It is one thing to list every specification of one’s dream boat (and for us, it was easy). It’s a completely different proposition to make a choice among the boats that are actually available at one point in time. Particularly when few boats are offered for sale, and many are sold the moment they are listed.

Our dream boat was a classical trawler, built in the 80’s or, hopefully, a little later; 2 staterooms, the master stateroom with an island queen bed, the guest stateroom preferably with another queen bed, and its own heads and shower. A nice setup to entertain visitors without wishing, after 2 days, that they had missed their plane. A cosy salon with enough room for the 2 of us to lie down and read or listen to our music; and preferably a galley down, leaving more room in the salon.

Specs also included 2 doors to the outside decks, to allow for easy and quick manoeuvers. 2 helmstations, one inside, one on a flybridge, for the elusive warm afternoon cruise, or the chance happy hour with friends. A single engine, if possible, because we don’t plan to go fast, and we prefer to save fuel. Finally, a (relatively) small boat, around 38 feet long, to keep the displacement reasonable, and the cost of dockage low.

We found a number of such boats. Some we couldn’t view before someone else made an offer on them. The others were old, poorly maintained, leaking, in need of major repairs. With love and care, and a lot of time and money, these project boats could certainly have been rehabitilated. But not by us. Time in particular is what we lack the most, and reality was telling us that we had to reevaluate our priorities.

After a few days of boat hunting – and after viewing about 12 boats, what are then are our top priorities? First, to listen to what the real market has to offer here and now. A boat small enough that the two of us could easily handle, and big enough that we could accomodate guests with shared pleasure. A flybridge, a nice galley, two comfortable seats in the salon, a safe deck layout, a convenient system to handle the dinghy. A generator to keep the fridge going and the beer cold, even after a few days at anchor. That’s about it.

And, last but not least, once we found a suitable boat, we could not afford to delay our decision, to speculate on our chances to find a better boat at a later stage. Waiting could mean losing a good opportunity, and having to start our hunt all over again.

We found a Bayliner 3588 in Gig Harbor, an hour’s drive south of Seattle. We had actually found two, but the broker informed us that one of them had been made an offer a few hours prior to our arrival. Luckily, the one left was a rare model equipped with a generator. With that in mind, this boat was ticking all the right boxes. Her look may not be our idea of romance, but it is modern and functional, at a time when such qualities are evading us. 2 big engines – one too many perharps, and certainly oversized for our plan, but at least they are very popular Cummins, and if we need to go fast to avoid bad weather or to cross a stretch of open ocean, we’ll be happy to rely on them. Too much carpeting showing its age? Cosmetics can be arranged.

We have made an offer on this boat, and it has been accepted. We have put some pressure on the brokers involved to organize a survey in record time, so that we will be in a position to accept or refuse the boat before going back to France – temporarily – mid-May.

Of course we have cancelled our visit to Canada, and our visits to other possible boats. Instead, we’re already working on a program of improvements, modifications, equipment… and, yes, cruises too!