Jan 20 2015

We’re Buying a New(er) Boat!

Okay, this has been in the planning for some time now.  We realized probably as early on as 2012 that our Columbia was not going to have enough room for the water and provisions that we planned on carrying for extended voyaging.  We want to carry at least six months of provisions and I wanted at least 100 gallons water and fuel capacity aboard.  The Columbia carries 50 gallons water and 60 gallons diesel, so she was a bit shy.  Then once we had all our provisions, fishing gear, tools, spares, and electronics aboard, the boat had quickly become really cramped.  I supposed we could have changed some of our plans to lighten the load, but that wasn’t something I was prepared to do.

Then we were out on an adventure to Catalina Island, and on the way back the wind suddenly picked up while the first mate was at the helm.  We almost rounded up, as the following sea was on our port quarter and the gusts were trying to spin us.  First mate never got over the feeling of almost rounding up, and from then forward talked about a new boat with a full keel that would be steadier. So that brings us to where we are today.

About four months ago I made the decision to cash out a bit of retirement money so that we could reinvest it in something more tangible than the dollar.  With the way the economy has been going, the dollar no longer seems to be a reliable place to keep your savings.  We prefer things that will hold their value. We then started seriously looking for our next sailboat.  The boating market has been steadily dropping over the years, but it almost seems that it started to recover late last year.  We were concerned about buying at the right time, but all turned out well.

I spent a few months researching all of our options. I looked at the Irwin 37 and 42, the Catalina 36 and 38, and a host of other sailboats. Although the Irwin and Catalina are not considered to be blue water, there are many that have built them out to handle blue water. There have been no Irwins for sale on the west coast in a while, and the Catalinas all have much less tankage that we need. We’ve been keeping our eyes peeled, but up until last week, we were unable to find what we were looking for – a 40 footer with a fat beam and at least 100 gallons of water/fuel, center cockpit, too.

And then comes our friend.  Our friend Captain Voyle, who has a boat in the slip next to us, told us of a few sailboats for sale in the Long Beach area.  One was a 1980 Santana 39 that was in excellent condition and had some nice instrumentation. The price was (very) right, around $22k, but we wanted something more blue water and substantial.  Something with more room for storage and more tankage. The second sailboat that Voyle wanted us to look at, was a 1976 41 foot Morgan Out Island. It belonged to the widow of a good friend that he had served with. It turns out that Captain Voyle had been on the boat numerous times, and once did the Newport to Ensenada race. He attested to the boat being in decent mechanical condition, and that we could expect a fair price. There was work that the boat needed, but we could handle that. The sailboat had been used as a liveaboard for quite a few years, and would have to be restored somewhat.

20150117_140141We made plans to meet at the Morgan at 2:00 p.m. the next day and have a look at her. Voyle had sent us a few pictures of the outside, but none of the inside. When we arrived we were met by the widow, Rita, and welcomed aboard. She was a really nice person and allowed us full access to inspect and take pictures. The boat was definitely showing her age and there were many modifications to the interior that would need to be changed to bring her back to her original glory, but she seemed to have good bones.

We spent around an hour and a half on the boat. Although we took our time and did a pretty good job checking her out, there are always things you miss. When we finished and were saying our good byes, I told Rita that we would sleep on it and call her in the morning to talk more. The first mate was jabbing me in the back over and over, because she was excited and wanted to make an offer then, but I always like to sleep on big decisions, and so we did.

The next morning we were up early and once again pouring over the pictures we had taken. Although I had done a lot of research on the Morgan, we spent a few hours reading as much information as we could find. The boat was going to need a LOT of work, and I mean a LOT, so we decided on a price range we were comfortable with and took into account what we would need to put into the boat. We then called Rita to discuss the details.

When I called Rita, I asked her what she was expecting to get out of the boat. She told me that she wanted the boat to go to a good couple that would take care of it because it had been in her family since 1990, and she and her husband had sailed and lived aboard for many years. She then gave me her price. I was a bit shocked at first, as we knew the value of these boats in good condition. Her asking price was at the low end of what we were going to offer, which I was very pleased with. That will leave us more cash to start the renovation! We had a verbal agreement and were moving forward!

Before we can take her very far out into the blue, we will have to tend to some basics. Although the engine, transmission, rigging and hull are all sound, the basics of a cruising sailboat aren’t all there. She needs proper refrigeration, more batteries, solar/wind generator, and a few other odds and ends. Although the tankage is really good, we also have a watermaker budgeted. Here is what we have budgeted so far:

Rub rail
Refrigeration (Cool Blue)

Oh, and paint. We’re going new with everything. This equipment will have to last us the rest of our lives, so we don’t want to skimp on any of this.

After our survey is complete, I will draft another update and give more details/pictures/videos.