|Visiting beautiful places... Caja de Muertos, Puerto Rico 2016|
If you want to skip the narrative and go straight to the facts, scroll down. But if you've got time to dream a little, start here!
Let me tell you what I look for in a sailboat... You will hear many people say that you need very little to be happy. While that is true, it is nice to have some of the conveniences of home! You have to know yourself, and know what you are, and what you are NOT willing to give up to experience the wonders of cruising. The good news is, you don't HAVE to give up everything!
|Chub Cay, Bahamas 2015|
|Warderick Wells, Bahamas, 2015|
|Oh the places she can take you! Great Inagua, Bahamas outer islands, 2016|
|Oh the people you will meet! Île-à-Vache, Haiti, 2016|
|Oh the experiences you will have! Île-à-Vache, Haiti, 2016|
|Maybe you've chartered in the BVI and wondered what it would be like to take your own boat there...|
Salt Island 2017
|The freedom takes you to places like Ile Fourchue, a tiny islet near St. Kitts. 2017|
|You can stay as long as you like in places like Fox's Bay, Montserrat, 2017|
|Be that boat that explores uncommon anchorages like Anse la Roche, Carriacou, 2017|
|See the sunrise from your cockpit! Windward, Carriacou, 2017|
|Float like magic in the balmy Caribbean and be AT HOME! Tobago Cays, 2017|
Back in the planning stages before we found our cruising boat, we looked at SO MANY boats. We had a 36' aft cockpit racer/cruiser, and while Bruce wanted to just go with the boat we had, I knew that I could not be happy living with all of the changes that cruising brings, unless we had a boat that was also a home. We aren't young and I knew that there were just things I wasn't willing to give up. Our deal breakers were a mix of his and hers. After sifting through literally thousands of boats online, and visiting dozens, we developed our lists and knew when we found the Catalina Morgan 45, that THIS was the ONE! And that has never changed!
Her Deal Breakers:
|Seems far aft, but there's more boat in the back!|
|Settees and steps on both sides make it easy to get in and out of bed|
Designated Shower - Having to use the sink faucet sprayer to take a shower was out of the question. I didn't like having the entire head doused every day, and while many cruisers take "transom showers", that is, wash in the salt water off the back of the boat and then just rinse with fresh water... I knew that having a real "bathroom" where I could have my shower inside was a necessity. When we found this boat had not only a designated shower with real shower doors, (not some nasty curtain) AND an actual bathtub, the CM45 rose quickly to the top of the list! I will admit that I have not used the half-sized bathtub for bathing more than a few times, but it has come in very handy for cleaning things, doing laundry and for storage of some items when we go offshore.
|Large refrigeration compartment opens top and front!|
|Large freezer locker compartment to starboard|
Full Cockpit Enclosure: When we bought this boat, the enclosure was a luxury we had never experienced for ourselves. While you can cruise without one, and many people do... we felt that it added a lot to our cruising experience. Having a relatively dry cockpit allows you expand your living space. It is also very nice to have when you're on anchor watch during a stormy night. If you cruise in colder areas, it is a lovely sunroom that can be warmer than your saloon! We completely replaced the cockpit enclosure in the summer of 2018. We had it made using the best materials, including lifetime thread, so you shouldn't have to worry about repairs any time soon. We also had a complete set of custom sunshades made to protect you from the intense Caribbean sun!
Access to the water at the stern: It didn't matter if it was a stairway or a sugar scoop, I wanted to be able to get to the water without having to go over the side.
His Deal Breakers:
No In-Mast Roller Furling Mainsail: While having the mainsail roll up inside the mast can be a nice feature for some, we felt that it can cause problems when trying to roll it up in adverse conditions. We've sailed with friends who have in mast roller furling, and when things got rough, we couldn't get the mainsail to furl. The other reason we didn't want in-mast furling, was that with a racing background, we just couldn't give up that little extra bit of performance that a properly shaped mainsail will provide. You can take the cruiser out of the race, but you can't take the racer out of the cruiser!
No Hydraulic Stearing: Many center cockpit boats of this size and larger, will come with hydraulic steering. Again, while this can be a plus for some people, it was a negative for us. Both of us like to be able to feel the rudder while sailing. Admittedly, the feel is different since the steering cables have to travel much further to the rudder in a center cockpit boat, but you can still feel what's going on without the disconnect that the hydraulic steering causes.
Opening Ports: We knew that if we were going to live in the Caribbean on this boat, it needed to have lots of opening ports. Some boats don't have ANY! Dos Libras has 6 cabin-top opening hatches (all but one have covers) and 21 opening ports, most with screens, and 7 of them have port visors. We got the visors in June, 2018 and LOVE them! It rains almost every day in the Caribbean and it's always a scramble to shut the ports! With the visors, you can leave the ports open and no rain gets in unless it's really blowing. Then it is much less. We even left the ports open when we were away from the boat unless we were expecting bad weather.
Relatively shallow draft: We knew that we would be spending time in the Bahamas and our previous boat had a 6'3" draft. Even that was sometimes a problem in many of the anchorages around our home cruising grounds. This boat has the alternative option of a 5'7", winged keel. Our previous boats had all been fin keeled, and while this one took a little getting used to, it was worth it for the shallower draft. (What took some getting used to? Well we noticed right away that with the winged keel, the boat tended to slide a little more, that it is didn't point quite as aggressively as our fin keeled boats did. But, we were cruising instead of racing, so it didn't matter)
Solar Panels: We added solar panels during our first year of cruising. We considered getting wind turbines as well, but after talking to other cruisers, we decided to go with just solar. Our reasons: We have the ability to charge the batteries with the engine and the generator. Most of the time the wind turbines would be needed mainly at night when the solars weren't putting out, but in the places we would be sailing are known to have light or no wind at night. And, if the turbines were working at night, the vibration would bother us while trying to sleep. I can say from experience that wind turbines whirring at night are unpopular in most anchorages.
Generator: This could be considered a luxury, but after cruising for many months without one after our Fisher Panda died, we just gave up and got a new one. We tried making due with a portable 2000 kW. Yamaha, but that was a LOT of work, and at our age, it was just more than we wanted to deal with. So, we replaced the old Panda with a brand new NextGen 5.5kW. This generator takes care of ALL of our power needs and more! It will easily run the air conditioners at anchor for those rare afternoons when you're just sweltering and need a break!
Electric Windlass: Younger cruisers might be able to handle anchoring without a windlass at all, but with a boat this size and the amount of chain we put down, having a windlass that will lift the anchor at the touch of a button was an essential.
Watermaker: We cruised our first season without a water maker. When we bought the boat, it had one "available but not installed". We thought it would just need to be installed, but when we had the boat hauled out in St. Petersburg in 2014, the installer told us that it was old technology and not worth the cost of installing. We were pretty upset about it, but decided to spend a season in the Bahamas before making the decision to spend the money for one. We spent the whole time planning our moves around BOTH weather and WATER! When we got back to Florida for the summer of 2015, we installed a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme.
Air conditioning: While living at the dock prior to cruising, we couldn't imagine living without the ACs. It's different when you're at anchor and the boat faces into the breeze, but if you're going to spend any time in a marina, the air conditioning units are a nice luxury.
Bullet Wifi Booster: The antenna is mounted on the davits and gets great reception. We bought a new Bullet in Grenada (2018) and have it attached to a router so that we can use multiple devices throughout the boat.
- 50 gal forward beneath the v-berth
- 24 gal port/main saloon beneath the settee
- 19 gal beneath the cabinetry in the galley
- 31 gal to port of the galley beneath the cabin sole
|3 Bladed feathering MaxProp with cutters installed and new zincs (photo May 28, 2019)|
|That's the rudder that looks like it extends past the keel, but that's just the viewing angle. It's about the same draft as the keel|
|Going back into the water at Ponce Yacht Club May 28, 2019|
|I didn't get many photos because we almost missed the SPLASH! This one shows well the wing keel|
|Window at the stern allows for a cooling breeze and has a visor so it can be left open in the rain!|
|Starboard side settee and storage cabinet just aft of the head.|
|Storage locker aft of the head - good for linens, shoes, medical supplies|
|Port side hanging locker and drawer storage|
|Having a mirror onboard is a luxury! This vanity is too!|
|Enclosed shower/tub with fold-down bench seat|
|Medicine cabinet and storage with a towel rack|
|Sink for brushing your teeth|
V-Berth and Forward Head
|Sunny and Breezy V-Berth|
|Plenty of headroom|
|Shelving runs along both sides. Storage for fishing poles mounted on the port side. Access to forward head from v-berth|
|Settee, door to the head and standing room - Port side|
|Starboard side v-berth - shelving, supercool fan, air conditioner vent, settee and a storage locker|
|Starboard v-berth settee, locker and drawers|
|Starboard v-berth looking aft|
|Center v-berth looking aft with center door to main saloon and door to port side leading to the forward head|
|Forward head viewed from saloon access|
|Forward head toilet and sink. The access door tilts forward with mounted paper holder and plumbing|
Main Saloon and Galley
|Looking forward from the port side at the dining area|
|Looking forward from the Galley at the dining area|
|Looking aft at the galley and dining area port side|
|Roomy U-shaped galley with centreline sinks|
|So much counter space!|
|Storage cabinets below the counter to starboard|
|Under sink storage, drawer and pull out trash can compartment. Two storage cubbies in the floor provide extra space!|
|Real "kitchen" drawers!|
|Freezer far right (to starboard), refrigerator center, then open storage or space for a microwave, two stainless sinks|
|Sinks are deep for washing dishes on a moving boat!|
|Storage shelf, refrigerator remote panel, magnetic knife strip and spice rack|
|Seaward Princess two burner stove with oven installed new in 2014|
|The primary pumps for the water maker are conveniently mounted in the end cap. SO EASY to use!|
|Watermakers gauges and accumulation tank beneath the starboard side settee cushions|
|The Clarkes pump is 40 inches long and it is mounted on the starboard side settee base beneath the cushions. Extra product hose allows us to put water into the three additional tanks. The primary tank is plumbed directly to the water maker.|
|Cubbies behind settee back cushions on both sides for additional storage|
|Port side looking aft. Entrance centreline then hallway leading aft past the engine room and storage, to the aft cabin|
Navigation Station/Passage to aft cabin/Engine room access/Storage/and Power Panel
|Engine room access and power panel centreline port side leading to aft cabin|
|Control center for boat power|
|More controls , new fire extinguisher, solar panel output status, and Generator remote panel|
|Barn door style companionway doors are a nice extra!|
|Eisenglass panels on three sides, all have sun covers|
|Full enclosure from outside. Screens provide nice privacy but you can still see out with them on.|
|Foldaway teak cockpit table with cupholder. Both need new varnish|
|Doesn't look so bad where the sun has not damaged the varnish.|
|Leather wrapped Edson FOLDING wheel|
|Super nice! When folded you can easily get by.|
|Engine status instruments below.|
|VHF, Compass and Vesper Marine AIS Transponder/Receiver|
|As mentioned before, older electronics but still working... mostly!|
|We had the old closed-cell foam cockpit cushions recovered in Dominica. Added years to their life!|
|The cockpit is in great condition, a few dings here and there, but nice and clean!|
|Covers for the wheel and binnacle|
|The bilge beneath the saloon floor. Emergency pump, thruhulls, etc.|
|Just forward of the bilge, storage and one battery. The others are in the engine room|
|Bow Pulpit with roller furling and anchor rollers that hold two anchors|
|Hank-on storm jib on the baby stay. The stay is detachable and can be stored alongside the shrouds when not in use|
|Skylights on the deck make the saloon feel open, airy and full of light!|
|Nice roomy deck. Lifelines were replaced in 2018|
|We use a car-top carrier as a portable storage garage for docklines, electric cords, water hose, etc.|
|Mast with radar. Tall Rig was added in 2008 by PO. 62.5 ft clearance|
|Rigid boom vang|
|Port side hoists storm jib and furling headsail|
|Starboard side hoists mainsail, whisker pole, and lazy jacks|
|Starboard side shrouds with fishing net and boat hook - Running Backstay is stored like this on both sides. Baby stay would also attach here when not in use.|
|Starboard deck with genoa car track|
|Aft Deck storage locker where we keep the dinghy fuel tank and other things|
|Deck storage has room for two 10lb propane tanks. Gauges and hoses new in 2017|
During our 14 months in Grenada, we spent almost $30,000 USD on maintenance, upgrades, cosmetic work and preventative measures. We were making the boat ready to take us to the Western Caribbean with the Suzie Too Rally. We had joined the OCC and paid our entry fee, we were ready! We wanted to do everything we could to make sure that the boat was as ready too! But when the time came to begin heading to the staging area for the rally, Bruce admitted to me that he didn't want to go to the Western Caribbean.
Long story short, Bruce's age had finally caught up to us and if we were being honest, it wouldn't be right to participate in the rally unless we were both sure that we were up to the challenge. We couldn't put ourselves in a position that we might end up being a burden to the other rally participants. And with Bruce's increasing age-related symptoms, we had to make the hard choice.
Our cruising days were numbered.
So we changed our course knowing that time was not on our side. In January of 2019, Bruce and I, along with a good friend from Texas, brought this boat from Grenada, across the Carribbean Sea, to her current home in Puerto Patillas, on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico.
At that time, our plan was to get settled in our new place in Puerto Rico and keep the boat for two or three more years to give us time to cruise the places we loved in the Virgin Islands. We figured it would be safe enough to cruise locally, and it would give us time to get some use out of the upgrades we just paid for...
But as we settled into our condo, it became more and more clear to us that even cruising the boat around our new island home was more than the two of us could handle confidently. Bruce's 77th birthday is coming this fall and while I've taken up as many of the duties as I can, we admit that it would be irresponsible for us to continue. It has taken us months to finally decide that it is time to sell our Cruising home.
We are happy with our decision. We have found a place where we can continue to live in the Caribbean and where the new owner of our boat can begin at the gateway to the island chain. If you're coming from the US, most of the easting has been done for you. Puerto Rico is a wonderful place to provision and to get parts and supplies as you make the boat YOUR home.
When we bought her, she was LOADED down with
So you've seen the good stuff... what about the bad stuff? It is a boat, after all! Had we kept the boat as originally intended, we were planning to replace the electronics. The ones on the boat were there when we bought her. We've replaced parts as they have died, and mostly used the iPad for navigation, with the chart plotter as backup. We have updated map chips for the places we've cruised and it works well enough, but it is old technology. We were going to get the new touch-screen and maybe wireless instruments. That we will now leave to the new owners if you so desire, but she's ready to cruise as-is.
Another thing we just never got to was the wood. There are some spots that had leaks which (we think) we have addressed with last years work in Grenada. These were there when we bought the boat and we had a difficult time finding the source. Also, the teak cockpit table/cup holder and the companionway teak need to be re-varnished. We always meant to do it but somehow, never found the time. Now it is really more than I can do without Bruce's help, and we just aren't up to the task.
A foot pump in the galley that was installed by the previous owner began to siphon our water tanks a couple of years ago. We disconnected it, bought a new one, and removed the old pump, but never installed the new one. It is available for installation if you want to, but we got used to living without it. It's really only needed when you've got the pressurised water turned off, and we just left it on most of the time... so that project sunk to the bottom of the boat-project-quicksand.
A new issue showed up about a week after we arrived here in Puerto Rico. It IS a boat... The Xantrex Freedom 20 charger/inverter is working, but the remote panel has ceased. We are working on getting it going again, but to be honest, it is over my head and we may not get it done. The solars and generator charge the batteries just fine, I think it's an inverter problem, hoping just corrosion. A guy is coming out to look at it on Tuesday...
We are still working on getting her ready to show, so all of the photos aren't yet on the blog. If you would like to see something specific or if you've got questions, please contact us by email: DosLibrasInPR@yahoo.com or you can call us at 361-389-1762.