When I told people that I was selling my farm in the Caribbean to buy and live on a sailboat because I wanted to simplify, they'd laugh. They'd roll their eyes. They'd scoff. I wasn't new to boats - I'd owned one and worked on many. I'd try to explain that 30-something feet of maintenance would be easier than several acres with 40+ chickens and an off-grid, minimally equipped house. Besides, I was going to get a nice, ready-to-sail boat that needed minimal initial work. So, sure, there would be maintenance, some small projects as I felt the need, and plenty of time spent relaxing on my yacht in the Caribbean.
My farm on St. Croix
I was looking for a sailboat that ticked off certain boxes - a fast-ish monohull, two cabins, 30 to 40 feet, big enough to accommodate myself and a growing boy, plus, at the time, three cats, but small enough to handle without a large crew. I knew any boat would require at least some initial maintenance and offer some surprises in the way of work and expenses, but many in my budget could fit what I was looking for and give me more freedom than the farm. This could be the story of how I sold the farm, bought the boat and took off sailing. As you might imagine, though, this is not that story.
I did sell the farm - in just a couple of months, and I found myself without a home of my own. I was lucky to have plenty of offers for places to stay in the interim, but I started feeling the pressure to find the right boat, and I didn't want to make a big decision out of a sense of urgency.
There was a little Catalina 30 moored in the harbor that had been listed for sale for a while. It had been used in regattas and as a weekend boat for some years, but more recently had been left to take on too much water and occasionally be pumped out by whoever was taking care of it. I'd taken note of it several times, always deciding it was too small for my needs. But something kept me going back to the sales ad.
Eventually, I decided that a small, livable boat might be a good purchase as a temporary residence. And so I went to look at the little Catalina. The bilge was beyond full. The inside was a mess. It had clearly had even more water in it on more than one occasion. It needed a lot of work to be able to sail, work which I might or might not ever do, but it would be a good stepping stone toward the right boat.
My boat on the day I bought it.
I bought the boat, a 1977 Catalina 30 - at that time named NautiCayenne - in September 2019 for what I felt was a fair price. After all, it came with the mooring, a dinghy that didn't stay inflated, two outboards - one which didn't work at all and the other which worked selectively, and a dinghy trailer, which fell apart the very first time we trailered the dinghy. It was quite the welcome back to boat life, but it was mine, and provided a home we could call our own.
That interim home turned into an 18-month project to completely restore the boat into what I like to call the most custom Catalina 30 that exists - and it's still our home. I'm excited to share all that work that I put into the boat in those 18 months, and the work that I continue to put into her - and, of course, the fun we have relaxing on our yacht in the Caribbean...when we're not working on it.