Friday, May 6, 2011

The 40 foot Ketch

A good friend of ours was playing his guitar at a cafe last night. My lovely wife and I thought we'd catch his performance as he's one heck of singer. Bad weather kept most people home and the place was nearly empty. Those that were there decided to all share a large round table. As a few more straggled in, they just pulled up a chair to the table. My guitar friend decided play right the table, instead of on the stage. It was all very cozy.

Between sets, we were asked how our trip south was. We went on and on about how much we loved sailing. A lady at the table asked us if we wanted her boat. Her and her husband aren't sailing it anymore and would be willing to just give it to us.

Turns out it's a 40 ft,1930 wooden ketch in good condition. It's on the hard in a marina in Maine right now, but they sailed it all last summer. The boat is ready to go. Put it in the water, add provisions, and it could sail anywhere in the world.

My wife and I had a heart to heart talk last night, and we aren't going to take the ketch. I was all for it. A 40 foot classic boat for free? Who can refuse such a thing? My wife, as it turns out. Okay, her reasons are all good. She's got some health issues we are following up with right now. The grandkids are at that age where you don't want to leave them too long. They grow so fast. It would really stretch the heck out of a budget already stretched. Unlike our trailer sailor, we'd have to keep the boat moored out in Maine, a few hours drive away. Now I thought we could get the boat, get used to it sailing off the coast of Maine, then bring it down to Florida in the fall. We could even leave it down there. My arguments did not sway her.

Now it's not like my wife is afraid of adventure. She's willing to coastal sail our 19 foot Oday down the ICW. Has no problem living for weeks at a time on a tiny sailboat. She's not interested in serious off-shore cruising. Under the right conditions: Nantucket, the Bahamas, or the Dry Tortugas doesn't bother her, but she's most comfortable with coastal cruising. Our current boat can do all that. It doesn't need a marina, is cheap to keep, and easy to launch.

That didn't completely convince me. My concern was with regret. Would she regret not getting this boat? A couple years down the road, would she really want a bigger boat, one that could be lived on full time? If we decided that's the direction we want to go, she's perfectly willing to sell and house or do anything else needed to make it happen. I believe and trust her, as that's how our lives have been. If we really want to do something, we make it happen. This door is not shut forever.

She had another point that reminded me just how much I love her. It's easier to break the law with a 19 foot boat than with a 40 foot boat. I understood her perfectly. It's not so much about breaking the law as the rules, especially the unwritten ones. With our little boat, we can lift the keel and get into places no one expects to see a sailboat. Even the mast can be dropped to pass under low bridges. It's a gunkholer's boat. One could be sneaky with it.

I do feel better after our talk last night, but must admit to a few pangs about letting such an opertunity go. However, it's not like we won't be sailing. We expect to do a lot of sailing in New England, from Lake Champlain in Vt to the coast of Maine.

We have let other generous offers go in the past. A friend's brother heard we were doing a lot of tenting and offered to give us his motor home. He couldn't use it anymore and was losing his storage space. It wasn't a new one, but was registered and road legal. He didn't want to bother with selling it and wanted someone who enjoyed camping to use it.

A lot of people would have jumped at the chance, but we let it pass. Sure, I was tempted, but my wife thinks tents are terribly romantic. Who am I to argue with that? Had we gone the motor home route, it's likely we'd never have gotten into sailing, so I guess it works out.



  1. I see the points for both arguments, but think keeping it small would be the best option. I have zero experience with boats, but understand from my boss (who does A LOT of salt water offshore fishing) that the bigger boats cause bigger headaches and much bigger expenses. More room - yes, but at a cost he regretted and downsized back to 25'. He is a happy camper now.

    The 'sneaky' comments especially make sense - bigger does catch the eye of the law and the lawless.

  2. Wise move Bear, You would be extremely limited on where ya could go. A forty foot wood boat is next to impossible to maintain down here, the worms would eat it right up in a heartbeat !
    Still, I can understand the regret part...

    Our next boat will be a trailer sailor, no more than 25ft.

  3. Just launched my little boat on the small lake we live on. It's now tied at my beach. It'll be fun taking the kids out. The lake has a pretty good boat launch, so I can pick it up pretty easily when I want to go someplace bigger. Next thing to go on the boat is my fishing pole.

  4. My first thought was hell, can I have it? : ) But Spud is right. Sub-tropics and wooden boats that live in the water don't get along too well. Especially when they sit still a lot...

  5. Hi Mayberry. I guessed what your first thoughts would be. It looks like I might have dodged a maintenance nightmare. Still it was one heck of an offer.

  6. Sounds like you two made the right decision regarding the boat and the motor home. With the price of fuel the motor home would eat you alive. And, unless you're incredibly wealthy, the larger something is, the more maintenance it requires; the higher the insurance/title/taxes, etc. and the more prep time it takes to just use the darn thing!

    Easy living is all about simplicity, adaptability and convenience - one reason an aluminum 14' jon boat appeals to us versus the 22' Carver with cuddy cab and trailer.

  7. Boy, that must have been a hard decision to to make!

    Still, being single I forget sometimes that marriage is a partnership!

    As long as you talked it out, I feel you did the right thing for you!

  8. Hey, we are a non profit in Salem, Oregon and we are looking for a 40' ketch to use to train for a bigger sail training program we want to do, we are a 501-c so we could also give a tax credit.