When we bought Never for Ever we had one major requirement: we wanted a turnkey boat — something we could board and sail away for most of year without having to worry about anything major. But it occurs to me now, so many years later, that at the time I had no idea what a “turnkey” boat was. Or what a good deal we actually got. And, it occurs to me after writing the first draft of this post, I never realized just how much we got — so apologies for the length of the post.
In the boat shopping phase I had compiled a list of “wishlist” items that I wanted with the boat. Not so oddly given my inexperience, many of those wishes are still unfulfilled and, as I mentioned in a recent post, priorities change and now I am not so sure just how much I am now willing to invest to acquire them. Check the end of this post if you want to see a selection of some of the more ridiculous ones. But my original wishlist notwithstanding, our intention when we purchased Never for Ever was to cast off and head north, at least to the Broughton’s and further if we were feeling adventurous. We wanted to be able to cruise with no home port for up to 6 months and not have to worry.
And that’s what we got.
I’ve watched a lot of Youtube videos in the last couple of years of people buying their first boats and you know, I have been surprised by the kinds of things boats can come without. And by the kind of work that has to go into some of them — even if they weren’t project boats. Before we bought, and over the years since, I have regularly checked in at YachtWorld and tracked prices, models and ages of sailboats for sale in the PNW. My parameters always change but essentially I look at 36-40 foot boats under $120,000 CDN. But I also keep an eye on boats under $50,000 to see what there is in classic boats that an extra $30,000 of refit would make cruise-worthy. This seems to be more of what the current crop of younger YouTube sailors are doing and their equipment lists vary significantly.
But what we bought was a $120,000 boat that was ready to go. And I want to do a summary of what was on Never for Ever when we got her and maybe rate items on a scale of frivolous to necessary.
There weren’t many items on this list.
- Reliable engine. We bought an ex-charter boat with 2000+ hours on the Yanmar. I had the opportunity to talk to the original owner and was convinced that it had been maintained and my reading led me to believe a marine diesel is good for up to 5000 hours. And so far it has proven to be true. I am not so worried about engine hours anymore.
- Solid rigging and sails: turnkey meant we could trust our gear while we were “learning the ropes.” We did spend a bit of money post-purchase on this but we were building on a solid foundation.
- Canvas. I new I wanted at least a dodger (can you buy a boat in the PNW without one?) and a bimini. One 2 week spring charter to the rainy Broughtons without one was enough to convince me. And as we were staying aboard over the winter, a full enclosure was high on the list. And that’s what we got. I definitely think this was the plus I thought it was going to be. I spend a lot of time in the cockpit and we sail a lot in the shoulder seasons. Just the side panels cutting the cold wind paid for itself many times over.
- Windlass. Actually I had no idea that so many boats were sold without a windlass or with manual ones. But given our two handed crew system, I definitely think it is an addition well worth having.
Some things I knew I wanted:
- Chain rode: 110 feet (120 feet now) of chain and another 300 feet of rope rode have made a lot of our anchorages comfortable and worry-fre.
- Outboard (and RIB): we got a nice 8 hp Yamaha that is just enough to get the two of us and our gear up on plane in our West Marine RIB. While I think we could do without the planing, it has made some of our explorations a lot more feasible. Now we occasionally get frustrated when there is a third person and can’t get up on plane. And the RIB? I would never get a non-rigid bottom—I have put enough holes in the pontoons as it is.
- Webasto hydronic heater: I love it. But would I fork out the $$ to buy such a cantankerous piece of equipment? I don’t know. There are a lot of other heating options that might make more economic sense.
- Robust autopilot: we got a tough chain driven autopilot and I love it. We have cruised without an autopilot and long days get much longer if you are always at the wheel (especially without an enclosure). And I have seen enough flimsier autopilots to make me appreciate how robust ours is.
- A good house bank: we have 450 amp/hours of batteries. I knew we wanted to avoid the expense of marinas as much as possible. Our bank gives us 4 days at anchor without having to fire up the engine. These days I think this really is more of a “must have” than a “wanted.”
- Midship cleats: such a small thing. But we have chartered boats with just the two of us and that middle cleat makes docking in difficult circumstances so much easier. Something I would immediately add to any boat.
- RAM mic: a remote, helm-mounted mic for the VHS really is a necessity if you are cruising busy waters. The ability to communicate with other traffic, contacting crowded marinas or even listening to the Coast Guard from the cockpit just makes cruising a whole lot safer in my opinion.
And there were some things Never for Ever came with that I hadn’t realized I wanted. I have subsequently seen a ton of boats that were sold without these “necessities” but they are things I personally would add almost immediately.
- Charger/inverter: she came with a Magnum with a remote screen — I love this thing. A 2300 watt inverter (that we rarely use but is nice to have) combined with high tech charging system for maintaining our batteries. We later added the BMK (Battery Monitor Kit) and it has made life on anchor so much less stressful.
- Cockpit cushions: I didn’t realize how much time I would spend in the cockpit and how quickly these would become a necessity.
- Closed cell foam: (in the the above cushions) it means we can leave them out and have a reasonable expectation they will be dry without having to have them dry in the sun for hours.
- High density foam mattress topper: our aft cabin was one of the reasons we chose the Hunter and the 3 inch memory foam topper was icing on the cake. It’s certainly something I would look into adding to any boat I was spending a lot of time on.
- Radar: I know, I know, but who would have thought there was so much fog on the West Coast? <head smack>
- Racor: it never occurred to me boats would be sold without a secondary fuel filter. Seeing the problems some of our boating buddies had fuel-wise I wouldn’t leave the dock without one.
- Screens for all hatches: well maybe all was an unnecessary bonus, but having some opening ports with screens really is a necessity.
- LED lights: Never for Ever came with 4, at least one in each space except the aft cabin and we quickly remedied that. Incandescents are a huge power hog and, despite the price of LEDs, if you are spending any time on anchor, they are worth the cost.
- Rail mounted bbq: I didn’t realize this was a necessity but it really, really is.
And here a few things, big and small, that we got on Never for Ever that have made life a lot easier, but I don’t think I would include them as “must haves” when boat shopping or outfitting.
- AIS receiver: when I finally got the Standard Horizon VHS hooked up to the chartplotter, it was great to be able to track AIS targets…just added a level of safety.
- Handheld vhf: the boat came with one and it sure is handy when we are off exploring in the dinghy.
- Campbell Sailor 3 blade prop: I am not experienced enough to know just how much benefit we get from this, but I will say the boat backs well and the prop gets lots of good reviews online.
- Autopilot remote: until it stopped functioning one day I never realized how much we used it. It’s nice to be able to huddle under the dodger and still be able to dodge logs etc.
- Boat manual: as an ex-charter boat she came with a manual that listed all the common systems and instructions for use. Not a necessity in any way, bit it helped us get up to speed quickly in those first few weeks.
- Forespar Outboard Crane: almost a necessity with the 8hp motor and it makes it really convenient for the two of us to get the engine on and off the dinghy.
- Backup Fortress anchor kit: we’ve never used it but this little kit with anchor, rode and convenient carrying bag is a nice addition to our tackle.
- 5 fenders, extra docking lines: who knew how much this stuff costs? You can always use them and it’s nice they came with the boat.
- Brass barometer: we love to track the changes and see how they relate to the actual weather.
- 4 speakers: what can I say, we like music.
- 2 sets of drinking-safe hoses: self explanatory and great to have at some marinas where hose bibs are few and far between.
- 4 life jackets: spares we don’t use but makes having guests easier.
- 200′ of stern line: in the PNW? Without one you are limiting your anchorage choices.
Hunter 386 Brochure
- Aluminum Boom Vang: I am not sure what the standard option would have been?
- Electric Anchor Windlass: see above
- Inmast furling: I’ve not seen a 386 without this option, but maybe they did make a few.
- Inner-Spring Mattress: this is a not option.
- Refrigerator/Freezer (as opposed to an icebox)
A Great Deal
So, quite the list eh? I really didn’t realize how well equipped a boat we got until I started working on this list. I have not seen a lot of boats for sale that didn’t include at least a few of the above, but I have seen an awful lot that that didn’t weren’t equipped with most.
Not Wanted on This Voyage
I will finish off with some of the things that were on my original boat-hunting checklist that didn’t make the cut. I am not saying that I wouldn’t want (or need) them if we were cruising in different waters but for now they have become extravagances I mistakenly thought I would need.
- Fitted sheets (And we didn’t even sleep in the v-berth!)
- Hammock (Really? This was on my wishlist?)
- Watermaker (In the Salish Sea? Because freshwater is so scarce?)
- Drinking water filtration system (see above)
- Generator (Still dreaming, but such a luxury)
- Solar panels (Still, still dreaming… I think…)
- 100 amp alternator (Sell, not the worst idea but oh, the expense.)
- Wifi booster (because I wanted to stay connected? Sheesh.)
- Davits (I think I was in a lazy phase)
- Code zero (Sail envy is a thing!)
- Fender socks (Because they look tidier?)
- AIS transponder (Oooh, an electronic toy!)
- Folding wheel (What was I thinking? Oh right, that crowded cockpit on the Bavaria 33 we chartered…)