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.
|Young, Growing Crew
Cruising with children of all ages isn’t unusual. Boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 10 often bunk happily together. The kids consider this to be great fun.
Pre-teens and teens tend to fare better with some privacy and space for their personal items. A simple solution can be as easy as hanging a sheet or curtain.
Space swapping is common. If there’s a favored bunk, then the children can take turns. Photo by Meri Faulkner.
Once Jim and I began to accept this situation, we started searching for a larger boat by surfing the various online yacht brokerages to see what listings were available. Price was a big factor for us, and we were interested in what people were asking for their boats. The difference between searching for a boat three years earlier and looking for a boat in 2010 was the economy. In 2007, when we bought Windfall, boat asking prices were beefy, and sales were high. In 2010, boat sellers were asking less on average. It was clear to us that we were in a good market to buy a boat but in a lousy one to sell our smaller vessel.
We were anchored in La Paz, Mexico, when the need for a change in boats hit, and we decided to ask Mike Rickman of La Paz Yachts for advice on purchasing a boat in Mexico. We didn’t know what type of boat we wanted, but we were looking for something affordable in the 38- to 45-foot range with separate sleeping areas for the kids. What this meant was that we were looking at a fixer-upper. Since selling our 35-foot sloop in a soft market was a consideration, we agreed that we’d wait until we found the right boat at the right price.
Within two weeks, Rickman brought to our attention a 41-foot Tartan offshore cruising ketch (known as a Tartan TOCK) that was listed in Mazatlan. The layout looked perfect for our family, and though the listing price was high, we decided to sail down and take a look at it. The boat had some serious problems: The 128-gallon steel fuel tank had rusted and let go, and a strong diesel smell had permeated the cabins. We also discovered that the 80-horsepower Ford Lehman engine was seized; these meant months of work for us if we decided to proceed. But the seller was motivated, and we struck a deal. The name we gave to our new sailing vessel? Hotspur: impetuous virtue. How apropos!
Suddenly we had 76 total feet of boat in marina slips. We needed to sell Windfall fast. We’d accepted from the beginning that we’d have to sell Windfall for less than we purchased her, and for a lot less than we put into her. We didn’t list with the brokers right away, but instead took the first steps to making her availability known to our family and friends. We took numerous pictures, something that proved to be a bit of a circus since we were still living aboard. We felt it was important to get aesthetic photos that were free of clutter, so we shifted our stuff around as we snapped each shot. The process took several days. Then we made a page on our blog site and emailed it to everyone we knew, asking them to spread the word. Seven weeks after purchasing Hotspur, we sold Windfall.
For our family, swapping to another sailing vessel has been ideal. The kids now have their own bunks in the forward cabin, and Jim and I have the entire aft saloon and sleeping berth to ourselves. These days, sibling bickering is a rarity; it’s been awhile since Jim or I muttered, “How soon before they grow up and move away?”
Upgrading from a 35- to a 41-footer has inspired our family to continue our sailing journey. And as for the Jacuzzi and towel boy? Hotspur still boasts neither. But I’m satisfied with the peace, the quiet, and the largest swimming pool in my backyard that I’ll ever need!
Boat Swapping in Mexico
Boat buying in Mexico isn’t as tricky as it appears. Foreign-documented pleasure boats in Mexico can be sold or purchased through a title company in the United States. Brokers in Mexico must be licensed, and they understand the requirements. No money actually changes hands through any bank in Mexico.
Mexican import documents can be obtained easily and are relatively inexpensive. There are boats for sale in La Paz, San Carlos, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta, and some are listed online through brokerages. Many cruisers who’ve completed their personal journeys, not wishing to bash back to the United States or Canada, leave their sea-ready vessels for sale in Mexico. Great deals exist, but be sure to find out how long it’s been since the boat was last actively used, as wear and tear and exposure to the elements will eventually surface.
Brokers include La Paz Yachts (brokers Mike Rickman and Shelly Ward; www.mazmarine.com and email@example.com); Mazatlan Marine Center (brokers Jeanette Sarrasin and Ray Watson; www.mazmarine.com and firstname.lastname@example.org); and Vallarta Yachts Sales (brokers TJ Durnan, Jenny Durnan, and Robert Kupps; www.vallartayachts.com and email@example.com).
The Faulkner family savored new discoveries and the adventures of a growing family while cruising aboard Hotspur in Mexican waters.
More Cruising Families
• Hotspur: a family of four; hotspur41.blogspot.com
• Ceilydh: a family of three; maiaaboard.blogspot.com
• Totem: a family of five; sv-totem.blogspot.com
• Ganymede: a family of five; www.zartmancruising.com
• Third Day: a family of four; sailblogs.com/member/svthirdday