There are no limits to the amount of advice available to would-be boat owners; the experts bog you down and drown you in a sea of conflicting decisions. We were awash in choppy waters before leaving the first marina of our search. That boat, a Monk 36, won our hearts and though hopelessly hooked, common sense dictated that there were many more boats to assess before making a final decision.
This bout of patience took us many miles and through numerous website pages of boats that were on the market. We built a detailed matrix comparing and contrasting our personal list of important attributes with the available boats for sale. We spent evenings searching through books and magazines; charting our way to a workable decision. After several months of research and open discussion, that perfect trawler appeared and we knew it immediately.
If you ask what our advice is to those looking for a boat, it is that clearly, the best beacon is a well-defined vision of your particular needs, wants and uses. What is your purpose for this boat? Where do you want to cruise? How extensive will your live-aboard segments be? What accommodations and comforts are most important to you? How many are cruising full-time and how often will there be guests? Keeping this beacon in steady focus kept us out of trouble and within our budget.
Our second piece of advice is to urge you to find a reputable marine surveyor as your advocate to help you make a sensible decision in spite of the emotional cloud that hovers around boat buyers and boat sellers. A good surveyor knows that a seller’s strongest desire is to sell the boat, that the shopper is looking to buy, and that the facts of quality and value get warped and skewed between the two. The surveyor cannot answer (and should not try to answer) the first questions of needs, wants, wheres, and hows, but can certainly help you identify the best boat to fit your answers and your vision.
Now imagine yourself onboard. Watch the bow cut through the waves and begin your search. Our search led to a dolphin chasing through our wake as we left Charlotte Harbor in the prettiest little Monk 36 that you can imagine.
Bob and I cruise happily forward; our boat-shopping saga rapidly recedes in the Arkansas Traveler’s wake.