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.
The Tipping Point: Is It Time For a New Boat?
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.
Our Ideal Boat: The Outbound 46
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.
Stepping Foot Aboard Ubiquitous
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.
Our Niagara’s New Adventure – Elle est Vivante!
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.
But, we finally got her home to Pensacola where she now spends her days tucked in nicely at Palafox Pier.
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.
Put her new name on the stern and splashed her.
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.
28 thoughts on “Boat”
She definitely looks yar…
I love this! Smells like cake! 🙂
BEAUTIFUL boat! We looked, lovingly, at the Niagaras. You and Phillip look like alot of fun and I hope we get to meet up someday along the Gulf Coast.
Thanks. We sure love it. Same to you two. There’s lots of fun to be had out there. We’ll definitely meet up with you guys at some point. We heart NOLA!!
Hi guys! Just found your site. Great posts!!! We’ll add you to our blogroll and follow your adventures 🙂
Jody & Peter
Where The Coconuts Grow
SV Mary Christine
Thanks Jody! We certainly appreciate the kind words. I just hit you up on your blog as well. We will definitely follow you to the coconut groves my fellow blogging friend. Take care and have fun out there!
Hi like your yacht, we’re hull 6, Phantasia, very cool where your batteries are under the floor, we are all put away for the winter.
Hey Mike. Phillip said he was familiar with Phantasia. We like your yacht, too! 6 is a lucky number! We love the easy battery and engine access. That boat was built with cruisers in mind. Glad to have you following along!
I just found your site because of Active Captain. I also sold my dental practice, home, cars, etc for the sailing life. My husband and I have been living aboard our 423 Beneteau for 2 years and have no regrets! My blog is more of a diary, but you can cruise through the entries to see where we’ve been on http://www.svluckofafool.com. Smooth sailing!
Mary and Dave
Wow, what a great story. I LOVE to hear from other people who kind of chucked it all to hop on a boat and really experience life. I’m proud of you. Thanks for following (I was so grateful to Jeff today for the promo). I’ll keep trying to crank out quality, engaging content. Thanks for following. Check out the book if you haven’t yet! Can’t wait to check out your blog!
She seems like an awesome boat! I love your description of the tippiness as your crossed the Gulf Stream 🙂
Oh, the weeble wobble bit?? Did you read that in the book? (If not, check it out). That’s about what it felt like though. Like she could wobble all day but never tip over. Thanks Ellen. Glad to have you on board! I’m going to keep sharing and hopefully inspiring others!
Just read some of your blog for the 1st time- I’m jealous – you’re beautiful, young, fun and best of all, a SAILOR! I have Niagara#192 (right before yours). I’m Silver Lining and live on the boat in Stonington, Ct. In the summer (my summer cottage). This is a really great cruising area with lots of beautiful coves and harbors. If you’re ever this way, give me a shout- I’m listed on Marylyn’s Niagara website list. By the way, your boat looks lovely. Best of luck on your Atlantic crossing. Sharon
Wow, Sharon! So cool to hear from you. Thanks for reaching out. 192, huh? How neat is that. We’ve met 194 as well. I think Niagara owners are a pretty tight bunch. Your area sounds beautiful. There’s a little tucked-away anchorage around here called Ingram’s Bayou that often reminds me of a secluded, pristine river up in the northeast somewhere. I’ll bet some of your beautiful nooks and crannies look like that. Thanks for the well wishes. If you like to read, I’m happy to send you free eCopies of my books! Would you like Salt of a Sailor?
Thanks so much for all the info you have posted related to your Niagara 35. I grew up in St. Catharines, where these boats were built, and have always loved the looks of them – the sweeping sheerline and nicely proportioned coachroof. My dad and his buddies used to hang around George Hinterhoeller’s shop and absorb his views on how sailboats ought to be built. He must have been convincing because many of them bought and sailed Hinterhoeller Sharks. One of my earliest sailing memories is standing night watch at age nine or so aboard a Shark during the Susan Hood race across Lake Ontario while the grown-ups napped below – I was instructed to keep a close eye out for lake freighters!
Nowadays I sail on Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, and searched for some time for a clean Niagara 31, but eventually settled on a pristine 1980 C&C Mk I. Interestingly this boat is nearly identical to a Niagara 31 in many details, including the interior layout and most components, which speaks to the close relationship between Hinterhoeller, Cuthbertson and Cassian in that era. On board you would have to be an owner to which of these two boats you were on!
Your videos have been most useful as I work through the must-do list on my own boat. Job one was to rebuild the mast step stringers! For good measure I built a new laminated mast step at the same time – might as well do all the chores you can while the stick is out of the boat…..
Keep up the good work with your informative and entertaining videos and blog postings!
with best wishes,
Dr. Bruce Bolster
Hey Bruce. Wow, what a great comment to leave on our blog. Your dad and his friends used to hang out with George Hinterhoeller! That feels so historic, so nostalgic. I’m imaging them all sitting around with wood planes in their hands. (Yes, because that’s how I see it in my mind.) I even saw little nine-year-old you, huffing white puffs of hot breath, holding watch alone. What a magnificent image! Thank you for sharing this. I’m so glad you have enjoyed the content Phillip and I have shared. We have had such a fantastic time buying our boat, coastal cruising her, yes, even re-fitting her, and now finally voyaging on her to distant, foreign shores. Cuba was such a reward for us after all the hard work went into getting her ready to make that sail. And boy did she gallop across the Gulf like a thoroughbred. I couldn’t have been more proud. Thank you for writing and leaving such a nice note. We will keep the content coming!
Hinterhoeller’s shop smelled strongly of fibreglass in those days – he was a real pioneer in the use of what then was a relatively new material, and his boats were overbuilt by modern standards. I remember hitting a rock out of Niagara on the Lake at full bore in one of his Sharks – maybe six knots on a broad reach. The rock fetched us up abruptly, and left its signature on the lead bulb, but we were never able to identify any structural damage to the hull.
Fortunately both George and the folks at C&C also had a cadre of talented cabinetmakers – it is to these folks that we are indebted for the fine teak interiors. One of the nice benefits of growing up with Sharks and their head-whacking interiors is that a C&C 30 or Niagara 31 still feels like a giant boat to me. I can even stand up inside!
If I ever shift to saltwater I might go looking for a nice 35 like yours – I do love the layout of the galley and head areas especially. But then having done all the upgrades to my own boat, I think I would be more likely to keep it. Getting things right during the refit is satisfying, but at a certain point it is nice to actually go sailing……
Wow, that’s an incredible story. I would hate to hear the sound of hitting a rock. I cringe and pucker all my parts when Plaintiff’s Rest just gets close to the bottom (and by close I mean three feet! That’s way too close!). We did get to see how thick the fiberglass is when we had to have Brandon sand down a spot on our hull where we found water intrusion near the strut. Brandon (our yacht repair guy) was so funny. He kept sanding and sanding and sanding and said he thought there really was never going to be a balsa core the fiberglass was so thick! Thanks for following us. We love to share all the highs and lows of owning a boat.
I just watched your “When and If” video on youtube. My dad and I are going sailing on it the beginning of April at the Galveston Tall Ship festival. Really looking forward to that. Your blog’s really nice, great videos. I used to live on an Irwin 34 in San Diego and miss the life. Keep up the good work.