Friday, May 31, 2013

My Sailing Library Groweth

Wasn't it just the other day when I wrote about starting to sell stuff in preparation for our move onto a sailboat?  Well, one exception to this is that my wife and I are trying to learn all we can about our soon to be new lifestyle.  When possible we've checked out books from the local library (not that you can find a lot of books about cruising or sailing at a library in Colorado...skiing maybe, sailing not so much) and we've slowly started picking up books such as "Inspecting the Aging Sailboat" as we started shopping for a boat.

Well, one of the blogs that I regularly read (the entire sailing list is on the right), "The Retirement Project"  posted that in their cleaning up to get ready to go, they were going to give away a number excellent sailing books, many of which were on my must read list.  Well, in a complete reversal of my recent luck, I actually won the book giveaway.

I'd like to thank Deb and TJ of The Retirement Project for their help in advancing our dream towards reality.

One of the things I've always heard about the cruising community is that they are kind, generous, and willing to help.  I think that this giveaway is a nice example of that mindset.  In that spirit I fully intend to pay this gift forward when we are done with them.  Meanwhile I will soon have an expanded library of sailing books to read.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Fountaine Pajot Tobago 35

The Thursday evening before the US Memorial Day weekend, on a whim, we decided to check out airfare to each of the locations where a Tobago was for sale.  Imagine our surprise when we found that we could get tickets to see one of the boats for as little as $68 each way(1).  So first thing Friday I call our broker to see if there was any chance that a broker could show us the boat last minute on a holiday weekend.  A broker would indeed be available so we quickly setup a trip and were off to see a Tobago.

Boarding the Tobago is via the familiar "sugar scoop" transom steps on each hull.  They are a tad steeper than the Lagoon 37, but very workable.  The cockpit is decently sized with wrap around seating and is covered by a fabric bimini. The helm is on the right side with a raised seat.  Visibility at the helm is a bit restricted due to the bimini height (or lack thereof). Access to the foredeck is excellent with wide walkways.  The anchor locker is divided into two spaces with a fair amount of storage for other items.  The boat does lack a separate dedicated propane locker (and shut off solenoid).
The salon has a curved table with wrap-around seating.  It is a galley up design, and the dedicated kitchen space is fairly small.  The salon table is close enough that it can effectively become part of the kitchen.  There is only a single basin sink but there is a recessed area moulded into the counter that contains a drain that might be usable  for some tasks if you can get water over to it.  The refrigerator is front-loading but more spacious than it appears from the door.  There is no freezer.  The views are very nice with wrap-around windows.  Ventilation seems adequate with two forward facing hatches, a small hatch over the oven, and the sliding door to the cockpit.

Down in the forward part of the port hull is the master berth and an optional single berth or additional storage space.  The bed sits across the hull and up on the bridge deck and is queen size on one end but does taper down to 3' 4" at the other end (and there is an overhang for a small part of that). The optional single berth is accessed through a door over the bed or via a hatch from outside and sits in the forward V of the hull.  There is a large storage cubby under the bed, otherwise there is not a lot of storage in the stateroom. While I've seen pictures of these boats with doors, this one actually had roll-up vinyl fabric for the doors.

In the back of the port hull is the primary head.  It lacks a separate shower, but is a decent size for an integrated shower head.  Behind the head is the engine room which contains the battery banks, a good amount of storage, and of course the engines with decent room to work.

This boat was the two head version, so the starboard hull was very similar except the double berth runs along the hull and sits down in the hull so the bed dimension 4' 6" at the larger end and tapers slightly down to 4' at the narrower end and the  optional single berth sits forward of that.  The head and engine room are the mirror image except there are no batteries in that engine room. In the 3 stateroom version, the head is replaced with a berth that sits over the engine.

So, we've now seen both the Lagoon 37 and the Tobago 35.  And...we're torn.  Both boats are nice and have good aspects and bad ones.  In general a 35 foot boat should be cheaper to maintain than the 37 (bottom paint, dock fees, etc.). The Lagoon staterooms are a bit larger with more hanging space. The Tobago is supposed to be a better performing boat than the Lagoon, especially in lighter air.  The galley space in the Lagoon is better with a built in freezer.  The Tobago is a newer boat and more expensive (my broker has proven that the asking price of the Tobago's currently on the market are all well above the comps). The list goes on.

What to do...what to do...

(1) Being a pilot and understanding the plight of the professional airline pilot, I really don't like to brag about cheap fares.  I'd much prefer a capable captain that knows what to do when things go wrong.  Of course these days does the money go to the pilot or the company.  Fortunately Southwest does pay it's pilots better than average so I guess I can live with that.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Starting to Purge

Among all the looking for a new boat, there was also an important step that I made a couple weeks ago.  I started getting rid of things since we need to purge much of our current lifestyle in order to begin the cruising lifestyle.  Actually, to be truthful, I got rid one big item...probably my prize possession.

I think this is the first time I've mentioned it on the blog, I am a pilot.  While I didn't learn to fly as a profession, I found flying to be very fun and relaxing.  My prize possession, as you might guess, was my airplane.  Now, before you think I'm rich, this was a small, single engine, 4-seat aircraft which costs about as much as many cars, used campers, or small (non-live-aboard) boats. Right about the time we were going thru the survey on the Lagoon 37 was when I sold the plane.  I'm happy to say that I sold the plane to a nice gentlemen who I think will take good care of her.

After selling the plane I had a hangar full of stuff that needed to go, so I had the first of what will undoubtedly be many garage sales in our future.  I wasn't entirely sure how an aviation specific garage sale in a hangar would go over, but I was able to get rid of a fair amount of stuff.  This was a particularly good thing as I didn't want to haul a bunch of the bigger or aviation specific items home (it's amazing how much stuff you can collect in 8 years).

It felt good to be getting rid of stuff and putting some extra cash back in the bank.  I will also be getting rid of the hangar rent bill at the end of the month and that will result in more cash in the bank while I still have a job.  I will miss the plane though.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Maybe a Fountaine Pajot is the Answer?

So, while I was in Ft. Lauderdale I looked at a Fountaine Pajot Athena 38.  It was a nice boat.  But 4 berths and 2 heads seemed like a bit more than we really need.  While they say that all boats are a compromise, when we add in the fact that the heads are smaller than the coat closet in our house, I'm just not sure that the Athena is the best choice for us as a permanent live aboard.

Fortunately, Fountaine Pajot makes a number of boats of various sizes.  So, having seen the appeal of the maker, we decided to take a look at other models.  Back at the Annapolis Sailboat Show, we got to see the Mahe 36 Evolution.  Of the catamaran models at the show, this was one of our favorites (not that we had any idea what we were looking for at that time...or even that we were going to go with a catamaran).  The only negatives I recall were the berths seemed to lack a bit of shoulder space due to their position down in the hulls and the helm seat was molded into the bimini top (out in the weather).  Of course the Mahe is a newer model, in current production, and is a bit out of our price range.

The predecessor of the Mahe is the Tobago 35.  Just like the Mahe 36 they come in a 2 berth, two head version as well as the 3 berth, single head model.
From what I can tell, this boat has a good amount of space in the cockpit and good access above deck.  They seem to typically have a soft-top bimini, but it does cover the helm station which is a plus.  Inside the salon and galley up design that is typical of FP makes for a decent size table and the usual small galley. Down in the hulls you find the berths and heads.
The interesting thing I see is that one of the berths is turned sideways and is up on the bridge deck.  I'm hoping this would make this berth a bit wider than those down "in the hulls".  The floor plan show that it might be angled (or is that just a cut-away view), and if so, I wonder how much. The head (or heads if the 2&2 version) appear to be larger than those on the Athena, which I think would help make this a more livable configuration for us.  The Fountaine Pajot's are known for being more performance oriented than the Lagoon and, with just over a foot less draft, it should be able to get us into more interesting locations as well.  The big question here is if the berth and galley is enough space for us.  This one definitely has potential.

During my research on the boat I ran across a blog of a couple and their two dogs cruising on a Fountaine Pajot Tobago.  Could it be a sign that this is the right boat for us? Unfortunately there are only a few of these boats currently for  sale, and based on comparable sales numbers, they are overpriced.  Here's another one of those cases where it really sucks to be 1000 miles from an ocean.  It will be another trip just to see one, if it doesn't sell before we get there.  Guess we need to figure out how to go see one of these sometime soon.

Monday, May 6, 2013

New Option

So, what do you do when a boat survey goes bad, your broker is unavailable, and you have  another day before your flight home?  Well, after an unsuccessful attempt to change to an earlier flight, I started looking through the listings on Yachtworld and SailboatListings.  Maybe I could get lucky and there would be a boat or two in the area that I could go look at...I am in Ft. Lauderdale after all.

So, I do a little searching and find a couple different boats I could go see.  One is a Fountaine Pajot that I haven't seen in person and would like to.  Of course, it isn't in Ft Lauderdale, it's a couple hours away.  Oh well, the rental car has unlimited mileage right?  So, I give the listing agent a call and managed to get a time setup to see the boat later that day.  So off on a small road trip to see a Fountaine Pajot Athena 38.

Now my preconceptions of the Fountaine Pajot boats were that they are a typical French design that is aimed more at the charter market.  It's galley up and the galley seems small and even the smaller cats typically have 4 berths and two heads.  Instead of the beds being on the bridge deck, the Fountaine Pajot's typically have them down in the hulls.

What I found was that the galley up design allows the salon table to be effectively used as part of the kitchen so the less counter space shouldn't be as much of a concern.  They have a well designed cockpit with lots of space.  The berths are down in the hulls and seem large enough but the access from the end just feels a bit strange to me...however I guess either my wife or I could get up with less chance of disturbing the other.  I also liked how wood was used more as an accent than the main internal building structure.  It gives the boat a clean look and I bet it is easier to clean and maintain as well.  The one down side was that, while it had two heads, they are very small.

The Fountaine Pajot boats draw less than the Lagoon (for my non-sailing friends - it can handle shallower water) and are known to be a bit more of a "performance" sailing boat.  Overall I like the Athena and I think it puts Fountaine Pajot's back on the list...if I can get past the idea of living full time with a very small head.  So, even though the survey didn't result in a boat for us, it did lead us to another option that we need to seriously consider.