Proud New Owners

Congratulations to Bruce and Kathy, the newest boat owners of the family! We think they’ve made a very wise choice! The new boat is a 2001 Alliage 41′ cutter rigged, aluminum hull sailboat. If you’d like to see all the details, you can view photos and inventory here.

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We’d like to extend a “Thank You!” to David Chateau, broker at AYC International Yachtbrokers. David was professional in his role as broker and he was also welcoming and informative regarding our unfamiliarity with France. He spent long hours with us at the boatyard, collaborated with the owner on numerous occasions to answer all of our questions, and assisted us to inspect the Alliage 41′ to the extent that we, “…might not need a surveyor.” We realize David was trying to sell us a boat, but he went beyond our expectations of a broker and continues to provide essential assistance throughout the purchase process.

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A celebratory dinner in Nice, France was the perfect ending!

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We’re headed stateside once again…

European Boat Tour

Brian and I met Bruce in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where we began our search by looking at an Antarctic 45′. The Antarctic 45′ was a beautiful boat; well maintained, well outfitted, and comfortable interior. We liked the interior layout, easy access to engine and systems, and large tankage for water and fuel. We did not like the 6’5″ draft. There was limited history regarding the builder of the boat, and we disliked that the stainless fittings on deck were mounted directly to the aluminum without insulators; problematic for corrosion and would require immediate attention to be remounted correctly. (Note; I am not sharing the nitty-gritty of our likes/dislikes because that could easily fill a month’s worth of posts. And really, we all want to get to the meat of the matter!)
We found no other aluminum boats for sale in the United States that met our search criteria or price range. But we did not let that stop us from finding the best boat for us…onward!

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To Holland!

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Kathy joined us in Holland where our first stop was the town of Monnickendam. We looked at a Koopmans 45′. The Koopmas was the oldest of all the boats we looked at, but it was impeccably maintained. We liked the pilothouse on this boat. On the interior we liked the location of the head and the layout of the galley. We did not like the access to the engine and systems, small tankage for water and fuel, and very narrow fore and aft berths. The Koopmans 45′, although we had arrived with high hopes, just did not “click” with us.

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While in Holland, we traveled north to the town of Hindeloopen. Here we looked at a Koopmans 40′. Although we liked the interior of this Koopmans, the design of the boat was similarly narrow fore and aft which resulted once again in small berths. Koopmans was not the boat for us.

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We looked at several other non-aluminum boats while in Hindeloopen. These brief tours reiterated to us that we would hold strong to our criteria.

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We said goodbye to Holland…

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The boat tour continued in France, where we began in the town of Arzal. Here we looked at three Ovni 435’s. Wow! Everyone liked the Ovni’s. We liked the interiors, large tankage for fuel and water, and access to engine and systems. The exteriors of the Ovni’s, however, were all in need of paint (deck and hull). The hatches and portholes on the Ovni’s leaked; most of which were already being replaced and resealed. The maintenance inside and out on the Ovni’s seemed to be lacking. At Arzal, we also looked at an Alliage 44′. This Alliage had been listed for sale very recently and not in our price range. We liked the interior, access to engines and systems, hard enclosable dodger, and overall the Alliage felt like a more stout boat than the Ovni 435’s. There were few dislikes on this Alliage 44′ and it was a brief look due to the price tag. With a lot of new information, we took a break from the boat tour before settling into yet another chain hotel for the night.

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At the town of Argeles, France we’d reached the Mediterranean!

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We looked at one Ovni 435 in Argeles. This boat moved to the top of our list. Similar to the other Ovni’s it required extensive exterior work, but the interior of this boat was well maintained and in this boat design it was the layout we preferred. We were making progress, but hadn’t yet exhausted our possibilities.

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Back on the road, we traveled to Port St Louis du Rhone where we looked at an Alliage 44′ and an Alliage 41′. On the Alliage 44′ we liked the access to engine and systems, ample storage space, and semi hard dodger. We did not like the high engine hours, and the need to replace sails and canvas. The Alliage 44′ was well maintained but needed some sprucing. On the Alliage 41′ as soon as we stepped aboard something “clicked.” This boat appeared brand new; it had been very lightly used by its one owner. We liked the interior layout and ample storage space despite the smaller overall length. We liked the very low hours on the engine. We did not like that few systems had been installed; particularly the boat was in need of an alternative power source such as wind, solar, or generator.

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During our week in Europe, we’d traveled through (including flight layovers and driving) five countries, met with seven brokers, and looked at 11 boats. This was not an easy decision! We were very fortunate that we had found the boat for us…the Alliage 41′ in Port St Louis du Rhone. We really had saved the best for last!

Boat Criteria

As our first sailboat, Rode Trip was just right for us. She has a comfortable interior, and keeps us safe in a way that few small sailboats can. Now with the opportunity to look at sailboats to share with Bruce and Kathy, we can use our experiences during our first 2 years of cruising to guide our search.

While out cruising, boats are a constant source of discussion with other cruisers, so we have spent countless hours discussing the pros and cons of different sailboats. We also have been paying close attention to what boats we really see “out there.” As we sailed farther from the US and Bahamas we noticed that there were more and more metal boats. The owners of the metal boats were universally happy with their boat. They were all happy with the strength of the hull as well as how absolutely, totally dry the boats are on the interior. We liked the sleek rugged appearance of metal sailboats, and their owners had sailed to some amazing locations. We were convinced that a metal boat was right for us. Research into aluminum versus steel turned up many technical articles like this one. We also found stories about how long aluminum lasts while still maintaining its rigidity and strength. We have always said that if we were shopping for a new boat the one thing that we would want more of is performance. Many times small boat owners want more luxurious accommodations or more storage space. Although these would be nice we were more focused on a boat that would continue to sail well in light air, but still be safe for crossing oceans. We decided that aluminum was the right hull material for us.

Bruce may be interested in cruising the ICW someday so that gave us a maximum mast height (65 feet) and a maximum draft (6 feet). We also wanted a boat that could be easily handled by 2 people, but had enough waterline to be a bit faster, this gave us a length between 40-45 feet.

For the inside we knew we wanted to have a minimum of 2 full double berths, large water and diesel tankage, and a place to put foul weather gear near the bottom of the ladder. Many items that we think of as luxuries that we never installed on Rode Trip were standard on nearly ALL the boats we looked at. These items will provide comfort for Bruce and Kathy’s floating retirement, and are a huge BONUS for Stephanie and I.

The list of must haves:
safe bluewater boat
shallow draft
mast height appropriate for ICW
can be handled easily by 2
aluminum hull
2 double cabins
comfortable seating for 4 in salon and cockpit
refrigerator
oven
good engine access
adequate tankage (100 Gallons water, 40 gals fuel)
autopilot (wind vane or electronic)
cutter or staysail sloop rig

The list of features that we would like:
roller furling
mainsail reefs from cockpit
dodger/bimini to provide protection in the cockpit from the elements.
hot water
good power generation systems
plenty of Storage
electric Windlass
saltwater plumbed to sink
indoor shower
cockpit shower/ rinse station
dinghy davits

Armed with these lists carefully scribbled in Stephanie’s notebook we were ready to set foot on some potential boats.