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It begins today

Today was the culimation of about 20 years of dreaming. Even since I was a little kid I’ve had a fascination with sailing and dreamed of sailing off to the South Pacific.

Growing up in Montana there wasn’t a whole lot of sailing to be done, so my first real experience sailing came in the Bahamas at Club Med Eluethera when I was 8 years old. On that trip I went out sailing with my Dad on a Laser and was hooked. I sailed enough with him on that trip that by the end they allowed me to take a Laser out on my own. I distinctly remember tacking the boat back and forth out of the little cove we were in. When my courage ran out I decided to head back and I headed down, gybed, and promptly capsized. I have a strong memory of floating in the water with my life jacket and seeing that the shore was miles away (I have since revised my estimate to maybe 300 yards). Turning away from shore and facing the boat, the vertical hull seemed to tower over me. But, I had capsized with my Dad before and knew what to do. I swam around to the bow and pulled it with all my might into the wind. Then I swam back around to the bottom of hull and looked up at the center board. I was barely able to reach it with my finger tips, but I manged to grip it. And with the crazy strength that little kids seem to have, I pulled my self up onto the plank. Sitting there I waited. And waited. And waited. Hmmmm. It seems my 60 pound frame wasn’t quite enought ballast to pull the mast out of the water. Carefully, I got onto my knees and shimmied to the hull and grabbed gunwale and stood up. Leaning back, with my feet brace on the center board, the mast slowly started to come out of the water. I kept pulling until I was floating on my back with the boat on top of me.

I pulled myself aboard and did shallow reaches back and forth doing a 270 degree tack inbetween. I’d had enough gybing for the day. When I got back to the mooring, the attendent said he was just aboat to come get me. I’m glad he didn’t; I just sailed my first boat.

Fast forward 25 years and the dream never died. I nursed it along sailing when I could, reading sailing magazines, sending away for boat brocures, and later watching Delos on Youtube. I moved to San Fransico to sail and sailed with OCSC. I was always browsing Yachtworld but never pulling the trigger. Then with the Pandemic, I had an incredible feeling of now or never. There were a few boats that were interesting listed near by. Topping the list was a Pacific Seacraft 37 and a Wauquiez Pretorien. The Pacific Seacraft seemed to have been abandoned for the last few years and was a yawl which I wasn’t crazy about.

The Pretorien grabbed me though. It was what I thought a sailboat ought to be. It was a proven offshore cruiser, with this particular boat having done a curcuit of the Pacific (Seattle->Hawaii->New Zealand->Hawaii->Alaska->Seattle). I was a little blinded by it’s history and looked past the fact that all the Systems on the boat where from the era of that crusie some 30 years ago. The price was low for Protoriens, so I made an offer. On the sea trial, I knew I was going to by this boat. She sailed so effortlessly. It wasn’t like going to war the way it was sailing J/24s on the bay and I didn’t have to fight the boat the way like on my friend’s C&C 37.

Obviously, I was beyond rational decision making at this point, but I’d doubt that many first time buyer are acting with all their facilities intact. The hull survey showed she was strong, the rig survey showed it to be in good condition but of unknown age, and the engine survey revealed an engine that was probably taking it’s last breaths. I knew this meant I had some big ticket items to take care of. I ammended my offer, and we settled at $37k. This actually seems about right, given that I figured new rig would be about $5k and a repower about $15k. Add another $10k for upgrading electronics. And we are in mid-$60k range which is where decent examples were selling, with very nice Pretoriens going in the upper 70s and low 80s. I figured I had a boat that would be fun to sail on the Bay which would soften the sting of those Boat Bucks ($1000 = 1 Boat Buck) the refit would require over the next couple years.