Friday, January 14, 2011

A look at a boat

Weather dictated that some VIPs who really, really had be in Ft. Lauderdale Tuesday afternoon needed to leave St. Louis Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning's forecast included things like snow, 1/2 mile visibility in fog, icy runways and taxiways, and 4 to 6 inches of accumulation making it difficult to even get to the airport. Sometimes the most professional decision for the pilot in command of a high tech jet is to run like a frightened little bunny rabbit, a day early and some 400 knots over the ground, 7 miles in the sky.

Which means I had all day Tuesday to keep myself busy. Mmmm... what to do? Yacht World listed a 1991, 39' Fountaine Pajot Fidji for sale at $132,000, just waiting to be looked over barely an hour's rental car drive away from the hotel. Deb and I have been curious about the Fidgi, but all we knew was based on pictures of the few that show up for sale. Seeing one "in the flesh" was a chance not to be missed. And one never knows, maybe I would find a new model of boat (and maybe this very boat) to move to the top of the "this could be the one" list.

A phone call or two later and a visit was arranged with the owner, who was in town for one more day checking on his boat. The Old Port Cove Marina in N. Palm Beech was a bit overwhelming for a lower rent live-a-board wanna-be like me. Towering condominiums, expensive looking single family units, and a massive marina filled with Million Dollar Babies were all safely ensconced behind a manned guard gate. The guard had my name and issued me a little temporary permit so I could park my rent-a-car in the lot without it being towed. (At the owner's expense which, in this case, I assume, would be me.)

Peter and his wife however, were a delight. After introductions they allowed my scruffy self aboard ONSA. (I dress up pretty to fly the jet.) Peter has done some serious refitting to his Fidgi, sails, engines, electronics... all things that would normally need addressed on a used boat. The galley stretching across the a aft wall of the bridge deck saloon always looked like a good idea in the pictures. Turned out it really is, though the center cabinets were a little shallow. Two access doors to the cockpit, one at each end of the galley struck me as more workable than a wall of Plexiglas. Good bridge deck clearance, the normal cabin set-up in the hulls, nice ground tackle rig...lots of good ideas in this boat.

But alas, as nice a piece as ONSA is, I don't think the Fidgi is quite the boat for us. The saloon is really kind of cramped. The dinning table completely fills the space. The cockpit is equally modest. Though I liked the center helm station flanked by doors, it splits the cockpit neatly in two; both halves now being separate seating areas. Mind you, given the choice of a 47' mono-hull and the Fidgi at near the same price, the Fidgi wins hands down. I have tools and I am not shy of tearing things up. The saloon area could be redone to make a much better use of space. (Good-by big fixed table, hello some more storage space.) The cockpit is small, but bigger than a mono-hull and doesn't roll or heal - workable as is. Live in one hull, redo the other, move and repeat. Given a season or two a Fidgi would morph into a pretty nice choice. But there are a couple of other models that rank a bit higher on the list, Athena, TPI, and Admiral among them. (And me, I'm still hoping for dagger boards...can you say "Catana?")