How we found the right boat

Ocean Navigator|July/August 2020

How we found the right boat
My wife, Clarice, and I talked about living aboard a boat for years before we made the plunge. Here are some of the considerations we worked through.

For us, live-aboard cruising was more of a fantasy than even a dream. It wasn’t until we were walking the docks in Anacortes, Wash., as an outing to enjoy a sunny day that a realistic plan started to form in our minds. We looked at two used 40-foot brokerage recreational trawlers that sat side by side on the dock, and some pieces fell into place that eventually were to be very important to us.

One of the boats was less than 5 years old, in excellent condition with newer electronics and was ready for coastal cruising in style. This was the type of cruising for which it had been designed and built by a local company known for the quality of their work. The other boat was at least a decade older but was clearly built for offshore travel. What struck us was that the price of the two boats was within $10,000 of each other. In other words, a buyer could get an older ocean capable boat or a newer, really nice coastal cruiser for about the same price.

We went home and started reading, and learned that the Nordhavn 40 (the older boat) had indeed proven itself as ocean capable. This was a huge “Aha!” moment for us, as we realized that we could potentially afford a world-capable cruising boat if we were just willing to look at the used market. We would have to deal with the extra costs of any deferred maintenance and things like older electronics, but we would benefit from a hull and running gear more consistent with commercial boat equipment and with plenty of nautical miles still left in them.

Next, we took time to have some serious heart-to-heart talks with each other about our dreams and goals since “older adulthood” was coming toward us like an out-of-control freight train. The importance of these frank discussions cannot be over-emphasized, as we have heard a now-familiar story of one partner wanting to cruise and the other just going along but not fully into the plan. The end result is that after a couple of months of being closely cooped up in a boat that seems to shrink over time (and especially with longer passages), the life partners end up separating at the next port.

Cruising on a budget


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July/August 2020