Saturday, November 27, 2010

Headroom. And headroom.

Well, the hard-luck, "I coulda been a contender" epoch in our boat search continues...

We were very enamored with this steel 45 footer, lying in San Francisco Bay.  We got used to a few drawbacks, including an undersized engine, and were about to make an offer.  But we had asked the broker to check a few details on the boat for us, and to measure the headroom.... It was advertised as 6'4", but he measured it at 6'3" on the centerline, and dropping from there as you go outboard.  So suddenly she was off the list, after four or five days of frenzied interest as we queried our friends about various aspects of the design and built up to the emotional apogee of deciding that she might be "the one".  But luckily we had a second choice in hand:

41 feet, steel, lying Queensland.  We had ruled her out back in April because we didn't want a full keel design unable to sail out of its own wake.  But she's new, with quite good kit.  We gave her another look and she ended up second on the list.  I had a chat with the broker and he assured me that she had enough headroom...But then he called Alisa a day or two later (the same day the previous boat fell through) and recanted - he had been aboard and realized that at 6'3" he was unable to stand up...

So, on one day, two good possibilities vanished and we were back to the beginning.

On the rebound we briefly considered this steel 45 footer in Sydney:

But the displacement is listed at 17 tonnes, which is a bit rich for us, and also 2.5 tonnes over the design displacement...  We'll take another look, but at this point our heart isn't in it.

But we don't stay down for long!  Our current first choice is something completely different, this cold-molded, Kiwi-built, French-designed 43 foot dériveur, lying Raiatea.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why we love Hobart

It's spring in the southern hemisphere.  Today we went for a "wander" ("hike" in American) up on top of Mt. Wellington with some friends.  Elias absolutely loves these two little girls.

The trail was challenging, and we continue to calibrate our sense of what is and isn't good fun for a four-year-old.  There was some carnage - check out the rock rash below on the little fella.

But he generally had a great time.  And the landscape up there was unreal:

As were the views.  That's Hobart spread out along the water below.

And then after dinner Elias and I went for a walk and saw a playtpus in the Hobart Rivulet, ten minutes from the house where we're staying.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Hunt

Some snapshots from our search over the last week...

43 ft., steel, lying Malaysia.  This boat had been high on our "maybe" list during the months we were waiting for the aluminum boat in New Zealand that eventually fell through.  I emailed the broker this week with the idea that we would probably put in an offer and found that someone else had gotten there first...

I heard about this one at a get-together in Anchorage... a friend's sister knew these people and knew they were about to sell the boat after having reached New Zealand.  Turned out to be a 50 footer, much too big for us...

44 feet, aluminum, lying New Zealand.  Was working up to the top of our list until we checked the specs again and saw the 2.5 meter draft.  Fuhgettaboutit!

38 feet, aluminum, lying east coast U.S.  Took a while to get over the draft - 6'9".  And getting her back to Oz in our time frame would be a push.  But, oh dear - the price.  We just couldn't get past the very very good price.  When we first contacted the broker, she estimated the head room at 6'4" or 6'6".  We got her to go measure and it turns out it was 6' or 6'1".  A deal breaker.  On the plus side, I had a chat with another broker in the same company who turned out to be the pushiest a**hole used boat broker in the whole world.  So at least that's behind me.

40 feet, steel, lying Melbourne.  Appears to be very nice, doesn't need to be imported into Oz (a big plus!), and is right in our back yard.  But also has a spade rudder, only supported by a stainless steel rudderpost in an oxygen-starved environment.  Maybe I'm being too picky, but I just don't want a spade rudder.


So that's what we've been doing this week.  Many are close, and we think that means that the right one will soon be at hand.  Our current list of hot prospects includes two boats in New Zealand and one in the U.S.  Stay tuned...

Monday, November 15, 2010

First Bites

If you're wondering if this will ever again be a blog about sailing the world, take heart.  We have resolved to make an offer on a boat this week.  Unfortunately we just heard that the boat that was edging towards the top of our list is under contract.  But the search continues!

Meanwhile, to paraphrase someone, life is what happens while you're looking for your next boat.  We had a big milestone yesterday - Eric's first solid food, which Alisa kindly delayed by a couple weeks so that I could be present.

I don't know if waiting for me to get back had anything to do with it, but he was clearly ready, following each spoonful of rice cereal with his eyes and leaning forward, mouth open, as they came within range.

The entertaining part for us was his reaction as each mouthful went down... apparently the sensation takes a little getting used to.

Another milestone passes...


Elias in his wooly mammoth mask.

The end.


I went back to North America without a camera, so all I have is the five pictures that I took with my computer during the flights.

It was a work trip - one week in Oregon and two weeks in Alaska.

I don't miss Alaska when I'm gone, I think because I'm still enjoying our traveling so much.

But I was surprised at how powerful an experience it was to fly into Alaska on this trip - it was really a bit overwhelming to be back in that place.

Part of it is the scale and the beauty.  Alaska is so much more, and more beautiful, than anywhere that we've been lately.  The state is as wide as the continent of Australia, and you could lose New Zealand in Chugach State Park and forget where you put it.  I've always thought that Alaskans who go traveling to compare things unfavorably with home are particularly tiresome.  But when you return after an absence, the comparison with everything that you've seen since you've been away is inescapable.

But the draw of the place is more than the roadless mountains and wild rivers.  Alaska is just home, the place where we still have good friends in a whole bunch of different places, the place where Alisa and I each put our roots down seperately and then built a life together, the place where we plan to return.  We were lucky enough to be young in Alaska and to feel it as a place that was equal to our boundless energy, and now it's just part of us.

So I enjoyed the trip, and seeing our friends, even if about half of them did let me know that if only one of us could come back, they'd sort of prefer that it was Alisa and not me.  And when I got back to Hobart I found Eric with croup, and Alisa with a fever, and Elias with ants in his pants.  If we're lucky Alaska will be home again, but for now home is wherever the four of us are, and I got home just in time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What do we want?

Heather asked, so here it is - the list of things that we are looking for in our next boat.  This will likely be most interesting for people who are really into sailboats!

1) A metal hull.  If we really want to sail the Northwest Passage, we want a metal hull.  Aluminum if we can get it.

2) An insulated hull.

3) Total length 39-42 feet.  A little bigger if we had to.

4) Three sleeping cabins.  One for us, one for the boys, and one for the survival suits/cockpit cushions/bikes/sails/deck awnings and everything else.  Or alternately, two cabins and some very serious additional storage space.

5) A cutter rig.  Or a sloop that we can convert to a cutter.  Or a ketch, if we had to.

6) A skeg-hung rudder.  Or even (god forbid) a keel-hung rudder.  But not a spade rudder.

7) A well-maintained boat, with good sails and standing and running rigging.

8) A u-shaped galley.

9) Big water tanks.

10) A hard dodger (optional!).

11) A specific set of bells and whistles: windvane, radar, a good autopilot, an over-sized windlass, over-sized anchors and chain, solar panels, life raft, folding propellor, wind generator, ham/SSB radio, steps on the mast, cruising spinnaker.  As many of these as possible.

12) 195 cm of headroom.

13) In our budget!

It doesn't seem like an unreasonable list.  But though we've seen many boats with eight or nine of these items, we've never seen one with ten or more.  

Some serious compromises seem inevitable.