While it is still hard to believe (for us, although apparently not for fellow sailors who know Phillip and I well), it is true: In March, 2021, we sold our 1985 Niagara 35 and bought a new (to us) boat, a 2015 Outbound 46. s/v Ubiquitous. And, let me tell you. She’s both the beauty. And the beast. Ubiquitous is a sailing machine. A fast, capable, exceptional offshore performer. She’s also a luxurious, comfortable on-the-water home. She is everything we need and ask for, in perfect moderation, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with her. Let me introduce you.
But, we put eight years of blood, sweat, tears, and money into our Niagara 35? And, she was capable, strong, perfect in many ways at the time. What brought us to the tipping point? What finally pushed us to decide to sell her and start looking for a new boat? And, why the Outbound 46? Lucky for you, I’ve told the entire tale.
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. 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. 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.
Boats we considered: an Oyster 495, the new Island Packets (an IP349 or 439) with the Solent rig, a Pacific Seacraft 40, a Valiant 42, a Southerly 38, 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?
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.
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. 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.
I give you s/v Ubiquitous.
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.
Here’s the crazy thing. We didn’t even list her. We didn’t “show” her in the normal sense to anyone. We didn’t even hire a broker. It all happened so seamlessly. I guess when you have a boat as cared for as ours—as loved—with a price that is well worth the life she still has to live and the amazing journey she can still offer any hearty, willing sailor, it’s not surprising. Don’t get us wrong, Phillip and I did not decide to sell our boat because Plaintiff’s Rest is not capable of sailing around the world. She is. Just not quite as comfortably or safely. But capable she is. In droves. And, when this wonderful couple—not new to sailing, but new to owning and cruising their own boat—spent just a couple of hours on our boat crawling through all the cubbies and lockers and going through all the immense repairs, upgrades, and work Phillip and I had put into her, there was really nothing to debate. She’s a damn fine boat and that’s exactly what they wanted. That’s exactly what they deserved.
Let me joyously introduce to you Megan and Chris, the new owners of our Niagara 35.
This blog would not be complete without paying homage to the beautiful salty soul that launched our cruising chapter. The gallant 1985 Niagara 35 that we owned from April, 2013 to February, 2021.
Our old boat. Our old friend: Plaintiff’s Rest.
A 35-foot Hinterhoeller Niagara built in 1985, Plaintiff’s Rest is a classic sailing vessel fit to satisfy any sailor’s thirst for blue water.
I filmed a detailed tour of our boat if you want an in-depth look.
She is moderately heavy (don’t worry, unlike women of the human variety, she takes that as a compliment) so she points well and holds a steady course with little effort at the helm. She is also well-equipped with all of the necessary rigging and sails to get us due south and back (although the return trip is currently optional). The deck is also wide open (again, a compliment) and offers a great place to throw up a hammock and throw back a rum drink, preferably in that order, or you’re going to struggle with the hammock. Trust me.
Down below, she offers thirty-five whole feet of luxury at sea.
Well, luxury is a relative term. To us, she’s spacious and roomy and has all the bells and whistles we feel we need (including the appropriate number and location of drink holders throughout, a definite priority for me). She also has many design features, add-ons and accoutrements that I can neither pronounce nor understand at this time but I’m assured they are all very good sea-worthy things that make her a true, tested vessel.
Until I learn more about sailing and can really do her justice, the best I can say for now is that we knew the minute we stepped on board that she was the boat for us. For those of you who haven’t, shopping for a boat is a little like trying to find the right woman. One who will treat you right and do what needs to be done with little to no complaint. Sure, the slinky, sexy broad in the tight, leather number looks good and will go fast, but she’s going to cost you a pile of money and will probably require a lot of maintenance. Our boat is more like a jovial, thick-forearmed domestic model who keeps the house spotless and always smells like cake. That’s the kind of woman you really want, and that’s the kind of boat we found.
Update (January, 2014):
Well, not that I am any kind of sailing expert, but I have learned a bit since my first description of the boat when I started this blog back in February, 2013. I learned during the harrowing Gulf Crossing that she’s a helluva boat, built for blue waters, rough seas and just about anything these salty waters have in store for her.
I’ll never forget when she was heeling port to starboard, the swinging wildly 30 degrees either way with each mighty tip, and, one of my first times at the helm, my fingers gripped tight around the leather on the wheel, and I shouted to Phillip: “If you tell me (as she heels sharply to starboard) … she’s not going to tip over (as she groans violently back to port) … I’m going to believe you!” And, tip over she did not. That beautiful boat battled the dark waters of the Gulf in 4-6 foot seas for days and brought us back safely to shore. It was my first passage, and I’ll never forget it. I trust our boat to take us anywhere.
But, during, after and since, she has suffered some minor losses and undergone some significant repairs and upgrades. We lost the dinghy while crossing the Gulf (but she managed, miraculously, to navigate the treacherous waterways alone and make it back to us!). We lost the transmission mid-crossing and had to replace her while the boat spent the better part of two months stranded in Carabelle.
Since then, we’ve been taking her out gunkholing (a technical term I’ve learned) just about anytime the weather permits and she’s not out of commission for repairs.
We’ve done a lot of work on her since we got her home:
A thorough bottom job and repainting of the hull.
Changed out the battery bank.
Got creative with some outdoor camping chair canvas.
Replaced the gaskets, zincs and impeller in the coolant system and put in a new raw water strainer.
Replaced the suction tube in the head. Fuunnnn …
Redid the upholstery in the saloon.
All of this while still taking her out for some seriously breath-taking weekend cruises around Pensacola Bay, Red Fish Point, Fort McRae, Little and Big Sabine,
and finding time for all of our other hobbies, past-times and
Cruising is an adventure and we believe this beautiful boat has much in store for us. We plan to sail her as far as she’ll take us.
Life is short. Sail while you can.