“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!