The sale of our beloved Morgan’s Cloud, a custom aluminum McCurdy and Rhodes expedition sailboat, closed yesterday.
What a time we had together:
- She owned us for a few months shy of thirty years.
- We sailed over 100,000 nautical miles, and probably closer to 150,000 (lost count), together.
- Four trans-Atlantics, three via the Arctic and one the classic east-to-west southern route.
- Two Newport to Bermuda races, first in class in both and best corrected time in fleet in one.
- Quite a bit of single-handed sailing, before Phyllis joined the ship and my life, including a passage from the Caribbean to Bermuda.
- The site of our “first date”, an early-season gale-tossed passage from Bermuda to Maine. I needed to find a crew who didn’t know better and Phyllis fit the bill having never sailed before.
- How many watches at sea? A rough estimate (based on the miles) of over 5000 for each of us.
- About a year and a half of nights at sea for me and a little less for Phyllis— she had 35,000 miles in her wake before I let on that you can actually stop at night.
- Our primary home for 20 years. We have both slept more nights aboard than any other place we have lived in our lives.
- Five voyages to Greenland including three visits to the remote east coast.
- A voyage to Svalbard including two transits of Hinlopen Strait.
- Two visits to Baffin Island, definitely the place where we felt most at risk…OK, downright terrified.
- Two winters living aboard in Tromsø, Arctic Norway. Not at all scary given we were tied alongside a luxury hotel. One of our most wonderful cruising experiences, made so by the people of that city.
- A winter living aboard in London, England.
- Two winters in the Caribbean and one in the Bahamas.
- Two winters in Charleston, preparing for and recovering from an Arctic Voyage.
- She helped us turn a few articles in yachting magazines into this business.
The boat kept us safe, forgave our mistakes, and taught us so much, and in return we cared for her:
- Two refits, mostly DIY
- Two re-powers
- Two complete paint jobs
- Replacement of the rig
- Constant preventative maintenance
- A constant equipment replacement cycle
At a rough guess, for every day of voyaging, we worked on the boat for a day. A brutal ratio, but she rewarded us with close to perfect reliability. Only twice in all those years did we have to delay our plans due to a gear failure:
- A broken intermediate shroud that touched off a replacement of all standing rigging and cost us a month’s delay—we should have replaced the rigging the year before, instead of getting it NDT tested.
- A lost season to a complete rebuild of the engine driveline, caused by a boatyard that we trusted to install it unsupervised—the only time we ever made that mistake—who screwed it up.
Neither were a failure of the boat, but rather our mistakes.
Hello New Morgan’s Cloud
This is the first time in 39 years that I have been without a boat and it…sucks! And Phyllis feels the same. She woke up this morning with a hollow feeling in her stomach.
So with the money from the sale in hand, we are now in full-on boat buying mode.
We will report more, and particularly on the things we are learning that will be useful to others, as the new boat buy comes together.
Wow – both beautiful and sad at the same time. Thanks for the great website, info and stories. Expecting to see more and best of wishes on hunting for another boat that is a little easier for two to manage as you get up in the years.
Phyllis and John, my deepest condolences, and congratulations 🙂 I can only imagine how it would be to part with a boat having so many adventures and time in common…
On the other hand you’re now free to pursue your next projected path, and I am eager to keep on stalking you there 😉
Well done, and my sympathies. May the adventure continue to be attainable.
Congratulations! However much you may love a boat, know that you need to change, like the new owner, and look forward to the next project, all of which I am sure are the case here, there is always an element of tension in the transaction. Now it’s over, you can relax a bit.
Congrats to both of you, hope she gets a better new owner than I did. Sea Return was anchored nearby for a week and I couldn’t muster up enough courage to visit the new owner (last one died aboard). Tough time for boat shopping, it might take awhile. Happy times ahead. Bob Tetrault
Good to hear from you. Yes, she is going to a very experienced and competent new owner. That said, once I help him launch it’s my plan to walk away and never look back, so if in that situation, I would not go aboard either.
And you are right, a terrible time for boat shopping!
Hi John congratulations with the sale. I hope you are pleased and happy with the new owner. Saying goodby to a thrusted friend is never easy. I am not quite ready to give up on long range cruising, but I am sure your transfer will be inspiring. Good luck,
Congrats Phyllis and John. Sad to close a door on such wonderful experiences. But as you are thinking, it opens a new door on different adventures.
I look forward to the next 5 years.
I am so sorry for your loss… Now begins a new adventure!
Moving is always traumatic; losing a dear friend or a limb even more so. You are doing all three at once…
But as these things always are and as you already know, it’s a dialectic, and to slip such a heavy cable means freedom, too. The feeling of lightness and open horizons must be thrilling.
I wish you all the best; the help you’ve given so many of us will invariably redound to your karmic credit score as you settle on the next Cloud.
Congrats and condolences. Getting that closed with the current Covid situation must have been tricky. I would guess that after your home market, the next 2 most obvious markets to buy your next boat from are the Great Lakes and our neck of the woods. Let us know if you end up down this way.
Where in the Great Lakes are you?
Alchemy was in Newfoundland within a few weeks of our joining her to go up the St. Lawrence River and into the Great Lakes when covid hit.
She continues to be largely abandoned as the US/Canada borders are closed and after missing one season (and with no sign of the borders opening) we decided to throw money at the problem and have the boat trucked to Mich. At my age, I do not want to miss another season.
My best, Dick Stevenson
I’m trucking mine out of Lewisporte the week after yours. Sigh …
What is the name of your boat? I have been in and out of Lewisporte for a couple years now: great place. I am sorry we have yet to cross paths. Alchemy is to be loaded onto a truck in the next couple of hours.
Write me at alchemy128(at)gmail.com if you have questions.
One surprise that almost de-railed the trucking was that wide loads only are allowed on the ferry on Monday nights.
Good luck with all this: I certainly continue to have my fingers crossed. Dick
I was driving along the TCH early this morning, headed east to Lewisporte, when this big beautiful sailboat passed me (near Springdale), headed west. What an impressive sight! I mentioned this to Brian at the Lewisporte Marina and he said the boat belonged to you. Brian also indicated he was very impressed with both the driver and the trailer. It seems your boat is in good hands and it should arrive safely.
Thanks for sharing.
And yes, Alchemy looks huge out of her element on a truck. I have seen pictures.
And, once again, Newfoundland has shown itself to be an impressively generous and “can-do” part of the world. The friends and contacts made in Newfoundland have come
through to prepare Alchemy for shipment: no small task as the mast was in and
pulpit had to come off as just two the bigger challenges.
I am on my way in my other mobile “home”, a small RV, to be re-united in Michigan and see what almost 2 years abandonment and the highway present me with.
I can’t wait, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
Sorry if my post was not clear, I was saying the Great Lakes or my neck of the woods which is Massachusetts which has pretty good proximity to the huge number of sailboats in New England and is only a <400NM sail home for John to Mahone Bay. We actually bought our boat in Michigan, I had looked in the northeast US for a little while and kept finding projects so eventually started talking to the previous owner and got comfortable enough to hire a surveyor which gave me the confidence then to fly out there and look for myself. The previous owner had bought a 25,000 lb GVW trailer for it so we towed it back here on that. I have done the Saint Lawrence Seaway trip before and didn’t have time to do it this time around plus there were a few things that I wanted to do to the boat before putting it in the water and doing them with access to my shop made it far easier. 2 weeks after launching, we took our first quick ten day cruise on it and sure enough, we found a few small issues that could have delayed a delivery trip but were not a big deal so close to home.
I think you made a good call on trucking, even if stuff opens up soon. Depending on which way you leave the lakes, you may end up covering the ground you missed anyways.
I would love to be able to find a boat to buy in the Great Lakes region in the next few months. We’d sail it up there until the hurricane season was ending. Then bring it down here to Florida.
I think that’s wise since everything I’m hearing her in Nova Scotia would indicate that border opening before mid-summer, at the earliest, is very unlikely. My guess is that non-essential travel will open in late summer or early fall when all of us have had our second jab. (I have had my first, but am not scheduled for the second until August, and that’s pretty standard for interval.)
Thanks for the thoughts, we will indeed give you a call if we are that way post COVID. Definitely finding we need to cast the net wide.
When I sold my PDQ I was at first relieved when the deal closed, and then melancholy. I still miss her. That old saw about selling the boat being a great day is only true if you had the wrong boat. At the same time, I have no doubt you know yourself and will find a next boat that fulfills your new needs and wants.
Have fun shopping and don’t buy a project!
Thanks for the thoughts and good advice in your last line. It’s going to be a challenge and at age 70 I need to get on with it.
I don’t know to whom to give credit to but this line fits the occasion.
…the birds sing… they have no song,
…the sun sets…. it has no meaning.
… I’m in between boats.
That sums is up. That said I keep reminding myself that this is definitely a problem of privilege, particularly when looking at the horror in India and other countries.
Thanks very much for all the warm thoughts. I had a couple of very blue days after the sale closed but I’m perking up now and in full on boat search mode, although hampered in that by Covid restrictions.
Still lots to do. First project is all new tools since I let all of mine go with MC and am down to a Leatherman!
I think that would make a good post: what tools you would and would not acquire knowing what you know now for a new or new-to-you boat in a situation less likely to find you 500 NM from the nearest chandlery. I don’t get particularly sentimental about tools, but I realize my fondness for the rarely used ones aboard borders on the irrational.
Yes, I will definitely write about the tool selection and buy process, not only for my own case, but also for those going offshore and to remote places.
What a lovely story and very understandable. Thank you for giving an insight into your process of saying goodbye to your lovely ship. We’re still cruising the Atlantic (my husband is 70, I’m 64). For us the time to say goodbye to our Victoire 34 is coming closer, but hopefully not yet there.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts so candidly.
Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated, particularly coming from you who are faced with the same decisions.
John, I’m suspect that your emotions are running wild and you probably have a feeling of dread in your gut. Quickly, that will be transformed into the energy of your next adventure…. or in your case literally, your next chapter.
I’ve just bought (I mean it this time) my last boat. I’m inching up on 78 and I’ve joined the dark side. She’s 43 ft, has in-mast furling, electric winches, bow thruster and enough electronics to keep me entertained through COVID. And, I love her. You’ll see.
Thanks for the encouragement. I’m still sad, but, like you, have pivoted to selecting the next boat rather than looking back, so that’s good.
Well done guys – what a story. Congratulations
Well, what a ride, indeed! Sad to part with such a part of your being, but it would be worse to put such a thoroughbred out to pasture.
Hopefully the new owners will love and care for her as much as you both did, and may they have as much good fortune and as many adventures with her, too.
Now for the new MC!
Best wishes to you both
As you say, it was time she went to someone who will really use her for living aboard and long passages, stuff we no longer wished to do.
And, as you say again, on to the new boat!
Oh my word… the end of a wonderful era. Thirty years!
I’m sure this will be a bitter-sweet moment. When we sold Pelerin, I felt a similar pang, albeit our journeys didn’t quite match yours aboard Morgan’s Cloud.
I hope she continues to have as many adventures as she moves on to her next chapter.
John & Phyllis, wishing that fair winds bring a new trusty voyager your way very soon. You’ll now have the chance to find the Cloud’s silver lining!
Lou (also currently boat-less, but also working on it!)
Thanks for the good wishes, and all the best to you and Colin as you look for a new boat, particularly since it’s not easy to find a good one!
For years, I’ve been the one AAC writer with no big boat, while John, Phyllis, Colin, and Louise hopped around the globe in lovely ocean-going yachts.
Now the whole lot of you are (briefly) boat-free, while Katy and I are just waiting for the crane schedule to get Maverick V back in the water. What a weird turnabout!
Good luck to all of you on the hunt. I’m hopeful that, in the markets you’re prowling, there’s more to choose from at better prices. I’ve been keeping an eye on the Great Lakes under-$50k market since we bought Maverick V, and I think we got her at just the right time. Last winter, there were about fifty boats listed near us that might have fit our criteria and budget; this winter there were just eight. People who can’t vacation abroad during the pandemic seem to have turned to boating domestically instead.
I agree, your timing was about as good as it gets, and ours about as bad, that said we have some options in the frame.
Hi Matt, twists n’ turns, eh?!
Wish you all the best for your launch with Maverick, and may you have safe passages, excellent winds, no gremlins and lots of laughs!
All the best going forward with your sailing plans. And everything else of course.
Great history with Morgan’s Cloud, thanks for sharing the passion that boat gave.
Best regards, Alastair
That’s what a ship is, you know.
It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that’s what a ship needs, but what a ship is…is freedom.”
Captain Jack Sparrow
Just out of curiosity – where did you moor up for overwintering in London? Good luck with the new boat hunt!
I spent 3 winters at St. Katherine Docks pretty much right in the middle of London and right next to Tower Bridge and across the street from The Tower of London. We would come in late (Nov.) and leave early (March-April) and just had a wonderful winter enjoying all that London had to offer: which is a lot. And it was a great place to stage for wandering about Northern Europe. Friends continue to over-winter there.
I suspect Morgan’s Cloud over-wintered there as well.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
Dear Dick, John and other AAC members
This may not be the right place on the AAC website to be asking this, but I don’t know where else I should ask it.
After Brexit, UK cruising sailors are now in the same position as those from the US have been for a long time. Being restricted to spending only 90 days in 180 within the Schengen area (EU plus Norway, Canaries, Madeira, Azores etc)). This hugely restricts where one can go beyond UK and Ireland, after 90 days cruising, without a passage to North Africa, North America etc, or to return home.
How did you manage it Dick when you wandered the Mediterranean, and you John and Phyllis when you explored Norway and Scandinavia?
Websites like Noonsite are really not very useful on this topic.
Best regards, Martin Loxton
Complex question unless you have an “in”. I am on the road and will try to put an answer together in the next few days. I believe you can garner some guidance from the OCC/Ocean Cruising Club’s “Cruising Forum” section of their web site which I believe is open to the public.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
We get this question all the time in relation to our Norwegian Cruising Guide and have investigated extensively as has our Norwegian partner in the guide.
Bottom line, there is only one real answer (as apposed to speculation and BS on the forums) and that is to become a resident of a Schengen country. This is what Phyllis and I did, but the residency class that we used in Norway (Journalist promoting Norway and Norwegian culture) no longer exists and there are no other classes of residence in Norway now that work for a yachtie. I have heard that Italy sometimes grants temporary residence permits that will work, but that was some years ago.
The other issue is that by taking the above step one may have to pay VAT on the boat (we were granted a specific exception by Norwegian Customs) and maybe subject to income taxes in the resident country.
Practical answer? As far as I know, there isn’t one other than limiting cruises to 90 days in 180.
Thank you John.
Having worked as a fly in consultant, since1996, in Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen, Sweden and Finland, and seen the amazing coastlines, I had hoped to do some extensive cruising in Scandinavia. Having just retired that would have been possible, but for the UK government’s negotiation of Brexit – leaving UK citizens in the same place as all other 3rd party countries to the Schengen area, with just 90 days access in 180.
Unless Dick, with his experience of long term cruising in Europe has some insights.
Hi Martin, Probably more than you wished for. (Please note that much of the following was written pre-Brexit and pre-Corona Virus, so a heightened awareness of Schengen visa regulations and their enforcement could reasonably be expected. It is also a mash-up of responses I have written in the past, so please forgive repetition and editing issues. And, also, reasonable people may take issue with some of my comments.) Our take is that it is very hard for cruisers to reasonably cruise Europe and stay in Schengen compliance (90 days/3 months out of 180 days/6 months in Schengen countries), especially if you are live-aboard. US, NZ and Aus. cruisers (and other countries) are particularly burdened as they have a long (and expensive) way to go to get home when their Schengen visa time is gone: not to mention that 3 months is a very short season for some. There are cruisers who have found ways to become “temporary residents” of an EU country which allows for longer visits (and perhaps other strategies). More information on this can be found at the Ocean Cruising Club’s web site in the “Cruisers Forum” area. The following is meant to be a description of what we have found, done and learned with respect to Schengen visa rules in Europe. We would wish this to be considered information (not vetted) rather than guidance. We very much wished to follow the Schengen rules as we wish to abide by rules/regulations generally in our life. We are guests in the countries we visit and do not want to abuse this privilege nor do we wish to set a bad precedent for cruisers to follow. We have been following this in detail since 2006 (till 2016). Our observations below are based on our actual experience as well as first hand reports. We have spent 11+ years in Europe (split between the Med and Northern Europe); the first 8 as full-time live-aboards and the last few years cruising 6-7 months and leaving the boat for the winter. For context, we are a couple, and we are often stopped by authorities and our history has indicated that we are likely to get caught whenever we break a rule (sometimes inadvertently), which is ironic considering how we careful we generally are. We pay attention to our world and we know a lot of cruisers. We collect information where possible and do a fair amount of networking. All foreign flagged European cruisers talk a lot about Schengen. To our knowledge: we know of no cruiser who has been fined or sanctioned for Schengen violation (I am sure there must be examples, but in the hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand at this point, of foreign-flagged boats known and all the networking done, we do not know of any. (See below for close calls.) (Not a Schengen violation, but we know of one Australian who violated UK’s 6-month visa and was denied re-entry for 3 months. Their lesson: do not ask questions of immigration officials:… Read more »
Hi Dick and Martin,
A few comments to Dick’s excellent look at the issue:
Summary: I think that going forward things will be very different than what Dick and Ginger experienced in their years in Europe, so if planning a cruise of Europe I would start with a clean sheet and assume “that was then, this is now”.
A sobering and likely accurate addendum. As Europe will likely be our first landfall, but in a sub-ideal order of Ireland, then the UK, then France, Spain and Portugal, we have to be very aware of ticking clocks and mandated officialdom.
Thank you so much for this very full description of your experience. I am very grateful for the effort you put into it. I certainly hope it continues like this.
I do fear that John may be right in his post below. It does seem possible that there may be, as John says, some resentment amongst some officials in the Schengen zone countries, after Brexit, and that there may be a desire to punish the UK.
I have no personal experience if this is the case. If there is it may only be directed towards UK flagged vessels. I sincerely hope that visa issues do not become more difficult to deal with for other 3rd party flagged vessels and cruisers (US, NZ, Australia etc)
I think that is a quite fair response and I believe you are justified in re-emphasising my initial caveat that the writing reflected pre-Brexit and pre- Covid conditions.
I did not mention VAT at all, but we found staying free from VAT taxation much easier than Schengen concerns. This is for boats that wander in a way to allow for their itinerary to include countries that are out of VAT areas and that re-start the VAT clock. For those boats more stationary and/or longer distances from VAT free countries, this may be more of an issue. And, since VAT is an ongoing presence in all life across the pond, the parameters covering VAT seem much more clear-cut and understood than for Schengen, especially for foreign flagged vessels.
I think that things have certainly changed, but I would be surprised if the slate was wiped clean. Covid certainly continues to have things in flux and will for a while, but, I prefer to assume, that cruising when Covid is sorted enough so cruising is allowed country to country may not look all that different. For example, I believe that a foreign flagged cruiser could base themselves in the UK (not Schengen and has a 6 month visa) and have a pretty good 3-month season in Europe and return to the UK (same for a UK vessel). One could do the same in Schengen free countries in the Med as we did in Turkey. It might give pretty good cruising to base out of Croatia, Montenegro, Tunisia, Morocco (Smir on the Med) and venture out for 3 months. But, clearly, covid would need to be sorted and British flagged vessels may find added resentment (more likely confusion) from Brexit, but I would hope that to be short-lived. We have been to many countries where the US policies were seen with displeasure, but were surprised and pleased that we were always treated well. Time will tell.
I would agree that these times where uncertainty prevails, one would expect greater diligence from official-dom toward everyone. Any distinctions in the relaxed/diligent continuum in our experience was not related to place (Northern Europe vs the Med) but related to assignment (port officials were more relaxed while airport and ferry officials gave far more scrutiny). It is such a shame that the wonderful cruising grounds of Northern Europe (and to a lesser extent, the Med) are so fraught with rules that greatly affect our recreation, but in no way pertain to our pursuits.
My best, Dick
Dick, this is an excellent set of experiences and observations and I would encourage you to share it as a submission to noonsite.com or to one of the better magazines (if they still exist), like Ocean Navigator.
Really helpful to understand the challenges and the rewards of compliance, while appreciating that there appears, in some cases, to be some interpretive latitude, as in your Turkish example.
Dear John and Phyllis
Wishing you the best of luck in your continuing sailing adventure.
Congratulations. You are moving forward with your goals. I’m 5 years into my custodianship of Moonbeam, a 1972 Franz Mass built 46.5 foot McCurdy & Rhodes one off ketch. I know someday I will have to give her up to the fifth owner.
But for the time that I am able to keep her, she will take care of me too.
She will indeed. Heard from Ian McCurdy the other day and he said his dad was all about his clients taking the boats offshore. To Jim that was the whole point and everything else came second. One glance with an experienced eye tells the story.
John, condolences and congratulations at the same time. My best to you and Phyllis moving on to the next chapter. Thanks again for all you have done and continue to do for this community.
Congratulations & Condolences!
How about a J44 that somebody has spent a fortune on making her the ultimate J44? Might even be recent enough to have a SCRIMP hull? https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1990/j-boats-44–3835807/
I’m back in the boat shopping mode myself— but for a single hander.
I love the J44. I was on the first boat way back and wanted it bad. That said, a bit big for our needs now. Also looking for a boat with a larger main and smaller foretriangle than the 44. Like you, I will probably be doing a bunch of single handing, which is not really the 44s strong suit.
That particular J44 is a carbon rig frac which answers concerns about foretriangle size. Although I doubt if they made the main smaller when they turbocharged it!
Not my boat, but maybe closer to your mission, at least on days when you are feeling sporty!
With any J boat the key question is whether the hull was infused. Or if not, how much you trust your man with the moisture meter and sounding hammer! But that certainly isn’t news to you!
I need a boat that idiosyncratic and customized for my old age like I need another hole in the head! After years of owning a custom boat I’m really looking forward to owning a production boat where a lot of the issues have been worked out by others and parts are easier to get. In fact that’s one of my secondary selection criteria.
Also, why anyone would do that to a J44 is beyond me. If that’s the boat he wanted, just go buy a TP52 or some such. Probably cost less than all that customizing too.
Looks like its back on the market. https://www.yachtworld.com/yacht/1986-custom-mccurdy-and-rhodes-56-8151309/
Yes, she is for sale again. Long story, but it’s not because anything is wrong with the boat. I’m guessing someone will do well by buying her.