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  • Writer's pictureSailing Koinonia

How we bought the cruising sailboat of our dreams!

Updated: May 20, 2020

Ever had a dream you thought may never come true?

That's exactly how we felt about cruising life for over 10 years. Traveling by sailboat was something we really wanted to do as a family, but how to make our dream a reality was beyond us. Despite the popularized cruising mantra of the Pardey's, "Go small, go now," we lacked the means and experience we needed. We also had small children. But we believed this dream had a purpose and we decided we had to do something.

How did we get started on the journey?

We started saving, planning, and praying. We made trade-offs. We bought a smaller, older house. We paid cash for our cars and carried as little debt as possible. While we splurged from time to time, we generally tried to live below our means. This takes patience and discipline - something we aren't always good at. We put consistent amounts of money into savings every paycheck. We invested some too. We knew we needed a lot of cash to buy a boat suitable for a family of five to travel anywhere in safety. Meanwhile, we decided to enjoy sailing on a more modest scale, day-sailing and racing boats ranging from 16 - 25ft LOA. We spent a lot of memorable days (and a few nights) cruising and fishing local waters. We learned a lot about boat maintenance, repairs, and our girls fell in love with sailing life.

Why not wait until retirement?

1. Bringing our three girls is one of our biggest motivations for our adventures afloat. They are young enough to enjoy it and old enough to remember the experience.

2. We didn't want failing health to preventing us from going in our retirement years.

3. Tomorrow isn't promised to anyone, so we decided to prioritize time with our family now.

4. We feel called to the sea and the people who make their home there.

*** You can read more about our rationale on our FAQ page.***

Getting ready

While we saved, we researched...and researched more. We read books and learned a lot. Eventually, the information starts to sound repetitive and we were getting diminishing returns from all the theory. We needed more hands-on experience! We decided to invest in taking ASA courses at the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship to learn about large boat handling, docking, navigation, and basic seamanship. The staff and town of Rock Hall, MD were both charming. This investment helped boost our competence and confidence. We were ready to start searching for a boat of our own.

Searching for our dream boat

With a decent sum saved, we started looking more seriously at listings on Yacht World . We found a boat in Annapolis, which we nearly bought but after a less than stellar survey, we had an uneasy feeling and decided to be patient and wait until we could afford something better. That was one of the best decisions ever! About a year later, we engaged a buyers broker, Dale Davis owner of Integrity Yacht Sales in Deale, MD. Dale was a Facebook friend and he knows boats as well as anyone we've met. But we wanted a little extra help. We needed an independent expert who could help keep us grounded. We could think of no one better for the task than the venerable Robert H. Perry, arguably the father of performance cruising boat design.

Out of reach?

Next, we compiled elaborate spreadsheets of criteria to help compare and contrast boats by the numbers, ranging from theoretical dimensions and ratios, water capacity, and rig configurations. We factored in # of hulls built, design and build pedigree. This helped refine our search to boats that most closely matched our criteria. Knowing our sailing goals and priorities helped narrow the list considerably. Bob helped affirm some of our thoughts, while he helped us dispel silly constraints and keep an open mind. A few of the boats that made our short-list included: Hylas/Stevens 47/49, Passport 47 CC/Aft Cockpit, Hallberg-Rassy 45 (layout 2), Hallberg Rassy 46 (layout 1 or 3), Tayana 47 CC 3 stateroom, Hylas 46. One problem: these boats are either in rough shape, have a gazillion hours on the engine, or they've been completely refit and command top dollar. We needed something in between. We started looking at listings but nothing seemed to match up. The dream seemed out of reach.

How we found the sailboat of our dreams!

One evening, we got a call from the broker. A boat that checked all the boxes had just been listed and was in route north from the Caribbean after an extensive refit in Newport, RI. It was a Perry designed 1984 Passport 47 aft-cockpit with two large staterooms, a quarter berth, and two heads. This boat immediately peaked our interest. Best of all, the boat would be stopping nearby. We made arrangements to be the first to see the boat and spent several hours with the owners going over everything. The boat was in stunning condition. We made notes and ran everything by Bob. He thought it was the best example he had seen. We negotiated a price and several weeks later, following a clean survey and sea-trial, we closed. It was...surreal. We saved, we planned, we prayed - and now - we owned the boat of our dreams!

Buying a boat is always a great day, as the cliche goes. But we can't help believing our best days are still ahead! There will be highs and lows, but that's boat life. We hope you'll follow along on our journey and check-in with us often. We'd love to hear from you.

Fair winds and blessings,

Ben & Amber Ward

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