Nine boats, four days and the Goldilocks approach

The icy wind whipped the halyards against the masts outside. Tig is on the first shift, checking out a Pearson Fales 38 Explorer. I’ve retreated back to the car after the wind slapped us around. Otter just pooped in his diaper, and Violet is whining in the backseat. We had had left the house around eight o’clock on Monday to make it to Rhode Island. There are three other boats to look at. It’s going to be a long day…

After the Pearson, we drove further to look at a 39′ Allied. A quick stop off for lunch, then back on the road to see a Morgan Out Island 416. Tig also checked out a Cal 40 that had been outfitted for racing, but I decided to skip that one. The boats on overwhelmed me with their scale, their decks seemed to stretch forever. How am I ever going to manage this, I wondered to myself.

On Tuesday the sun came out and the air was calmer. We visited a Wauquiez Pretorien 35, and a Sweden 340. Each time I climbed up the metal ladder to the boat and stood on  deck, the scale felt more suitable to me.

We took a break from boat shopping the next day. On Thursday, it snowed tiny fluffy little flakes as we slowly made it out to Long Island. Tig looked at a C&C Landfall 38, an Island Trader 38 and an S2 36. I was only able to get on the S2 36. We regrouped and huddled in the car.

Go big or go small?
Originally, we had arbitrarily picked 38-42′ as an ideal sized boat. I knew that some families lived on smaller boats like this family of four (30′), and the Landrums on s/v Rubicon (33′) [update: both links no longer work]. But the idea of giving each child his or her own private space drove us to go bigger. Tom Neale suggested in his book that cruising families get the largest and most comfortable boat they can reasonably afford. Conversely, Mark Nicholas pointed out in his book that an extra 10 feet nearly doubles the annual cost of a boat in higher docking and haul-outs costs, insurance, parts, and more. Both sides of the argument seemed to have merit.

I once read that most dreams don’t get off the ground because we get tangled up in what if’s. What if we can’t fit into a smaller boat? What if the kids need therapy someday because they had to share a V-berth? (One wise captain said that there is no conventional wisdom when it comes to raising children on boats.) What if I can’t  single-hand and dock a bigger boat? What if we can’t get insurance for a boat larger than 36′?

When the intellectual approach fails
When my mind chatter reaches a crescendo and my monkey brain is all tangled up, it means the intellectual approach is not working. I need to pull the plug on the noise and use another method to make decisions. In this case, we needed to just get on boats and listen for a tiny voice inside that says, “This boat is too big. This boat is too small. This boat is just right.”

After talking it over with each other, we decided to revise the search criteria for 34-36′ long boats.


3 Replies to “Nine boats, four days and the Goldilocks approach

  1. We were pretty certain that we would end up in a 36′ boat. We even had an accepted offer on a Union Polari 36 at one point. We were cool with the kids sharing the vee berth (we were going to make full height lee-cloths), with us in the quarter.
    Then I found Convivia (our Cal 43) and it was like the sky opened up and a single bolt of sunlight shone down on her. We both knew that she was right for us and we haven’t looked back.

    If you look at dozens of boats in person, and hundreds on-line (which it sounds like you’re doing), you’ll know your boat when you find her.

    1. Tucker, I really like the image of a beam of sunlight shining down on “the one.” I felt that way about our house and am sure that will happen when we find our boat.

  2. I agree with your gut and with Tucker. Do the intellectual research to make sure that structurally and financially the boat is right for your plans but let your gut tell you if any particular boat on that list can be your *home*.

    Good luck!

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