And the Survey Says …

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. 

Smiling sailors during our first informal inspection around New Years Eve

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. 

Me steering under Jim’s watchful eye!

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. 

Stepping Foot Aboard Ubiquitous

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.

Back in Annapolis! It was lovely around Christmas time with the holiday lights still up.

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.

The First Outbound 46 We Looked At: s/v Ubiquitous (2015)

“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.

Boat Name

UBIQUITOUS

Specs

Builder: Outbound Yachts HYBC Designer: Carl Schumacher Keel: Fin

Dimensions

LOA: 46 ft 0 in
Beam: 13 ft 6 in
LWL: 40 ft 3 in
Maximum Draft: 5 ft 6 in Displacement: 28000 lbs Ballast: 10000 lbs
Bridge Clearance: 63 ft 6 in Headroom: 6 ft 5 in

Engines

Total Power: 80 HP

Engine 1:
Engine Brand: Yanmar Year Built: 2015
Engine Model: 4JH80 Engine Type: Inboard Engine/Fuel Type: Diesel Engine Hours: 1580 Propeller: 3 blade propeller Drive Type: Direct Drive Engine Power: 80 HP

Tanks

Fresh Water Tanks: (200 Gallons) Fuel Tanks: (190 Gallons)

Accommodations

Number of single berths: 2 Number of double berths: 2 Number of cabins: 2 Number of heads: 2

Electrical Equipment

Electrical Circuit: 12V

Outside Equipment/Extras

Electric windlass

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

Deck Features

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

Electrical

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.

New (2020) upgraded E34 AGM start battery. Corrosion resistant tinned copper wire

Marinco 110 volt / 30 amp shore power cord and deck fitting.

House battery bank consists of 12 Calb 180 A-hr LiFePO4 in 3P4S configuration for 540 A- hr useable.

Flexible soliban solar panels (on bimini) 2x 100w with Victron MTTP controller

(2) 120 amp Alternators, Yanmar Factory Option

Dual alternators have Balmar MC-612 dual alternator programmable regulator with temperature sensing.

Victron inverter/charger 3kW Victron Color GX display

Victron BMV-700 Battery Monitor
Balmar Smart Gauge SG200 Battery Monitor

Wind generator – 400 w

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

Electronics

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

Propulsion

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.

Steering

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

Galley

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

Interior Features

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

Lighting

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

Aft Cabin

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

Aft Head

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

Forward Head

Fiberglass molded shower
Scandvik bulkhead mounted Hand-held shower Raritan PH 2 Head
Dorade with inside closure

Forward Cabin

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

Scandvik faucet

Ground Tackle

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

Lewmar handheld windless remote control

200 feet 5/16 Hi tensile

Rocna 33 (73 lb) anchor
Fortress FX-37 stern anchor and 200’ 3-strand rode, 40 feet chain 6 12” stainless steel mooring cleats

I know, right?! Whooooaaaa … take a breath.

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!

Our Ideal Boat: The Outbound 46

“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!

The Tipping Point – Is It Time for a New Boat?

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. 

Resale

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.

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. 

Complexity

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?

OUR LIST

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
  • Proven design 
  • 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
  • Minimal freeboard 
  • 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!

First photo together at the helm of our Niagara and our … new boat (I’m not telling … yet!) taken eight years apart almost to the day! Life is short, fast, but exceptionally wild and good!

Rot Not! Article in SAIL Magazine

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! : )

Plaintiff’s Rest Overhaul – The Short List

Time.  It’s slipping.  No, it’s skittering, skyrocketing away.  Whatever new warp speed we have found ourselves in—be it a product of COVID, today’s information-overload era, the rapidity of global change, or just age (I’m almost forty)—it has told Phillip and I one thing: If the world can change entirely tomorrow, it matters more than ever how you spend today.  Meaning, whatever serious cruising Phillip and I had been merely planning to do in our lives, the planning period is over.  Now is the time.  That brought us immediately to our next question: What all do we need to do to the boat to make her truly ready to carry us safely and comfortably across oceans.  I share this with you all to see if you would consider or make the same upgrades and/or what different projects you would take on if you were preparing an older, solid boat for live-aboard, faraway cruising. 

Note, our Niagara, as is, is certainly capable of crossing oceans.  She’s strong as hell, reinforced everywhere it really matters. 

Pounding her way to Cuba in 2016.

And, she is comfortable, not luxurious, but comfortable.  But, she does not have heat or AC, no hot water heater, generator, water maker, or bow thruster, which means we don’t have to absorb the cost and time required to maintain all of those complicated systems.  Her simplicity also allowed us to learn her every nut, bolt, and quirk so we can fix any problem ourselves, a status that takes years to earn and not an asset we dismissed lightly because adding new, foreign (to us) systems would also mean we would have to learn them and get used to troubleshooting and repairing them.  “Research time!” we say aboard Plaintiff’s Rest.  But, it’s a task that is usually accompanied with a cocktail, so it’s entirely bearable.  There were simply some additional systems and upgrades our boat definitely needed to start truly traversing the world.  So, grab your cocktail and let’s dig in to our Plaintiff’s Rest Overhaul (the short list):

Propulsion

There’s no denying it.  Our Westerbeke 27A diesel engine is original to the boat.  She’s 36 years old.  Just a couple of years shy of my age.  While we have heard diesel engines can go a good 5,000 – 7,000 hours (on a good run), Phillip and I were already approaching 4,000 and have already had several travel setbacks and delays due to engine failure.  If we were going to get our boat ready to travel the world, the smart decision would be to just go ahead, bite the bullet, and re-power.  With the additional glass work this would likely require in the engine room to modify the stringers and gussets to allow the boat to properly accept and operate under new engine power, this would likely be a fairly substantial and costly project, but necessary for peace of mind in our opinion.

Auto-Pilot

While we do have a very strong hydraulic, below-decks Simrad auto-pilot, it is a model so old that they don’t make the same drive anymore.  We joke that when we call Simrad for help troubleshooting it, they have to patch us over to some old guy in a hut in Alaska who worked for Simrad when they used to produce our model.  Because Phillip and I have also had several, rather impactful travel setbacks due to auto-pilot failure, we had already vowed (well before Covid or Hurricane Sally, or any other factor that influenced this list) that whenever we truly shoved off to go worldwide cruising, we would change our auto-pilot (all three components: drive, computer, and interface) to a newer model that would allow us to carry an immediate, snap-in spare.  Our days of hand-steering are through!  Because adaptation to a new, different-sized ram would likely also require more glass work in the engine room (to modify our current auto-pilot shelf in the port lazarette), this would also be a pretty substantial and costly job as well, but, again, vital in our minds.  On our boat, we view our auto-pilot as the most capable crew member of the trip.  He gets a name, repeated encouragement and flattery, and any snacks he wants on his midnight shifts. 

Solar Power

When Hurricane Sally ripped through Pensacola in September 2020, she not only claimed many beautiful vessels, she also destroyed a majority of docks in Pensacola.  By the time we hauled out after the storm, any vessel that had survived the hurricane but that did not need to be immediately hauled out, had already limped over to any available dock that was left.  Dockage in Pensacola in the fall and winter of 2020 was seemingly non-existent.  Knowing this, Phillip and I decided soon after the storm (before we made this list) that we would add more solar to the boat—likely an additional large panel on the dodger, and perhaps more panels on deck—so that the boat could keep herself sufficiently powered up to activate and run the bilge pumps in case she had to stay on the hook for a while awaiting an available dock in Pensacola.  So, more solar.  Check.  Thankfully, advances in solar technology have made the panels themselves ridiculously affordable and the install is really so simple I can (and did!) it virtually on my own.  Well, with the help of the immensely cheerful Lyall at www.sunpoweredyachts.com, whom I highly recommend for solar upgrades.  We ended up going from 200 watts before Hurricane Sally (a 100 watt panel and two (2) 50 watt panels on the dodger), to replacing the hurricane-ravaged dodger panels with two (2) 50 watt panels and a 110 watt panel, and adding a larger 170-watt panel on the dodger.  This increased our solar intake to an impressive 430 watts, plenty for the hook and the ocean. 

Lithium Batteries

With our four wet-cell battery bank (which consisted of essentially four golf cart batteries), Phillip and I could go roughly 3-4 days on the hook without having to crank, but we would often turn off the fridge for passage to make sure we had enough power to run the auto-pilot and instruments.  We definitely had enough power to comfortably cruise locally and shove off on a 5-10 day passage, but more power would certainly make an ocean crossing safer and more comfortable.  For this reason, we welcomed the idea of replacing our wet-cell batteries with a new lithium bank as they are becoming more and more popular and accessible.  Our buddy Brandon with www.perdidosailor.com had installed a new bank on a catamaran a couple of years back and he was impressed with their size, weight, and performance.  He also felt the safety factor of fire was slight and worth the risk in light of the overwhelming added benefits.  For this reason, and with more solar power going in that we would want to harness and preserve, Phillip and I were planning to change our wet cell bank on the Niagara to a lithium bank.  This would be a pretty substantial project requiring structural work to safely house the new bank, as well as a new battery management system and perhaps battery charger, etc. (or perhaps the addition of a duo-charger) to make this transition. 

Drinking Water

Aboard our Niagara 35, we carry 80 gallons of water (40 gallons under each saloon settee) that we treat as grey water for cleaning, bathing, washing, etc.  Phillip and I always purchased filtered water for our drinking water, which were typically housed in 12-15 one-gallon jugs that we stashed and stowed in various places around the boat.  This also meant every week or two we had to find a way to get to town to fill our drinking jugs and carry them back to the boat as well as stopping at a fuel dock or marina every few weeks to fill the tanks below decks.  While this worked well for the coastal cruising and short hops we had taken so far on Plaintiff’s Rest, if we were truly going to shove off to sail the Caribbean, and cross the Atlantic to Portugal, Spain, France, and beyond, Phillip and I felt a water-maker would add comfort and safety.  We were considering the portable Rainman unit that we could simply bring up into the cockpit when we needed to make water, throw different hoses overboard, and make water into drinking jugs and our saloon tanks.  But, we wanted to consider, more fully, installing the unit into the boat and adding (don’t say it!) a thru-hull to accompany it.  Either way, this would be a pretty minor, but profound and significant “qualify of life” upgrade to our boat!

Tankage

On our Niagara, we have a 30-gallon diesel tank under the starboard settee and, as mentioned, two 40-gallon tanks of water under the saloon settees.  For long-term cruising this is really not much.  We burn roughly half a gallon of fuel an hour while motoring, which gives us about 60 hours of motoring out of the tank on a single passage.  Considering the ten-day passage we had been planning to the BVIs in November, 2020, this would severely limit us if the wind shut down and we had a need to motor, to avoid ship traffic or reefs and rocky shores.  For this reason, for our BVI attempt, we added an additional three 5-gallon jerry cans of fuel, in addition to the typical three we usually carry for an offshore passage.  While this did increase our fuel capacity, traveling offshore with that many jerry cans on the deck added weight, reduced our visibility of the waterline from the cabin below, and made traversing the side decks more difficult.  So, it was not ideal.  We also carried an additional 5-gallon water jerry on the lifelines as well which added to the deck weight and clutter.  But, this only brought us up to 60 gallons of diesel and approximately 100 gallons of water, considering our dozens of drinking gallons below.  In all, not ideal.  Do-able but not ideal.  For this reason, we had been toying with the idea of trying to find some space below where we could install a larger diesel tank or additional water tanks.  We are not sure, yet, whether we will take this task on as we know this will limit storage for food, tools, and spares as well.  Not to mention wine!  Blasphemy!  But, additional tankage would undoubtedly improve our boat’s capabilities and increase the amount of time we could safely and comfortably travel offshore, so it was worth consideration.

In Conclusion

We knew going into it, that this was going to be a pretty extensive, and costly, overhaul but we felt these particular systems and upgrades were necessary to make our Niagara 35 truly capable of carrying us safely and comfortably across oceans to new international destinations while allowing us to more comfortably live and work aboard full-time.  Finding ourselves on this new path, thanks to such sweeping, unexpected changes in our lives—Covid and Hurricane Sally—felt odd, exciting, surprising, but mostly awesome.  Whatever we chose to do and wherever path our decisions took us down, the one thing we did know was that this was the start of an entirely new chapter for us.  Big changes are coming at HaveWindWillTravel!

What 2020 Taught Us

Change.  Uncertainty.  Creativity.  Perseverance.  2020 taught us many things.  For Phillip and I, it was truly a wake-up call, in that we have always been committed to traveling as far and as broad as our work, lifestyles, and incomes allow, but we never dreamed the end-goal that we are committed to (international travel) could simply disappear, be shut down, like the flip of a switch.  *click*. “Sorry we’re closed,” said The World.  The pandemic showed Phillip and me many of the things we thought would always be there—open ports of call, the ability to travel anywhere as long you have a passport, the freedom of it all—just might not be there tomorrow.  What a revelation.  As I’m sure it was for many of you with all of the things you had planned to do: start a business perhaps, start cruising, finally take that trip to Jordan, or South Africa, or Peru, take your kids overseas, finally attend that once in a lifetime concert, go to a Super Bowl game, finally make that trip you’ve been promising for years to visit a friend or family member who lives abroad.  We all thought we would have plenty of time to do those things.  But, with the change and uncertainty that 2020 brought to those plans, it also pushed us all towards creativity and perseverance. 

Out of COVID, I was delighted to see people dig deep creatively and start creating art they had been holding back for a lifetime.  People got creative in businesses and services they offered.  Entrepreneur opportunities they felt they never had time for before—when their world was full to the brim with all of their regular, everyday “stuff to do”—now people suddenly had time and a mad desire to finally tackle those things way down on their list.  It was inspiring to watch many people shift and change direction under the pressure.  Like diamonds forming, I saw brave, new artists and musicians emerge.  People who had never really written before were now finally trying to write their first book (and coming to me for self-publishing advice) or finally starting that blog they felt they always had in them.  People built new structures, created new products, took up new hobbies, and designed new systems and solutions to problems they had previously always faced but never—in the mad swirl of life as normal—had time to try to address. 

It all reminded me of an observation the dockmaster, Steven, in Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands, Bahamas pointed out to Phillip and me when we were keeping our boat there for hurricane season 2019.  If any of you have traversed the Berry Islands in the last few decades as well as more recently, you have surely noticed the sad atrocity that has become of Little Stirrup Cay, now known as Carnival Cruiseline’s “Coco Cay.”  It is an absolute circus.  A monstrosity of money, forced distraction, and shallow entertainment.  It is USA’s version of the typical American “vacation” on steroids.  Where there was once untouched, pristine Bahamian beauty to explore, enjoy and use creatively, entertainment is now shoved in your face on a platter. You don’t have to put any thought into how you spend your time. Just slide down the stories-tall, super-powered water slide, go for a hot air balloon ride, thump to ear-busting electric music, down five sugary Coco Crash drinks, alongside a pile of processed, fried some-kinda fish (we think), and then lie down and bake on a crowded, loud beach … with 2,000 of your closest friends.  Then head back to your enclosed, air-conditioned cabin on your oil-guzzling cruise ship so big it blocks the sun.  Sign me up.  NOT!

Seeing the very visual transition from untouched island to multi-colored madhouse makes me think Coco Cay is a metaphor for the world—a wild, distracting circus that has consumed its own resources.

Little Stirrup Cay pre-Coco
Coco Cay
Little Stirrup Cay’s pristine, isolated beach pre-Coco
A beach day, Coco-style, with 2,000 of your close friends : (

While I will readily admit the “circus” is good for the tourist economy of the Berry Islands, and it certainly employs hundreds of Bahamians who live around Coco Cay and who ferry over every day to “clock in” and man the monkeys, when I asked Steven how he felt about Coco Cay, he was very candid.  “It sucked da creativity outta da locals,” he said.  Steven explained those who had been bringing in lobsters or other fish to sell, weaving palm frond baskets to bring to the market, playing live music for tips, braiding hair in their own home-built pop-up salon, cooking and selling their homemade heirloom recipes to cruisers or marina transients simply stopped when they all found work at Coco Cay.  “Now dey jus get up, go to Coco, work ‘n come back.  No time for anyting creative.  Too busy on the clock,” as he tapped his watch with a frown and a shrug.  That really stuck with me when Steven said it (back in 2019, mind you, well before any of us had ever heard the word “Coronavirus” or “social distancing”).  Then, when I saw what COVID did globally—shutting down the Coco Cay employment factories of the world if you will—I was reminded of Steven’s words as I watched people find their creativity again and find new methods to express themselves and earn an income.  That part of COVID was actually very cool.  The creativity and the perseverance that resulted. Where previously, the world, functioning normally, simply handed us all a platter of things to do everyday without any room for choice as to how we were actually spending our time. Once COVID hit, many of us found all of this time now available to make a more conscious, intentional decision as to how we spent it. And, in that space, many of us got creative and far more careful about how we spent our time.

All of that said, 2020 definitely made Phillip and I scrutinize our own future plans through a much different lens, basing our decisions now on the possibility that everything could change in a moment.  Because we now know it can.  In 2021 or the years to come ports could shut down, borders could close, travel as we knew it, pre-COVID, may not always be as open as we had always simply expected it to be.  With that mindset, Phillip and I started asking ourselves some really intense questions about how we wanted to spend our time over the next 5-10 years (probably our best, healthiest remaining cruising years) and what we would need to do to make that happen, particularly in the face of a still-lingering, and perhaps re-igniting, pandemic.  Our simple answer:

IT IS TIME TO GO.

WE NEED TO GET THE BOAT READY TO TRULY SHOVE OFF AND TRAVERSE THE WORLD.

To do this, we needed to prepare the boat to make the long voyages we have always dreamed of, and enable her to stay off the grid as long as possible (because the grid may be shut down from time to time), while allowing us to work comfortably aboard as that is now easier than ever to do post-pandemic.  In essence, it was time to finally make our boat all that we had dreamed her to be when we first bought her and start making concrete plans and goals to get us to the point where Phillip and I could cross the Atlantic, just the two of us, and begin cruising all over Europe, to Spain, Portugal, back to the Azores, France, the UK, the Med, Italy, Greece, all of it.  As far as the boat could go, capably and comfortably, became our immediate goal.

With all of the change and uncertainty it brought to the world, COVID taught us: It is time to make our own future and go. 

Hurricane Sally, having survived her, told us—pandemic or peril—we would persevere, if we got creative.

On our “Coronavirus Cruise” we called it, sailing our limping boat back home from the Berry Islands in March, 2020.

And, so we now begin the telling of the tale that will turn the page in our scripts, as 2020 did for many of us.  The year of the pandemic and the hurricane that brought us to the brink set Phillip and I spinning on a new trajectory.  Next, we’ll start sharing with you the creation of our Atlantic-crossing, live-aboard list, the needs, the wants, the desires, the headaches, the worries, the fears.  We were contemplating a re-power, a water maker, a new auto, more solar, more tankage, satellite wifi, heat, AC?  There were only a thousand things to consider and start tallying up.  It is an exciting new chapter, followers, that we are chomping at the bit to share with you.  And, it all ignited as a result of the change, uncertainty, creativity, and perseverance that sprouted out of that weird, wild year.  Stay tuned and, tell us, what did 2020 teach you?

Engine Crank FAIL! (An Ordeal or an Adventure?)

Got a question for you.  How many times have you started a story with: “Remember that time I did everything right?”  Not many, I would assume.  The best stories, mine at least, typically start with: “Oh man, remember that time I screwed everything up?”  … I’m pretty good at that.  But, as my buddy Bob Bitchin wisely reminds me, a screw-up can be one of two things: an adventure or an ordeal.  The only thing that moves that toggle switch one way or the other is your attitude.  So, in line with the ultimate purpose of this blog—to share the reality (which includes the mistakes) of cruising—let me share this fun little Annie “adventure” with you.  My first post-Sally engine crank … FAIL!

February 21, 2021:

Our boat has been on the hard for almost five months.  Five months.  That’s way too many months!  But, we were grateful to have her safe and in good hands and undergoing repairs.  Considering what she had been through in Sally, we were lucky to have her intact.  So, a slow repair process at the mercy of the insurance company, albeit frustrating, was not entirely intolerable as long as she was coming back together.  And, Plaintiff’s Rest certainly was!  Her damaged rudder had been dropped and shipped off to Foss Foam, with a new one being shipped back to her shortly.  Her extreme dock rash and other bumps and gouges had been repaired, and polished, and her chewed-up jib cars replaced.  Plaintiff’s Rest would soon be ready to splash!  Ready to sail!

In honor of this upcoming momentous moment, the boys at the shipyard were getting everything put back together to prepare her for her first sail since Sally.  I was at the yard that day overseeing operations and had asked the boys if they would hook up a hose so I could turn the engine over to make sure everything was running smoothly for the day of the splash.  Westie (our 27A Westerbeke) had not been cranked since September 23, 2020, almost five months to the day.  He’d been up on the jacks, sitting idly, just waiting.  Personally, I hate to have an engine sit.  I imagine all of the little rubber gaskets and things inside getting super dry and crumbly.  That thing is meant to run, get warm, stay lubed up, GO!  I was eager to turn him over for the first time.  I imagined hot, viscous oil pouring happily into all of his nooks and crannies and hearing him purr in gratitude.  (Yes, Westie, when happy, purrs.)

Having been five months since I last did it, however, I found I was embarrassingly rusty.  There were several Perdido Sailor crew members in the cockpit waiting for me to get my act together to turn the engine over.  I checked the fluids, as Phillip and I always do before we crank, although I found I had forgot (momentarily) where we kept the blue paper towels to do that job.  I forgot I needed a flashlight to look up in the corner where the coolant overflow bin is located.  I forgot to jiggle the oil dipstick one more time so it didn’t drip a bead of oil into the bilge. I was just … off my game, you know?  Have any of you ever felt that way about a procedure on the boat that you haven’t done in a long time?  Plus, all of the guys were watching and waiting on me.  All evidence to the contrary, I distinctly do not like to be watched or, much worse, waited on.  So, I was kind of … fumbly.  (Yep, that’s a word today.)

I did remember to grab the key as I hopped up into the cockpit, ready to crank.  Last minute, I remembered to check that the kill switch was down, that we weren’t in gear, and I gave her a little throttle.  But, right before I was about to crank I remembered.  Darnit!  The battery.  “Just a sec,” I told the guys as I hopped down below and turned on the start battery.  Pop back up and I’m ready for action.  Are any of you thinking I’m missing something right now …  

I press the glow plugs for my usual fifteen seconds (which felt like an eternity with all of the guys there standing in silence – although I know the thought of their stares was only in my own head).  Then I pressed the start button and voila!  Westie turned right over!  It felt therapeutically good to hear him running.  Brandon and I had a quick debate about how much throttle to give him to start (he thought it should be less, I thought more, as I hate to hear Westie rattle and sputter).  About fifteen seconds had gone by, when I finally (because fifteen seconds is typically a looonnngg time for this) remembered to look back over the stern to make sure water was coming out.  I typically do that right after I crank, every time, even though I can hear the water pumping.  It’s just habit.  But, what was I distinctly “out of” that day?  Habit! 

“There’s no water!  Crap!  Brandon!  I didn’t … There’s no water!  I gotta kill it.” 

I killed the engine and sat there stewing.  Had I really, after all these months, all of these extensive repairs on her, all of this babying of her, and everything she had done to hold on at that ragged dock then thunder her way to the shipyard, and I had just cranked my boat DRY?  (Something I have never done by the way.) That was the “thanks” I paid to Plaintiff’s Rest after all of that?!

Turns out, yes.  I had.  I was furious with myself.  For whatever reasons—being nervous, out of habit, out of the water—it just hadn’t dawned on me to … say it with me …

MAKE SURE THE SEAK COCK WAS OPEN.

Dag nabbit!  I mean, we weren’t floating.  It just didn’t feel natural. 

To his credit, Brandon was doing a very good job of playing my therapist that day as I cursed and beat myself up over it.  He said it had only been a short time, that it was probably fine, that if I turned the engine back over and water came out, I shouldn’t wouldn’t worry about it.  That he wouldn’t worry about it (and Brandon is our ultimate gage of whether we should worry about it).  Although I couldn’t help but worry about it, there was nothing I could do about it.  I stomped down the companionway stairs, opened the sea cock (while calling myself a colossal dummy) then we cranked the engine again and I was overwhelmingly thrilled to see water coming immediately out of the exhaust. 

While I may have thrown a flange off of the impeller, I took comfort in the fact that I knew replacing the impeller in our raw water pump was already on our “short list” so I could chase that guy down and remedy that problem, assuming I caused it, then.  I did find supreme comfort in knowing, even though I had just royally screwed up, that I knew exactly how to fix it. 

As a result, I was immediately comforted and reminded of an anecdote that brought me supreme peace—a delightful … attitude, if you will—in that moment.  It is the reason I shared this story.  Some good friends of ours (Stephen and Beth, if you’re reading : ) told us a while back, when they were nervous to begin some remodeling and repairs on their house, thinking they might “screw everything up,” Beth’s father, an accomplished carpenter, had told them: “There ain’t anything you can screw up so badly that I can’t fix it,” as he handed Stephen a hammer.  In that moment, I felt that way.  I had reached a point on my own boat that there wasn’t any system I wasn’t willing to dismantle and troubleshoot, because I was confident I could either fix it, or learn how to.  In essence, there wasn’t anything on that boat that, if I screwed it up, I couldn’t fix.   What a supremely perfect attitude, no?

So, let me hear it folks.  Have any of you ever accidentally cranked with the sea cock closed?  And, if so, did it turn out to be an ordeal or an adventure?

Annie and Westie, getting to know one another in 2013. Know that he has since forgiven me for this “adventure.” : )

Tech Talk: Installing 380W of New Solar!

Isn’t solar power just awesome?  Using pure sunshine, something that is entirely free, that we all have access to, and that doesn’t cost us a dime to charge our little boat batteries and keep us happily floating and going?  I care none if this makes me appear the quintessential sun nerd.  It just warms my heart (get it ; ) to be able to operate the electronics on our boat from a source that is not only eco-friendly for our poor ailing earth, but that is also super affordable and … (drumroll) easy enough that Annie can install it!  Win.  Win.  Let’s dig in. 

So, as many of you know, our brave little boat survived a hurricane!  Whaaaattt?  Say it isn’t so.  So.  These things happen.  And, while thankfully she pulled through not too scathed, the solar panels on her bimini did not.  (And I know many of you are thinking: What the heck were you doing leaving your bimini up for a hurricane?  Because we didn’t know until hours before that it was going to be a hurricane and we thought the solars might be necessary to power the bilge pumps if she did, God forbid, start taking on water.  Were we right in this thinking?  Likely not, but I can only say that with the beauty of hindsight.  Sally just caught us all off guard.)  Including our solar panels.  Here is a quick run-down of our pre-Sally set-up. 

We had three panels (one 100W and two 50Ws) Velcroed and stitched (for good Annie measure) to our bimini providing us with 200 watts total of solar power.  We combined the wiring for the panels into one heat-shrunk tube, affixed it to our bimini frame and then ran it into the deck on the starboard side via a gland that Brandon with Perdido Sailor helped us install. 

(Phillip and I were too scared back in 2014 to cut holes in our deck without supervision.  Thankfully, that’s long since gone to the wayside since I have become quite the proficient 610-hole-filler as needed.  Annie get your gun.  Pow!).

Once inside the boat, the solar wires then ran hidden in various lockers and cubbies down to this area beneath our aft-berth where we installed two MPPT controllers.

If you are curious what MPPT controllers are, in Annie-speak, they decide how much solar power the batteries need.  Our wet-cell bank has three stages of charging: bulk, absorption, and float.  I like to think of it as slowing down when coming up to a stop sign. You don’t go from 20 mph to stopped, instantly do you? I hope not. Typically, you first slow pretty rapidly (consider this bulk), then more slowly as you get closer to your stopping point (consider that a full battery) so the car doesn’t jerk at the end (that slower charge toward the end would be absorption), and then you’re sitting idle at the stop sign with the car ready to go once traffic is clear (that’s float).  I hope that helps some.  As a woman cruiser who tries (very hard) to be an equal to her male counterpart, I find I have to learn things at my own pace, in my own way, and find metaphors and analogies that make things *click* for me as sometimes (unfortunately many times) the way Phillip explains it just sounds like Hebrew.  I’ve often thought about writing a fun Your Boat, She-Splained book for women that helps explain systems that often seem overwhelming, though once you understand them, you find they are quite the opposite and totally manageable.  Ladies, let me know what you think of that idea (as I unapologetically digress).

Back to the solar.  Along with the MPPT controllers under the aft-berth, we also installed switches that allow us to turn the solar panels on and off.  For whatever reason, our battery charger did not seem like it when the solars were putting in at the same time as the charger was receiving shore power.  The charge would get funky.  So, we always turn our solars off before we plug into shore power and, just to avoid any other interference, when putting in juice from the alternator on the engine and simply turn them back on after we’ve killed the engine for the day.  It seemed the easiest fix. 

So, with the panels, switches, and MPPT controllers, it was a pretty simple set-up.  On a good sunny day, Phillip and I could generally put in 6-8 amps/hour at peak sunny hours, which translated to roughly 30-40 amps in a day.  With Phillip and I using approximately 40-50 amps on a typical anchor day, the solar panels would allow us, usually, to lose less power each day. Although we did still lose, not gain, we did so at a slower rate than before we installed the solar.  With the solar, we were able to stay on anchor for 3-5 days, depending on the sun, without having to crank the engine to charge the batteries.  It was honestly quite perfect as, after about four-or-so days, we either need to get back to the dock to work and/or re-provision, or, when we’re on an extended cruise, Phillip and I are ready by then to crank the engine, weigh anchor, and go scout out a new anchorage for the next few days.  While Phillip and I were perfectly content with this set-up (and quite honestly we liked that the panels were generally out-of-sight, out-of-mind) after Hurricane Sally we knew we would need far more solar! 

Why?  Shore power was in no way guaranteed, anywhere!  There wasn’t a dock, it seemed, in Pensacola that hadn’t been completely mangled by Sally, and those that had survived had been scooped up immediately by any limping boat that had weathered her and was desperate for a home.  Phillip and I had no idea what new dock Plaintiff’s Rest might call home once she splashed back after her repairs or, quite possibly, whether we would have to just leave her on the hook in a bayou and dinghy back and forth to her.  Knowing that latter option was a very likely scenario for us, we wanted her to be as powered-up as possible in case anything happened (a small water leak or other issue) while we were away and she was off shore power.  That was our initial reason to go from 200W, previously, to 380W.  But after Phillip and I saw how much power we could have been indulging in with the simple (and easy) addition of a 170W panel on the dodger, Phillip and I are now kicking ourselves for not having installed one there sooner.  But, c’est la vie. 

So, how did we come up with the plan for the new install?  This is my right and proper cue to introduce to you my Solar Savior, my Sun Sensai, the one, the only: LYALL with Sunpowered Yachts.  He came highly recommended by my good friend and exceptional sailor, Pam Wall, whose recommendations rarely disappoint.  Lyall certainly did not.  He was there for me every step of the way, answering my many tedious questions, sending me diagrams and photos and wiring instructions, even immediately shipping new parts when I had ordered the wrong ones (the blonde is real).  If you are going the solar route, save yourself infinite time and headache by letting Lyall be your first call.  He’s also got a lovely British accent that I can just never get enough of.  (This girl’s a sucker for an accent, can I get an “Amen!” from the ladies? : )

With Lyall’s help, we decided on two 50Ws on either side of the iso-lookout as we’d had before on the bimini, a 110W forward of the lookout on the bimini, and a new 170W on the dodger for a total of an impressive 380 watts.  While Phillip and I did debate the aesthetic of the huge, somewhat sci-fi-looking panel on the dodger—as we often stand and look out over the dodger while sailing so it would now become a major part of our “view”—we decided the extra power and security and safety it offered was worth the minimal diminution of our “pretty view” to the bow and the overall look of the boat. 

Lyall recommended this corrugated plastic material to install underneath them for extra support. You can get it at any Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Lyall walked me through the amperage parameters on the two EPSolar MPPT controllers we already had and determined they would work to regulate the new panels, although we discussed upgrading to new Victron contollers if that would be necessary.  Thankfully, it was not.  So, as long as the wiring running to our bimini was still good (meaning only the panels were damaged in Hurricane Sally, not the wiring), the install was really only going to require affixing the new panels to the canvas on the bimini, wiring them to the old wiring running up the bimini frame, installing one deck gland for the wiring of the new 170W panel on the dodger, and running that wiring down to the MPPT controllers.  It honestly was quite simple and Phillip and I were thrilled to find—when we brought the panels to the boat and hooked up the bimini wiring for the first time—that the wiring was working perfectly.  We were ready to install!

My only hang-ups were (and I do this often but can rarely remember the lesson) I ordered a length of wire from the dodger down to the MPPT controllers below that was too short.  Yes, I measured (but that’s never an offensive question) but I always forget that when you start running wires behind things they may not always be able to go the direct straight route you measured as they have to take funky turns and can only come through in certain places.  You know, it’s a boat.  Nothing’s easy.  But, the minute I told Lyall this in an email, he immediately shipped out the longer length of cord, without even charging me, saying he’d figure out when I shipped the other back.  I mean … can you even find customer service like that anymore? 

The second little glitch was the wiring of the two 50Ws on the bimini in parallel.  Lyall recommended this over wiring them in series as this would increase the amperage of the panels without increasing the voltage.  This was beneficial as we would be wiring the 110W and the two 50Ws to the same MPPT controller.  Lyall explained it would be better to combine the two 50Ws and 110W on one MPPT controller with the 170W by itself on the other MPPT controller because of the big disparity in the 50Ws and the 170W, claiming combining those two on the same controller would really bring the 170W down.  Lyall explained it as “you’re only as strong as your weakest player” which made total sense to me.  The wiring in parallel, however, did require two additional Y-branch connectors, which Lyall was happy to send me.  See diagram below and the need for the connectors. 

Phillip and I did have to make some extensions here and there as the length of wiring that comes on the panels (roughly 17”) was not long enough in a couple of locations to reach to the bundle of wires on our bimini frame (that could not be extended).  But, here is where mistakes sometimes make the happiest of accidents.  The “too-short” wire I had ordered ended up working beautifully for this purpose as we could easily cut it and re-attach the fittings to create the necessary extensions.  So it was kind of a blessing in disguise that I’d goofed.  (Reminder to all to not be so hard on yourself when you do that, sometimes you’re just setting up for a happy accident … ride it out before beating yourself up over it).  Installing the gland on the companionway roof wasn’t terribly hard either, just one drilled hole (for the wire to run through), pilot holes for the screws to mount it, and some butyl and we were in business.  Installing and mounting the switch below the aft berth and inserting the wires into the MPPT controllers took less than half an hour.  Once those tasks were knocked out, Phillip and I were ready to plug the new panels in, turn their switches on, and watch the juice pour in! 

And boy did it … not.  Unfortunately it was a very cloudy day the day Phillip and I first turned them on.  So initially we blamed it on that.  But, then the sun came out yet the input was still very disappointing until we realized … duh, the batteries were already full.  We’d only just turned off shore power less than a half-hour before and had hardly ran anything.  Dummies.  Once we figured that out, though, we came back on a super sunny day with the batteries needing juice, and we were tickled pink to see our new 380W bank putting in almost 14 amps an hour

My mind immediately began calculating.  We spend about 50-60 amps a day.  14 times 6 peak hours equals … 84 amps?!  Meaning, on a good sunny day, we would be putting in MORE than we used.  Meaning, adding “cushion” for cloudy days.  With this much solar, Plaintiff’s Rest could, in theory, stay on hook as long as she wanted.  What an incredible thought!  Needless to say Phillip and I were thrilled.  Feeling a little dumb that we hadn’t installed a big-ass panel on the dodger years ago, but hey, we’d never felt super power-starved before.  And, now, we were power rich baby!  All thanks to the sun.  And Lyall, my Sun Sensai!  If you go with Lyall at Sunpowered Yachts, mention Pam Wall’s boat Kandarik for a 10% discount.  You’re welcome! 

Overall, this entire solar panel project I think cost us around $1,000 including the panels, wiring, gland, and other little tidbits.  A very affordable price in our opinion to add such a critical and valuable component (more power supply) on the boat.  I hope many of you start planning your own solar panel install projects soon!  Next up, I’ll share more of our Hurricane Sally repairs.  You’ll be surprised to see the transformation of our rudder.  Stay tuned!