Thursday, January 1, 2009

The back story - how I got here

I was born and raised far from the ocean.  Short holidays to the ocean always seemed cool - being around the water and hearing the waves crash onto a beach is awesome, which is a feeling shared by many.

I had never thought about going sailing until I read a series of books by Patrick O'Brian, starting with Master and Commander.  Its a great series, I recommend it highly.  Sailing seemed to be full of adventure.  I was getting hooked on the romance of the idea.

I moved from Toronto to Seattle in 1996.  After a while, I started hiking, skiing and enjoying the area, which is spectacular in so many ways.  I though of sailing, but always considered that it was something I would do when I retired.  Idiot.  I started kayaking in 1999 and eventually messed up my back, leading to a little reevaluation of what I was doing.  Carrying a kayak was no longer a real possibility for me.

I live close to Shilshole Marina, and would walk by it frequently.  One day I wondered if I should finally look further into sailing.  I start things by reading all about them, so I started buying books on sailing.  There was much more to the activity that I thought.  It seemed very deep, with lots to learn.  I joined Windworks sailing club in 2007 and learned how to sail.  It was fun and demanding, also very social.  Along the way I abandoned my idea of waiting to get involved with sailing until after I retired.

In 2008 I decided that I wanted my own boat.  I started getting more serious toward the end of the year when I put my name down for what is normally a long waiting list for a slip at Shilshole Marina.  I got a phone call in January 2009 that a slip was available if I wanted it.  Time to decide...  I took the slip and started looking for a boat.

I wanted a boat that would be able to take me anywhere in the world.  I preferred a boat that erred on the side of being rugged and safe, while also sailing well.  I wanted a boat I would be able to single hand.  Every boat is a compromise - faster, slower, larger, smaller, heavier, lighter, wider, narrower and so many other design points.

Plagiarizing from Nigel Calder, modifying slightly, the list I was looking for in a boat is something like:

  • proven blue water construction
  • the ability to take severe groundings with no more than cosmetic damage
  • reasonable upwind performance
  • a reasonably balanced helm
  • seakindly motion
  • directional stability
  • a design that can be single handed
  • room for a small number of people, not a large crowd
  • a safe and comfortable cockpit
  • an interior that is functional at sea and comfortable on the hook
  • a boat built by people who care about quality, and express that care in their product

Sailing in Puget sound, the wind seems to be always from the North or South, and you tend to be traveling North or South.  So you are either going upwind or downwind - there isn't that much beam reaching around Seattle.  I wanted the boat I bought to be suitable for oceans out there, and to be adequate for puget sound.  This is not a boat optimized for local sailing.

I discovered Pacific Seacraft early in my search and read everything I could find on them.  I visited Seacraft Yacht Sales in Seattle early in 2009 and met Ray Neglay.  At the time, they had two PSC 37's at their dock, and they showed very well.  They were both pricey and very complete - there was not much work to do on either of them.  At the time there were 17 or so PSC 37's available across America.  I kept on looking and looking...