The Right Boat for Right Now
Is it too complicated or tricky to swap out boats while in a foreign country, with miles yet to go? Here’s how this young, growing family pulled it off.
“Move!” Tim yelled. Our 14-year-old son woke up with his 10-year-old sister, Carolyne, on his side of the bunk. The fabric divider that ran down the length of the V-berth and separated Tim from Carolyne had unsnapped again during the night. Whether Carolyne rolled or the sea pitched her into enemy territory, the result was that both Carolyne, and the sand dollars she’d found while beachcombing, had turned Tim’s bed into an unwanted—and gritty—slumber party.
I sipped my coffee in the cockpit while looking out across the rosy, calm cove and tuned out the indignant roar erupting from our teenage boy and the shrieking defense from our daughter. As the chaos escalated below, my husband looked at me and raised his eyebrows quizzically. “OK, Jim,” I acquiesced before he was able to get a word out. “But only if it comes with a Jacuzzi and a towel boy.”
Jim had recently broached the subject of getting a larger boat. When our family initially purchased Windfall, our 35-foot Cal, in 2007, it was the smallest boat that we felt we could live aboard comfortably and also sail with relative ease. We had no bluewater experience, and starting out with a 35-foot boat seemed manageable. The cost involved in purchasing a smaller boat was affordable, and if we discovered that we couldn’t hack the cruising lifestyle, then we felt that we could sell the boat fairly fast. Preparing Windfall for cruising in 2007 and living aboard her full-time in 2008 and onward for 18 months was a phenomenal experience. Our boat felt like a part of our family.
The idea of replacing Windfall seemed financially and pragmatically, well, ludicrous. First, we were in Mexico. I couldn’t imagine dealing with boat buying in a foreign country. Second, a larger boat would be more expensive in every sense; the up-front costs would be big, but then so would new sails, rigging, bottom paint, and marina fees, and the list would no doubt grow.
Lastly, we were in the middle of our cruise. How crazy was it for us to consider upgrading to another boat right now? Not only would purchasing another boat cut into our cruising budget—what about all the places we’d miss visiting because we were putting blood, sweat, and tears into getting another vessel ready to go voyaging? But now, as I absorbed how my children were morphing into military-school candidates as personal borders were breached, it was time to face the facts: Our children would continue to grow.
Midcruise boat swapping isn’t as uncommon as one might think. Why would anyone consider swapping boats in the middle of their time away? In our case, a growing family dictated a need for more—and larger—private space. As a family, we’d simply outgrown Windfall.