Its never so much been my dream to sail around the world as it is to explore the world under sail. It’s easy to read all the books, romanticizing life aboard a small wellfound boat sailing under nothing but the power of the wind. New landfalls, new cultures, new directions. Most of my books were read at sea while delivering boats up the west coast. During this time, I was drawn deeper I think than most into the simplicity of boats, mostly because every damn thing on the boat would. break within the very short distances we were delivering.
Weeks spent in a tropical paradise but it was no vacation, hot as hell, humid, language barriers, none of the right tools, going up a strange mast 5 times has never topped my list of fun. Then there is that damn diesel, bad fuel, humidity fried wiring and what about the steering. Whoever invented cable actuated steering should be… take a cluster of wire which will rot and stretch, put it in the least accessible part of the boat and then call the single most important part of the ship good.
These trips were the best teacher a student could have in what works and what doesn’t, although there is the one big disconnect that I didn’t get until many many years and miles passed under my keel. It wasn’t until I had formed a very solid opinion of what I need and want in a boat and what sailing means to me. You see, no one who loves their boat would ever turn it over to another to be taken to sea. The boats I was deliverying were unloved toys owned by people with good credit and the ability to sneak away from the work place for a few months a year. They boats were minimally maintained, after all it wasn’t the owners preobem off shore, it was mine.
The years pass by, the dreams still linger but the times they are a changing. Anchorages are over crowded with bozos who know little about their boats and don’t really care if they hit you in the night, they will just call the insurance company on their financed boat, if they hit you at the dock they will just leave. Everything is getting massively more expensive and quality boat parts are near impossible to find. I’ve had to have most parts for Sookie fabricated which is fun but time consuming and expensive.
The main reason I’ve walked away from every BCC I’ve visited isn’t because I didn’t love them, I did, but none of the, were as stout and shippy as Sookie. One or two shortcuts can be easily overcome but these boats were damn near ruined by my standards and if your going to buy the second most expensive boat ever built, the FC is at the top of that list, well it better be pretty damn near to what you want.
Then there’s the little things, I have no problem with my bucket but taking a girl out on a date for the weekend and trying to get her to poop in the bucket in a 22′ boats is pretty amusing, even with a well established couple it has to be worked around. Then there is the dumping part. When you are one of a dozen boats in a giant bay it’s no biggie but when there are 99 boats lined up like sardines it’s a deal breaker. I won’t get into lack of heating again but what about electric storage and resupply. You can’t take a boat like Sookie and stack solar pannels and a wind generator aboard without ruining the boat. LED lights don’t work for me, the cold blue light kills my eyes so even though Sookie has a very small drain, she still needs a good pile of stored electricity.
I do my best thinking on the bike but I can’t do boat stuff on the bike because every time I jump on Brompty I question the whole sanity of the boat thing so I pull out my runners and hit the road. I run through the lists of small boats that may add what I lack. The Dana 24 won’t heave to and skinny side decks, same with the Nor’sea 27 and also add a poor galley and an average of 10 or more thru-hulls. The Verute ll tops the list but they are too plastic inside. The CS28, great boat but cored hull, no thanks. I go through dozens of fine boats and they all are but none of them meet my needs, a lifetime of research turns only two boats that I would consider and neither one seems a better choice than Sookie when I look at the cost of acquiring and outfitting them with my budget.
I get back from my run, endorphins surging and I’m wrecked, a drowned rat. I look at my notes, the two biggest design headaches I’m dealing with on Sookie are her cockpit layout, with no combing you fell pretty exposed when push comes to shove. The other big headache is that Sookie was built with high volume quarte berths which is great for carrying extra stores but makes it so you can’t sit upright comefortabley in the boat, a chainsaw could fix this. Many FCs were built this way, it’s idiotic, the standard version is simple perfection.
Again I’m at a standstill, I have the perfect boat, I only wish it were different. My log book says I’m heading out for sea trials and then down the coast to Mexico in April but it’s feeling damn near impossible from where I’m sitting. First world problems I know but when you sail a small boat it’s like solving a Rubik’s cube, inorder to line up one side you screw up the other. Eventually I’ll solve the equation but for now I have to do some sitting in my thinking chair.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
― Steve Jobs