Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back at home port...

As it was last year, the highlight of the "Boat Show" wasn't the show at all. It was getting to spend time with Matt, Tiff, Campbell, John and Lara. It is a little odd to be "Uncle Tim" instead of "Grandpa-T" with Campbell, but we had a good time playing tickle and working on floor puzzles. John, Lara, Matt, Deb and I stayed up late Saturday evening around a bonfire at John and Lara's house catching up with family news and sharing stories. Unlike many whose cruising lifestyle takes them far from family, ours is aimed at making weekends like this past one happen more often.

The show itself was (as expected) a blast. Unlike last year we spent a good chunk of money on "boat stuff," though to be candid the biggest chunk went to a sewing machine that can make "boat stuff."

Even I was amazed at the capabilities of the Sailrite machine and I am looking forward to having Deb teach me the basics of using our new toy. After all, making sails and covers and dodgers is a lot like making stringers and skins and doublers, (airplane bits)...only the material is a little more flexible than is aluminum, and one uses stitches rather than rivets to hold it all together.

The "looking at boats" part of the boat show was a bit different from last year. I didn't expect to find a "perfect" boat that just popped out at me as "the ONE." I know enough now to know of some of the compromises that come with boat design; the stability of the cats traded against sailing hard on the wind, headroom vs. windage, draft vs. anchorage choices vs. performance. I know that engines need to make at least 1 hp for each foot of LWL (for me anyway) if the boat is to avoid being seriously underpowered. I appreciate the difference between a sloop rig (like Nomad's) , Solent and cutter rigs, (I like), and a ketch, (some people love them and there are some beautiful boats with such rigging, but it doesn't do anything for me). Looking back at my thoughts of last year is kind of fun, all of the top mono-hulls on my list this year are aft cockpit boats; Caliber 40LRC, Pacific Seacraft, Benetau 43, (yes a production boat). One of the Hunter boats even caught Deb's eye as a pretty nice live-a-board prospect.

The catamarans are still at the top of the dream with the Leapord 38 and the Lapari 41 ending up in a draw as far as "if I win the lottery." There may be no such a thing as a "perfect boat" but each of these gets pretty damn close. The Antares is sill the Queen of the fleet and the Lagoons have stunning interiors, but each appears to sit awfully high in the water to my "sailor's eye."

Mostly, just like last year, was the realization that any of these boats, (or most likely their older renditions) would make a fine place to call "home." With that in mind it is fun to debate the sea kindliness of a 38' cat vs. a 50' mono-hull. It is even more fun to realize that I'm pretty sure we would quickly learn to sail either one with a certain amount of expertise. Perhaps most exciting of all was discovering a place that will set us up to do an 8 day, blue water sail to deliver boats to the Islands for the charter season at a cost less than that of a sailing vacation. A chance to learn, earn another ASA rating, and sail a boat where we really want to end up some day...out of sight of land and heading for some distant port. In fact that is now at the top of our "do this next" list. Pretty good for a long weekend.

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