Three different boat shows. Countless hours on websites. A flood of emails from boat builders, calls from brokers, visits to yards where various catamarans are manufactured. And we kept coming back to the same boat, over and over.
There is no such thing as a perfect boat. Each model has a feature you love and is missing some feature you want. No one model has them all. What we all dream of is a fast boat that can take a pounding, can hold everything we want to take with us, and doesn’t cost a fortune. Unfortunately, speed goes down as boats are filled up, so sailing and living aboard are always at odds. The boats that do both very well cost a bunch. So it all comes down to what you're willing to sacrifice.
The first time we stepped aboard a St. Francis 50 was here in Miami, two years ago. We came to the Sail Only portion of the Miami Boat Show with a handful of dream boats in mind. We spent hours on these catamarans, walking through what we’d only toured previously online through photos and schematics. After exhausting ourselves with these major brand boats, where six models from the same manufacturer are arranged around tents full of brokers wearing the same polo shirts, we found ourselves drifting off to the line of solo catamarans sitting sadly off on a less-traveled dock.
Might as well step aboard these guys, we thought. And suddenly we found ourselves on a boat that fixed so many of the problems we saw on other yachts. Finally, a galley on the main deck with enough space for liveaboards. Finally, a boat with plenty of cubbies and cabinets, but built light enough with slim hulls so she can move when she needs to. We met the builder, Duncan, and one of his business partners, George. We learned about the history of the boat, how each one is custom built for her owners, and how they keep refining the design so that every hull is better than the last.
We walked away impressed. We came back several times. The St. Francis began worming its way onto our list of dream boats to consider for our voyage.
A year later, we showed up at the Annapolis boat show with a refined list of dream boats. The St. Francis 50 was now on the list, but there were others I was more excited about. And once again, we left the show most impressed with the St. Francis. I asked the builder if I could jump aboard the next hull as it made its way to the Miami show. After a few hundred miles on the boat, and a chance to sleep aboard, eat aboard, and really use the boat, it was on the top of the list.
By Saturday of the show, the search was over. Contract signed for hull #19, with delivery expected in July. There are no words for how excited I am for the next stage of this adventure.
Read more on Hugh's blog.
Also read Hugh's post on Cruisers Forum.