I filled a bottle up with some bubbly Annie Charm, shook it, and let it explode on folks at the recent Trawlerfest in Baltimore. Speaker Annie was definitely ON! I gave three talks: 1) an informal ladies tea (which was a great candid conversation with gals who rightfully have a lot of questions about going cruising); 2) “Rock the Boat” encouraging more females to get out and go cruising (I’m pretty sure I cursed a handful of times but had the whole crowd laughing a good bit); and 3) my “Bahamas Top Ten” which was the most widely attended (and appreciated it seemed) talk. For that reason, I’m including my Bahamas Top Ten slides from my presentation below (by popular request from Trawlerfest attendees).
What a whirlwind three days, but I met so many new boaters, some just shopping for their first cruising boat, some with decades of experience, even a few ladies who were working hard to convince their male counterpart to go cruising (which was a pleasant surprise for me)! I also got to meet the famous WX forecaster, Chris Parker, in person for the first time, talk all about my new lithium batteries with Tom Trimmer at Custom Marine Products, and have some fun, candid conversations with Rudy and Jill Sechez who wrote a very helpful book on Anchoring as well as the Director of America’s Great Loop Cruiser’s Association (AGLCA), Kim Russo. Many thanks to PassageMaker/Trawlerfest and my team at SAIL Magazine who helped line this up for me. I felt like we were able to encourage and inspire a lot of new (and old) boaters to get out and go, which felt really nice in today’s crazy Covid climate.
Speaker Annie ready for a big day of talks (had to send Phillip pics of me as he had some work obligations and couldn’t make it). He had to approve of my outfits … lol!
My speaking venue! Thankfully it was outside, which I requested, and the weather was fabulous every day. I was surprised that all these seats filled every time!
The Baltimore waterfront in and around the Inner Harbour was really quite lovely, too, and a great place to walk after all of my daytime gigs were over.
And, without further adieu … here are my Bahamas Top 10 Slides. There are some very helpful links in here to help folks navigate Customs, find ports of entry, purchase Explorer Charts, and get updates on Covid travel restrictions and requirements. Also, some fantastic pictures! Putting this together made me think Phillip and I have got to plan another trip back to the Bahamas very soon. If any of you have more questions that aren’t answered in the slideshow, feel free to email me and Phillip and I will do our best to try to find answers or resources for you. But, the websites included (at the end) of the slides are the best place to find the most up-to-date info on Covid and travel to the Bahamas. Hope to see some of you out in those beautiful Bahamian islands someday!
While we certainly did not plan it that way, and I didn’t even notice until we arrived in Annapolis, MD, I will never forget the day we moved aboard our new 2015 Outbound 46, Ubiquitous (who has since taken on the fun nickname gifted to us by her former owner: “UbiQ”) as it was April 3, 2021. As in four … three … two … one … BLASTOFF! On our new adventure.
The sun was just starting to set over the interstate when we set off on what we jokingly called “our first overnight in the Prius.” It was roughly a 15-hour drive from our home in Florida to Maryland, where the boat was docked, and we had too much ridiculous boat/cruiser stuff to even think about flying with it all.
Think kite gear, wake boards, pots, pans, tons of tools (including big ass tools), spares, dishes, bedding, foul weather gear, pumps, gadgets, … the list goes on. Phillip and I were both a bit amazed at the sheer quantity of stuff we had been able to cram into our “little” Niagara 35. We first debated shipping it all via a crate or pallet or renting a sprinter van, perhaps. But after playing some creative Prius Tetris in the garage and going nuts with the Space Saver bags it seemed about 80% of our boat stuff was going to fit in the Prius for the first haul. We liked this option for our first trek to Ubiquitous because it would give us a free “run-around” car for the four to six weeks we knew we would spend moving onto our new Outbound, provisioning her, and getting some things dialed in before we would fly back home to handle some work/admin matters later in the summer. Because this wasn’t a permanent move-aboard, shove-off situation.
At least not immediately, not yet. For us—two lawyers working remotely with a full workload—a sudden shift, from spending only winters aboard and commuter cruising the rest of the year, to 100% full-time liveaboards off somewhere disconnected in the remote islands, even on a boat as spacious and comfortable as the Outbound, was just too extreme at this immediate juncture. Phillip and I need reliable wifi and cell signal to continue doing the work that we love and that funds our cruising. We also need to be able to hop on a plane frequently so we can handle matters that come up that require our presence. Our version of cruising may not be what many picture when they dream about selling everything and sailing over the horizon and, you know what?
That’s totally okay. Cruising is not one size fits all. It’s whatever fits you.
And the reality of it, as opposed to the dream, will always be better, even if it’s not what you initially envisioned. Phillip and I have learned (the hard and costly way) that schedules and rigid time/place commitments can really throw a wrench in the overall goal and plan to cruise slowly safely. We also know nothing has to happen fast. Are we going to sail the Caribbean? Are we going to cross oceans? Of course, but as with everything that happens on a boat: Smooth is Fast. Hence, our goal back in April, 2021 had been to slowly move aboard, get to know and understand UbiQ (there are a lot of new systems to absorb and learn), and start to fix and maintain her minor issues while gunkholing around in the Chesapeake and flying home as needed. Then we planned to tackle the bigger items that were identified during the survey/sea-trial during a haul-out scheduled in the fall before we prepared to shove off for the winter months, as we normally do, headed south.
While the USVIs, BVIs, and the Caribbean in general have always been a goal, particularly one we would like to achieve after failing to accomplish that journey in November, 2019, it was just one potential plan among others. Honestly, after dealing with a winterized boat during the survey/sea-trial—a totally foreign concept to us in sunny Florida—that was covered in snow when we first saw photos of her, our only real plan for the winter was: TO NOT WINTERIZE THE BOAT. That was it. Whatever journey took us to climates during the winter that would not require us to winterize the boat, Phillip and I vowed to consider a successful cruising season.
Pretty simple plan, no? Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. The freedom this plan afforded us actually excited me as I had no idea what my next five to six months would look like, where exactly we would be, what sights and cities we might visit. All we knew was that we had just bought a really badass boat that was a dream to spend time on, we had steady income with the ability to work remotely, we are healthy, and the world is our oyster. Can it get any better? Our answer is no! I think you can see that excitement in this silly photo I snapped when we first started to move onto UbiQ and settle in for our first night aboard.
So, what fun things were we doing in the weeks leading up to and following 4-3-2-1? It still feels like a whirlwind …
We went out for our last sail aboard Plaintiff’s Rest as her owners, a bittersweet but heartwarming sail.
We had plenty of get-togethers with Pensacola friends we knew we wouldn’t see for a few months.
We sucked every soft good possible down and packed the Prius to the gills.
We “shoved off” on a 15-hour drive across country from Florida to Maryland.
We found ourselves mesmerized waking up in the vberth of Ubiquitous which feels more like a hotel room than a boat.
Photos preserved in Annie’s mind only …
We started finding places to put everything, then changing our minds, then changing them again (shout-out to my brother who bought us this awesome Galleyware nesting pan set that fit perfectly under the oven).
We cooked and had our first “romantic” night aboard, with our oil-stained “garage sheet” (a work sheet we’ve laid down for umpteen thousand boat projects) as our table cloth.
We started labeling things like nobody’s business (thank you P-Touch!).
We found ourselves thrilled to find we had landed in Annapolis right when all of the dogwoods and cherry trees were blooming – it was mind-blowingly beautiful.
We started the first of many “things we need for the new boat” lists.
We started doing little projects that made us feel like we were accomplishing things.
We were mesmerized at how much sailing goes on here, every day, particularly by the youngsters who find it “fun” to tack around in tiny spaces!
We cooked (lawyer by day, chef by night : ).
We hosted our first guests aboard UbiQ (say hello to long-time Annapolis sailors and good friends of UbiQ’s former owner, Richard and Idarae!).
We fell in love with watching the ducks, boaters, artists, and ice-cream eaters at the end of Ego Alley (I spent many days there working at what I call my “branch office,” which is essentially wherever I can find wifi for the day).
And, we let the boat start deciding how we were going to spend each day (#newboatnewproblems) as the boat maintenance never stops.
Those first few weeks aboard were filled with squeals, cheers, research, and head scratches as we began to dig into our new Pandora’s Box. While the Outbound was definitely a significant upgrade, in many ways it came with all of the very familiar problems, issues, comforts, and discomforts that life aboard can bring. That part of it actually thrilled me because I think the durability that life aboard requires is one of the things I love most about cruising. I kind of like that it takes extra steps to make coffee, do the laundry, shower, “start the car” (aka lower the dinghy and crank the outboard) and “keep the place up” (maintain the boat). When those extra sweaty steps come with the tradeoff that I don’t have to blow-dry my hair or put on a suit or go to a fluorescent-lit cubicle to sit and work all day, it’s a more rugged, rich lifestyle I can wrap my arms around and fully embrace.
feel that life aboard UbiQ was going to be very different than life aboard Plaintiff’s Rest but in more important ways, the very same. There is just something about happy hour in the cockpit, particularly after a physically demanding day of boat work followed by a cockpit shower, that just fills my cup. I could tell immediately this new hybrid life—with UbiQ at the center—was going to fit me like a glove.
Next time, I will share our first attempts docking this new beast (one of the things that really made us hesitate in getting a bigger boat) and our first bumps and bangs (because those are going to happen). We also look forward to sharing our thoughts on how UbiQ sails, with just the two of us aboard, her sail plan and the Dutchman system on the main, as well as using electric winches. Oh, and our first gale aboard UbiQ. Yuck. But, we survived! Stay tuned!
“There’s not any chance you would be willing to fly up from Florida to Baltimore to speak at our Baltimore Inner Harbor Boat Show in September would you?” she asked, with a little trepidation.
“Well … funny you mention it as I’m in Annapolis at the moment,” I told her, and that was it. Back in July, our plot was hatched.
I’d never heard of a “Trawlerfest” before but when Sarah with AIM Media, an affiliate of SAIL Magazine, offered this speaking opportunity to me it felt a little too serendipitous to turn down as Phillip and I knew we would be traveling to/from the new boat on the east coast and Florida throughout the summer which would likely put us within quick driving distance to attend the Baltimore Inner Harbor Boat Show, aka their “Trawlerfest,” so I agreed! Yours Truly will speaking right along some other sail-ebrities who have inspired Phillip and I time and time again over the years:
The uproariously hilarious Nigel Calder;
Chris Parker (whom I have talked about and heard about for years in any conversation about weather planning and the Caribbean); and
Pat Rains who I personally consider a badass as a journalist, news reporter, freelance writer, and international cruiser [insert mind-blown emoji here]
were just some of the names I recognized. But, I’m excited to meet Rudy and Jill Sechez, Bob Arrington, Tom Trimmer, Jeff Merrill, and Steve Zimmerman as well. They all will be contributing a valuable array of topics to the show. Here is the seminar schedule!
After agreeing, however, my immediate next thought was … what the heck am I going to say? To trawler owners? Most of your offshore, hard core experience will not translate to boaters who typically don’t go on overnight passages, Annie my devil’s advocate brain was telling me. What on God’s earth will you have to share that will be relevant to them? But, this is the very reason I (proudly) have multiple personalities. There’s Video Annie, Shipyard Annie, Diesel Engine Mechannie, and also … of great importance in moments like these … I have Brave Annie who says to that voice: “Oh shut up you! I’m at least going to give it a try!”
You tell ‘em Brave Annie! I did! : )
So, I wracked my brain for some ideas that would speak (pun intended) equally to sailors as well as trawlerers (that’s a word today). And, as the Boat Show folks requested, I came up with two topics. The first is the topic I am often most inspired to speak on: getting ladies more involved in all aspects of cruising. You can blame small-but-mighty Pam Wall for that one as she energetically and emphatically encouraged both me (back at the 2015 Miami Boat Show) as well as every other budding cruiser she speaks to, to ensure all persons aboard, be it the wife, daughter, dad, whomever are full-fledged CREW. There are no passengers. Everyone is equal CREW. And, I couldn’t agree more. I have interviewed Nick O’Kelly (author of Get Her On Board) at length on this topic.
I am committed to empowering women who want to go cruising with the truth that they are far more capable and resourceful than they let themselves believe and that becoming an equal CREW member aboard will only enhance their cruising experience. I am passionate about this topic. The second, a Bahamas Top Ten, was one the Boat Show folks requested and I am always happy to share our wonderful experiences from the Bahamas. So, for any of you who will be attending the Baltimore Boat Show, this is what you’re in for from the enthusiastic Annie Dike:
I was also asked to participate in an informal ladies tea with the other female speakers on Thursday, which I believe will just be an open forum where all the ladies (speakers and attendees alike) can just share openly on any topic. I think this one will be really beneficial as well for any female spouse who may be reluctant to go, or participate actively, in cruising for (perhaps) the wrong reasons.
Thursday, September 30, 1 pm – 2:45 pm
Informal Ladies Tea with Jill Sechez, Annie Dike, Pat Rains and Kim Russo
This seminar is for women who think they may want to go cruising or who have only recently entered into the cruising lifestyle and have a wide range of questions best answered by other women, and, alas, without any men in the room.
All told, I’m very excited! I’ll be spending the next few weeks working on my talks and gathering fun photos, videos, and other content to accompany them. As a little sneak peek to share with you all here, Phillip and I (yes, he truly is the mastermind when it comes to a great deal of our HaveWind content) have come up with a fun potential idea for my Rock the Boat seminar. In order to give my many stories, lessons, and tips a coherent central theme, we have thought about pairing each with a well-known movie snippet. One of the stories I always like to share is designed to encourage women to, when in charge, take charge like a man would. Meaning, don’t apologize, don’t cater, don’t worry about what the other people (often men) are thinking. Be selfish in that moment and cater to the needs of the boat and yourself (like men do so often!). Sorry guys, it’s not an insult as it often makes you a much more confident leader, not always better, but more confident and decisive.
The story I use when teaching this lesson was one that took me a while to learn but once I did … ahh the freedom. Here’s the scene: often, when you are attempting to dock or de-dock, there are other people around (usually other cruisers, or dock hands, or shipyard workers, 99% of the time they are males) waiting to give you a hand, or help you if you need it. And, previously, when I was just starting to take the helm, I would always feel guilty if I kept them waiting if, perhaps, I wasn’t quite ready to go, or the engine hadn’t yet warmed up, or I needed to take another lap before docking because I had misjudged the wind or current, any of those things. In typical female-style, I would aim to please and cater to them and apologizing when I felt I had not. But, after a while, I realized I was often coming into, or leaving, the dock when I wasn’t quite yet ready and confident simply because I didn’t want to impose on the men there waiting to help me. I was so worried about their time, their needs, and what they were thinking about me, that I often sacrificed my own time and needs in the process. Ladies, what man does that more often than not? Sacrifices his own time and needs simply to cater to strangers around him? Eggggsssactly. When you dial into you, your needs, and the boat’s needs, and forget about the dudes on the dock, you’ll find they’re not as concerned (or even aware of you) as you thought they were.
So, what movie did Phillip and I come up with to champion this message?
That’s right ladies. Don’t take it personally. Because you know who IS into you in that moment? Who is 100% devoted to responding to your every request and aiming to please and impress you? The boat! She is SUPER into you. She’s eagerly awaiting your every decision and instruction. She’s counting on you to take care of her, not those dudes on the dock. Who cares about them? the boat would say! Once I realized that about the guys standing around waiting to help—they’re just not that into me—I gave me all the freedom in the world to take my time. Now, I never allow myself to be rushed while warming up the engine, going through my own de-docking checklist, setting up my lines for release, double-checking everything. They can stand there for 15 solid minutes and I don’t give a flying flip. Those guys can either wait and help if and when I’m ready (and if I want and need them to) or they can mosey on down the dock, because my focus is on me and my boat.
And, I hadn’t really noticed myself learning this lesson. It wasn’t like an “aha” moment. It was something that just evolved over time. But, I became very aware of my change in mindset in an “aha moment” when we were leaving the shipyard recently on our soon-to-be-sold Niagara 35. The boat was finally splashing after her extensive Hurricane Sally repairs, in February 2021, and Annie was captain that day. As they gently placed her in the water and all the Travelift and shipyard guys (and other friends who had come to see us off – again, 99% men) were there standing around waiting, I checked the sea cocks and cranked the engine. As she was warming up, I was checking for water out the back, noting the wind speed and direction, unlocking the wheel, and getting dialed in at the helm and basically, just taking my time getting settled while our Westerbeke warmed up (this generally takes a full five minutes) not making any eye contact with the dudes on the dock. I even repeated things over and over while still totally ignoring the guys who were waiting on me. I was being very manlike about it.
Megan and her husband Chris were aboard as they were set to purchase our boat—as long as she performed beautifully that day during the sea-trial (which Phillip and I were 100% confident she would). And, Megan, as a woman would, noticing all of the guys standing around waiting for, and watching, me asked me: “Why do you keep looking over the back?” And, in that moment, I could feel her feeling what I used to feel: They’re waiting on you, Annie. They’re watching you wanting you to go. You’re holding them up. I smiled at Megan, because I knew this was going to be an awesome teaching moment for her, as I told her simply “I’m not going to let them rush me. I’ll leave when I’m ready.” Megan’s face took on a stoic look as (I believe) the lesson soaked in for her.
And, I did not allow them to push me out of the Travelift and set us out into the bayou until I was full-on ready, no matter how long it took, no matter how long they fidgeted and stared. Now (as I hadn’t piloted our boat in five months), did I put her in forward as opposed to reverse initially and try to go the wrong way at first? Of course! I’m still Annie, with all of my dumb little quirks and mistakes, but because I was settled, I was ready and calm, I could simply laugh about it, throttle back, and put her in reverse before gently gliding out.
The point being, ladies, is that you should be dialed into the boat, not the dudes on the dock. She is the one who is truly “into you” in that moment, who is listening to you, and who wants to please and impress you. Focus your time and energy on her in those moments and she will reward you in droves. Megan has since told me that was a defining moment for her in her own evolution as an equal partner aboard her boat, and I couldn’t be prouder. Phillip and I couldn’t have hand-selected better owners than Chris and Megan for our beloved former boat, and it warms my little salty heart to think I played a small role in Megan’s growth as an equal crew member. “Not a passenger,” Pam Wall would say sternly. “Crew.”
So, tell me followers, what do you think of our movie theme and my Rock the Boat seminar? Would you attend? Any topics of areas of interest that you think would be helpful to cover when trying to encourage significant others who may not be as passionate or excited about cruising to become more involved? Phillip and I are always open to input. And, if any of you are planning to attend the Baltimore show, please let us know! If you are but have not purchased tickets yet, enter promo code ANNIEDIKE for a 15% discount on all seminar tickets and thank the Baltimore Inner Harbor Boat Show folks for it. Hope to see some of you there!
The thought gutted me. I felt a thick, black goo filling me from the inside as my throat tightened and I blinked back tears. Immediately when the word was first spoken to me … “totaled” … all I could see in my mind was her holding on, her bucking and groaning against the dock that dreadful morning, September 16, 2020, as Hurricane Sally slowly released its grip on her.
As I screamed across what was left of the marina to her through the ripping winds and chop “HOLD ON BABY GIRL!” she did. She. Did. Plaintiff’s Rest held on when dozens of other boats hadn’t, when other boats crashed into her and sank beneath and beside her, when docks around her broke up and tore away. She. Held. On. And, now, that was going to be it? After all that, we were going to just give up on her? That was the one scenario in all our post-hurricane decision chaos that I told Phillip I just couldn’t stomach. We didn’t want to make an emotional, financially irrational decision, of course, but after everything the three of us had been through, the thought that we would let Plaintiff’s Rest, our baby girl, get hauled to a dump to die because of … money? Especially when she was salvageable.
Considering the spectrum of damage Hurricane Sally unleashed on the boating community in Pensacola, the damage our boat had suffered was respectively minor. It wouldn’t cost quite her total value to fix her, but it might be close, something I learned only after that hurricane struck, could cause an insurance company to total the boat. Total. It felt like such a callous, dismissive word.
Thankfully, we were very lucky in that it turned out the cost to repair the damage to her rudder and stern rail and the severe dock rash she endured all those hours in the slashing dark did not amount to a figure that tipped the scale. The day we got the news Plaintiff’s Rest was going to be repaired, I cried. My chest opened up and I hugged Phillip even harder than I had that moment on the dock when I saw her mast upright in the driving rain. Our baby girl was going to have more chapters, more pages to turn, more adventures. She was going to live. Once that was determined, the thought of buying a new boat and handing our amazing Niagara over to another sailing couple to enjoy all that she has to offer no longer felt like a nauseous jab to my stomach. As long as she continued sailing, traveling, and teaching her valuable lessons, I was 100% okay with that. But, I knew I was going to be damn picky in who we turned her over to. It wouldn’t matter if they were willing to pay more, if any buyer planned to let her sit, that would be a non-starter. Our Niagara loves to go! She deserves to go. But, in those early months of this entire transition, in the fall and winter of 2020 when she was undergoing repairs and we were just wrapping our heads around the idea of selling her, I could not have dreamed up a better transition for our Niagara.
Here’s the crazy thing. We didn’t even list her. We didn’t “show” her in the normal sense to anyone. We didn’t even hire a broker. It all happened so seamlessly. I guess when you have a boat as cared for as ours—as loved—with a price that is well worth the life she still has to live and the amazing journey she can still offer any hearty, willing sailor, it’s not surprising. Don’t get us wrong, Phillip and I did not decide to sell our boat because Plaintiff’s Rest is not capable of sailing around the world. She is. Just not quite as comfortably or safely. But capable she is. In droves. And, when this wonderful couple—not new to sailing, but new to owning and cruising their own boat—spent just a couple of hours on our boat crawling through all the cubbies and lockers and going through all the immense repairs, upgrades, and work Phillip and I had put into her, there was really nothing to debate. She’s a damn fine boat and that’s exactly what they wanted. That’s exactly what they deserved.
Let me joyously introduce to you Megan and Chris, the new owners of our Niagara 35.
After a very close friend of ours, who was privy to our pretty private decision to sell our Niagara and buy a new(er) boat, merely mentioned as an aside that “Phillip and Annie might be selling their boat” to some mutual friends of ours, a small crack opened in their minds that immediately began to flood their brains and set them off on a similar tailspin that Phillip and I had post-2020 and post-hurricane: Maybe it’s time to get serious about our goals of cruising. Maybe it’s time to buy our “forever boat.” Maybe … now … is the time. Covid seemed to have that effect on many people. And, while Megan and Chris had taken sailing courses and obtained several ASA certifications and had chartered boats down in the BVIs, they had not yet taken that next leap of buying and cruising a boat of their own—the true reward of a cruising lifestyle. While they are experienced sailors, becoming knowledgeable, capable boat owners is where their fears lied, which I felt was the right thing to worry about. As I often tell many people thinking about cruising: the sailing is easy; the boat maintenance is hard. But, one great thing about our Niagara? It would come with endless supervision, mentoring, and advice from Phillip and me. We made it very clear to Megan and Chris that we loved our boat, we wanted to see her thrive in a new chapter, which meant we had every incentive to help at every juncture possible with trouble-shooting, research, repairs, and maintenance. That kind of peace of mind for a new owner is invaluable and we were happy, overjoyed, to offer it as it meant a whole new journey for our beloved boat.
I’m thinking that may have been what finally tipped the scale for Chris and Megan. Or maybe it was the stunning varnish, our Niagara’s classic lines, her spotless bilge cubbies, her solid design and construction, her perfect layout, her … I could go on.
I’m sure they would be hard-pressed to say exactly what it was that made them wrap their arms around our boat and welcome her into their family, but Phillip and I were thrilled they did. There was no negotiating on the price. It was what it was, Chris and Megan either wanted her or not, and it turned out they did, subject to a satisfactory survey/sea-trial of course. But, Phillip and I, knowing every nut and bolt and every project that had ever been done on that boat since we bought her in 2013, most of them DIY, had absolutely no reason to believe she would not pass a survey/sea-trial with exceedingly flying colors.
And pass she did. We survey sea-trialed her in February, 2021 (as Phillip and I were in the thick of negotiations for the 2015 Outbound 46 we ended up purchasing) and the four of us were so confident that the boat was solid, it was well-maintained, and it was the perfect boat for the two of them, we even helped Chris and Megan put the new name on the boat before we splashed and before the survey was ever conducted.
We all just knew. Kevin, our broker for both our Niagara and the Outbound, came that day to congratulate all of us on the sale and splash got a big laugh in the name-change pre-survey. “Well, that’s one way to get a potential buyer emotionally invested,” he said. In all, it was a fantastic day. Chris and Megan, rightfully looking out for their own interests, hired a highly-recommended surveyor in the Florida Panhandle, Chris Mills, who spent over seven hours thoroughly scaling the boat.
Phillip and I were actually surprised by the end of the day thinking back through all we had done on the boat. There was no doubt we had spent years pouring our blood, sweat, money, and tears into her. And, there was no doubt Plaintiff’s Rest had spent years giving us her all, carrying us offshore across the Gulf for our first “just Phillip and me” trip in 2014 to the Keys, thundering her way to Cuba in 2016, dazzling us in the Bahamas in 2017, 2018, and 2019, taking us out for a hundred memorable weekends on the hook in Pensacola, and teaching us so many valuable boat owner lessons over the years.
Looking back on these many memories makes me tear up now thinking how much we gave to our Niagara, how much she gave back to us, and how much she is going to give Megan and Chris and they are going to give her as they sail her around our pristine, wondrous local waters of Pensacola and begin planning and undertaking longer trips across the Gulf just as Phillip and I did when we first acquired her. Our Niagara is ready to carry, teach, and wow them. She has an amazing new chapter to embark on and she is very much alive, which made me thrilled when I learned the name Megan had chosen for their boat, which means “to be alive, living.”
To be alive. ⧫ living.
For those of you curious about our Niagara and her next chapter, know that, to the fullest capacity possible:
A nor’easter I believe they called it. I had never heard of it before, but of course it was scheduled to slam the northeast coast on the very two days we had planned our survey/sea-trial of the 2015 Outbound 46, s/v Ubiquitous. January, 2021 had been spent in hot negotiations. After we had traveled from Pensacola, FL up to Annapolis, MD over New Years Eve to lay eyes, hands, and feet on this newly discovered build and model, the Outbound 46, after just a few hours aboard one, and this one in particular, Phillip and I knew we were more than impressed. We were stunned, at her beauty, but more so her capabilities and safety features. We were both dying to feel her under sail.
The negotiations were a bit of an emotional roller coaster. We knew we loved the boat. But, we also have level heads and (Phillip, far more than me) sharp negotiating skills. We knew we had to come to a number that was fair for both sides, which usually, in the world of negotiations, means a number that, for both sides, stings a little. We knew Ubiquitous had been shown to others and we knew she was exceptional. But, we also didn’t want to get overly emotional. There were days where we had to tell ourselves “If this number isn’t right, for us or for Jim (the owner), then it’s not meant to be, we’ll find another boat,” (albeit a little heartbroken, we meant it) and then other days where we would chant “She’s the one, she’s the one, please let this number be the one.” It was a bit of a wild up-down, tennis-match experience. Kind of reminded me of when I would go with my Dad to the cattle auction, where the auctioneer does that weird “huma-na-huma-na, and a four, I’ve got a four and a huma-na, huma-na, can I get a five, a five, huma-na, five over there!” and your head is snapping back and forth watching the bids. But, at least there, all the bidding is public. If you understand weird cattle-auction babble, you know who is bidding what and when. Phillip and I had no idea what was happening with the other lookie-loos. Were they as impressed as we were? Did they understand what a quality vessel she was? (We hoped not.). Would they care for her like we would? (We knew not.). Had they made an offer? Was it more than ours? We had no clue. Phillip and I were merely hoping Jim felt a connection with us that maybe would make our bid-that-could, wherever she fell among whatever ranks were out there, have a little more heart to it, a little more hope that we would care for Ubiquitous just as he had. Thankfully, after several weeks, the roller coaster finally braked to a stop, jolting us a little, with the reality that Jim had accepted our bid, subject to a satisfactory survey/sea-trial, naturally. Accepted. We were simultaneously dumb-founded and giddy.
So, we scheduled it up for early February and tensions started to mount in the days before we were scheduled to take off for Annapolis. A rather intense nor’easter was forming and Jim was warning us about ice on the decks. Kevin, our broker, who would be attending with us, expressed some concerns about safely conducting a survey/sea-trial in those conditions and rightfully so. Phillip’s schedule was tight and he was reluctant to re-schedule hoping the deal wouldn’t fall through as a result, but it was actually Robert Noyce, our surveyor (a stranger to us, but a man we quickly nicknamed the “Voice of Reason”) who helped calm everyone down and keep things cool during the chaos of concerns about cancelling. We had selected Robert Noyce as our surveyor based on an incredibly helpful recommendation from my friend (and exceptionally gifted cruising consultant) Pam Wall. Being new to the Annapolis area, we were really digging through our A-lists for references. We were not in Pensacola anymore, Toto!
Upon the advice of Noyce, the night before we were set to take off, with weather looking dreadful and dangerous, Phillip called Jim directly and discussed his opinion and thoughts on putting off the sea trial and survey because of the conditions. We wanted Jim to know we were seriously interested and wanted this to happen but wanted a safe and thorough sea trial and survey. Jim seemed to let out a sigh of relief that we were not interested in “ice sailing.” His words. I told you that Jim was a funny one.
Jim knew the conditions there were far more dangerous than we could even appreciate. However, there was a rub of pushing the date much further out closer so spring to avoid another false start.
But, as things often do, it happened for a good reason because we had been toying with the idea of hiring our own independent inspector to really, really, scour the boat and find any and every possible thing that was failing, that needed to be fixed, or that created a safety concern. However, with everything that had happened so fast in January and early February, we really had not had the time. This was a huge purchase for us and we wanted to take steps to protect ourselves. After researching online to find the right person for the job, all steps took us straight to Steve D’Antonio. Phillip had read about him on Morgan’s Cloud (again, a highly recommended resource) as well as many other publications. I had also seen several followers quote some of the hundreds of helpful articles D’Antonio has put out into the world on my blog occasionally, so his name rang a bell. What we found was, in the world of pre-purchase inspections, D’Antonio was … THE GUY. And, it just so turned out Steve, whose calendar we learned is often full to the brim, had an opening to conduct his unprecedented two full-day inspection just a few weeks out, in early March. It would not be inexpensive, mind you. But, we understood and appreciated the value Steve brought to the table for a transaction like this.
Thankfully, the weather was much more forgiving in early March. Due to the harsh winters in Annapolis, Ubiquitous had been winterized—a new and slightly worrisome process for us as we debated whether to re-winterize the systems that we would de-winterize during the survey/sea-trial afterward or leave them potentially exposed. The thought of such cold harsh temps on the boat was troubling. But, the temps for the survey/sea-trial were in the high 50s/low 60s during the day, with temps of mid- to upper-40s at night. Not bad at all. Still bundled, but not bone-chilled. We flew in first and picked up Kevin at the airport, and the three of us stumbled around to a little brewery, A-Forward Brewing over in Easport (a short walk across the Spa Creek Bridge from Annapolis), where a local sailor there told us where to find the best pizza in town, Vin 909, just walking distance from where we were having drinks. Fortuitous!
Our survey/sea-trial was scheduled to start the next day at 9:00 a.m. and my head was buzzing. An inner confidence told me Ubiquitous would do fine on the survey. Perhaps that was incredibly naïve, but I had confidence in the build of the boat and Jim’s meticulous maintenance of it. Knowing Steve D’Antonio was capable of finding whatever may be wrong (and unsafe and addressing potential safety issues) was also quite comforting.
I heard Robert Noyce’s voice first come booming down the path toward the boat. It was deep and hearty, and he looked exactly like the Gorton’s Fisherman guy would, once he doffed his rubber yellow getup. Quite a character that one. Then, as Forbes Horton was still in the Bahamas (lucky bastard in board shorts!), he sent a stand-in M.J. (short for Mike Johnson) with Eastport Yacht Sales in Annapolis, which is actually where the famous (Red Dot on the Ocean) Matt Rutherford works. Phillip blinked three hard times when he heard that. We felt like we were among celebrities. I half thought Kretschmer would walk by us on the dock and wave hello and just keep on walking.
Then D’Antonio arrived, a meticulous, quiet, observant man, with a litany of tools and bags he brought with him. It was clear he was on a mission and we wanted him to get to it. Jim, a scientist and engineer at heart, seemed to want to see anything Steve was looking at learn what he was identifying. The mood among the lot of us was palpably cheery. Jim got us neatly off the dock and we motored over to Bert Jabin Yacht Yard, where Jim even let me steer for a bit, which all the men later agreed was the right move. Smart man, that Jim. Get the gal hooked first and it’s a done deal. But, I knew, for Phillip, as long as everything went well that day, it had been a done deal months before so I happily took the wheel and was happily pleased with how responsive she was. Must be that bid rudder, I thought to myself.
Then she came dripping, elegantly out. Ubiquitous was a sight to see out of the water. Eye-catching. Well-crafted. Substantial. Having dealt with our weeping keel on the Niagara and the trouble I knew a keel seam with keel bolts could cause, I was immensely comforted in seeing a completely encased keel. I knew I would remember this sight often on any of our more arduous passages where we were heeled over in unforgiving winds. She can take it, I thought to myself.
The bottom paint also looked to be in great condition as Jim had the bottom done about every year and scrubbed often. Steve found a few thru-hulls and things that could be updated and a need to rebuild the Auto Prop, but nothing major. Whew. Back in the water she went and off went our hearty and happy crew. It was time to raise some canvas and really see what she could do. We sailed over near the U.S. Naval Academy, which is a real gem of Annapolis. Phillip and I took the tour when we had been here back in October, 2019 for the boat show, so it was a treat to now get to see her grandeur by “sea” (or Bay, you get my drift).
Under sail, Ubiquitous did not disappoint. We had about 18-22 knots of breeze on a close haul and she was exceptionally comfortable. We’d had the rigging surveyed independently previously and knew there were only minor issues and upgrades found there, so we sailed her full canvas in what I would call sporty conditions. I’m sure the men found it only to have been a nice, full breeze. But, Phillip and I both got to handle her for a bit, me with two white-knuckled hands on the wheel, just nervous I would get frazzled around the guys and turn us the wrong way and backwind the sails, Phillip with one hand on the wheel, his body to the side of it, not even looking at the instruments, happily chatting with everyone aboard. Phillip can definitely “feel” the boat (any monohull) better than I can. But, I could certainly feel she was strong. So, incredibly strong. Being a bit of a stocky gymnastics chunk, I always admire that in a gal.
The engine test, I will have to admit, sent me a bit over the edge. Noyce and D’Antonio literally had Jim run the 80 hp Yanmar at full throttle (full throttle! which I hate to do for more than 30 seconds) for eight minutes-plus to intentionally (intentionally?!) make the engine overheat. Can you imagine? If anyone had made me do that on our Niagara, I’d have shot ‘em. With a flare gun. All Billy Zane, Dead Calm style, right in the face. I was the only one during those eight grueling minutes, however, who kept giving Noyce and D’Antonio the bitch wings and evil eye, praying for them every second to stop. Stop, stop, stop it now! Throttle back. That was just … not fun. But, they did find—which is what they were looking for—that it took such extremes to get the Yanmar to overheat. So, there is that. Maybe I’ll forgive them. Someday.
D’Antonio also had Jim turn the boat a full 180 degrees, one way, and then the other, with the bow thruster alone, out in the heavy chop and winds, which sent the voltage alarm off on the batteries, another occurrence I was not happy with but, being the only gal aboard and easily the least experienced, I wasn’t going to pipe up again. We knew they had to stretch her legs to truly test her. Boy did they, and boy did she impress. D’Antonio’s exact words were “It’s a good, clean boat.” Although he did write up an exceptional report for us, after his second day scouring the boat, identifying some items in the precautionary range (mostly wiring and electrical that should be reconfigured, re-routed, fuses or labels added, easy to do stuff, but should be done), others identified as moderate (“you should to this, but it’s not a rush”-type) things that were also mostly minor (with perhaps the exception of the need to inspect/replace the riser and elbow on the engine), but which we used to make some minute price adjustments with Jim, and another handful of items in the “simply suggested” range that were just suggestions, not required to address safety issues, mostly cosmetic. It was an impressive assessment of the vessel, making Steve D’Antonio someone we would highly recommend for a substantial purchase such as this.
Overall, everyone aboard that day gave Ubiquitous a solid clean bill of health. Kevin, M.J., and Noyce all said they’d never had a survey go quite so smoothly.
Phillip and I almost couldn’t believe it was behind us. That was it? It was done? We’d put in an offer that had been accepted subject to a satisfactory survey/sea-trial, and not a soul on that boat would say we did not have a satisfactory survey/sea-trial. There were a few minor adjustments in the negotiations after, but that was it. Could it really be done? Phillip and I were in a bit of disbelief. It had all happened so fast. But, fast did not mean it was not all very intentional, well thought-out, and researched to the hilt. Nothing had been impulsive, simply quick and fortuitous. I don’t question those two things. When luck comes your way, especially quickly, you seize it without hesitation. And, that’s what we did. Phillip and I felt like two of the luckiest sailors in the world that night. We had an old friend from Pensacola (who now lived in Virginia) drive up to join, Phillip, Kevin, and I as we toasted with bottle after bottle of indulgent red wind and stuffed ourselves silly at Café Normandie. The day had finally come. The deal had been sealed. The boat had been successfully surveyed. Ubiquitous and all that she stood for, the future she promised, would soon be ours.
It felt quite surreal. In any other year, at any other time, this would be completely normal, but at this moment—December 30, 2020 at 9:15 a.m.—walking into an airport amid a sea of masks, getting on a plane and wiping our seat, tray, and armrests down with Purell wipes, courtesy of Delta, the starch scent of disinfectant in the air, it all felt … strange. Just strange.
Phillip and I hadn’t been on a plane since puttering from Nassau to Eleuthera back in March when we were scrambling to get back to our Niagara in Spanish Wells, Bahamas. While we had planned, initially, to only move her to Great Harbour Cay for hurricane season, once we landed on March 13th, it became clear that the world was shutting down around us and a mad-dash sail back home to Pensacola, FL was likely the only way to keep her under our wing for hurricane season. We called it our Corona Crusade, when the auto-pilot went out, we weren’t allowed to go ashore for supplies in most places, but somehow Phillip and I made some of our most memorable cruise memories during that voyage. Isn’t that just the truth about cruising, though? Sometimes the worst of times are the best of … memories? Perhaps that’s why we keep coming back to it. Every cruise is either going to be great or it’s going to make for a great story. Those are two pretty good outcomes. And, with the world still in an unprecedented lockdown in December, 2020—a reality that struck us again and again walking through the empty airports, watching everyone’s eyes darting back and forth from above their masks—our plan to travel in the future on a boat that could truly take us everywhere was solidly reinforced. I don’t think they can shut down the ocean. Don’t tell me if they can.
With our last-minute flight to see the last remaining Outbound 46 available on the market, s/v Ubiquitous in Annapolis, Maryland, booked, one thought kept ringing through my mind. “For offshore, we couldn’t have made a better choice.” It was what former Outbound 46 owners, Lisa and Andy, told us. In researching the Outbound 46 we found the Outbound owners’ forum was superbly active and many former and current owners happily share information there, even with people who are simply shopping for an Outbound 46. Lisa and Andy on s/v Kinetic stood out to us as they are highly experienced offshore sailors, captains, and sailing consultants, having successfully completed many offshore passages in their 2015 Outbound 46, the hull number (No. 59) built after Ubiquitous (No. 58). In the days before our flight to Annapolis, Phillip and I set up a Zoom call with Lisa and Andy, who generously shared an hour of their time to talk to us about the Outbound 46, its build quality, the different features, its performance, etc. They even knew our owner, Jim, and s/v Ubiquitous. They told us Jim was a meticulous owner and that Ubiquitous was a very well-kept boat. Good news. The exterior and interior Outbound 46 tour videos in my previous blog post are actually of Kinetic.
Our chat with Lisa and Andy only solidified our hopes that setting foot on an Outbound 46 would tell us what Phillip and I already felt we knew: for offshore, we couldn’t make a better choice. On the plane, Phillip and I were tingling. My pulse felt electric. And, it was a good thing I had so much adrenaline pumping through me because Annapolis was bone-chilling. We were expecting lows in the range of 29 to 36 degrees and highs from 40 to 52 (our warmest day). We stayed at Governor Calvert House as we did when we attended the boat show back in October, 2019. It was wild to think when we had last stayed there, had last been in Annapolis, we could have never predicted all of the extreme change that lied ahead for us. It was also a bit wild when they assigned us the very same room we had stayed in back in October, 2019. Phillip and I took it as a sign. An omen.
Our suitcases, which we had stuffed with sucked-down Space Saver bags to house all of the huge fluffy layers we knew we would need, exploded in the room, our cargo growing three times its size. I distinctly recall wearing long johns, a long sleeve, a fleece over that, my puff jacket, and my foul weather jacket out to dinner that night and I was still a little uncomfortable. But, nothing could chill our fiery moods. The next day Phillip and I were set to meet the owner of Ubiquitous, Jim, at the boat at 11:00 a.m. His broker, Forbes Horton, was out of town, but they all agreed it was fine for showing, just the three of us. It was all happening so fast (literally because it had to, Ubiquitous was highly sought after) it felt unreal. Within a matter of three weeks Phillip and I had decided to get a new boat, get a bigger, more complicated boat, get an Outbound 46, specifically, and now, perhaps, get this boat, 2015 Outbound 46, Hull No. 58, s/v Ubiquitous. We wouldn’t know for sure, however, until we stepped aboard. Everything on paper is just that—paper—until you step aboard.
My heart was pounding as we approached her. She was brilliantly white, her stainless glistening all over. She was 46-feet, but she didn’t look too big. It was a strange revelation Phillip and I both had. Standing next to her at the dock, she didn’t feel like she was too much boat for us, a feeling Phillip and I both expected we might feel coming from our moderate 35-foot Niagara. That was comforting.
It was a little odd meeting Jim for the first time while staying six-feet apart and wearing masks but, despite it, his knowledge and sense of humor easily started to shine through. Soon it was time to step aboard, a step we had to make carefully as the dock was a bit icy. The boat, however, Jim had carefully dried and he had the Webasto diesel heater aboard churning, keeping the boat warm and dry. I remember grabbing a stanchion post to help myself aboard and noticing, when I put all of my weight on it, it did not budge. Not one bit. While our Niagara is a solid, well-kept boat, I can wiggle just about every stanchion post on the boat no matter how many times I tighten the screws at the base. The one on Ubiquitous took all of my mass as if I weighed nothing. The railing on the back also came up to my hip, much higher than it had on our Niagara. The tall railing all around the stern felt like a hug. The cockpit also allowed Phillip and I to easily brace against the opposite seat. We could each lay down fully on either seat. The back of the seat was also comfortable (which is not true for us on some other boats, Catalinas in particular with the slanted back is quite uncomfortable for us).
Then I stepped behind the wheel and was stunned. “I can see!” I squealed. Phillip and Jim both gave me an odd look. But, on our Niagara, standing behind the helm the dodger is right in my line of vision so I would often have to stand with one foot on either seat and bend down to look over the dodger to see, not a position you want to hold for hours on end. And, when I sat on the Niagara, I couldn’t see well over the companionway. On Ubiquitous I could see (through massive, tall, supremely clear Strataglass windows) whether I was standing or sitting. The visibility on the Outbound won my heart as I knew I was going to match Phillip toe-for-toe in handling the boat. Our vision of cruising is where either of us can fulfill any role at any time. We truly strive to have two fully competent, equal captains aboard. So, visibility for me checked a massive item off my list.
Then I walked forward and I did so without once having to turn to the side, lean out around a shroud, or otherwise try to squeeze past any rigging as I had to do on many of the boats we had boarded during boat shows. I just walked. The width of the side decks was impressive. Then there were granny bars. I’ve never had granny bars. I climbed right up with ease and could reach the top of the main and every chalk on the mast.
And, even though the boat is 46-feet long, a good four-or-so feet of that length is behind you at the helm, so looking forward, she really feels more like a 42. The Outbound 46 just didn’t feel wildly bigger than our Niagara. It was exciting. And, she felt so substantial. Although the interior below is beyond stunning, it is also impressively strong. Every handhold felt like a two-inch thick club in my hand and one magically appeared at every point I felt I would need to grab hold. Doors shut and clicked as if the boat had never flexed in her life. And, she was cleeaannn. Almost every bilge locker we opened looked like I could eat my dinner down there. It was clear the boat had been exceptionally well-maintained.
And, she struck the right balance of performance and pleasure. Not only were the decks, hardware, rigging, build, etc. exceptionally substantial, but curling up in the corner of the saloon felt so luxurious. She was just beautiful, with all the necessary creature comforts: solid surface countertops, fans where you want them, color modes on the LED lights, cedar-lined closets with LED lights inside that come on when you open them. It was like a five-star hotel. And, the little features really spoke to me: a separate scupper the anchor chain, the crash-forward bulk-head, keys to lock the engine compartment, locking floorboards, massive stowage under the bed, the locking buttons on all lockers and drawers, curved edges on the countertops so no crumbs gather, a pan at the bottom of the companionway stairs to sweep dirt into, pad-eyes for tethers all over the cockpit. I could go on, but I’ll stop myself here.
While the many, many complex systems (particularly the lithium battery bank) did have our heads spinning, overall Phillip and I were exceedingly impressed. I’m not sure Jim had other showings where the potential buyers crawled all over, opened every single hatch, tried to look at and ascertain every hose, every wire, every fuse and switch. But, Jim was gracious and fun, honest and seemed to enjoy answering our dozens of questions. Phillip and I had come with a long checklist of items to look at and ask Jim about (literally, an eight-page bullet point list) that Jim cordially walked through with us, beginning to end.
We had come to Ubiquitous at 11:00 a.m. on December 31, 2020, and when Phillip and I started walking away from the dock a little after 3:00 p.m. we were shocked that four hours had just passed and it felt like a blink. We were simply enthralled with her. Ubiquitous did nothing short of blow our socks off. As Phillip and I headed back to Calvert House that afternoon, we knew we were definitely going to pursue this boat. Negotiations still had to be undertaken and compromises made, but he and I didn’t have to discuss much further. “I want that boat,” we both told each other that night. Then we did what any good sailor worth his salt should do to commemorate their good fortune and luck. We ordered up a massive pizza from Fox’s Den, picked up three bottles of red wine at Mills, put on Captain Ron and drank ourselves into a deep sleep, with visions of Ubiquitous dancing in our heads and an exciting, wonderfully new year that lied ahead.
“Sh*t honey!” Phillip shouted into what had once been library quiet air, spooking a splash of coffee out of my cup.
“Jesus Christ, what?” I scolded him, while wiping coffee off my lap, not knowing what he had just found.
“I … might have found her,” Phillip said, his voice lifting at the end with just a little too much hope.
By her Phillip meant our new boat, our new home, our new adventure. In the wake of Covid and Hurricane Sally, with our lives just a bit upended, we hit a tipping point. Phillip and I decided, rather than overhauling Plaintiff’s Rest to add all the systems we would need for our next chapter—full-time liveaboard cruisers—it made more financial and practical sense to get a newer (either newly built or gently used), slightly bigger boat instead that already had all the complex systems. And, in our hunt we had settled on the Outbound 46 as the premiere ocean cruiser.
The night before we had fortuitously run into our broker, Kevin, and, looking back, I think seeing him that night was just the nudge we needed to push us just outside of the 35-40-foot limit we had put on our hunt. Kevin had been really struggling to find a fairly new boat (in that size range with all of the systems we needed and wanted) that was a right fit for us. It was such a seller’s market at the time with Covid having inspired many others to do that thing they had been only dreaming of for years: buy a boat. Inventory was incredibly low. Frankly, Kevin was frustrated. Phillip was frustrated. And all signs just seemed to be pointing to the other side of our initial 35-40 foot bubble. Kevin gave us just the nudge we needed that night to tiptoe over to the “dream boat” list he had previously sent us (that Kevin, he’s a smart broker), which included, all in the 45-46 foot range, a Passport, a Hylas, and an Outbound 46, albeit an older one, 2007, which is just another reason we had not initially given it much thought.
The next morning, Phillip cracked open his laptop first thing and searched on Yachtworld for Outbounds. Only three came up. A 2007 somewhere in the Pacific … not ideal. A 2012 in Annapolis, MD … promising. And, a 2015, also in Annapolis. But, out of these three, only one was not under contract. The 2015, s/v Ubiquitous. *click* went Phillip. Minutes later I had a lap full of coffee and Phillip had his eye on a target. We got Kevin on the phone immediately to see if we could coordinate a hot trip to Annapolis to see Ubiquitous first-hand before she was snatched away! Once we started looking into the Outbound 46, it became very clear there were two places these boats do not stay: on the dock, and on the market. They are highly coveted vessels, and for good reason, with exceptional build quality, design, performance, and comfort, all in a moderate-sized ocean-crushing boat.
That day we also stumbled onto an article John Harries had posted on Morgan’s Cloud (Attainable Adventure Cruising)—a valuable sailor’s resource Phillip had been following for years—offering up a solid review for the Outbound 46, where he wrote, griping about most of the wide, flat-bottom, double-helm modern boats Phillip and I always loathe at the boat shows:
“except for the unpretentious boat lurking between the high-rise condo-marans and the big-assed marina queens. The boat perhaps most noticeable for the lack of a lineup of eager people waiting to be wowed by yet another interior designed to maim the maximum number of crew from nasty falls if she was ever taken offshore. As you will have guessed, that boat was the Outbound 46, and after just one glance I was smitten, a process helped along by knowing that she is from the board of Carl Schumacher, one of the all-time great sailboat designers, who would have become far more well-known if he had not died so young.”
I have to admit, I could feel Phillip tumbling over in that moment. He has always found Harries’s advice to be well-researched, sound, and (as Harries himself said) unpretentious so I knew his words had really sunk into Phillip’s psyche. When I read the article, it gave me chills. I felt like Harries was telling me about my future. It was a deep breath, fill your lungs day. Hypnotic, I would say.
I was snapped out of my haze when Kevin pinged back quickly with good news. The broker listing s/v Ubiquitous was Forbes Horton, a name we had heard often on Andy Schell’s podcast at 59-North. (Shout-out to Andy and Mia!) Phillip had heard Forbes give an interview on Andy’s podcast and we knew his was a trusted name in the world of brokers, which was a good sign. We felt Forbes would give it to us straight. More good news, the owner lived just a short walk away from the dock where Ubiquitous was happily floating and he was retired and free to meet and show her to us at any time. That day started with a shout and a spill, and it ended with Phillip and I having booked two tickets for a quick trip to Annapolis, Maryland over New Years Eve. We truly were starting 2021 off on a totally different path!
Go ahead. I know you want to. Drink in this listing. I give you s/v Ubiquitous.
Fresh Water Tanks: (200 Gallons) Fuel Tanks: (190 Gallons)
Number of single berths: 2 Number of double berths: 2 Number of cabins: 2 Number of heads: 2
Electrical Circuit: 12V
Factory Options and Upgrades
Out of the box the Outbound 46 is a powerful offshore passagemaker with a proven track record of safely taking owners around the globe. The owners of Ubiquitous have improved upon her design by outfitting her with smart upgrades and by choosing the “right” factory options.
Topsides rub rail (stainless over fiberglass)
Epoxy barrier coat (5 layers Interlux 2000) Screens on all hatches, ports, and companionway Tank tender system for fuel and water tanks Second (upper) bilge pump (Rule 3700) with float switch and cockpit light Dual Racor filters (Racor 75500MAX) Vectran upgrade for Hood sails Hydraulic backstay adjuster (Sailtec 12LI and Harken 3019 block) Electric winch for main halyard and mainsheet (Lewmar 48) Cockpit design allows ALL rigging to be run to electric winch if necessary Solent furler package Mast pulpits Radar pole with hoist Starboard folding cockpit table Adjustable headsail lead cars with 2:1 control lines to cockpit Forespar carbon whisker pole mounted on mast Adjustable salon table with hand crank and fill-in cushions creates a queen-sized berth. Separate freezer compartment with dedicated compressor and thermostat Front opening refrigerator SSB
There are few cockpits that feel safer than that of the Outbound 46. It is hard to imagine a sea state that would be uncomfortable, especially when tucked snugly under the hard dodger in a blow. The three short companionway steps and head placement make shucking off wet foul weather gear at the change of watch as pleasant as it can be. With salty wet gear in the head, the cabin and custom upholstery stay clean and dry.
Minimal exterior teak for easy maintenance T shaped cockpit with long seats for sleeping and lounging outside Diamond nonskid on cockpit seats to reduce clothing chafe
32 inch high helmsman “Bishop Seat” for comfortable offshore driving Molded 3 inch foredeck bulwark topped by 2.5 inch toerail for offshore safety Electric Primary winches located in easy reach of helmsman for singlehanding 32 inch wide transom opening for easy access to transom swim/boarding platform and to provide instant cockpit drainage 30” high 1.25” diameter lifeline stanchions with 316 stainless steel 1×19 double lifelines 2 Pelican hook boarding gates: port, starboard, and aft Large cockpit lazarette for easy access stowage and to provide ventilation and light for servicing auxiliary equipment installed under the cockpit Liferaft stowage box (30”x16”x12”) under helm seat for easy deployment 4 Wichard folding safety harnesses padeyes installed in cockpit USCG approved stowage locker for 2 20# aluminum propane tanks Recessed engine control in seat back adjacent to pedestal controls, acrylic cover. Stainless steel grab rails within continuous reach along cabin top. Four stainless steel dorade vent guards and cowls mounted on molded deck boxes. Molded sea hood with integral instrument box in easy view of entire cockpit Large dodger breakwater for easy dodger design and installation, molded pass through for lines led to cockpit Seven Lewmar tinted acrylic Ocean hatches Stainless steel swim/man overboard boarding ladder. Six 12 inch stainless steel mooring cleats mounted on stainless rub plates Large bow sail/deck gear locker with watertight bulkhead and easy access to anchor rode. Work bench, 6 drawers, cabinet in lazarette Fiberglass drop boards for stern opening Wind generator pole Factory pivoting davits deploy dingy beyond swim platform and are raised with cabin top electric winch. Outboard Motor Hoist Heavy-duty Sunbrella bimini (arches are thick wall stainless) Bimini-dodger Sunbrella connector Custom cockpit cushions
Hull and Deck
100% hand-laid solid fiberglass hull lamination (schedule designed by Carl Schumacher, NA) Vinylester resin in outer layers for superior blister resistance Epoxy barrier coat (5 layers Interlux 2000)
Hull and Deck Ceramic coated 2019
Knitted bi-axial fiberglass cloth throughout lamination for added impact resistance Additional hull reinforcement in bottom, turn of bilge, and bow sections Ashland Max Guard brand ISO-NPG gelcoat for long lasting shine and durability Boot and Cove stripes painted with fade resistant linear polyurethane paint
Heavy duty longitudinal/floor/mast step/engine bed system All bulkheads, floors (athwartship stringers), and longitudinals bonded securely to hull while in the mold All furniture bonded direct to hull and deck where appropriate for added strength No-liner interior construction provides direct access to entire hull Divinycell cored vacuum bagged deck lamination Molded pyramid nonskid in Max Guard contrasting color.. “Moon Dust” Deck fastened and sealed with 3M 5200 polyurethane adhesive/sealant and through-bolted on 4 inch centers to 3” inward molded flange integral to hull lamination Antal aluminum toe rail through-bolted to hull deck joint (teak toerail option)
Bulkheads securely bonded on their entire perimeter, hull and deck Hull and keel molded as a single lamination to eliminate keel bolts and to provide 18 inch deep bilge sump 6500 pound lead ballast inside molded keel shell laminated with the hull itself 3500 pound lead bulb for maximum righting moment Watertight bulkhead 7 feet from bow Upper, lower, and intermediate shroud stainless steel chain plates through-bolted direct to main bulkhead, inboard for upwind sheeting angles Balanced spade rudder with 4 inch diameter stainless steel rudder post Bow Thruster Rub Rail
Tankage and Plumbing
The Outbound 46 has the tankage every cruiser dreams of and it’s in exactly the right place. By putting the tanks below the floor, the weight is kept low in the boat which attributes to the boats phenomenal seakeeping habits and keeps her stiff when tanks are full. An added benefit of the location of the tanks is storage under the settees. Outbound has also designed the waste systems for the heads to be maintenance free. By utilizing a gravity feed system for discharge, long hose runs and the dreaded macerator pump is eliminated.
200 gallon fresh water capacity in two tanks located under the cabin sole, over the keel 40 gal/hr watermaker with maintenance free Danfoss high pressure pump 190 gallons of fuel capacity in four FRP tanks located under the cabin sole over the keel 11 gallon Isotherm stainless steel hot water heater
12 volt fresh water pump with accumulator tank Saltwater deck/anchor wash down pump, plumbed for fresh and sea water Rule 5 year 2000 electric bilge pump with float switch Helm mounted Whale Gusher 10 manual bilge pump Cabin mounted Whale Gusher 10 manual bilge pump Second (upper) bilge pump (Rule 3700) with float switch and cockpit indicator light. Cockpit indicator light on lower bilge pump as well. Bronze flush mounted through hulls with sea cocks, labeled for easy identification Transom mounted hot and cold fresh water shower FRP holding tank (approximately 30 Gallons), gravity feed overboard discharge (aft head) FRP holding tank (approximately 20 Gallons), gravity feed overboard discharge (fwd head) Deck discharge for both heads Tank Watch holding tank indicator (2) Tank tender system for fuel and water tanks Toilets plumbed for fresh and sea water Salt water manifold for Galley foot pump, aft head intake, generator, spare with strainer
Special consideration was paid to the DC electrical system as the owners wanted a robust, reliable and environmentally responsible way to keep the ship’s systems running. A large battery bank composed of Lithium Ion Batteries were chosen for their incredible cycling ability, manageable size and reliability. Dual alternators and smart regulators make 130-150 amps/hour charging a reality.
Custom backlit electrical panel with AC/DC amperage and voltage display, battery monitor
Fischer Panda DC 4 Generator 4 kw
Electrical panel hinged for easy access 12V utility plugs at chart table, helm, forward locker, companionway, salon Twin USB Outlets at Chart Table, Helm, both Staterooms Copper ground strap glassed to hull at waterline for SSB ground plane Wiring led clear of bilge where possible
B&G Zeus 2 12″ MFD at Helm B&G Zeus 2 7″‘ MFD over companionwayB B&G V50VHF with wireless remote B&G GoFree WIFI (enables phone or tablet remote MFD) B&G Broadband 3G Radar B&G H5000 Autopilot B&G H5000 Hydra CPU & Wind Instruments B&G RC42 Rate Compass B&G NAIS Class 2 AIS with GPS DST 200 Depth/Speed/Temperature NMEA 2000 Instrument Network Maretron J1939 Yanmar to N2K Bridge Maretron USB100 N2K to USB Gateway Icom M802 Marine SSU with Tuner & Split Backstay plus separate WHIP DSCC RX Anntenna Sirius Satellite Receiver and Antenna Wilson WeBoost Cell Phone Amplifier
Yanmar 4JH80 80 HP freshwater cooled common rail diesel
Yanmar C-Type engine control panel and alarms located adjacent to helm Waterlift muffler with 3” diameter exhaust hose Dual Racor filters (Racor 75500MAX) with Vacuum Gauge
Bronze seawater strainer Lewmar single lever shift and throttle control mounted on pedestal Morse engine control cables Stainless steel propeller shaft Autoprop feathering propeller Hinged companionway and two lift off side panels provide full access to engine Engine compartment sound insulation Engine compartment utility light Fuel tanks vent to midship stanchions – well above waterline when heeled Water tanks vent to galley sink (Starboard water tank vents to head sink) Fuel supply, fuel return, water manifolds.
Lewmar Cobra Enguard pedestal direct drive steering with friction brake 44” diameter Destroyer stainless wheel with leather cover 5” Ritchie Globemaster SP-5C Pedestal mounted steering compass Stainless steel emergency tiller
Lewmar folding cockpit table Autopilot, thruster controls and B&G Zues2 12 inch multi-function display
Sails and Rigging
Hood Fully Battend Vectran Main Hood Vectran Genoa Hood Vectran Working Jib Storm jib and Storm trysail Hydraulic backstay adjuster (Sailtec 12LI and Harken 3019 block) Boom preventer system
Electric winch for main halyard and mainsheet (Lewmar 48) Cockpit design allows ALL rigging to be run to electric winch if necessary Solent furler package (Harken MKIV Size 2) Adjustable headsail lead cars with 2:1 control lines to cockpit
Forespar carbon whisker pole Mast pulpits (sissy bars)
Radar pole with hoist Keel stepped Sparcraft double spreader mast with 316 stainless steel 1X19 continuous standing rigging Internal mast wiring conduits 2 mast mounted Lewmar 40 self tailing winches Split backstay for easy access to transom Antal full batten mainsail track T900 Spectra low stretch Main and Genoa halyards Pole lift used for the whisker pole topping lift and storm jib halyard. 2 low stretch spinnaker halyards Main and pole lift/ storm jib halyards led to cockpit – Lewmar rope clutch Mainsheet led to cabin top – Lewmar rope clutch Reef lines – two deep reefs, separate tack and clew reef lines (4 in all) all lead aft to cockpit. All reefing done without leaving the cockpit whisker pole mast track and topping lift Removable wire inner forestay Genoa roller furler
Garhauer line blocks Genoa furling line led to stopper near helm Lewmar self tailing winches: Electric Primaries 2 Mainsheet/halyard/reef on house #48 STC, two speed self tailing chrome 2 on mast #40 STC, two speed self tailing chrome Lewmar Ocean 3 mainsheet traveler with 4:1 control lines and clutches 2 Lewmar Ocean 3 Genoa lead blocks 2 Lewmar end stop sheet leads 2 Lewmar Ocean deck organizers – 4 sheaves Sparcraft boom vang with control line led to cockpit – Lewmar rope clutch Windex 15 spar fly on masthead 2 Lewmar 10 inch lock in Power Grip winch handles Winch handle pockets
U-Shaped galley for safe offshore use Corian counters with 2” fiddles featuring integral hand holds Three burner Force 10 propane stove with thermostatically controlled oven 2 propane tanks Polished stainless stove crash bar with welded eyes for cook’s safety belt Scanvik polished stainless steel double 8” deep sink Scanvik faucet assembly Filtered drinking water tap at galley sink General Ecology Nature Pure QC2 Jabsco salt water foot pump Jabsco fresh water foot pump 5 cubic foot icebox with minimum 4” foam insulation includes sliding tray Separate freezer compartment with dedicated compressor and thermostat Double opening icebox top with – front opening refrigerator 5 drawers, sliding trash bin, tambour cabinet, and louvered lockers Large dedicated food pantry under counter Remote propane shutoff switch Hella Fan
Adjustable salon table with hand crank and fill-in cushions – Creates a queen-sized berth! Semi-raised salon design to provide long term liveaboard comfort 6’4” headroom
American Cherry interior Satin interior varnish, 5 coats Varnished Teak and Holly cabin sole Generous handholds throughout interior Positive locking floorboards Positive locking locker buttons Louvered doors and cabinet doors for ventilation Mobella door handles 10 Lewmar Ocean portlights 9 Lewmar Ocean hatches (6 size 00, 2 size 60’s, 1 size 65) 4 dorades with internal closures and deck plates
Padded vinyl removable overhead panels with traditional teak/cherry trim throughout overhead Screens on all hatches, ports, and companionway Marine Air Air Conditioning in Salon
Webasto Diesel Heat System Main Salon
Semi-raised salon provides excellent natural lighting Dining table 7 foot rectangular dinette designed so outboard bench can be used as a sea berth 7 foot straight couch style settee (doubles as starboard midships sea berth) Fold down cocktail table in center of settee with bottle stowage outboard Ergonomically designed foam cushions with lumbar and thigh support Storage compartments accessed through hinged and positive locking doors behind settee and dinette backs Generous storage under dinette and settee Padded vinyl removable overhead panels with traditional teak/cherry trim throughout overhead Lewmar tinted acrylic Ocean hatch over table 4 reading lamps at each corner of settee and dinette Two Hella Fans
Aquasignal Series 32 LED Bow, Stern lights Aquasignal Steaming and Deck light combo OGM Anchor/ tricolor light with photocell Imtra white/red dome style interior lighting Courtesy/safety lighting throughout the cabin sole Individual reading lamps in each cabin
Task lighting in engine compartment, lazarette, and forward sail/chain locker Automatic locker lights in hanging and pantry lockers
45” wide quarter berth, 5” foam mattress 2 drawers under bunk Hanging locker and 4 shelf locker Sliding storage lockers over bunk
Open stowage shelf for personal items at head of bunk Three opening ports One Lewmar Ocean hatch Two reading lamps
One Imtra Red/White Dome light Bundling board to split the quarter berth for two crew or to provide tighter space for heavy weather. One Hella Fan
Seamless fiberglass construction from cabin sole to counter for easy cleaning Polished Corian counter tops with Corian fiddle Large molded stall shower with molded seat and shower Large stainless steel sink
Scandvik faucet Raritan PH 2 head
Fiberglass molded shower Scandvik bulkhead mounted Hand-held shower Raritan PH 2 Head Dorade with inside closure
Centerline Double berth Large hanging locker Drawer storage under bunk Custom Outbound mattress Sliding storage lockers above bunk LED reading lamps over bunk
One Lewmar 60 Ocean hatch Dorade with inside closure 5 Opening ports Two Hella Fans
Scandvik Stainless steel sink Corian counters
Divided self draining chain locker easily accessible from forward stowage locker Stainless double anchor roller Molded scupper aft of bow roller to catch water brought aboard with anchor chain Lewmar V4 Windlass with capstan
Next up, we hop on a plane (for the first time since the pandemic) and fly to Annapolis to look at this amazing boat! s/v Ubiquitous. While Phillip and I hoped she would feel right, fit right, and perhaps be “the one,” we wouldn’t know until we stepped aboard. We had seen many boats that looked good on paper, seemed promising, but then when we stepped aboard at a boat show, they felt like a Jim Walters home, all thought put into the condo feel of the cockpit and interior, rather than the solid build of the hull and the offshore “feel” you want when you grab a handrail or shut a hatch. Although our own research and, particular, Harries’s opinion had our hopes high, Phillip and I knew we had to step aboard an Outbound 46 and feel her for ourselves before we would know, for sure, the Outbound, and Ubiquitous specifically, was worth the chase. So, off we went! Annapolis or bust! Stay tuned!
“A Southerly 38 ticks many of the boxes you listed.”
“A Frers-designed Swan 36 that I raced from SF to Tahiti impressed.”
“This sounds an awful lot like the musings of a future catamaran owner.”
These were just a few of the many, varied comments we received in response to our “Is It Time for a New Boat?” blog. Other guesses were an Oyster 495, the new Island Packets (an IP349 or 439) with the Solent rig, a Pacific Seacraft 40, a Valiant 42, even (jokingly) a Lord Nelson. All very capable, comfortable boats. But, the ideal boat we eventually landed on—the one Phillip and I consider a premiere ocean-crossing, comfortable, capable cruising boat—was …
the Outbound 46.
So, how did we get there? As with our first boat, our 1985 Niagara 35—which was the perfect boat to fulfill our needs at the time—it all started with Kevin Barber, an exceptional friend and an even better boat broker. We often joke that “Kevin doesn’t sell boats, he sells friendships,” because he often becomes very good friends with clients. Likely because the process of finding the right boat for people starts with getting to know them very well. Once Phillip and I had reached the conclusion that a newer, probably slightly bigger, boat with a few more complex systems would be the better choice than an upgrade of our Niagara for our next full-time live-aboards chapter, we brought Kevin on board to have him help us find and vet our options, poor guy. I say that because we (well, honestly more Phillip) put him through the ringer. If you haven’t guessed this already, Phillip is a very (very) picky man. For good reason. He wants what he likes and he knows very well what he wants (and does not want). I’m incredibly lucky that he picked me! But, when it came time to pick our next boat, it was simply a tough call to make.
Having cruised rather comfortably for years on our 35-foot Niagara, Phillip and I initially believed any boat over 40-feet would be too big, so we had Kevin start shopping in the 35- to 40-foot range and the 3- to 5-year-old range, or newly built if that appeared the better option. Kevin dialed in. He began sending us listings for slightly used Tartans, Island Packets, even an Ovni. Unfortunately, each one had something we didn’t like. The saloon location not right by the companionway, a cockpit that did not look comfortable (or that it was clear you could not lay down comfortably in), no better tankage than our Niagara. None were checking all of the boxes, and we did not want to compromise. This was a huge, “next chapter in our lives,” decision and we were all in. This would be the boat we would live on and sail the world in. It simply had to be the right one. Honestly, the “best boat” in the 30- to 40-foot range, in our opinion, was our boat upgraded, but we had already made the decision to adjust our tolerance for systems and finances in deciding to get a newer boat. But, it seemed, our aggressive hunt had come to a bit of a lurch.
Insert Kevin again. Fortuitously, we ran into Kevin (and his awesome wife, Laura) one evening in downtown Pensacola and sat down to have a pretty fun, but frank, conversation about how many “nos” we had given him. Kevin joked that Phillip had proven to be his most difficult client of the year! But, in so doing, Kevin also gave us (I suspect) just the right nudge we needed. He reminded us of the other list he had sent us. You see, Kevin, wisely, had also sent us a “dream list.” Initially, Phillip and I had dismissed it because the “dream” boats had all been in the 44- to 46-foot range, if not bigger (which just seemed massive for two people), and more than we thought we were willing to pay for our next boat. But, it seemed in order to meet our high demands, we would have to let our tolerance for size, systems, and sticker shock “grow.” The next morning over coffee, Phillip decided to take another look at the other list.
On the dream list was a Passport, a Hylas, and an Outbound, all in the 45- to 46-foot range, all pricier than we had wanted. And, the Outbound 46 listing Kevin had sent was a much older model than we wanted. A 2007, which was why we hadn’t given the Outbound a thorough review initially. But, after talking with Kevin the night before and re-reviewing the dream list, Phillip decided to launch his own search on YachtWorld the following morning for any Outbound 46s on the market. “Oh sh*% honey!” his voice bellowed through the living room, startling a splash of coffee out of my cup. It seemed my picky man had found the type of boat he wanted, and it was an Outbound 46. Once we finally dialed into this boat and began to learn about the construction, performance, the overall thoughtfulness of the design of the Outbound 46, it was a sealed deal for these sailors. Plus, everything Phillip and I were prepared to devote to, invest in, and give to our next boat simply called for it. The Outbound 46 is (pardon my French) a damn fine vessel. But, Phillip and I are damn fine boat owners, too, fully aware of the time and money it takes to maintain a boat the right way and ready to pour our blood, sweat, dollars, and time into the newest member of our family. We knew whatever Outbound 46 we did acquire would be one lucky boat, and she would also make us two incredibly lucky, live-aboard sailors. And, money is something we can make, or borrow. Time and a boat this beautiful, we cannot. The Outbound would definitely require us to strrreettcch our budget and our brains to fit 46-foot boat into our lives. But, with the beauty of hindsight, I’m so glad we did. Sometimes you just have to take a bit of a terrifying leap, to land in paradise. So, why the Outbound 46? Just look at this thing!
First, the Outbounds are not mass-production boats. They generally only build between one to two Outbounds a year, because they build them right. Phil Lambert commissioned the design from Carl Schumacher, with the idea that every feature be designed to be capable while comfortable. One word sold us. MODERATION. Lambert wanted a boat that was exceptionally strong, with a fully-glassed hull and encased keel, that did not sail like a tank. Schumacher fulfilled with a moderate draft, beam, and mast height that proved a fun day sailer, a capable ocean-crosser, and a spacious, luxurious liveaboard home simultaneously. Sailing in brisk winds and choppy seas, Lambert described the experience below as “being in a library.” In addition to the immensely impressive tankage and power/water generation systems that would allow us to go comfortably off-grid at any time, a thousand other little commendable features sold us: clear visibility from the helm, no ducking down the three, wide companionway stairs, locking floorboards, a crash bulkhead in the bow, fuel vents located high on the stanchion posts, curved counter edges, an island queen vberth bed. All of this in a boat with a beam of only 13’6” and a draft of 5’6.” Every element spoke to a commitment to moderation, which I feel speaks to so many elements of life: work, play, food, wine. Enjoy, imbibe, thrive, but do them all in moderation.
Now, the water maker, generator, AC, heater, hot water heater were all systems we would have to learn, troubleshoot, and maintain, but Pandora’s box had been opened at that point. Phillip and I knew we had found our ideal boat. While 46 feet did sound a bit large, I did have a sage follower advise it is the actual length on deck that is the true measure of a boat and its accommodation potential, and the Outbound 46 is really a 44-foot boat with a 2-foot swim platform, so it was really just a skosh out of our comfort length. In addition, after we began exploring the Outbound option and talking with other owners, Phillip and I learned Phil Lambert is truly hands-on during the entire build and post-purchase process, addressing issues, helping with repairs and getting parts, welcoming feedback, even adapting later models to include owner ideas and upgrades. Manufacturer support was key for us, and it seemed the Outbound offered this in droves. Plus, she is just a gorgeous boat. Do not miss the exceptional design details in these videos Phil Lambert filmed showcasing this amazing boat.
Exterior Video Tour:
Interior Video Tour:
Now. The next tough decision. New or used? While we knew commissioning a new Outbound would likely take a year, perhaps longer, and cost a heck of a lot more, we knew that might have to be an option if we could not find a slightly used one on the market that ticked all of our boxes. But, the moment we pulled up listings for a used Outbound 46 on YachtWorld, our fates were joyously sealed. We didn’t know it at the time, but the hunt was already over.
You might say we didn’t really find our “next chapter” boat. She found us. Stay tuned!
A repower, new auto, more solar, lithium?, a water maker, more tankage. Oh my! Mine and Phillip’s heads were swimming. It felt like we were on the spinny tea-cup ride at the Magic Kingdom. But, we were committed. Although we had not envisioned tackling such an extensive overhaul to Plaintiff’s Rest until it was time to really, really go, Covid taught us the “time to go” shouldn’t be some amorphous mirage on the horizon. Now that we know the world can change in an instant, we knew we had to pursue our goal of full-time cruising with immediacy and far more tenacity. “Now is the time,” became our motto.And, with Plaintiff’s Rest already on the hard undergoing Hurricane Sally repairs, it seemed a prime time for us to finally get her cruise-the-world ready.
This started a conversation that Phillip and I would have over and again—end over end, end at the beginning and start again at the end—over the course of two dizzying weeks. Not only would this be a huge lifestyle change, i.e. switching from commuter cruisers who lived and worked aboard only part of the year to full-time liveaboards, full-time cruisers, the necessary overhaul to the boat, we knew, was also going to be a large financial investment. And, we know all boats are depreciating assets. Well, that’s putting it lightly, they are holes that we throw money into (because they throw adventure, pleasure, thrills, and mysteries right back). Generally speaking, you’re always going to lose money on a boat. Knowing that, and knowing we were about to throw a lot of money into our own hole, mine and Phillip’s motivation and reasoning became laser-focused on one goal: minimize our loss. We also knew the decision had to be void of emotion. While it pained us both to even think about parting with our 1985 Niagara 35, this was our future, our money, and the way in which we were about to spend the remainder of our most valuable commodity: our time. We simply could not let a decision of this magnitude hinge on “aww … poor girl, we just can’t do that to her.” If the wiser decision called for it, we were going to have to do that to her.
Phillip and I were approaching this as calculating professionals, focusing on the economic basics: minimizing our losses and maximizing our gains (the non-economic kind that is, all that a boat can offer, because the hole never really “fills”). Once we considered everything in tandem, with hyper-focus on our losses and gains in trying to decide whether to invest in our Niagara or prepare to tack, it soon became undeniably clear …
It’s time to buy a new boat.
Here’s how we got there.
MINIMIZING OUR LOSSES
Unfortunately, no matter how capable, clean, simple (and how incredibly wonderful!) our Niagara is, she comes with an undeniable truth. She’s 36-years old. She has already depreciated significantly and will only continue to depreciate every day. And, she will never sell for an amount equal to or greater than what we paid for her, no matter how many fancy systems we install. And, while I’ll readily admit I am no economist, I would imagine, after the initial large knock in depreciation (the “minute you drive off the lot” dive), that it’s a graduated scale thereafter, depreciating more slowly in the early years and more rapidly each year after she’s hit her third decade. Again, just a guess. But, I’ll bet I’m not wrong. Any boat that is only 5-10 years is going to hold its value better than our Niagara who will soon approach 40 years in age.
This meant every dollar we put into her to “make her” the cruising boat we felt we needed to do the kind of full-time liveaboard cruising abroad we had decided to do now, Phillip and I would never get back. That was simply a fact. Whereas, if we put those dollars into a new, or slightly used, boat that already had all of those systems and upgrades, we would likely be able to re-sale a newer boat and recover a much larger percentage of the amount we purchased her for. Hence, by buying a newer boat, we would undoubtedly minimize our loss if, for whatever reason, we had to sell her. The reality of it pained us, but it could not be ignored or denied. If we overhauled, all of that money would simply be embedded into Plaintiff’s Rest. Six zeros forever fiber-glassed into her hull, come what may. Would we enjoy the hell out of her with all of her new systems and the new places she would take us? Absolutely. But she would never be able to give us any portion of our overhaul money back. So, under the minimizing our loss category it was Niagara 00, New Boat 01. But, I mentioned “come what may.” That was our next quandary: insurance.
Another sad truth that struck us in wrestling with this decision: a large financial sum dumped into Plaintiff’s Rest would not change her insurable hull value. There would be no way to insure her for any amount that could guarantee we could recoup any portion of the cost of the overhaul if the worse happened. The upgrade itself was not insurable. This was a major concern. Having just (barely) survived Hurricane Sally in September of 2020, Phillip and I (and every sailor in Pensacola) are all too aware of how possible it is for a hurricane to sneak up on you in the Gulf and devastate your community, and most of the boats in it. If the worst happened, and another hurricane walloped us next year and, sadly, sunk our Niagara, our insurance company would only pay up to her hull value, which is a mere fraction of what it would cost to overhaul her.
Her surviving would be our only protection and that’s simply not guaranteed. Particularly where her extensive repairs, and the time they would require, would likely leave her, yet again, in Pensacola—well within the hurricane box—for hurricane season next year. Our plan, if we did keep her, was to haul out at the first sign of a storm and keep her hauled the entire hurricane season 2021, but that’s still no guarantee she’d survive inside the box. What was worse, at the time (December of 2021) our insurance on the Niagara was set to cancel in April with no other insurers writing policies at the time, due to the massive hurricane damage on the coast. So, there was a chance we would not be able to insure her at all, even for just a fraction of the money we were about to put into her. If we did overhaul our boat and she suffered some devastating damage in the coming years, our loss would be total. With a new(er) boat, however, we could easily insure not only the boat but all of her bells and whistles, too, and, at the very least, recoup our purchase price if something were to happen to her. Considering the insurance, over and above the inability to recoup any of our overhaul dollars in a resale, put the Niagara at another disadvantage: Niagara 00; New Boat 02.
MAXIMIZING OUR (NON-ECONOMIC GAINS) – LIFE ABOARD A COMPLEX BOAT
This realization got Phillip and I seriously thinking about going an entirely different direction. Should we get a … we banished the thought the minute it struck our minds. But maybe it’s time to … Scandalous! After enough toying around with it—a back and forth, end over end conversation that unraveled and rewired us—and considering the gravity of the cost, the repercussions, and the life we wanted to live going forward, we finally started to allow ourselves to at least entertain the thought of … (don’t say it … okay say it!) … getting a new boat. The minute this little door unlocked in our minds it instantly flooded our brains. It was a Pandora’s Box of wonders, fears, and emotions. A new boat? More systems? More water? Hot water? We could have hot water? Copious amounts of it? Fuel, too? A generator? AC, could it be? Don’t say it! Say it. But, Jesus, the complexity of those systems?! I’ll be honest, lithium kind of blows my mind. I don’t understand its voodoo magic. I also don’t know how to pickle a water maker. I’ve never worked on a hot water heater. I don’t want more thru-hulls. And, a boat with all of those extra systems will undoubtedly have to be bigger. Phillip and I were fully aware that in adding all of the things we were talking about adding to our Niagara, it would cramp what little extra stow space we felt blessed to have. But, we didn’t really want anything too much bigger, or heavier, as our Niagara had proven over the years to be just the right size for Phillip and I to single-hand as needed and easily jointly maneuver her or (when needed) man-handle her, even, if the occasion called for it.
Honestly, toying with the idea of a newer, bigger, more complicated, more costly boat wasn’t an instant “Yes!” for us, as we have always (always!) stuck to our mantra to K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple Sailor. Phillip and I adore the simplicity of Plaintiff’s Rest and relish in the fact that we know her. Every nut, every bolt. We know how to troubleshoot and repair every system. There is a lot of value in reaching that status, and we would simply be giving all of that up in switching to a new boat. Sure, much of our knowledge base—the mechanics of the diesel engine, the physics of plumbing and pressure, how pumps work, how to change the impeller, how to wire gizmos up, running batteries in parallel versus series, all things that function marginally the same on all boats—would translate, but not all of it. Purchasing a newer boat, with all the bells and whistles, would require a considerable amount of new time devoted to research and learning all of the new, far more complex systems as well as maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing them. However, if we wanted to work aboard, which would be a heck of lot easier in a comfortable, spacious, quiet, climate-controlled interior cabin, Phillip and I had to take that lifestyle with all of the fancy systems it would require. As with just about everything when it comes to boats, it was a tradeoff. For that reason, this consideration—going from simple to complex—was a bit tougher than the first and resulted in only a slight win for New Boat: Niagara 00.4; New Boat 02.6.
Quality (of Life Aboard)
With New Boat in the lead, however, I think this final factor became our real tipping point. Our goal was to maximize our quality of life aboard by finding a boat that would not only allow us to minimize our loss (if the world flipped itself on its head again, or our health or financial circumstances changed) either through insurance or resale but one that would also let us live and work comfortably aboard full-time, that would carry us safely and quickly everywhere but was also fun to day-sail (think, not an 8-foot draft tank), that was practical but exceptionally well-built, beautiful but as simple as comfort would allow. Simply put, we wanted to find a premiere ocean cruiser. This sent us skittering down approximately 43.29 different paths (two more tickets for the tea cups please), considering boat after boat, slightly used, newly built, ones on back-order, others that were turn-key. We looked at Tartans, Hylases, Hallberg Rassies, for a brief crazy minute, the twin-keeled Sirius 40 deck saloon, even the aluminum-hulled Ovni 40. We were all over the place! But, we let our quest to maximize what we wanted to get out of the boat guide us in asking the important questions. What systems and design features were truly the most important to the life we wanted to live aboard?
This was our short, shifting list:
Exceptional build quality with well thought-out design throughout
Designed and equipped for crossing oceans
Comfortable and intuitive design features for real world use
Flexible sail plan that just the two of us would feel comfortable handling
A draft under seven feet
A mast height less than 65 feet
Ideally no more than 40 feet in length
Self-sufficiency built into the design (i.e., adequate diesel and water tanks)
Alternative energy sources and impressive battery bank (ideally solar and lithium batteries)
Space to potentially install a water maker or generator
Comfortable and moderate cockpit (not too big but not too small) with the ability to brace and lay down while offshore and lounge and live-in when on anchor
We liked the deck saloon or at least a close feel to it that offered an easy transition, and a connection, from cockpit to saloon
Just one helm with the ability to walk around it comfortably getting in/out of the water
Great visibility of the waterline 360-degrees
Once I saw newer boats have “workshops” that became an Annie must
A performance sailor
An interior layout that we liked
Exceptional space for stowage
In other words, a Unicorn!
All of these things offered a completely different—not easier—but a more opportunistic, comfortable, safer cruising lifestyle. She would be more costly, sure, bigger to handle and dock, sure, more maintenance, sure, but …
Can you feel it? You’re starting to tip! Stay tuned next time. Now that we have shared our thought process on whether to overhaul our 1985 Niagara 35 versus buying a new or slightly used boat, we’re excited to share our boat hunt with you. Boy was it dizzying! If you were shopping for a new or slightly used boat right now, tell us, what boats would you consider to be at the top of your list?
Any guesses as to what boat we decided to go with are welcome!
Errrnnt … Errrnnnt. We interrupt your regular programming to bring you a special feature! Shipyard Annie talks rot in the May issue of SAIL Magazine. This was a pretty fun project (that I was able to take on myself) when we were hauled out, doing some engine repairs and upgrades back in 2018. We found the starboard stringer under the engine (that sits right beneath the raw water pump, so it was not surprising) had rotted away a good bit from all of those prior raw water leaks. But, never fear! Annie with her oscillating multi-tool was sent to the rescue! I cut the rot out into an open square section (’twas not easy in that tight spot), then fit two pieces of Coosa board, glassed in and glassed over, to reinforce and repair the stringer and *voila*! Westie was back in action! Many thanks to the folks at SAIL Magazine for sharing this fun project. If you pick up a copy of the May issue and see the article, let them know! We’ll get back to our BIG DECISION on overhauling the boat next time. Stay tuned! : )