I spent an hour or two today sitting atop the pilot house (where it was shady), watching our wake streaming out behind — a continuous river disappearing into the sea. A continuous river stretching some 5,000 miles astern, back home…
Thoughts of “back home” are often about food, and usually a comfy sofa, either in front of a favorite TV show, or overlooking the ocean from our Maine cottage. But this time my thoughts meandered to another favorite topic: boats. What kind of boat will scratch my sailing itch after this adventure…?
Thoughts begin with my little trimaran, sitting in a barn 2/3rds built. If I completed this project, and took it a step further to outfit it thoroughly for backpacker-type cruising, it could satisfy my desire to sail over the horizon — e.g., to Downeast Maine. A huge plus for this boat is cost. Even with complete cruising gear it would be the least expensive option by far. But it has its drawbacks. I’d want a little autopilot, so I don’t have to steer 100% of the time. So I need a battery, and a way to charge the battery. And a little boat like that has no good way to carry a dinghy for getting ashore. I could lash a small kayak on the cross-beams. Ugly, but workable. And potentially the biggest drawback: it would accommodate me only — not a boat for cruising with Hallie.
To get a boat for cruising together, we should have a reasonable galley, and an enclosed (at least by a curtain) head. There’s a big trade-off between interior space and my thought that I’d like to have a trimaran. Trimarans have exciting sailing qualities but very little space. There are some nice ones in the 30 – 35 foot range that probably have enough inside so that the two of us could be reasonably comfortable.
But…only the two of us. What about sailing with friends? If we go a little bigger we could have a “guest room” and be able to accommodate another couple. Probably not a trimaran at this point, as its size would get unwieldy and its expense would be exorbitant. Maybe a catamaran? Hey, maybe like the one I’m on right now?
But if we go that big/expensive, maybe we should be thinking about living aboard. We could migrate along the Intracoastal Waterway, which I found quite enticing on the way south. Living aboard changes the equation in big ways Sailing qualities have to take a back seat to space and comfort. Maybe it wouldn’t even be a sailboat at all. We saw some nice “trawlers” on the ICW that seemed like ideal vessels for that environment, where one has to motor most of the time anyway.
Boats are always a compromise. Whatever we do, I will lust after other boats that can do the other things better. I’ll just have to keep contemplating this question that has no right answer, and kick it around with Hallie a few times…over the next 15,000 miles…