All I need is a good ship and a star to steer her by. When I first started looking into this adventure I already owned a 2001 Beneteau 361 and she has been a great coastal cruiser. However, my mindset was wrapped around the idea that if I was going to be sailing out in the Caribbean sea I needed something more blue water worthy and maybe a little bit bigger (two-footitis!). I set out on the hunt for that perfect boat that would meet all my needs and be affordable.
After a year of searching high and low with nothing to show for my effort, I finally came to the conclusion that it was a folly and the unicorn I was looking for didn’t exist. Then it dawned on me that owning a boat is the same as a relationship; you celebrate the things that work and learn to love the quirks. After coming to this epiphany, I turned around and looked at my trusty 361 and realized she is more than capable of handling this adventure. And she would look beautiful floating on the crystal clear water of the Caribbean Sea.
A Beneteau 361 is a well built, mono-hull sloop design. She has an overall length of 36.5 feet with a beam of 12.5 feet, drafts a reasonable 5 feet (approximately 50 feet from waterline to the top of the mast), and tips the scales at a svelte 7 tons. Auxiliary power is supplied by a sturdy 3 cylinder 30HP Westerbeke diesel engine. She can hold about 20 gallons of diesel and 125 gallons of fresh water.
The electrical system is centered around a two battery setup: a normal “C” style starter battery and an 8D house battery. She has two comfortable cabins, a large airy salon area with approximately 6 feet 8 inches of head room (I doubt Shaq will be on the boat anytime soon but it really helps to give the boat a TARDIS feel), and a tidy kitchen complete with a fridge/freezer combo and an LPG 2 burner stove. A single shower and head to starboard finishes out the interior accommodations. All the lines are run aft to the cockpit for efficient single-handling.
While she is still in need of some upgrades to get her ship shape and Bristal fashion ready, I think I already have a solid platform from which to build. Communications will need to be beefed up, storage will need to be improved, and auxiliary power generation will need a lot of attention. Many of the wear items on the deck will need to be inspected and upgraded. Air circulation in the cabin will also need to be addressed. And most importantly, she will definitely need an auto-pilot to give me a break at the helm.
Once I get all the extra toys installed and functioning I think she’ll make a great island hopper and travel companion. I’m sure this list will grow by orders of magnitude with things I haven’t foreseen, but that is what this whole blog site is about: sharing with everyone the logistics of a long term sailing adventure.
So there you have it: my home, my support system, my pride and joy. I know there will be some people who disagree with me and think she’s only worthy of being a weekend cruiser. All I can say is to remember the words of Teddy Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
I’m sailing my dream and that’s good enough for me!