allow visual inspection of layup flaws during the build, and a bit more quality control than is usually present in production boat building.

    re production boat building, see my comment about why keels smile: https://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/2019/05/17/#keel-smiles-part-2

    • John May 19, 2019, 5:51 pm

      Hi Richard,

      Yup, a J120 will pound and the balsa is an issue. More on that in a future post. That said, there are some around without soggy core issues. My guess is that TPI had some pretty variable QC over the years, so some are good, and some are horible.

      • Richard Elder May 19, 2019, 8:26 pm

        Hi John
        I suspected you might be feeling sporty in your old age (LOL) when I mentioned a J130 in my letter the other day! To quote Bill Lee, “Fast is Fun.”

        To clarify my comments about balsa core underwater, if l were building a new lightweight racer cruiser with a flat bottom I’d build it with a balsa core rather than foam because of the superior stiffness of balsa, but I wouldn’t touch a hand layup balsa cored hull with a rubber $2 bill. I’d only use epoxy resin and infusion with it’s superior laminate/core adhesion and water impermeability. The outer skin of a lightweight laminate is quite thin, and barrier coat or no eventually some water migration should be expected if it is polyester. Store the boat outside in your winter conditions and the freeze/thaw cycle introduces yet another delamination threat.

        And then there is hydraulic delamination where even a small penetration of the outer skin allows water to “hydofracture” the composite under the force magnification of pounding over waves.

        • John May 20, 2019, 7:57 am

          Hi Richard,

          That makes a lot of sense. I have been researching core issues for a future post so it’s great to have your expertise on that. As you say, nothing intrinsically wrong with balsa, but it better be done right and not with a hand roller!

  • Fernando Borges May 19, 2019, 7:20 pm

    Dear John,
    Truly interesting idea – that of sharing with us this boat search. Although you are not considering a motorboat, would it be too troublesome to include such category as well in this exercise ? I believe your thoughts and ideas would surely help lots of readers here, many I believe looking for an ideal offshore cruising powerboat, below 45 feet.
    Best luck in your search.
    Kind regards, Fernando.

    • John May 20, 2019, 7:53 am

      Hi Fernando,

      That’s a good idea. I have always had, and continue to have, a huge general interest in boats that can go offshore. Everything from IMOCA 60s though cats and on to motor boats, so that should not be difficult. In fact I have been keeping a fairly close watch on motorboats and will continue to do so. Unfortunately that watch seems to indicate, unless I have missed something, that we are still a long way from an “ideal offshore cruising powerboat”. That said there have been some new boats that indicate a move in the right direction: https://www.deepwateryachts.com

      Anyway, thanks for reminding me not to lose sight of what’s going on in motorboats.

  • Philippe Candelier May 19, 2019, 10:11 pm

    Great subject. This one will be interesting to follow. There is a lot to cover and this will bring a lot of discussion and will keep the readers engaged.

  • Philip Wilkie May 20, 2019, 3:56 am

    As the proud owner of a steel Adams 40 that I bought 18 months back and fitfully progressing a modernisation ‘project’ I can strongly identify with the challenge here. The trick is to stumble over that boat that someone else has refitted and needs to sell. Sadly due to some very unlucky communication I just missed out on the ideal boat I really wanted, but instead I finished up with a second best choice that needed more work than I hoped. The problem with most old steel boats is that the original owner builder ran out of money and the systems are usually a bit junk. Still I will finish up with the exact boat I want, not someone else’s dream.

    Eric Bretscher is an interesting character with some strong ideas. This alloy sloop is fast, light and very modern:

    http://nordkyndesign.com/nordkyn/

    Unfortunately it’s probably way too expensive; but I’d love one.

    • John May 20, 2019, 8:03 am

      Hi Philip,

      I agree about Eric’s boat, way cool, but, as you say, way too much money for us.

      • Philip Wilkie May 22, 2019, 2:00 am

        You would be more aware of this than me, but the one thing not mentioned by anyone yet is that ‘light’ fibreglass boats run the risk of being rather flexible. Coming from the stability of a metal boat I can only imagine you’d be very disappointed if you finished up with a bendy hull.

        It’s certainly one attribute I would not want to compromise on.

        • John May 22, 2019, 8:12 am

          Hi Philip,

          That’s a really good point, and one of the things I love about aluminium.

  • Bruno Lefevre May 20, 2019, 8:33 am

    Hi John,
    sure the Cigale 14 would fit many of yr requirements …
    here is one of those :
    https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1998/alubat-cigale-14-3498670/?refSource=standard%20listing

    • John May 20, 2019, 5:29 pm

      Hi Bruno,

      That does look like an interesting boat, although I’m a bit of a twin rudder hater. That said, I’m trying not to let me prejudices about things like that get in the way of learning about new-to-me boats. Thanks.

  • Erik Leander May 20, 2019, 9:13 am

    Speak to Dennis at Artnautica. I think he is drawing on his 40-footer. That will of course be a power trawler. Could be very interesting…

  • Brent Cameron May 20, 2019, 1:19 pm

    I’m in pretty much the same boat, no pun intended, and have decided on an Amel 53 Super Maramu 2000. You can buy a top notch one at the high end of your price range or go with the smaller but nearly identical Santorin (48’) and keep nearly 100K for your wallet (really good ones go for about 160K). While I haven’t sailed a Santorin, I have about 5000 offshore miles on a couple of different Super Maramu’s and can report that they sail really well especially in frisky conditions when in other boats you might want to think about slowing down for comfort or potential safety (i.e. sailing underpowered so as to not have to worry about bringing in some main/Genoa/mizzen during a night squall). It isn’t hard to make 200 miles a day in them and we left the same time as a similar sized Swan with almost three times the crew but made it from Bermuda to Antigua within minutes of each other – we were all showered and well rested and they looked liked they’d run marathons. The boat was designed to be handled by a couple of retirees and sailed solo by the wife as long as she could lift a bag of groceries. It’s definitely true. The electric winches and furling of all of the main driving sails make it a snap to sail even solo. On power, it’ll do 7.5 knots for 2500nm. It has 1100L of fresh water and a water maker to make more if needed. It fits your power hungry criteria but most have a 7.5-11KW Onan Genset and a solar arch that puts out another 6-800W so we ran the genset to make water or expresso. The absolute best feature of the boat is the protected helm station in the centre of the boat – I’d never buy another boat without it) but the completely separate (and water tight) standup in engine room comes a close second. ZERO smells in the boat. The looks are a bit off putting to some as it looks more traditional than the latest blunt destroyer nose with fat arse end designs lately but I find them quite fetching. The Santorin looks the same but is a wee bit shorter (takes one leg off the U-shaped galley and a bit off the engine room) and a bit narrower (takes out the pilot berth). Either would be a global cruiser as hundreds of them have done it – many several times. Of course it’s made from Fiberglas but they are completely dry boats as Amel mastered the deck hull joint as a one piece affair. If you’ve ever been up front taming a runaway Genoa in a blow and big seas, you’ll love the solid stainless steel life RAILS. Of course if you want it to beat a J120 around the cans, these are not your boat.

    • John May 20, 2019, 5:24 pm

      Hi Brent,

      I already have a boat that fills the same need, at least for me, as a Super Maramu. In fact I looked at an Amels before I bought Morgan’s Cloud.

      Still I can see why you would suggest that since you probably assume that my reason for thinking about replacing MC is that she is getting difficult to handle. An understandable assumption, but not in fact true since I can still single hand her without issues (touch wood). In fact larger boats are often, once one has experience with them and has them tricked out right (automation not necessarily required) easier to sail than smaller ones, particularly when it gets snotty.

      • P D Squire May 25, 2019, 7:07 pm

        Really good point. I realise you’re moving away from the concept, but it is encouraging to be reminded that size sufficient to meaningfully reduce capsize-risk doesn’t necessarily, mean too big for non-athletes to short hand.

  • Eric Klem May 20, 2019, 1:47 pm

    Hi John,

    I am a bit behind and just read your first article in this series which I agree with in principle but have a bit of trouble with in practice and I think you did a good job of describing the issue here in this post. While project boats don’t make sense, it is actually quite hard to find the combination of a good design, good original build quality, good current condition and reasonable price. I suspect that a lot of it is because very few boats are actually well maintained which is kind of sad and then very few of those boats are maintained to sail offshore. The ones that are often are yard kept and full of stuff many of us don’t want but that drive price up like crazy. There is also the personal preference aspect, I suspect that there are a few things I would immediately change if I acquired Morgans Cloud and the same goes for if you acquired a boat that I had fitted out.

    The thing that was freeing in our latest search was accepting that the boat did not have to be truly offshore capable. We are both full time employed with a kid, house, etc and realistically don’t plan to change that for many years so buying and maintaining an offshore capable boat raised the bar far too high, we will deal with it when we get back to it. Given our budget, we had been looking at boats like the Nordic 44, Passport 40 but when we changed this requirement (quite the mental leap for me but not for my wife), we ended up with a CS36T which has been excellent and if we had to do it all over again, I would do the same thing provided we don’t win the lottery in between. I would feel completely comfortable sailing this boat anywhere from the Bahamas to Newfoundland but I would not take the offshore route to the Caribbean in the fall as an example. For 2-4 times the money, we could have similar capability but go a bit faster in something like a Saga 35 or some of the J’s but again, I would not take it offshore. It is tricky because like houses, there is enormous costs associated with buying and selling the least of which are the actual fees but it is also quite expensive to maintain a more capable boat than necessary.

    Almost all of my offshore experience is on larger vessels, most larger than Morgans Cloud so I am not the most experienced with small boats offshore but I definitely feel that there is a minimum size that my risk tolerance would allow for offshore and it is right around the size you have laid out. I will be very curious to see if you can meet both the offshore capability requirement and the cost requirement, take out either one and I would have a lot of suggestions but I don’t have much given those 2 combined. My first thought would be to keep your current boat with a few small upgrades, do the offshore stuff you still have in mind soon and then swap boats down to a coastal cruiser or daysailer. Trying to use sweat equity instead of money runs the danger of getting an offshore capable boat right around the time that the person is no longer offshore capable but of course, you already know that.

    Eric

    • John May 20, 2019, 5:17 pm

      Hi Eric,

      I think, as so often happens, you have hit the nail on the head, square and true.

      The idea of this post was to kick the project off, and see what others are thinking, which I think it has done well—huge traffic spike, which indicates interest.

      Right now, I’m in the preliminary phase of this, and have not yet taken my own advice in this chapter: https://www.morganscloud.com/2014/08/05/the-right-way-to-buy-a-boat/

      That’s the next step, and I will write about that, once I have done it.

      All of that said, as a rough guess, I would put the chances at 50/50 that in the end we decide to do as you suggest, keep MC for as long as we keep the trans-ocean requirement and then go to a coastal boat. One thing I know for sure is real offshore capable at $250,000 ready to go with no big DIY projects is going to be way harder than most people think. So far I have not seen one boat that makes that cut. But, as you say, a fun coastal boat is a way easier nut to crack. Heck a J120 would be a gas and there are a bunch of those around.

      And I could not agree more about the dangers of using sweat equity and time. I will be 68 in June, so using even 2-3 years to whip a boat into shape would be a huge error, given that I already have a great offshore boat.

      Anyway, it’s a really interesting decision tree and you have helped me cut off a couple of branches, thanks.

      • Eric Klem May 21, 2019, 1:17 pm

        Hi John,

        For $250k, I think that the right person with some luck could pull it off but also I think that most people could not pull it off. The question is how long would it take and how much sweat equity would be required. I saw the goal number of $100k up in the post and that is the number that I have no idea how to meet without getting a screaming deal on the boat, already owning your own shop, not minding lots of used gear and having oodles of time. For reference, when we were last looking, we felt that we could do it for $200k (we already have the shop among other advantages) and a bunch of sweat equity but also that we could do coastal cruising on a 35-38′ boat for $70k and still a whole lot of work but significantly less. We have proven out that second figure by actually beating it but have not tried the first. Minimalist coastal cruisers can obviously get by on a whole lot less, especially if you like doing it on a 30’er. Of course, you have to keep up with stuff so the yearly cost is not nothing either.

        One of the interesting questions to me regarding time is how quickly is it reasonable to go offshore in a boat that has just had major work? It seems to me that an awful lot of people allow themselves to schedule so that the boat is in the water less than a month and sailed less than a handful of times and then they set off offshore and get in trouble due to equipment issues. Just because something is new doesn’t mean it was spec’ed right or installed right and it takes usage to figure this out and correct it. For someone not working and who has actually completed the to do list, I would think that you could go from first sail to real offshore passages by building up over a few months and fixing and improving the boat as they figure it out. The other option for people living in colder climates where boats are hauled annually is to coastal cruise a boat in the summers and do the refit in the winters but this takes a lot of discipline.

        It will be interesting to hear what your rationale is for thinking about this project once you write that.

        Good luck.

        Eric

        • John May 21, 2019, 3:26 pm

          Hi Eric,

          I agree with all of that.

          I will be looking at a boat on Friday that I think might just do the offshore job for $250K without much sweat but it will be tight and she is only 36′. (Not planning to buy, just research at this point.) At $100K, I agree, VERY hard. I put it in because many people have asked me to pull this rabbit out of the hat. Might be doable say with a Contessa 32 and a lot of sweat, but I will not be going to sea in her! That said, done right said Contessa is perfectly safe at sea as long as the important stuff is checked/fixed.

          And the key thing in all of this is that many (most?) people don’t really know what “ready to go to sea” actually means, and so spend money and sweat on all the wrong things, so I will be writing more about that too

          Also I agree about the importance of shake down, see #3 and #4: https://www.morganscloud.com/2012/10/17/40-rules-for-a-reliable-sailboat/

    • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 21, 2019, 3:58 pm

      Hi Eric,

      you wrote “there are a few things I would immediately change if I acquired” – that is exactly one thing I am hoping to avoid when time comes to ponder about my own boat. My thinking is that the boat has worked until now, so just keep it like that and go sailing (not immediately offshore, for sure). After a year or so I would slowly recognize things that would be sensible to modify, and there might be other issues that might have put me off at the beginning but I might quite well have learned to live with. A german proverb means “slowly with the young horses” (dunno if there’s an equivalent in english?).

      If a boat is “cramped with stuff” I don’t want from the start I would try to bargain them out, or would simply walk away – why should I pay for stuff I don’t want? There are a lot of boats on the market, some even good ones.

      I expect it might be some time until I find “my” boat, and I will have to make a compromise (as always): I myself could very well live on a pure no-nonsense boat for extended times, but I need to take into account that my wife and daughter might require a bit more “luxury”, enough water supply for showering/washing hair etc. Ok, they won’t be living on the boat for extended times as I am planning to do, but of course I’d like them to feel comfortable, besides safe.

      And I can always go sailing on other peoples boats until I found mine, recently starting to receive more requests for skippering or delivery… and, after all, first its about sailing 😉

      • John May 22, 2019, 7:43 am

        Hi Ernest,

        There’s a lot to like about the OPBC (other people’s boat club). Seriously, sailing on lots of other boats is one of the smartest things we can do on the road to ocean voyaging.

      • Eric Klem May 22, 2019, 1:58 pm

        Hi Ernest,

        Generally, I agree with your philosophy to try the boat out for a while before messing with things but I do think that there are exceptions, mainly around safety. On the first boat we owned, I did a few projects before the first season that really never needed to be done and I only knew it once we had sailed for a season. You will never find a boat outfitted exactly as you would, I think the goal is to find one that is acceptable. As an example, our current boat was well maintained by the previous owner but they felt comfortable with thru hulls with 30 year old ball valves which I didn’t feel comfortable with so replaced them with seacocks. Another example was that they used a fairly small Bruce anchor as the primary and relied on setting a large Fortress secondary in addition whenever it got snotty, I replaced this with a single large new gen. When buying, I already knew both of these things and had budgeted for them and I still felt that the boat was one that I should buy. I suspect that I would have very few things to change on a boat like Morgans Cloud but if you are looking at the general population of boats and put a requirement like centerline jacklines on, I suspect that you will find it almost impossible to make the purchase so you need to plan on accepting that you have to change some stuff and figure out how to keep the cost and effort down.

        The stuff that is harder for me to decide on is preference based stuff. An example might be if someone was looking at our boat and was a performance oriented person, they might feel that our Campbell Sailor prop was too much of a performance hit and decide to go to a feathering one knowing that it cost more and is more delicate. The real trick to me is that boats have so many different components and systems on them and you have to find the balance of what you can live with and what you really feel is necessary to upgrade.

        Good luck in your search. There is definitely something to be said for sailing on OPBs. The thing that I always struggled with in this way was that I could not improve them and sometimes there were things that were really questionable safety wise to me.

        Eric

        • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 22, 2019, 2:52 pm

          Hi Eric,

          you’re completely right, I should have mentioned safety related items as an exception, this is a non-brainer. While I might accept 30 year old ball valves for a short time (given they still “look and feel trustworthy”, and given the boat is in the water, I might be tempted to keep them for a couple of weeks or months so when I haul the boat I might know of other issues I’d like to “adapt”. Chainplates are a similar issue, when they sound suspect I certainly would have them replaced before setting off.
          Centerline jacklines are a must-have but I wouldn’t see them as “change” in the boat but rather an add-on that I might add at any time, even on the day I finalize the contract. Other items, like sufficient extinguishers, galley safety, etc, I wouldn’t see them as “change” but as “addon”.

          When it comes to “OPB” (I didn’t know the expression yet but love it, honestly), there are a couple of them that got some improvements. Best example an old Melody that got a permanent installment for a preventer that can be set w/o leaving the cockpit – the owner still writes emails how he loves them => thanks John for the description of your preventer system, this one is a slight simplification of yours 😉 Another one now has a battery compartment where the batteries are securely held down and wouldn’t get loose when it gets rough. All small stuff and IMHO not a “change” to the boat itself, but made them all more fun to sail, or at least more safe.

          Thats what I like with “sailing” – it is the whole package, including “repairing your boat at the most beautiful places”, as one wise soul put it 😉

          Ernest

          • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 23, 2019, 8:30 pm

            I’d like to add a quite credible source to my considerations of not to modify a boat thats unknown to me too early: Steve Dashew. In his encyclopedia he writes (p. 1038): “Regardless of your budget situation, or whether your
            building a new boat or buying used, it is always best to spend some cruising time aboard before making changes or adding other than essential gear. I guarantee you that whatever you think is a worthwhile investment today, you’ll have different priorities after a couple of months of cruising”, and “In many cases the best program is to get a very basic, simple boat now. Use it until you are ready for some serious full-time cruising, and a few months before you are ready to depart get started on adding to your equipment list.”

            I feel in good company with my thoughts 😉

  • David Huck May 21, 2019, 12:10 am

    Hi John, how about an Ovni? Would be good use of your accumulated Alu wisdom. Interested to hear Colin’s views too 😉

    • John May 21, 2019, 8:12 am

      Hi David,

      Yes, there’s a lot to like about Ovnis. That said, I’m not sure one will meet our vital capabilities list. But then again, I have not yet finalized that, so we shall see.

  • stormsvale May 21, 2019, 4:50 pm

    How about an S&S Swan 43 to 48. Hard to get a better sea boat and usually one of the prettier ladies in any harbor. Built like tanks and go upwind like few others! Olin was an American wizard!

    S&S Swan owner… Ok slightly biased🙂

    • Marc Dacey May 21, 2019, 9:24 pm

      Andy and Mia would support the preference for Swans. Unfortunately, their resale price indicates the feeling is widespread.

      • stormsvale May 22, 2019, 4:14 am

        Lots of nice ones out there well within the budget you are looking at. Ones from the 70s when they were arguably at their best are around. The 44s are nice boats the best being the 48s. You can find these below 150 usd.
        We have a 40 from1971 and are approaching 40k offshore miles with her. She instills nothing but confidence…

    • John May 22, 2019, 7:50 am

      Hi Stormsvale,

      I agree, loverly boats. That said, a 48 would make no sense since that’s approaching the size of the boat I already have. The other issue is that most of them have teak decks way past their best before date. Other issues are that with the huge foretriangles they are not great boats to sail short handed. And finally, most are now 40+ years old, so I would need to find one that some other poor soul had completely refitted.

      All that said, my heart could easily beat fast for one of the S&S 38s. Emotion and logic are two different things!

      • Marc Dacey May 22, 2019, 11:31 am

        A sharp eye will recognize that the “anchorages of broken dreams” in places like Panama will often feature fully refitted good old boats going for a song because the marriage did not survive the first gale of note. This is also why shopping Sidney, BC and Blaine, WA can turn up some lightly used beauties looking for new ownership due to insufficient spousal buy-in on the cruising proposition, which is best endorsed quite a bit before Yachtworld is consulted in my view.

  • Paul Padyk May 22, 2019, 11:12 am

    Speaking of logic, what about part ownership? Your 3 – 4 month use per year leaves plenty of room for another owner, and time for shared maintenance. $200k goes a lot further if the other half is bringing at least as much to the partnership. Of course, details would have to be worked out, and emotion would have to be held in check but such discipline could allow you the ideal ocean-crossing boat to blissfully sail for the rest of your days.

    • John May 22, 2019, 3:53 pm

      Hi Paul,

      That’s a very interesting idea, and one I generally applaud. In fact I have a friend that is a member of a four way partnership that works brilliantly. Definitely worth thinking about.

    • Philip Wilkie May 22, 2019, 5:45 pm

      These guys are located at Manly Brisbane where we are and I’ve had the chance to look at them closely: https://www.yachtshare.com.au

      They have two distinct programs, one is a 1/10th share ideal for coastal sailing within 3-4 days reach, the other a 1/5th share that works for people looking to travel further afield. Over and above your syndicate share there is a monthly fee (around A$800 which is similar to the cost of marina mooring one boat) which is used for maintenance and company profit.

      The obvious limitation is that it rules out circumnavigations, but it looks very successful and I have to say that if we has encountered it sooner it would have been a smarter choice for us. The simple truth is that yacht ownership as we conventionally think of it has simply become too expensive for most people. The remaining fleet of owners is both growing older and swallowing the anchor at the same time.

      The rise of the people monetising their travels via YouTube also reflects this reality; it’s the only way they can afford it. But this path is only accessible to a tiny minority of the most popular channels.

      The Adventure 40 project, as inspired and worthy as it was, also speaks to the fact that no-one believed they could build it at an affordable price and make a living at it.

      As much as we become attached to ‘our’ boats, they are just a means to an end … getting out there. It seems to me that the ‘sharing economy’ is rapidly becoming the most effective path to achieving that for many of us.

      • John May 28, 2019, 10:40 am

        Hi Philip,

        Sounds like a great program and something that I think will be the way forward for many.

        One thing I do disagree about is the idea that just because the A40 has never been built that proves it can’t be built. Beneteau, at the time, were building a larger and more complex boat for about the same money, and, I’m sure, making a profit on it. They were also spending a bundle on advertising and dealer margins.

        So given that we would have converted the cost of that complexity and marketing into structural integrity (surprisingly inexpensive on a production line) shows, at least to me, that a profit can be made building A40s.

        The big problem was that the idea was, and is, innovative and different, and so getting capital to commit is hard. It was ever so with any innovation. Everyone always starts off by saying it’s impossible. That’s why innovation is so hard.

  • Stephan Will May 23, 2019, 8:38 am

    Dear John, again a highly interesting thread here at AAC – and especially amazing for us: Phyllis & you start a new search for a boat to come – exactly the day our 15-year search finally came to a good ending!

    After checking, visiting so many yachts, modifying our priority-lists, continue searching and monitoring offers all around the globe again, spending hundreds of great hours of reading here … finetuning again …

    We finally found our yacht – a 2003 aluminum swing-keel cutter (https://www.atlanticyachts.nl/) in excellent shape, really ready to go and still lying in the small harbour of the „Jachtwerf“ who built her so many years ago and maintained her ever since.

    Smaller indeed then ever expected by us just 11.8m over all. Optimized for 2 – perfect for 4. The checked & proved excellent build-quality, seaworthiness, true Cutter rig, the maintenance-friendly design and layout and the total absence of any ‚gimmicks’ were most important for us. Affordable in the best sense – and our start into a new phase of our lifes – it seems to us the not we found our boat – but vice versa … 😉

    Maybe the actually available used 38 could be worth a look at from your side?

    However: Time for us to say THANKS for all the valuable information here at AAC that already helped us so much!

    Many greetings, STEPHAN!

    • John May 23, 2019, 6:24 pm

      Hi Stephan,

      Indeed interesting boats, even though I’m not normally a fan of twin rudders. The simplicity, is, as you say very attractive. Great to hear that you found your boat, and thanks for the kind words.

  • Svein-Erik Lamark May 23, 2019, 5:34 pm

    Hi John, certainly a very interesting post to many of us. I have searched the nett an found a boat looking good for you: Sirius DS 40 of Germany. The many videos of the boat was tempting all the way until I found the prize, very high. But on the other hand, what do you think of such a consept?

    • charles starke May 24, 2019, 11:30 am

      Hi John
      I’ve been thinking about your requirements and they are very hard to meet successfully. My experience in boats is with a Rhodes 19, Ensign 22, Alberg 30, Hinckley 38, a Trintella 45 (dropped by yard and total loss in 2013) and my current boat, a Trintella 47 built 2002. I would have kept the 45 until I could no longer sail. The Trintella 47 is definitely better constructed than the Hinckley. It is an excellent boat and I am very happy with it.

      A late model Trintella 42 would meet a lot of your requirements:
      https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1998/trintella-42-3022232/?refSource=standard%20listing

      A friend had a Trintella 42 that he had built in Holland. He sailed it near a hurricane (by mistake), and traveled the oceans. He loved it, and only sold it after he could no longer could physically sail.

      My experience is that it takes 5 to 7 years to learn and polish a boat to personal taste. If you downsized to a 40 footer, you might be 75 before you knew it well and were comfortable with all the systems and sailing it. If there were a problem not found on survey, you might get stuck for life.

      I am happy with and know my Trintella 47 because of my 16 years experience with my Trintella 45. I am happy with it because I bought it with the eye to sail it until I get to be 100. It has electric winches, a self tacking jib, a bow thruster and a leisurefurl boom. A furling main and furling self tacking jib go a long way to make sail handling easier as one gets older. Handholds abound. The companionway, with stainless handrails, is not steep, and is easy to navigate. I am 72, and all this is important to me.

      On top of the work of learning and getting a new boat ready for sea, is the tremendous cost of selling and buying with surveys, repairs, and broker fees on both ends.

      So my recommendation would be to keep Morgan’s Cloud. Install self tacking jib, electric winches, a leisurefurl main and boom, and a bow thruster.

      Make the boat that you already know easy to handle and one you could be happy with for another 30 years.

      Good luck.

      Best wishes,
      Charles
      Charles L Starke MD FACP
      s/v Dawnpiper
      https://www.amazon.com/author/charlesstarke

      • John May 25, 2019, 8:18 am

        Hi Charles,

        All good points and we may easily take your advice and keep MC. That said, at least at the moment, the issues that make us consider selling MC are not to do with sailing her so adding automation would not change much. More in later post.

    • John Jun 10, 2019, 8:13 am

      Hi Svein,

      Some how I missed this when you first posted it. Sorry. Just too a look at the boat and I agree, very interesting. Someone has put a lot of thought into that boat.

    • P D Squire Jun 12, 2019, 6:09 pm

      I too was captivated by Torsten’s Sirius videos. I wonder about their performance. The rocker kicks up very abruptly immediately aft of that luxurious low mid-cabin. Some polars would be fascinating.

  • Richard Elder May 25, 2019, 12:40 am

    Hi John,
    Hi John,
    The wide range of suggestions by readers tells me that the mission statement they are responding to lacks definition. What is an ocean capable sailboat? One that you would feel comfortable sailing from Newfoundland to Norway for a summer in the fjords? Or something like a J 120 beer can racer that would be fun to sail in a summer Bermuda race? Or a metal boat to cruise to Patagonia ?

    And what is too big?
    If a 26,000# Valiant 42 is too big is a 24,000# boat with a 50′ waterline and a Dashew style ketch rig that can motor at 14 knots smaller?

    Sorry, but it isn’t necessary to spend $200,000 and several thousand personal labor hours to own an ocean capable sailboat under many definitions of the term. If ocean cruising means sailing downwind from California to anywhere in Mexico for a year or so, here is a perfectly adequate design, with a reputation for being better built than 90% of the production boats of its era. Somebody has spent a lot of money and time buying new sails and engine, and making the hull and interior look nicer than a new 2019 boat. Add anchoring gear, dodger, bimini and basic instrumentation and cast off. It’s easy on the eye and fits the same sporty mold as a 40′ J 120, but with less speed and a easier motion.

    For $39,000!

    https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1976/choate-37-3545032/?refSource=standard%20listing

    • John May 25, 2019, 8:29 am

      Hi Richard,

      I agree that our spec is not clear. That said, I made clear in the post and several times throughout these comments that I have not yet published, or for that matter even completed, a spec yet. More coming in a future post.

      And, as you say, I need to define what I mean by ocean capable. That said, I would certainly not include blowing downwind to Mexico. That’s a coastal passage, not crossing an ocean, at least in my eyes.

      And yes, the Choate looks like a nice value although not sure I could live with the paneling below. 🙂

      • Richard Elder May 25, 2019, 11:17 am

        Hi John
        Those old Choates in the 37 or 40′ size ranges are fully capable of sailing a Transpac to Hawaii and then sailing up over the high to Alaska afterward. They’ve been there and done that. The key is finding one that somebody has spent a lot of money on, bringing the engine, rig, and sails up to new. Not necessarily my first choice personally— I picked this one because it fits in the general mode of sporty cruiser like the J 120.

        The interior paneling in the one I linked to is certainly “different” but well executed. But compared to the Motel 6 interiors with fake formica, pop in liners, hard edges, and no handholds that are featured in most 2019 production boats? By that standard it is a stylist’s stroke of genius! LOL

        When I subtract 39k, 49k, or 59k from 200k I get a remaining budget that would enable a scrounger like Fatty to circumnavigate until he is 90!

  • Terence Thatcher May 25, 2019, 2:25 am

    Fascinating to read all our insights, preferences and prejudices. I love to look at J boats, especially the J42.. But an ocean going boat with a 67 hp diesel and less than 40 gallons of fuel? Won’t work. But for shorter trips, a dream to sail, I am sure.

  • Henry Rech May 25, 2019, 8:04 am

    John,

    What about a retired aluminium racing boat that’s been repurposed for cruising. It will be fast. As long as it has been strongly and well constructed and the fit out suits.

    Seen a few 40fters +/- in Australia over the years for under $100,000.

    • John May 25, 2019, 5:44 pm

      Hi Henry,

      I guess it would depend on the boat. That said, at least as a general rule, I don’t think that retired race boats make good cruising boats since the design goals are often so very different. Also race boats have often had very hard lives.

  • Randall Walford May 25, 2019, 10:47 pm

    How about the last Nautor’s Swan 44 that was made? Seems to have been a lot of work done on it, including replacement of teak decks (oh no, replaced with teak!) But at $79K USD, what’s not to like?
    https://moreboats.com/boats/nautor's-swan/44/209923

    • John May 26, 2019, 6:41 pm

      Hi Randall,

      Yes, nice boat. That said, that huge foretriangle is probably not great for an aging sailor. Also with a boat that old there may be big time structural issues that need dealing with. More on that stuff in a post I’m working on.

      • Richard Elder May 27, 2019, 12:19 pm

        Hi John
        I’m not sure that beautiful (Swan 44) qualifies as an “old boat”. The Swan 43/ S & S that I used to maintain and occasionally sail was built like a brick s****house. This one has been a marina queen put to bed every winter for 20 years. I’d wager that it is “newer” than a 4 year old Beneteau Oceanas from the bareboat charter fleet. Fill that foretriangle with a high cut jib and a staysail on furlers and it wouldn’t be huge any more. You’d never have to worry about saying to yourself “what an ugly boat” as you dingy back to her at anchor!

        For us senile sailors the deal breaker is the “dumpster diver” Swan companionway. Unsafe at any age. Perfect if your goal is to test the waterproofness of your fowl weather gear as you cower in front of the next green one coming on board.

        • John May 27, 2019, 12:22 pm

          Hi Richard,

          I just need to point out that we are talking about a boat for me here, so discounting my thoughts in quite such a cavalier way might not be appropriate. Thanks.

          • Richard Elder May 27, 2019, 10:01 pm

            Hi John
            My mistake. Somehow I thought we were discussing how to buy the best used offshore- capable sailboat, but if I’d paid closer attention your focus is upon documenting the process of buying a boat for yourself to replace MC.

            Boats are as individualistic as their owners, and it would be presumptive for me to tell someone of your experience what is right for you. It follows that I don’t have any business making generalized contributions to this topic. Perhaps it would be best if you delete my earlier off-topic posts to help narrow the focus of this chapter.

          • John May 28, 2019, 8:48 am

            Hi Richard,

            Not that big a deal, I was just a little irritated by the dismissive tone of your reply. By the way, I totally agree about the companionway on those Swans. I sailed on a boat set up that way and we used to call getting from the cockpit to safely below “the dance of death”.

  • Henry Rech May 25, 2019, 11:06 pm

    John,

    You have specified your price range and LOA.

    There’s a thousand boats that would fit the bill.

    Have you narrowed it down to displacement class (light, medium, heavy), fast/slow, GRP/aluminium/steel, motoring capacity, draught etc.?

    • John May 26, 2019, 6:42 pm

      Hi Henry,

      Not yet, still trying to keep an open mind. I do have the mission pretty much sorted out though. More coming in a future post.

  • Alexander Hubner May 27, 2019, 11:34 am

    I would recommend Dick Koopmans and to buy it in the Netherlands.

    • John May 27, 2019, 12:23 pm

      Hi Aexander,

      I agree, Koopmaans boats are very appealing. I have two friends with them who just love them.

  • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 27, 2019, 1:22 pm

    Hi John,

    I just stumbled upon a steel boat ad (no longer for sale).
    She’s an older lady of steel, just returned from a circumnavigation, and priced with EUR 29.500 quite attractively. According to the owners/sellers the main issue is that the electrics/cables are 20 years old and in need of replacement.

    That would just be the boat I might be looking for – it is only 2.5 years too early 😉

    • John May 28, 2019, 8:51 am

      Hi Ernest,

      She is pretty. That said, I personally would not go near an old steel boat. More on that in a post coming soon.

      • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 28, 2019, 10:52 am

        Very looking forward to this post as I am in fact considering going steel. Basically for its ability to put away with groundings or collisions. And if something is “rotten” you can (“easily”, well, more or less) replace an affected plate and achieve the same strength as before. Fiberglass comes second, but only not cored below the waterline. And as I have no experience with aluminum or wood as materials they are more or less off limits to me.

        • Philip Wilkie May 28, 2019, 11:35 am

          Ernest

          The secret to steel boats is access. You have to be able to see everything and keep it clean and clear of salt. Get any wiring and plumbing out of the bilge unless absolutely unavoidable.

          Assume that if you cannot access an area, then no-one else has either. And if not then it’s almost certainly a problem.

          • Marc Dacey May 28, 2019, 3:20 pm

            This is true. We own a 30-year-old steel motorsailer. Access is critical to proper maintenance. To a certain degree, that has sacrificed some internal volume in terms of compartamentalized stowage. But the tradeoffs are, in our view, worth it.

          • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 28, 2019, 3:48 pm

            Marc, out of personal interest: what, from your experience, is “proper maintenance” that is special to steel boats?
            For what I know until now it is mainly to religiously keep bilge, stringers, and the rest of the non-insulated hull clean and dry, regularly check this status, make sure that the electircs are sound (no stray current etc). Do I miss something? At what intervals do you check your hull integrity?

            (John, sorry, I don’t want to hijack this thread, so feel free to point me to a better location)

          • John May 28, 2019, 3:51 pm

            Hi Philip,

            Good analysis, and worse still most steel boats have many places that are inaccessible, particularly under insulation.

          • Marc Dacey May 29, 2019, 2:57 pm

            Ernest, that’s most of what is needed. I do a visual examination of the boat for superficial rust, and solve it with a rust conversion touch-up and two-part, epoxy-type topcoat (Endura, used on oil rigs and nautical buoys). I keep water out of the bilges, of course.

            I replaced my original standpipe this year with a stainless steel replacement (I did the same for both exhaust outlets and both sink drains two years ago) after I discovered some thread corrosion on one out of the four nipples. I replaced the bronze seacocks with TruDesign ball valves. We launched with zero leaks in late April.

            I also run an inspection camera into various places I can’t reach, which are relatively few, because it’s a custom boat with good access. There’s very few, if any, spots I can’t visually access with a 1.5 metre bendable camera eye and a small but decent colour screen. If I need more detail, I can plug the output into a bigger screen. It’s one of the better gadgets I’ve ever purchased.

            We have also invested time in repainting the “high traffic” parts of the inner hull, such as the engine bay. We plan to have the entire hull below the waterline ground back to bare metal in Nova Scotia this winter to completely “refresh” the galvanic paint layer, the epoxy barrier coat layer, and finally, three coats of ocean-appropriate hard anti-fouling paint. If we have issues with (for instance) rusty welds at that point, I would think they wound be revealed.

            Lastly, I recently purchased an ultrasonic metal thickness sensor and recorded, prior to this year’s launch, the entirety of the hull plate thicknesses at selected intervals below the waterline. I hope this has helped. Basically, the keys are vigilance and quick remediation. Owning a steel sailboat requires both attributes on the part of the skipper, but the rewards are many if you put in the relatively modest work required to keep oxygen away from metal!

        • Andre Langevin May 28, 2019, 5:54 pm

          Hi Ernest most of the comments you will hear about steel boats are from 20+ years boat badly built or wrongly protected. Especially since steel used to be the steal away material. In Europe more than USA steel have a high reputation. Steel vs Aluminum is a religion debate since nobody can afford Titanium. One aspect of steel that no one debate is the fact that steel shows its lack of maintenance and aluminum don’t. Any metallic boat of 20+ years should be passed under detail scrutiny especially if the owner is not around to attest of the degree of preparation of the material prior to painting and isolation. All metallic boat should be isolated over water line – period. So all correctly built metallic boat have 90% of their surface hidden under insulation. This being said my steel/stainless sailboat has never seen a drop of water in the bilge except on land in the winter where the non insulated part of the hull pump humidity when the dew point is attained. Shop your steel boat with someone who has correctly built one and you’ll be safe and happy on the water. (Disclaimer i built my own steel sailboat 10 years ago-no regret)

          • Ernest E Vogelsinger May 29, 2019, 6:16 pm

            Guys, thank you all so much for your invaluable insights and information!

          • John May 31, 2019, 9:41 am

            Hi Andre,

            Thanks for the report. Seems like that really is the answer: Steel works as long as you have been part of the boat’s life right from the time she was a pile of plate.

            Also, those considering steel should be aware that the dry bilge thing only works as long as the water temp is above about 8C. In my experience, below that temperature the plate and structural members will be constantly wet from condensation. In fact at a water temp of 5C “Morgan’s Cloud” makes about half a gallon a day of water from condensation in the bilge.

    • P D Squire Jun 4, 2019, 4:21 am

      Spend the 2.5 years disassembling the interior to get at the wiring, replacing the wiring, and putting the interior back 😉

  • Mark GADUE May 27, 2019, 6:51 pm

    Hi John,
    I had to laugh when I read this posting of yours about a new boat. I say the following respectfully and with a smile: there are a lot of online books on your website. Have you read any of them? I suggest you start with” Cruising Boats Electrical Systems.” That’s the one the gives me nightmares. You want it safe, and fast too! Oh my. What boat is going to satisfy your standards for the batteries and the electrical system; and the standing rigging; and the power plant; and the safety lifelines and tethering system, plus the chain plates for deployment of the Jordan series drogue, and the massively strong anchoring and windlass system….? What boat is going to have the cockpit and the doghouse that you need for safety and comfort at sea? What boat is going to have the robust autopilot and windpilot that you know you need? How many chapters in how many books are there on the AAC site? I swear to God that by following your advice for my little 1985 Tartan 34 here on Lake Champlain I’ve at least doubled my initial purchasing investment, and that’s just for big lake cruising, never mind the ocean. My wife has recently installed software blocking my ability to even get on your website here at home. I have to go to the boat club and hijack their internet when she is at work to log on now. (Last year I totally refinished the boat bottom. Never again. This year I added a feathering prop. Next project: A bow sprit with an asymmetrical spinnaker, except my Spade anchor that you recommend is so large that getting the bow sprit around it is going to take some effort.) You married Morgan’s Cloud long ago. You can’t divorce her now. If you did, the world would fly off its handle. But it will be fun to watch you try.

    • John May 28, 2019, 9:03 am

      Hi Mark,

      Fun comment, and in many ways you are right. As I have said, we may easily decide to keep MC. That said, we are not planning to be nearly as aggressive with the new boat as we were with MC. And you will note in many of the chapters you site I mention that the recommendations are for long distance go anywhere boats, and that those not going as far need not go as far with their systems. So, for example, we may easily end up anchoring on rope and having a small autopilot and a vane gear. Also, because we won’t be living aboard, many of the other systems will be simpler or not even there.

      And things like centre line jacklines are easy to retrofit.

  • Mike Maylor May 29, 2019, 9:22 am

    Hi John,

    Wow you have re-invented the game pin the tail on the donkey for yachties! Hence the vast number of responses before the announcement of the criteria.

    Have you come across Allures of Cherbourg, France? Their Allures 40 is a 40’10 inch boat at 19,400lbs displacement. Aluminium hull built with round bilges not hard chines, finished with a grp deck and superstructure. Lifting keel. Cutter rig. There is a 2006 model for sail in Marseille for under your $250k price cap, which judging by the photos is most definitely not a project although you will doubtless wish to accessorise it to your hearts content. Link to the yachtworld advert: https://www.yachtworld.co.uk/boats/2006/allures-40-3542463/?refSource=standard%20listing&refSource=standard%20listing

    To meet your criteria in bold type of ready to cross an ocean, the concept of this yacht is that it is a pocket expedition yacht (caveat – my personal assessment after seeing one at a boat show – not a claim made by Allures), so crossing oceans absolutely, and potentially very well suited, in the size you want, for your regular Canadian Atlantic cruising ground.

    Compromises – Allures are not J-Boats – according to reviews they are not intended to be flying machines. I believe that they sail sweetly but they will never plane off the wind. Also you said in a response that you are not convinced by twin rudders, which Allures have to allow them to dry out upright. Twin rudders and no bow thruster might make life complicated if you intend to spend time in marinas.

    Alternatively for what you will spend on selling Morgans Cloud and buying a new boat, you could have change from sailing MC in a less trenuous way by using the engine more, and buying something like a J80 to get your racing kicks round the cans which could live on its trailler and be correspondingly cheap to run. Which brings us neatly back to the benefits of sailing other peoples boats, especially if you want to do something for which your boat is not ideally suited.

    Good hunting, looking forward to the next article with more clues as to your requirements.

    Mike

    • John May 29, 2019, 9:52 am

      Hi Mike,

      Yes, I intentionally put it out there before defining the spec in the hopes that people would come up with innovative ideas to help me think outside the box of my own prejudices. That seems to have worked.

      Talking of prejudices, I’m familiar with the Allures but one thing I never really could get my head around was mixing materials. One of the huge benefits of aluminium is that one can build a very stiff boat with no deck penetrations for fasteners and therefore no deck leaks. So, at least to me, using a GRP deck negates one of the biggest benefits of aluminium.

      And on the other hand, we still end up with a boat that needs all the special care required for immersed aluminium, which GRP does not require.

      Just seems like the worst of both worlds.

  • Charles Kanieski May 29, 2019, 3:37 pm

    John
    I am the owner of a Folkes 42 steel boat from 2001. I am betting that once you compare what you would have to do to upgrade any used boat you find for anywhere near your purchase price, you will decide to keep your present boat. Safety is something you mention a lot in your blog and you presently have a boat that you know and trust. Getting a new/used boat to that same level of trust will probably cost you nearly as much as you would net selling MC and also cost you the big ticket: time!
    It will be fun to watch this process develop.
    Charley Kanieski
    S/V Hongvi

    • John May 30, 2019, 4:46 pm

      Hi Charles.

      You may easily be right! Do nothing is always an option that should be on the consideration list when considering a big change.

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