You're Going to Need a Bigger Boat...
Since "Jaws" this is a phrase that's been uttered by countless boat owners around the world. Sometimes because a great white shark is going to eat your transom. Most of the time because the owners want "an extra 3 to 6 feet" for increased comfort, storage and sea-keeping abilities.
The last few months were not all pleasant, but as I slowly recover from my harsh (and so far successful) treatment we're being faced with a new reality: My compromised and weakened immune system will take time to rebuild itself and my Doc has strongly recommended that we stay within reasonable reach of good medical facilities. She also wants me to avoid countries and places with higher risks of infections.
What that means exactly for our future cruising is not yet known, but we will likely remain within the US or Canadian waters for a while, a lot longer than we originally expected when we bought Enfin. We had dreams of far away countries and distant shores after 2 years of learning the boat. Like all dreams, we will have to adapt ours to our new reality, allowing me to stay in safer places and within reach of good airports for my 3 monthly medical checkups as well.
That won't stop us from having fun of course, but I must admit that during the long idle hours during my treatment when all I had the strength for was browsing the internet, Yachtworld, and dreaming of a better future, I did again wonder what other kind of boat we could have.
For coastal passages, our around the world capable Nordhavn can be seen as being a little bit overkill. Of course in a sailor's mind that's definitely not a bad thing. Enfin handles so well that I'd hate to lose that.
So what other boats could we get instead? Could we / Should we go for a more coastal but larger boat?
What would we want? "A dishwasher would be nice" chimed Di. "I want a bathtub" I said. Slowly we added features and it became clear we were looking at a larger boat.
"You're going to need a bigger boat" was already a way of making fun of each other. You want to store a couple nice electrical bicycles and their trailers? "You're going to need a bigger boat". You want to bring a full book library on board, a washer and separate dryer, a pool table, an indoor cinema and a bowling alley?.... "You're going to need a bigger boat".
So what is out there that'd work for us?
First, we like the trawler shape and pace. We're not in a hurry when going places, and we value the economy and smaller impact of our slow going Enfin.
That took me to Defevers, Great Alaskans and similar types of boats. And of course Nordhavns as they remain the epitome of comfortable passage making.
Second, we'd want heat and A/C like on Enfin, and a lot of the creature comforts we already have. Large TV in the salon, intranet network around the boat, water maker, unlimited hot water and so much more. A home, not a week-end boat.
So for months, I perused so many brokerage sites looking at so many boats. It's always fun to do! It took a lot of time to realize an obvious and simple truth: Upgrading the boat would have us start from scratch again when it came to making it "our" boat.
"Just add the big TV in the salon" said Di when we were looking at a particularly nice boat that unfortunately had a tiny TV in the back of the salon's settee. She's not wrong, but adding it on board Enfin took me a couple of weeks. I had to move the magazine holder that was there without destroying the existing teak. Find a properly sized TV, find and fit the slimmest yet strongest sea-capable mounting, run the power cables properly followed by the cat6 back to the main router. Nothing complicated, but all of it time consuming.
That's before even looking at having a desk, a computer rack, an intranet with NAS, WiFi antenna for remote internet.
Very few boats have both air conditionning and hydronic heat, and retrofitting either in a large boat is a major affair.
Our tender is perfect for our use, and we wouldn't want an inflatable for the time being.
The more I looked, the more "making it our boat" work I found.
Then of course studying photos in details meant I couldn't help and notice the built-quality differences with our Nordhavn. The sailor in me was having a hard time with the potential drop in quality, the drop in redundancy or the drop in safety. When I found boats of similar quality, then no surprise, it was reflected in the price in such a way that we might as well have a Nordhavn and get the round the world capability as a bonus.
Eventually it hit me: a bigger boat would not just mean extra comforts. It'd also mean extra costs, and so much work to make it "ours" that we'd likely spend the next 2 years doing so. By which time we'd hopefully be ready to venture further away towards those distant shores anyway. Medical checkups allowing of course.
We spent a lot of time, thought and money to make Enfin "ours". We're still nowhere near being finished with plenty of projects still "on the list". But as she is, she already is definitely ours: our delightful little home. Sturdy and capable of taking us anywhere we want in comfort and safety. So if that means staying local for a while, so be it.
It's good to look around. It's good to dream, but we've got our boat and we're not "going to need a bigger boat" anytime soon.