End of Part One - We have had a phenomenal time on Sea Spirit
We have had an absolutely wonderful first year aboard Sea Spirit. For a family's first introduction to cruising, I'm not sure we could have chosen a better boat. We are very grateful to the entire Sea Spirit Yachts crew for everything they have done to make a wonderful, seaworthy, comfortable trawler, and also for building a great, responsive company. In particular, I would like to thank the following Sea Spirit people: Dan Fritz (CEO), Andrea Gaines (VP US Ops), and Tee Tzeryu (VP Production), all of whom have been there for us every step of the way. And of course a special thank you to Sarah Lowell (our training captain).
We recognized at the end of our Spring 2011 season that we wanted a bigger boat that would allow us more visitors more often. I realize this makes us different from many other boaters who only want visitors in small doses, but there you go. Also, it turned out that we were much more interested in coastal cruising than the passage-making we initially craved. Over the last few months, we've been toying with what to do. Initially, we had thought to move up to the spectacular Sea Spirit Passagemaker 75/78, which is the next size up in the Passagemaker range, and was also designed by Sparkman & Stephens. But in the end, we felt we really weren't cut out to have any new boat built for us, since we don't want to wait the year and a half needed to build any new boat of this caliber and size. We got lucky with our Passagemaker 60, which was already built and just waiting for us to come along. No already-built 78 was available though.
Our next thought was to examine the possibility of another brand of trawler such as a Nordhavn or Northern Marine. However, it is slim pickings in the 70+ foot range, and we didn't see anything that we thought we would be comfortable moving into. So, we then thought about moving into a motor yacht, as I mentioned in some prior blog postings. For people now looking to coastal-cruise, a motor yacht can make very good sense. However, "motor yacht" covers a lot of territory, from practical long range cruisers with reasonable engines to super-sexy high horsepower speed demons that run out of fuel as soon as they cross the horizon. But in our size range, which we defined as 70 to 85 feet, there are lots of practical motor yachts to choose from, many of which are from fine builders.
We also did some long and hard thinking about how cruising fit into our lives, and figured out that at least for the next 3 years or so, 6 weeks of cruising per year was probably plenty for this family of four. This puts us squarely in opposition to many trawler buyers, who either want to live aboard full time, or be "snowbirds", living 5 - 6 months of the year aboard, and the remainder at home. Some are lucky enough to live close to great boating grounds, but part of the price of paradise (we live in Honolulu) is that the boating isn't all that good here. So just "going for weekends" isn't likely for us due to distance.
We toyed with the notion of chartering, which seems to make sense for those looking for just a week or two per year of boating. But we wanted more than that, which is why we bought a boat in the first place. Eventually, we discovered the concept of fractional yacht ownership. There seem to be many companies offering fractional ownership, but for various reasons, I was unimpressed with just about every one I spoke to.
Then, I discovered a company that impressed me more, based in Fort Lauderdale.
Start of Part Two - Our Next Boat is a 100 foot 2009 Hargrave Raised Pilot House
That company operates a fleet of several fractionally owned yachts, mostly sold to people who want to spend a month or more of each year aboard. Fractional ownership makes no economic sense for anyone spending more than about 3 months of the year aboard, or those looking to spend 1 - 2 weeks per year aboard (who should charter), but we seem to fall in the sweet spot of between 3 and 10 weeks per year.
We recently committed to purchase a fraction of a 2009 100 foot Hargrave motor yacht called "Perfect Harmony". We'll be taking her to the Bahamas in November for a month, and then spending 6 weeks in the Spring in the Southern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. These managed yachts are all crewed, but unlike a charter, you have full control over the boat while aboard, and can participate at a level commensurate with your experience, competence, and desire. Perfect Harmony will give us room for a lot of extra visitors, and the ability to participate as much or as little in the operation of the boat as we like. Once again, we're trying something new, and only time will tell how well it works out for us.
I'll be starting a new blog for our Perfect Harmony, and will let you know the address once it is set up. But this is a Sea Spirit blog, so what will happen to Sea Spirit? Someone with a vision of the high seas will become the new owner of Sea Spirit, which I think anyone would agree is the best equipped and looked after Passagemaker 60 on the market today. Sea Spirit was absolutely the right first boat for us, and the right boat for the mission we had in mind. But we changed that mission, and she now deserves to go to someone whose sees his or her cruising and passage making aspirations requiring the sea kindliness, economy, and high-seas safety features that I blogged about a year ago.
Now that we've made our decision, you'll begin to see Sea Spirit advertised for sale in all the usual places. We've asked Judy Waldman of JW Yachts (who also represents brand new Sea Spirit Passagemakers) to advertise Sea Spirit at $1.495m, which for a 2009 model year boat is a very compelling value. I look forward to working with whoever becomes Sea Spirit's new owner, to make sure that his or her experience is as positive as ours has been. If you know of anyone who is considering a 60 to 70 foot trawler, please let me or Judy Waldman know.
In the mean time, to all of you who have provided so much valuable feedback on this blog, and who have advised us every step of the way, I want to end by saying thank you very much ... and stay tuned! If you have questions either about Sea Spirit or about our decision, I'd be happy to answer them.