Choosing a Cruising Catamaran

Choosing a Cruising Catamaran.  At that time my circumstances were a bit different, and so was my level of education on the subject.  Much has changed since then – both in circumstance and in knowledge.  If you’ve been following along, you may have read my post last week:  Keeping The Dream Alive.  In that post I was whining about how I needed my Mother to make a decision on whether she’d join me for part of this trip.  If decided she wanted to come, great – I’d get a bigger boat.  But if not, I wanted to stay as liquid as possible in order to avoid any nasty budget-related surprises during the trip (which means I want a much smaller boat).

Choosing a Cruising Catamaran – Time: Now

Well, for the last week I’ve been working remotely with limited access to the Internet – which gave me an enormous amount of time back.  Time to think, which for me – is necessary.  It became obvious, when I was thinking, that relying on someone else (in any way) to purchase a boat for this kind of a trip is nothing short of idiotic.  Rather than making excuses, I should be:

  • Figuring out exactly how much I could afford to spend on a boat
  • Figuring out exactly what boats were on the market (in my budget)
  • Poking offers at boats on the absolute lowest end of my price-range

So I did all of that. I’m not sure if it was the right decision, but I can tell you this:  I’ve never felt such a supreme feeling of relief (and apprehension) as I did when I made the wire-transfer to escrow for a cruising catamaran this week.  Holy shit.  This is real.

Yeah, I did it.  

I submitted a very real offer on a very real cruising catamaran (a Fountaine Pajot Athena 38′). Honestly, I don’t think it will go through – but I’ll know within 4 days (or less) at which point I can take another shot at another boat. On that subject – there are two Lagoon TPI’s on the market (and a Privilege 37) that I’m very interested in; one at 42′ of length and another at 37′.   Any of these boats would suit me fine, but obviously, I would prefer the 42′.

The 37′ TPI is also nothing short of a “project-boat” needed at least $50,000 in repairs to be serviceable for my type of trip.  The worry on the 37′ TPI is that it is A) a little small for a circumnavigation and B) might be more repairs than I’ve bargained for.   The 42′ TPI?  Great boat, almost turn-key, and at the upper end of my budget.  This could put me in a tight spot if things go pear-shaped in the middle of the South Pacific. But of course, a 42′ TPI is a hell of a cruising catamaran and one that I would be infinitely happy with.  Why not buy it then? Because I can’t get ahold of the seller!  I’ve called, left messages, sent emails, and I can’t get ahold of him to buy his damned boat.  Kind of a bad joke huh? Which makes me very skeptical – in the past when I’ve overlooked this kind of failure to communicate it’s ended badly. Or maybe he just thinks I’m kicking tires… Either way, I’m at my wit’s end with this guy (and I haven’t even met him yet).  Enough of that though.

Wait.  What?  A Monohull?

What happens if my Mom says “no Nathan, I don’t want to spend time in beautiful and remote spots on a comfortable, spacious cruising catamaran”?  Well, we get her head checked.   And then I’ll go down to a monohull.  You read that right, after all this talk about cruising catamarans – if Momma doesn’t come, I’m headed down to a single-hulled sailboat.  But why?  Price.  I want more of my money liquid, where I can play in the stock market with it, repair a busted engine, or buy cruising equipment and adventure gear (see: man-toys).  I can save (at least) $50,000 of upfront startup costs by switching to a monohull – and if that’s not significant to you, I have no idea why you’re wasting your time reading these words;  you should be making small candles out of $100 bills.

Wishy-Washy and Learning to Sail

Yes, I’m still typing.  Because there’s been even more progress.  At Strictly Sail Miami I bumped into the Bluewater Sailing School – something that I planned on getting into post-boat buying. But a thought occurred to me:  what if my Mom would attend the catamaran sailing class?

It could be her “I like/don’t like sailing” litmus test, and be a genuinely great learning experience in the process.  Even if she decided not to go and sail with me, she’d have learned some really cool stuff and had a little mini-adventure. Plus – it’s affordable.  A 7 day charter on a catamaran can cost anywhere between $4,500 (on the very low end) to $20,000 (on the not-so-high end).  But the Bluewater Sailing School is ~$2,300 for 7 days of sailing/learning – including certs from ASA.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.   So I pushed my poor Mom a bit.

And check this out. Drumroll……….

Choosing a Cruising Catamaran

Mom’s going sailing!

What a massive, massive relief.  This has been, to date, one of the harder things I’ve ever attempted to do. And I’ve been through 15 months of combat (actual combat too – not just pushing paper on a military base, which – incidentally – is what most deployed soldiers actually do).  Anyways.

I can’t describe the feeling of relief that washed over me.  Soon enough, I’ll know alot more about choosing a cruising catamaran.

It was a huge ask for me, and a huge step for her.  In her generation, people didn’t just take off on a 5 year circumnavigation.  Their entire identities were tied up in their professional accomplishments.  The mere fact that she’s willing to explore the idea (and has bought the class/ticktets) is a huge step.  And it’s soon.  Which means I’ll know exactly what boat I’m looking for very shortly. Which is (again) huge.

If you’re wondering why I’m not accompanying her (and I’m not) – it’s because I must take sailing lessons, and want to do so onboard the actual boat I’ll be cruising on.  So our deal is this:  she goes and takes this course alone, I stay and don’t take time off work.  If she likes it:  I’m responsible for boat buying, survey, sea-trial, etc.  And then responsible for getting a qualified captain onboard to train us, on our boat. If she doesn’t like it:  No harm, no foul.  I proceed as described previously – get the boat, get the captain, learn to sail.

 What Else is New?

Financial stuff – I’m out of the storage unit deal, I’m thinking about a multi-family real estate deal, I’m thinking about putting $ into REIT’s, and I’m trying to design for simplicity.  Incidentally, I got the audio book from Bumfuzzle – Living on The Margin.  If the financial aspects of this (or any) type of adventure travel interest you READ THE BOOK.  This kind of thing doesn’t have to be expensive – and it doesn’t have to drain your savings.

Expo stuff – yep, this Saturday is the Blue Wild Expo.  I’ve never been and I’m stoked.

Insane?  Good? Bad?  What say you?

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Strictly Sail and The Miami International Boat Show

Strictly Sail – Getting Here

Making it to the Miami International Boat Show (and Strictly Sail) was something of a feat in itself.  Originally the plan was to only attend the Blue Wild Expo in Fort Lauderdale. But finding out that Strictly Sail (and MIBS) were the weekend before got me thinking… It would be a hell of a week if I could get down to Strictly Sail, bunk up with a friend for the week, work remotely, and then go to the Blue Wild the following weekend.

But I needed a place to stay.  So I put out a blast on social media and tagged a couple of my friends from Florida.  Those particular friends said no, but another spearfisherman said he might be able to help out (thanks Andrew, that was really cool man).  Fast forward a few days:  I was trying to confirm that I had a place to stay, and it was looking promising.  So I booked my flights.  It was a gamble though, as I’d never really met the person whose house I’d be occupying.  Since gambling is fun, I was willing to take a shot.

Strictly Sail Sailing Catamarans

Miami Beach – My View When Attending Strictly Sail

I’m glad I did too – I’m writing this now, and I can see the saltwater (not the ocean, but beggars can’t be choosers).  Just smelling the saltwater was enough to energize me again – I’ve been so busy I haven’t had the time to chase down trips offshore this year yet.  Anyways, I made it, I’m staying in a big, private house, for free.  My only real complaint is that it doesn’t have WiFi and is far enough removed from coffee shops that I’m having to use my phone’s hotspot (which is pretty damn expensive).

Sailboats and (Much) More

Strictly Sail - Sunsail Sailing Catamaran

Strictly Sail – Sunsail Sailing Catamaran

Strictly Sail is a (relatively) small part of the larger Miami International Boat Show.  It is certainly the part I’m most interested in, for obvious reasons – I’m in the sailing/cruising catamaran market.  In fact, while sitting at the airport waiting on a connection, I called my boat broker – and as chance would have it we were both going to be at Strictly Sail at the same time.  That’s nice.

Getting to Strictly Sail was a bit of a challenge as it was at MiaMarina which is tucked into one corner of (the very busy) Bayside shopping/food hub of Miami.  After being pointed in the wrong direction, and hiring another cab to drive me in circles – I made it.  The sailboats were absolutely beautiful.  And way more than I could ever afford to put into a boat.  Check out the 60+ foot Catana:

Strictly Sail Sailing Catamarans

Strictly Sail – Catana Sailing Catamaran

I won’t even show the Gunboat, it was so amazing and outrageous that I can’t justify giving it any attention.  Something between a work of art, a feat of engineering, and a boat.  Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe it. I won’t show it though – it’s too painful to think about the price tag.

Fountaine Pajot Sailing Catamaran

Of interest were the newer Foutaine Pajot, Leopard, and Lagoon sailing catamarans.  The Fountaine Pajot weren’t my favorite, but on the used boat market they’re remarkably affordable so they’re worth considering.

Fountaine Pajot Sailing Catamarans - Strictly Sail

Fountaine Pajot Sailing Catamarans – Strictly Sail

Lagoon 39 Sailing Catamaran

Next up was the Lagoon 39, and I have to say it was my favorite of the smaller sailing catamarans.  It had space, an excellent 3-cabin layout, and ample space in the galley.  The helm position was raised, and I can’t tell whether I’d like it or not.  The view is nice, but climbing up and down wouldn’t be my favorite exercise.

Strictly Sail - Lagoon 39 Sailing Catamaran

Strictly Sail – Lagoon 39 Sailing Catamaran

Strictly Sail - Lagoon 39 Sailing Catamaran

Strictly Sail – Lagoon 39 Sailing Catamaran (a huge cabin)

Leopard 39 Sailing Catamaran

The Leopard 39 is a bit smaller in beam, length, and in interior volume than the Lagoon 39, and though it is more than enough for my purposes – the difference is perceptible.  Don’t get me wrong though – this is a fine sailing catamaran.  And it starts at a remarkably affordable price, the one I looked at being just over $300K.  Yes, this is considered affordable for any brand-new sailing catamaran over 36 feet.

Strictly Sail - Leopard 39 Sailing Catamaran

Strictly Sail – Leopard 39 Sailing Catamaran

Strictly Sail Sailing Catamarans

Strictly Sail – Leopard 39 Sailing Catamaran

Sailing Stuff

Equally interesting was the amount of tangential products being offered – it wasn’t just about sailing catamarans apparently… Everything from motors to fridge/freezers to aloe creams were being sold in the booths scattered about Strictly Sail.  I went through them more than once and even found a booth of old salts selling books on their adventures.  Of course, this prompted the question:  can you actually subsidize sailing with books?  Admittedly, an uneducated question – it always depends on the quality of the product and the marketing tactics.  Some sailing books have been successful, most not.  The overall impression that I got was:  it’s a way to supplement your trip, and you have to be prepared to market your book as well as write/edit it.  There are probably more profitable ways to spend one’s time (which I’m reminded of as I pay ridiculously high prices for wireless access, to write this very post).

Strictly Sail - Engines

Strictly Sail – Engines

Strictly Sail - Refrigeration

Strictly Sail – Refrigeration (and crafty marketing)

All The Pretty Horses

I did visit the other parts of the Miami International Boat Show.  I admittedly still love powerboats and horsepower – so here are some pictures from that end of the spectrum.

Horsepower - Miami Boat Show

Over 1100 Horsepower on Two Outboards – Miami Boat Show

Powerboats - Miami Boat Show

Powerboats- Miami Boat Show

Horsepower - Miami Boat Show

1400 Horsepower – Miami Boat Show

Miami Boat Show - The Hulk

Miami Boat Show – The Hulk

Finally – I spent some time in the Marine Electronics section of the boat show.  I’m a technology nut, that became clear pretty quickly.  The electronics – navigation, communication, lighting, fish-finding, maps, overlays, and solar/wind power actually were more interesting than even the sailing catamarans at Strictly Sail.  After all – I couldn’t afford any of the sailing catamarans at Strictly Sail, but I could afford some of the electronic gizmos in the Marine Electronics room.

In Conclusion

All in all – great experience, top notch show, but one for those looking for new boats, the latest in products, and deep pockets.  I don’t really fall into those categories – but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  I’m definitely looking forward to the main reason for being in South Florida – The Blue Wild Expo. 

The post Strictly Sail and The Miami International Boat Show appeared first on The Nomad Trip.

Keeping the Dream Alive – An Update

keeping the dream alive - sailing catamaran

Sailing Catamaran … photo credit: Jean-Pierre Bazard 

I began seriously looking for boats not long ago, but that’s completely stalled right now.

It’s killing me. 

Part of the reason I made the decision to cast-off on this sailing circumnavigation was the recent death of my father, and some health scares with my Mother.   It was a harsh reminder how short life is, how attaching your self-worth to your profession is foolish, the importance of right now, and how much I really value some of my friends and family (although I really suck at showing it).

So – part of the point of the trip is to take my Mom with me (part of the time!) so that:

  • we can spend time together
  • she can relax
  • she can do something she’s always wanted to do
  • she can save me if I fall off the boat 100 miles offshore (selfish, right?)

To be clear – I like to think I’m a decent son, but spending every hour of every day, in tight quarters, with one’s mother isn’t my idea of a lifestyle improvement (I’m sure she’d agree).  So, we’ve agreed on easing into it.  If she comes, it’ll be for a couple of months here and there.

Here’s where it ties into boat shopping:

  • she wants to take a charter before she commits (fair enough)
  • she’s too busy to take a charter (no comment)
  • if she’s going to come, we need a catamaran (sharing a boat is one thing, sharing a hull is a whole ‘nother level)
  • until she makes a decision, I can’t start shopping with any real authority

So I’m stuck.  And frustrated.  And feel like I’m wasting time.  And everything else hinges on this.  So I wait…
But I’m not just killing time – I’m finishing up some remodel work on my duplex, working on getting my financial life together, experimenting with photography, etc.   Oh yeah – I did make my first gear purchase for the trip.  It’s a Canon 70D, and I suck right now.  But I’m learning.

Keeping the Dream Alive

So, I’m sure you’re wondering how I’m keeping the dream alive?  Well – this coming weekend is promising:  I’m heading to the Miami Boat Show (to check out sailing catamarans) and The Blue Wild Expo (to mingle with the freediving spearfishing crowd).  Both of which are a much-needed “keeping the dream alive” break from working too much.  I’ll be doing a short writeup on both of those, and I’ll create a gallery dedicated to each so you don’t have to make the flight yourself.

You’re welcome.


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