Liveaboard seeks new sailboat?

puget sound sailingWell. I have a lot to catch up on, and not to worry, I’ll cover everything from the last three weeks as best I can. When time permits, I’ll document my experience with BoatUS (that will be a longer post) and catch up on posts I meant to write before the Ramming of 2012. For now I must prioritize, and this post is dependent upon you, the readers of my blog, all of whom are fantastic. These past three weeks have been difficult, but the letters from you have been tremendously encouraging, supportive, funny, and have made me feel less alone in this disaster. Later, I’ll be dedicating an entire post to you, the readers, highlighting some of the funnier moments and the power you all can wield. Anyway, to business.

Despite my plea/explanation out into the blogosphere and universe that I want to keep my beautiful Islander 30 Libby, the numbers suggest I should keep my options open. The cost to repair the damage is high– Libby was official totaled. I still have the option to repair the boat, which makes emotional sense, not financial sense, as the process for me is a logistical nightmare. I’m seriously considering purchasing a new boat. To save you from having to look over the past year of posts, here are some of my boat’s niceties which I’d like on Boat #2:

Things Libby has that I love

  • Stainless steel self-tailing winches (my pride and joy!)
  • Yanmar freshwater cooled diesel engine (big bragging point)
  • New rigging 2007 (new mast, boom, shrouds)
  • LectraSan sanitation unit. No holding tank.
  • Full battened mainsail (newer)
  • GPS navigation system
  • Tiller steering (nice to know where the rudder is)

The above are things I’ve grown accustomed to, and if I am to purchase a new boat, I want as many of those things as I can get.

Important note: This post is seeking boats that are not listed for sale. I can and have browsed Yachtworld, Craig’s List, sailboat listings, etc. daily. I’m putting this post out there to see what, if anything, comes back, in an effort to expand my options further. A great many, possibly a majority, of sailboats sit in a marina and are taken out once or twice a season. It’s possible that one of those owners has thought about selling his or her boat, but has held onto it, waiting for a better economy. Then there are sudden and unexpected life changing situations that force the sale of a boat. I’m putting out a weather balloon and seeing what’s around. Because hey, you just never know.

Features I want

In addition to the points outlined above, there are many things Libby does not have that I was planning on adding. If the next boat has them, great. They are:


  • Propane stove and oven (my boat has kerosene)
  • Refrigerator. I know they’re battery killers, but nice to have when I’m docked for winter
  • Additional counter space


  • Bulkhead diesel heater (I want a wood burning stove by Navigator, but I’ll settle for diesel if it’s already installed)
  • Long settee for reclining and reading
  • Warm and cozy interior with character (decked out in teak or mahogany preferred)
  • Open floor plan


  • Dodger
  • Windlass

Rigging & sails

  • In good shape! Main sail with battens and reef points
  • Boom vang
  • Variety of headsails if hank on
  • Lines led aft (if not, I can do this later, but would be nice)

Before going on and listing boats I’d like and boats I’d not like, let me state that this post is entirely about me and what I want. We humans naturally judge based on ourselves, and can sometimes get defensive and think someone else’s choices somehow reflect our own. We all do it, myself included. There are lots of great boats out there, but not all of them are right for me. When I exclude a boat from my list, and it’s a boat you love or have, please don’t take offense or try to defend the boat and why you think it’s the best out there. It may be the best for you, but not a good fit for me. Boat buying is subjective.

Types & limits

Monohull cruiser

Living aboard means I need the space and the comfort a cruiser affords. I’m not interested in day sailers or racers, though I’ve seen some racers which look quite comfy cozy. I also like a boat which heels, so no catamarans or trimarans para me.

Sloop or cutter

Over the weekend I got the chance to sail and, for just long enough, single hand a Cape George Cutter 36. The hardest part of single handing is what I consider the quick sailing maneuvers, like tacking. I had no problem with the larger boat and found it a joy to sail. I like the look and options a cutter provides, and would love to own one.

No pilothouses. They’re not for me.


Full, fin, 3/4 or cutaway. I’m not going to be too picky here, but I want a good, solid keel, nothing shallow.


30 to 40 feet (not including bowsprits). Beam of at least 10 feet.


Traveling to a boat, then shipping (if too far or impractical to sail home), is expensive. For that reason, I’m looking at boats in the Pacific Northwest. I know there are some great deals in Southern California, but it’s a logistical nightmare and costly.

Boats I Love


A big duh, who doesn’t love them? I have fabulous and expensive taste. Of course, most of the Ta Shing boats I’d relish owning are well out of my price range, but like I said before, you just never know. A few months ago someone here in Seattle was selling their Baba 30 for $29k. It might have been wreck, but life happens and so do quick sales. In that vain:

  • Baba 30
  • Baba 35
  • Tashiba 31
  • Tashiba 36


I love my Islander 30 and how well she sails. She’s sturdy, points high, hauls @ss on the water, takes wakes with ease, and is a total blast to sail. Islanders have a reputation for being sturdy, well-built, and reliable boats, and now that I’m looking at other boats, I find myself longing to have another Islander.

  • Islander MK II
  • Islander Bahama
  • Islander 32 (a Perry design)
  • Islander 36

Boats I might like

I’ve been browsing around at different listings and learning about other boat manufactuers. Below are some that pique my interest and I’d like to learn more about or take a look at them. If you have personal experience with the boats below, I’d like to hear from you. This list is not exhaustive.

  • Aloha
  • C&C
  • Cal 40
  • Crown 34
  • Halberg-Rassy
  • Pearson
  • Ranger
  • True North
  • Morgan

Boats I don’t want

I have my reasons, but I shan’t list them here. Again, please don’t take offense if you have one of these boats or try to convince me I’m a moron for not wanting one. There are probably boats I’ve missed that should be on this list, and I’ve simply forgotten.

  • Catalina
  • Cascade
  • Columbia
  • Coranado
  • Ericson
  • Hunter
  • Macgregor
  • Newport

Please share this post with people you know who either are into boating, know of someone who sails, or even people in the yacht sales business. I’d really appreciate it if I could find a great boat that I love just as much or more as my first, if that’s possible.

This has been a heartbreaking process. I wasn’t ready to be parted from Libby. True, she probably wasn’t my forever boat, but she was a fantastic one and became a big part of my identity, to be honest. When I get calls from brokers, I get a pang of guilt in my gut, feeling as though I’ve cheated on my boat. We breathe life into the boats we sail and call home, and while it might sound silly, these boats become our companions on our adventures. One liveaboard I chatted with a week ago said the same thing: boats become our friends. She was right. Yes, I know a sailboat is an inanimate object, but my heart feels otherwise.


  1. Jose Carumba August 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Courtney, You might want to know that the Crown 34 was also built as the Sun 34 and as the San Juan 34. I am not certain of the differences in build quakity between the different manufacturers but it might broaden your pool of potential boats.

  2. Donn Chrisianson August 15, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    We will keep our eyes open for you, Courtney.

  3. kerrychristianson August 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I’m sorry Libby ended up being totaled, Courtney. Donn and I will keep our eyes and ears open for possible options for your next home. It helps that you’re so specific and you know what you want… that’s the first step in getting it. 🙂

  4. Fred Facker August 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    If you find one in Texas you like, I volunteer to quit my job and sail with you from here down through Panama and back up to Washington.

    1. Courtney August 16, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Fred, that has to be the nicest comment I’ve ever gotten. Good for your state of employment that I can’t afford this Baba 35, then.

        1. Courtney August 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm

          Pretty. You can still have it, I’m not interested in a ketch. It’s sloops and cutters for me.

  5. Dan Wierman August 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    You have not listed them, but there are some J-Boats that are good cruisers. They are not all racers. Specifically, the J32 and the J35C models are good sailing, comfortable boats designed to be cruisers. One problem with them is that they are in demand and expensive.

    1. Courtney August 16, 2012 at 10:59 am

      I have looked at a couple of J boat listings, because I know they’re fast and fun. Something to consider, that’s for sure.

      1. rawthul August 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        2nd Dan’s suggestion about jboats and would suggest J30’s too – closer to the I30 price range than the 32 or 35C, but plenty of creature comforts and quick too. Might like the fractional rig better than the Islander’s masthead. Counterspace would be an issue… the galley is pretty cramped. A marina neighbor of mine lived aboard his J30 and was very comfortable.

      2. Steve Olson September 14, 2012 at 5:21 pm

        Hi Courtney! I have full access to a J120, a J105, a J35C, a C&C30, and Jeanneaus. Let me know if you’d ever like to come check them out. I sail out of Shilshole.

        1. Courtney September 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

          Oh man! Heck yeah, that sounds fun. I’ll shoot you an email.

  6. Jim Legere August 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Sorry to hear Libby was considered a total loss – I was following your story on Sailnet & CA. I think you have considered your priorities and preferences very well. However, you may want to look at the pre-1985 Hunters, the so-called Cherubini Hunters. They are very different that the rest of the Hunter line (designed by a respected naval architect and reasonably heavily built) and can be had for pretty fair prices. I have owned an 1983 Hunter 37 Cutter for 10 years and have no complaints. Just sayin…

    1. Courtney August 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

      Jim, Jim, Jim. Tsk, tsk. You just couldn’t resist, could you? Hmmm…. *scratches chin, narrows eyes* How shall I make an example out of you? 😉

  7. Dan August 15, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Good to have the settlement phase over! It would help to know what sort of budget you had in mind for the new boat. Also keep in mind that a boat that costs less and has less on it can be upgraded with what monies are left over. Sometimes a used up windlass, for example, is more trouble than it is worth. Have you been given a deadline as to when you have to decide on keeping Libby? And if you have decided to get a different boat, how long do you have Libby to live on til you find it?

    1. Courtney August 16, 2012 at 11:07 am

      Part of the settlement deal, which I’ll cover in a later post, is that I get to keep my Islander, I didn’t have to buy it back from BoatUS. It’s still mine. As for declaring a budget, I’ve decided not to. I’ll discuss my reasons in detail later, as well.

      1. Dan August 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm

        Wow! Now THAT is a great thing!

  8. Michael August 15, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Hi Courtney –

    It was nice to meet you and your folks the other day on my lunch walk. Sorry to hear that Libby can’t be economically saved, but I’m sure you’ll find a new boat you can bond with just as well. Sounds like you’ve got a pretty good start on trimming down the choices, and a good handle on what you need/want.

    I raced on a Peterson 37 some years ago that is sort of like you describe in your wishlist (except with wheel steering). I would describe it as either a really comfy race boat or a really fast cruiser. I always thought it was a very nice boat. It was quite fast. If you see one for sale it might be worth at least taking a look as a maybe. I think there may have been more than one generation of Peterson 37s – this was an early ’90s one.

    Back when I was considering buying a sailboat for a liveaboard I seriously coveted an Islander 40, and looked at several for sale. Those are probably a bit big for what you’re looking for though.

    I’ll be in Newport, Oregon this weekend working on our boat trying to make progress on the checklist of projects before heading North to here. I’ll let you know if I see anything on your short list with a for sale sign on it. That may be a bit far for you to be shopping – but if you do find something down there we could buddy-boat the trip north as the Seafisher is about the same speed as a sailboat… 🙂

    Good luck!

    m/v Seafisher

    1. Courtney August 16, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Nice meeting you, too, Michael! A Peterson 37, eh? I’ll have to search those and see what’s what. My one concern with bigger boats is bigger costs, both in parts and moorage fees. It all depends upon how much my space matters to me, I suppose, and what comes up for sale. I love Islanders, I think of them as the Hondas of the boat world: sturdy, reliable, well made, and economical. Stay safe out there on the Pacific, I hear she can be quite nasty!

  9. Pingback: Liveaboard seeks new sailboat? | Courtney Kirchoff

  10. John Peltier August 16, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Cape Dory and Pacific Seacraft are some other builders you may want to check out if you haven’t already. I didn’t see them on either of your lists otherwise I would have kept my mouth shut (or hands off the keyboard). Most of these are full or cutaway keels & cutter-rigged, with warm wood interiors and are very comfortable & seaworthy. They do cost a little more…

    1. Courtney August 16, 2012 at 11:12 am

      I’d love to look at Cape Dorys and Seacrafts, but those are waaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of my price range right now. It’s tough to have expensive taste and also a sense of thrift. I’m not sure I’ll ever buy a boat that costs as much as a house, but never say never.

  11. CANative August 16, 2012 at 11:47 am

    The Islanders and the Ericsons were all built targeting the same buyer with the same build cost and budget etc. If the Ericsons are not on your list then I really don’t see why the Islander is on the list either other than the emotional connection you mention to the current boat. I spent two years looking for a boat even flew to the great lakes to look at a couple. I dug through more Islander bilges and Ericsons than I care to recall. I will say one thing the ericsons I looked at on average had slightly higher level of attention to detail in the build effort over the islanders I looked at. The gelcoat work on the ericsons was also better compared to the islanders thats simply how it was.

    The Cal 40 is a very basic narrow interior with fiberglass pan floor designed to be a racing boat and is not a warm interior 😉 – the Cal 36 on the other hand is the warmer more cruise oriented version and still a very good sailing boat very highly respected actually.

    The C&C ‘s built in the same era as the Islander and Ericson’s are for the most part again very similar in quality given they were competing with Islander and Ericson along with CAL during the hey days. Though many people considered the C&C’s to be a tad light in their construction compared to the three above.

    Best of luck boat shopping is an adventure that can be some of the most frustrating and some of the best times.

    1. Courtney August 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      Except for the Macgregor, I have no animus towards the boats listed in the “I don’t want” list. Yes, there’s emotion in the Islander line, but there’s always emotion in the new home buying process. I have nothing against Ericsons, they’re fine boats. Some that I’ve seen listed for sale, at great prices, look spectacular. Built in the same era toward the same crowd, I understand that too. GMs, Fords, Toyotas and Hondas are also targeted toward the same crowd, I just have a preference. I love the deep keel of my Islander, and didn’t see that on the Ericsons. Really, it’s that simple.

      I’ve heard that C&Cs aren’t as robust as Islanders and Ericsons. This bums me out. I’m going to take a look at a couple C&Cs anyway, but would prefer something more solid.

  12. Rick Bailey August 19, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Dang. I was afraid it would be that way. Cost vs practical is tough to beat where repairs and boats are concerned.

    I don’t have any practical suggestions for boats, except to say one of my personal favorites is the Islander Freeport 36. They’re pricey, though. Even the old ones (well, they’re all old), and they don’t come on the market often. Still, you never know. And… it’s a Bob Perry design.

  13. s/v Eolian August 20, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Hi Courtney –

    We are so sorry that this has happened to you. And that you will lose a summer’s cruising as a result.

    However, I don’t think you should be too concerned about bonding with the next boat. We’ve had four, and we’ve bonded with each of them. They have each had their pluses and minuses, but we’ve loved them all. I’m very sure you will too.

    And you now have an opportunity for a new adventure!

    (I won’t bore you with recommendations for any particular boat, because I don’t know your budget, and because it is such a personal thing…)

    s/v Eolian

    1. Courtney August 22, 2012 at 7:58 am

      It’s a beauty, Jim, but out of my price range. Thanks for posting, though, it’s easy on the eyes.

  14. nikki wynn August 23, 2012 at 8:31 am

    What a bummer to have to go through the boat buying process again when you were loving the boat you had. However, we are thinking of moving into a boat so I love all the info you are posting about the process. We have never sailed and so it is so helpful to follow your experience. Thanks for sharing with all of us!

  15. adamplourde August 24, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I can so relate to the feeling of cheating on your old boat. I have a little Seafarer 24 that I love; but my needs have changed and I’m looking for something a bit bigger (but not too much) as a liveaboard. I’m going to survey on a Bayfield 29 in a couple of days with seriously mixed emotions. I look at my poor Seafarer out of the corner of my eyes now, as I just can’t stand to meet her gaze.

    It’s funny how an inanimate object can do that.

  16. Devon October 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I think you should consider a cs yacht. they are stordier than c&c and built in canada as well so there should be alot in the pacific northwest as i beleive vancouver is full of them. The cs 36t is a great boat but pricey. the cs 33 is good too. I am from toronto and i sailed a folkboat i bought for 200 bucks from montreal to toronto and i met a couple who sailed there cs30 in the remnants of hurricane issac in 45 kntt winds for 2 days so it is definitely a strong boat. Ive been reading your story on sailnet and its interesting. you might want to consider an alberg 37 (the 35 is ugly inside but cheap). also a nonsuch might interest you (the deep keel version). have you considered a mirage 33 almost 12 foot beam. also look at the niagra and ontario boats designed by george hinterhoeler there very strong

  17. David Wrate July 23, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Hi Courtney, I just ran across your blog. Did you ever find a boat? I ask because I have a 1978 Crown 34 and you listed a Crown 34 as a potential.

    She has new sails in 2006, new ports, new canvas. She ticks a some of your other boxes such as 3 burner propane range.

    Let me know, we’re in Victoria and are pretty flexible.

    1. Courtney July 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      Hi David,
      No, I didn’t find a boat. I’m back on land and enjoying the extra, always dry, space. Thanks for the offer, though. Hope you find a new owner for your Crown.