The Right Boat For You Is…

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(published May 2017)

When I overheard Porter, our newly minted four-year-old, say, “Mom, I love Yahtzee” while being tucked into bed for the night, I couldn’t help but smile. The topic between he and Jill was boats, ours and others, and it was comforting to know that he loves his nomadic home.

      Jill’s response was simple and sweet, “Me too.”

   We’ve owned, lived-aboard and cruised our 1984 Grand Soleil 39 Yahtzee for nearly five years now. In that time, our family has expanded from two to four and the amount of stuff aboard has grown with it.

    Like any boat owner, the thought of buying a different boat is always there, and when we were recently asked if we’d consider buying a larger boat to accommodate our family, it got me thinking: Do we even need a bigger boat? A different type of boat? A newer boat?

    The answer to the first question is that, yes, a larger boat would certainly be nice as our boys grow. But how big? The bigger the boat gets, the more things cost. Slip payments, haulouts, sails, rigging, and on and on all cost more. Which in turn means we’d need to make more money to feed the beast. And in doing that, would we focus more on maintaining a budget than on actually enjoying cruising? If that answer was yes, then there’s no way we’d want a bigger boat.

   The second question is a hotly contested one in the cruising community: What type of boat is best for world cruising? And while everyone seems to know the answer, it’s not that simple. Not at all. I’d contend that it is not what boat is best, rather what boat is right for the owner, crew and their respective plans. To be sure, some boats are great on long passages, but aren’t ideal for cruising once they’ve reached a new destination. Others are quite the opposite; relatively tender at sea, but perfect for comfortable coastal or island cruising. Many fall in between. But what’s right for us?

    And the third question, the one of buying a newer or new boat, is always an interesting one. Newer boats certainly have their merits and appeal, and I love walking around boat shows and dreaming of what could be as much as anyone. Something I always consider with a new boat is that there’s a lot of outfitting that needs to be done, and that process alone can be quite daunting. It can be especially troubling to sell a boat that is proven and well kitted out, such as Yahtzee, only to turn around and buy one that isn’t, and then have to go through the refit process all over again.

      In answering these questions, what I came to realize is that the farther we cruise on our boat, the more upgrades we make, and the better outfitted she gets. Languishing at a dock never made a great cruising boat and after being free from the shackles of a permanent slip for almost three years, I’m starting to see how being out has created a more capable and fit boat. In constantly using her, we’re keeping the systems going and making necessary improvements that we see fit via our own experience. Of course, there’s always the next thing, but when a cruising boat is dialed in, it’s a thing of beauty.

    With boys age 2 and 4 that seem to be growing leaps and bounds daily, we think that someday we might get a bigger, different and newer boat. But that’s not necessarily true. We love our boat. And when all is said and done, the right boat for us at the moment is the one we own. Maybe that’s the case for most boat owners.

Andrew, along with wife Jill and sons Porter and Magnus, are currently cruising the Pacific Northwest aboard their Grand Soleil 39 Yahtzee. Follow their adventures at threesheetsnw.com/yahtzee.