In the wake of the New Year, I’ve decided to try a new look for this blog, as we move into the next phase of our cruising adventure – the happy dancing phase.
We left Sydney exactly six months ago to travel Europe as a family and look for a blue water cruiser. Now we’ve got one, and a job to top up the kitty before we go sailing once it gets warmer. Actually, we found our Happy Dancer a few weeks ago. But such a big investment, definitely the biggest we’ve ever made, and likely the biggest we will ever make, took some time to digest.
At first we couldn’t believe it and definitely weren’t ready to share it with anyone. Having seen fifty plus boats, some of them with lots of potential, was this finally going to be THE one? Then we felt scared to our bones. What if all the people are right who say that we’ve gone completely nuts? Was it really the right decision to spend our kids’ university savings to give them what we deem the best life and hands-on education now, rather than save up for a potential theoretical schooling sometime in the future? Providing them with a full-on, unique experience of this planet which hopefully will make them the kind of people who can get for themselves whatever they want, university acceptance or other, is what feels right to us. Investing in their development right now, rather than compromising the time and space we have for them for the sake of some potential future education is our approach.
Four weeks into boat ownership, we are starting to feel a bit more at ease. We’ve come all this way, so the least we can do is give it a try. If worse comes to worse, we’ll spend a summer sailing the beautiful Greek islands, sell the boat and move on. After all, it’s just another form of keeping our savings, definitely not efficient in monetary terms, but in terms of points for ‘not regretting not having done something on your death bed’, invaluable. It’s the journey that counts.
Here’s a few lessons we learnt from buying a blue water cruiser:
- If you can avoid leaving your job, home and everything else before finding your boat, do so. In other words, buy it in your home waters, if that is where you can envisage yourself starting your cruise. Like that you don’t spend your savings before even cutting the lines. Our situation was slightly different as we wanted to start in the Med for various reasons. We simply took the past six months travelling through Europe and looking at boats as part of our journey.
- I don’t like generalizing, but almost without exception, German owned boats we saw were maintained meticulously whereas French ones were more often than not in a moldy, rusty and filthy condition. British, Spanish and Portuguese boats featured somewhere in between.
- Buying a boat directly from its owner, will avoid you a lot of hassle. With only one exception, all brokers we dealt with over the past months, if not years, mislead us, to say the least. On the other hand, an owner is generally proud of his boat, knows it well, can explain you all the systems, pros and cons, always tends to be more honest, takes the time to show you everything there is to see and typically has a good cruising story or two in the pocket for you if you are willing to listen. In fact, our experience with brokers was so bad that it became a prerequisite for us to buy our boat from an owner himself.
- Surround yourself with positive stories through cruising blogs, magazines, sailing boats and of course like-minded people. There are always a zillion reasons why you shouldn’t go cruising and when the shit hits the fan (which eventually happens every now and then when embarking on the journey of your dreams), it is all too easy to give up.
- Do your homework. Look at as many boats as you need to fully understand your needs. Do you want a project boat? Have you got the time it’ll take to get it up to your desired standard? Or will you have to pay more to upgrade/repair less but leave earlier? Do you want a brand just because the latest cruising blog has named it? Or does the layout and structure really suit your needs? Finally, of course, you need to consolidate what fits your budget. The last ten boats we looked at were all the same brand and model. We didn’t bother with any other anymore as we had come to understand that this is the best boat for us.
A click on the picture below will take you to more details about our Moody 425. Happy New Year. May it fulfill your dreams and more!