There are literally hundreds (more like thousands) of boats for sale on the market and deciding which one is right for us is like maneuvering through a giant maze.  You have to decide on features, layout, sail configuration, year, condition and of course price.  We came up with two lists, the Must Haves and the Would be Nice list. Here is how we not only maneuvered through the ins and outs of the maze but how we conquered it!

Having spent 12 days sailing the British Virgin Islands (BVI) aboard a Beneteau Cyclades 43, helped us decide on several key elements that we knew we liked and disliked.  We also spent the next year and a half searching the Internet, finding our favorite sites and narrowing our search criteria.

Here is our Must Have list;

  • Size – We knew we wanted a boat that was large enough to be a good Blue Water boat but not to large for the two of us to handle (38-40 foot).
  • Sail Plan – We did not want to deal with the additional sail that comes with a Ketch (2 masts), so we figured a Sloop (1 mast) would be a better choice.
  • Cabins – Having 5 children, 2 Grand Children and 2 more on the way, we knew that we would need enough space to accommodate at least 8 people and not to large for the two of us to manage on a daily basis.  We decided that a 3 cabin layout with a fairly large Saloon and cockpit would give us the space we required.
  • Transom – Knowing that we will be getting in and out of the boat several times per day, we wanted to make this as easy as possible.  So we decided that a Sugar Scoop Transom would be the answer. This lowered back design provides easy access to the water while creating a convenient way to board the boat.
  • Cockpit – Since the cockpit will be our outdoor living area, we wanted it to be large enough to entertain, have dinner and flow easily fore and aft.  Having a fairly large folding table gives us the ability to enjoy outdoor dining and can be easily tucked away when not in use.  Dual helm stations was another feature that we desired. It gives you the flexibility of steering from either side and also frees up the center of the cockpit for ease of movement. An outdoor showerhead located on the swim platform makes showering a snap when in warm climates.
  • Heads – We knew we needed 2 heads (bathrooms).  This would give us the extra holding capacity and also eliminate having to repair a toilet while underway should there be an issue.  We also wanted one of the heads to have a separate shower area as to not have to soak down the entire room for showering.  And I am big believer of the old phrase “2 heads are better than 1”.
  • Year – Since we did not want a project boat (one that required a lot of repairs), we felt we would be better off with as new of a boat as we could afford.
  • Instruments – We knew we needed at least a chart plotter, wind instruments and an autopilot that was fairly new.  The boat came equipped with this set of equipment manufactured by Raymarine and the Navionics software.  Having already being familiar with the Navionics plotting software and having it already installed on our phone and iPad was a plus.

Our Would be Nice List; Although some of the following items could also have been included in the Must Haves, we knew they could be added so decided to list them here.

  • Solar and Wind – We knew that we will need the ability to keep our batteries charged and solar panels and a wind generator would be required.  Running the diesel to recharge the batteries is something we wanted to avoid.  Knowing that that these technologies have advanced over the last five years, we felt that we could add this later with newer, more efficient and hopefully less expensive equipment.
  • Water – While long distance cruising and living on the hook (just anchored not at a marina), fresh water is a premium so having the ability to make your own water would be nice.  Who cares if you only shower once a week?
  • Dinghy – Since we will be relying on a dinghy for own only mode of transportation from the boat to shore, a good dinghy and outboard motor is a must.
  • AIS – Automatic Identification System is a piece of equipment that we would like to add as soon as possible. AIS identifies our vessel, any vessel that is in the area, the vessel characteristics and direction it is traveling.  This will prove valuable especially when visibility is limited or sailing at night.
  • SAT Weather – Sirius XM Marine make a satellite radio that has the ability of providing real time weather information.  This is a double bonus, we will have the latest weather along with good tunes.
  • Boat Survey (similar to a house inspection); We hired a professional to survey the boat before we made our final offer. After reviewing the report, we decided to renegotiate the sales price in order for the seller to absorb some of the upcoming repair costs.  Our offer was accepted and we were now owners of a Beneteau 40.