How to Buy a Boat: Your Own Elegant Compromise
If you’re shopping for a boat, start by thoroughly disrupting your own assumptions about what constitutes the best one for you.
Eight Berths or Two?
|Island Packet Estero. Photo by Billy Black.|
A fundamental question we should all ask ourselves, given the limited volume of a sailboat’s hull, is how that volume should be divided. As noted earlier, the first wave of production sailboats turned every available surface into a berth to fit more folks in for the overnighters. The question for you is: How many people do you really want to shelter for the night?
Boatbuilders have offered refinements on both sides of that question. For more overnight guests, look to builders who regularly launch boats into the charter trade. They’ve worked wonders in providing virtually equal accommodations to two or three couples at once—often with a separate head for each cabin. The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey line (its 32 won Best Production Cruiser in 2003; the 40.3 won Best Value in 2005) offers variable layouts that let you install or remove bulkheads for two cabins or four.
On the other side of the equation are boats deliberately designed for a couple. Catalina has addressed this in several recent models. One of the most innovative interior layouts of the last decade is the Island Packet Estero (Best Midsize Cruiser Under 40 Feet, 2010), a 36-footer that altogether eliminates the ubiquitous V-berth, instead placing the dinette forward of the mast and ceding the aft sections to a luxurious couple’s cabin.