Finding The Right Boat
Budget, of course, will be a big factor in
your choice of boat, but you also need to
consider the type of cruising you plan
to do before you decide what boat will
best serve your needs. Power and sailboats seem equally represented in the
places we’ve cruised, and each has its
own advantages. As lifelong sailors, most
recently with a Beneteau 375, we loved
life at 7 knots and no engine noise. But
we planned on coastal cruising and doing
the Intracoastal Waterway and the Great
Loop. In these areas, tacking can be difficult and masts are sometimes a hindrance,
so power seemed the right choice for us.
Trading our sailboat for a used Halvorsen
pilothouse trawler enabled us to follow
the rhumb line and achieve relative fuel
efficiency. Trawler speed allows us to
enjoy the voyage as well as the destination, and we love watching dolphins playing in our wake and the canal and river
It wasn’t a simple – or quick – decision
for us. We took several years of vacations
to look for and test-drive the boats on
our short list. We did weeklong bareboat
charters on various trawlers, taking copious notes on the features we liked – or
didn’t. From this, we formed lists of must
haves, nice to haves, and undesirable features. We also attended many boat shows
and talked to manufacturers and dealers.
As when buying a house, unless you
custom-build, you won’t find everything
on your list in one boat. Our boat is the
right size and design – for us! It’s easily handled by the two of us, with more
than enough room for periodic visits
by another couple. The trawler design
(versus a sailboat, which we had previously owned) is just right for our coastal
cruising and the Intracoastal Waterway’s
Keep The Home Fires
Burning, Or Not?
You need to determine how much shore-side commitment you want to maintain.
We decided we didn’t want to worry
about the upkeep, maintenance, and security of our home while we were away – or
about renting it – so we sold the house
and the bulk of our worldly possessions.
This gave us more money to invest in the
dream and fewer headaches while away.
Others prefer to
keep their land
make plans to take
care of business
friends or relatives
on a regular basis
checking up in
person. We also
know many couples who keep the house, use it six
months of every year, and cruise the other
six months. We’ve seen many cruisers
tackle the Great Loop in periodic jumps,
stitching together the entire Loop over
If your pre-cruising life revolved
heart of cities
(right) or spending good times
no time to be
around a tightly packed itinerary executed with precision, forget about it now!
Cruising is greatly enhanced by not having to be somewhere at some specific
time. If the weather is lousy, we don’t go.
That’s a real luxury when compared with
some bad-weather trips we took when we
felt we had to get back to work. Friends
coming to visit need to be flexible, too.
We recommend committing to only the
date, or the location, but not both, when
setting up guest arrivals. We only make
an exception to this rule when we have
our boat in one location for an extended
period of time.
Practice Makes (Nearly) Perfect
After you’ve bought it, get to know your
boat on short cruises, so you become
familiar with it’s operation and with
wildly depending on where you
travel, and what
sort of spender
you are. Visit
guidelines on how
much to budget.