Since so many of you have been so kind to offer support and help during this process, I figured I'd let you know (after some gentle prodding from a bunch of you) what kind of boats we've seen and what made us tick (or not) about them. I could obviously go into WAY more detail about each boat but, for the sake of time, I will not. Consider these notes our initial views and not in-depth reviews. All of the boats we looked at have a center cockpit, two private cabins, two private heads layout which have become a few of our "non-negotiables". With no further adieu, here's what we've seen so far:
- Amel 46 - As many of you know, Scott and my dad flew to St. Maarten and spent many, many hours inspecting an Amel down there. The boat not only has a great pedigree and reputation, but this example was in fantastic shape and offered us just about everything we were looking for however, the price was a little high for us and despite going back and forth with counter offers - we could not come to an agreement with the owners. When they finally did come back and agree to "our" price (after we said no to their "final" offer), we had already mentally moved on. This boat also needed a few upgrades and it was largely set up with unfamiliar European systems so would have taken some getting used to. We were sad to do it, but ultimately walked away from this boat and know we did the right thing.
- Whitby 42 - we liked the general layout of this boat, but found it a little "cramped" for it's size. Also heard it's sailing performance is not as good as the newer, more improved versions - the Brewer 12.8 and Brewer 44. The one we saw was in OK shape but definitely not maintained to the standards we are used to so this boat was more of a project than it seemed in the listing. Not for us.
- Vagabond 42 - the "cool" factor of the boat was through the roof. We liked it a lot and the one we saw was in fantastic shape having been totally refitted and meticulously maintained by it's owner. However, the sailing reputation of this boat killed it for us. It is notoriously slow and while we are not in this to win a race, we would like a sailboat that sails and performs well. We also didn't like the teak decks as they were H.O.T. underfoot. So hot that Scott could not walk on deck without his shoes. That would NOT be good on little baby feet. In addition, the amount of woodwork on the topsides of this boat was enough to make this little wood-worker cringe. It definitely had plenty of room for a family and we loved the three cabin layout but ultimately, this is not the type of boat for us. I think if you buy a boat like this - you really have to be in love with the style which we are not.
- Moody 47 - I had high hopes for this boat. It had a great layout that would easily accomodate a family of five and a decent blue-water reputation (though the fact that their quality was compared to Catalina -which are great boats, but known as "coastal cruisers" - made us nervous). However, the particular boat we looked at seemed dark and both Scott and I felt like it was dated. While the boat had many upgrades, it still needed too much work for our taste.
- Wauquiez Amphritrite 43 - I was excited to see this boat, however we decided not to due to lack of communication from the broker. We also heard from another trusted broker that this particular boat needed a LOT of work. Had this boat been in Lauderdale we would have looked at it anyway, but it was 45 minutes away in Miami and we didn't feel it worth the trip. Do like the general layout of this boat with it's extra pilot berth in main salon, and the builder is a good one with a solid reputation.
- Bristol 45.5 - the broker, knowing what we were looking for, was very honest with us from the get-go and he told us point blank that our visit to this particular boat would be a short one. The entire boat was in need of a refit and just about every system, line and sail on it was original and in need of an upgrade. The interior, however, showed beautifully and I really, really liked the layout. It felt open and spacious and this is another boat we'd like to investigate further. If we could find one that needed less work we'd probably consider this boat more seriously.
- Brewer 44 - the example we saw was impeccable. Absolutely beautiful and expertly maintained. The boat had many upgrades and every single wire and hose was run properly and in an organized manner. The engine room was spotless and the exterior and interior were like new. We were very impressed with this boat however it is not currently set up for long-term live-aboard cruising and lacks SSB, watermaker and solar and/or wind power (three "must have's" for us). Adding these things - while not "deal breakers" for us - would cost a significant amount of money and this particular boat is priced too high for us to be able to add those things.
So where does that leave us? So far - the Brewer 44 is in the lead as the most practical boat for us. We love her pedigree, her lines and her reputation as being a solid, high performance blue-water cruiser. There are a few more out there to look at and many other things to consider but we're honing in on what we think might be our next home. In two weeks, we head to South Carolina and stay with good ol' Uncle Al and Aunt Willa! to look at a couple more boats!
Brittany, Scott & Isla
Brittany, Scott & Isla