Selecting our boat

We spent two years, researching, internet window-shopping, talking to people, experimenting with charters, and looking at boats at boat-shows and brokerages before we made our move. During this time we had honed our criteria:

After considerable contemplation we decided on the following:

  • We wanted a monohull rather than a cat – traditionalists
  • Length 39-43 ft – we wanted it big enough to live aboard comfortably but small enough to handle well for short-handed sailing.
  • Serious blue water boat – not coastal boat – we wanted to cross oceans with her
  • Very sea kindly – both prone to sea sickness, so comfort factors were a high priority
  • Good galley storage – Liz likes to cook, and we wanted to be self sufficient and make longer passages easier.
  • Three burner stove – decided two burner stoves were too small
  • Good overall storage – we wanted some creature comforts aboard.
  • Good equipment – batteries, sails, good diesel engine, great anchors
  • Comfortable master berth
  • Great reputation for being well-built
  • We did not want a fixer-upper, and we wanted a boat that we hoped would have relatively low maintenance costs

In the end we honed in on the following makes:

  • Caliber
  • Passport
  • Shannon
  • Valiant
  • Cabo Rico
  • Gozzard
  • Pacific Seacraft

We looked at countless boats, brokerages and websites. We discussed and reviewed each one in detail. We even checked insurance claims to see which boats had recurring problems and shorter lifespans. We found a site with fuzzy logic on all sorts of boat makes – measuring comfort factor and sailability etc.We found a broker we liked. Kate and Bernie, of Rogue Wave, are based inAnnapolis and specialize in blue water boats. We liked their write-ups and listings. We spoke to them and liked their enthusiasm, knowledge and helpfulness. We decided to meet them when we went to the Annapolis Boat Show – Kate picked us up at our hotel and we spent the day with them looking at boats – that sealed the relationship. We loved their yin/yang relationship – Bernie an expert in boats, equipment, negotiations, dealings with marinas, shipyards and other brokers. Kate an expert in relationships, understanding our needs and values, interpreting everything in terms we could understand, research and arrangements. We fell in love with one boat they showed us, a 2007 Cabo Rico 42 called La Bella Mae – we yearned and dreamed about her – but she was out of our price range and finally good judgement overcame lust and we let her be! Seven months of harsh winter later, we were still looking at boats every week – a few more which met all or most of our criteria. One day, Liz checked out a boat on, and as soon as she opened the webpage, she thought ‘This is it – I have found our boat”. Her name was Tai Chi, a Cabo Rico 42 lying inHouston,Texas! Serendipity. Liz sent it to Steve and he was excited by it too and sent the listing to Kate and Bernie. They liked the look of it, but also sent a number of other listings of Valiants. We tried our best to ‘shake it off’ by looking at other boats and continually making our top 10 lists. Liz even created a comparison spreadsheet listing all the features, prices and specs of the boats we were most interested. Tai Chi kept coming out on top. We spoke to Kate and Bernie. They were very encouraging and led us step by step through the process. In June 2009, after our house sold, but before we moved, we put in a tentative offer on her. Bernie flew down to take a very close look and called us later with glowing reports. That pretty much sealed the deal – we flew down, met Bernie there and finalized the offer in July 2009, just as our house sold!

Buying the Boat

We were exhausted from weeks of packing, sorting, lifting, carrying, organizing, fixing, all over and above our busy ‘day jobs’. We had just moved – downsizing from a 5 bedroom suburban home with a full basement, double car garage with storage loft, to a two-bedroom downtown condo with a tiny locker for storage. It was difficult and draining – physically, mentally and emotionally. We left our wonderful neighbours, our serene shaded back garden with waterfall and fish pond which we had built ourselves, and our lovely functional kitchen with granite counters, pantry cupboards and plenty of storage. We moved into a older, outdated kitchen with no counter-space and very little storage space. We gave up our gleaming hardwood floors for plush grey carpet which showed every bit of dirt, had lasting furniture depressions from the previous owners and had seen better days, especially in high-traffic areas. The dog was stressed out by the move and puked green bile all over our white bedding and grey carpet. But on the up side, we had an amazing view of Lake Ontario and the Toronto Islands, my flower-filled containers looked lovely on our balcony, the appliances were all brand new, and our downsized possessions fitted well into our new space – which had relatively good in-suite storage spaces. But we never had time to enjoy it – we rushed around unpacking, fixing cupboard doors, cutting up packing boxes and putting them in the recycling room, moving things into and out of our storage units, cleaning our the old house and sorting out administrative issues, billings, change of address and final sale stuff. We had been in the condo three days (and still owned and looked after our house) when our first visitors arrived, at our behest, to dog-sit while we flew down to Texas to look at Tai Chi. They were so enthralled by our condo, that we started to feel more positive, even through the haze of exhaustion. Read More