Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Buying s/v Pipe Muh Bligh

Why a sailboat??
Since both of us grew up in coastal areas, we've both loved the water all our lives. Stacy had dreams of retiring on a sailboat in a tropical climate but no actual sailing experience. Rene began sailing in college, and the idea of retiring on a sailboat fit well with his passion for travel and SCUBA diving. By 2004, we made a 3-year plan which ultimately turned into a 4-year plan.

Boat rule!
We actually started living by "boat rule" as soon as we made the 4-year plan. "Boat rule" means anything that fits on the boat. It applies to purchases, gifts to/from each other, gifts from friends, etc. If we couldn't take it on the boat, we didn't want it. No big-screen HDTVs, Blue-Ray players, stereos, new furniture, you name it. For Stacy, the hard part was shoes; for Rene, that meant reducing his wine purchases.

Which boats did we look at?
Anyone who's ever bought a boat knows that the hardest part is finding the right boat. Obviously, safety comes first. After that, the sky is the limit as much as it corresponds with your budget. Since we're both tall, one of our top priorities was headroom. Neither of us wanted to live aboard a boat where you smacked your head every time you walked through a door. (They say you get used to ducking, but we never did after a week on a charter boat.) Next was maintenance. There are thousands of great used boats out there for sale, but we weren't prepared to buy a "fixer-upper" that would require more time, money, and effort - not to mention know-how - to get ready for long-term sailing. Finally, we wanted comfort...after all, this IS our home! We agreed to look for something in the 40-45 foot range, in a 2-cabin configuration (us plus a guest room).

After lots of visits to boat brokers, boat shows, and internet surfs, we narrowed it down to 3 manufacturers: Hunter, Catalina, and Bavaria. Stacy LOVED the below-decks of the Hunter 45 center cockpit. Gorgeous!! If you're not familiar with the Hunters, they have beautiful living spaces but aren't famous for their sturdiness (one example: no backstay). Perfect for day sailing, but not necessarily the boat you want to take hundreds of miles offshore. Let's just say Rene quickly nixed the Hunter idea. We also found two Catalinas that fit the bill: the Catalina 470, a beautiful and reliable boat that's very popular in the Galveston Bay area (and very easy to pick up used); and a Catalina Morgan 440, which is lesser-known in our area but is the first dual-named product of the Catalina-Morgan merger and was released in 2004 or '05.

The Bavaria is a European boat that Rene knew, and can be found at some charter companies in the Caribbean. After Stacy took a bareboat sailing course and we both got more involved in some Galveston Bay sailing races, we chartered a 36-foot Bavaria in the British Virgin Islands. In addition to a fantastic vacation, we came home feeling like we could really make a home out of the Bavaria. The following year, we chartered a Bavaria 46 with our friends, John and Bonnie, in the Grenadines. The trip was a great test drive, and the boat exceeded our expectations. Unfortunately, we discovered that the 46 is only available in a 3-cabin configuration. Needing work/storage space over more guestrooms, we sadly took the Bavaria off our shopping list.

How did we end up with this boat?
According to the 4-year plan, we wanted to buy a boat sometime in the Spring or Summer of 2008, with the intention of going cruising at the end of that year. As fate would have it, we found an immaculate 8-year old Catalina 470 for sale in the Summer of 2007. Her owners had taken incredible care of her, and she had lots of custom features. At the same time, we learned that our broker was ready to get rid of the Catalina Morgan 440 for a song. The Cat Morgan was a 2005 boat, but had been sitting on the brokerage dock for the past 18 months. It was a tough decision, but Rene fell in love with the Cat Morgan's deck salon setup: raised salon, huge windows at eye level, and a general openness below. Better yet, the CM was designed with a small (and potentially more "senior") crew in mind. All lines run back to the cockpit (no mast or foredeck maneuvering needed under normal circumstances), and the boat can be sailed by two people relatively easily. Add to that a 2-cabin plus workroom configuration, and we were sold.

When did we close the deal?

We made the offer on the boat in August, 2007, a week before we left for a 2-week Tuscany vacation. Throughout the Italy trip, there were feelings of excitement, fear, and general awe at what awaited us at home. "Are we sure we've done the right thing?" and "no turning back now!" were two common themes. On September 15, three days after returning from Tuscany, we closed on the boat. Pipe Muh Bligh was ours!

What's in a name?
Speaking of Pipe Muh Bligh, if you have sensitive "ears", then read no further!

Pipe Muh Bligh is the phonetic spelling of an old Dutch phrase, which literally translated means "blow me happy". As in "may the wind...." (Yeah, right.) Hey, it's a great ice-breaker at sailing parties!

Under Construction

We apologize for the delay in getting our Blog updated. Hurricane Ike and general cruising preparations have taken a big bite out of our time and we're behind.

But it's getting closer to the top of the list of priorities!

This Blog is currently under construction but in a couple of weeks expect to see the official adventures of Rene and Stacy Foree on board of s/v Pipe Muh Bligh.

C U soon!