Pulling the plug

20151216-DSC_4183I pulled the plug on the Westerly Centaur 26 after a sleepless night tossing and turning between yes and no, sheer terror and delight. I came up with a new adage that describes what I am looking for when it comes to my first boat. I want to outfit, not refit. I hope to gain the physical, mechanical skills that come with sailboat ownership and maintenance to one day take on that project with the potential to be the ‘perfect boat,’ but at this point I want to spend my first season sailing and tinkering, not overhauling.

I can’t pin point exactly what I felt was wrong with the boat as I never went back to give her a second look–I just wrote her off. I know the Centaur is built like a brick shit house. Designed by the esteemed Laurent Giles at least one has circumnavigated and many more have crossed oceans, but there was something rather unnerving about buying a boat from a dead man.

There was no one to answer my many questions. The boat had been in moth balls for over a year and it’s noticeable. Her sails were not properly stored and seemed tired. There was no information about when the standing rigging was last replaced. The tiller was rotted. The interior was cold and uninviting.

I could go on with what seemed wrong with her but I won’t, because honestly I’m not sure I even know the true status of her condition. Structurally she may very well be stout and sound. For reasons I can’t explain I don’t want her, despite the fact that I probably could have walked away as her owner for a couple of grand.

I’m sure all she needed was good dusting and would have been ready to sail locally and I did think it would have been kind of fun to call her Sasquatch, but at this point all I can trust are my instincts, which said move along.

Now I’m reading ‘Inspecting the Aging Sailboat,” by Don Casey in hope that I’ll get far enough along in my search to only have to pay for a survey once. People may say that I was silly to let this boat pass me by, or that I’m never going to find the “perfect boat.” It’s true no boat is perfect, but who’s to say that the guy who meticulously maintained his 70’s era 24-footer isn’t ready to move up a couple of feet and wants to see his baby go to a good home…




  1. Hi – I am reading your blog with interest as I would also be interested in purchasing a used boat. I have heard from other’s that your first boat should only cost a few thousand so when you get rid of it, the cost is easily reasoned as the cost to learn to sail.

    Good luck with your search for the perfect boat for you!

    • Hi Lynn,

      Thanks for the well wishes. It’s awesome that you are travelin’ around, van dwelling and doing your thing! The world needs adventurous women. You can actually get a lot of boat for a few thousand if you know where to look! I guess it all depends on the person and their intentions for the boat. I look forward to hearing what kind of boat you end up going for.

  2. The perfect boat is going to be the one that you buy because you’re completely excited about it. It will have some of the things you want, and won’t have others, will not have some things you thought were important, and will have other features you didn’t know you liked. Keep going till you get that “Yeah!” feeling.

    Hang in there.

  3. Dear Emily, for what is worth I would not ignore the Centaur if she is in half-decent condition.
    What you get is huge sea accommodation (similar to 35+ft boats), great internal volume and OK sailing. Tough as tanks, that one surely crossed the ”pond”. I have been on several and can say that are great sea-boats for your needs.
    My two cents…

    I am mostly a summer-autumn liveabord/sailor in the region of Oushant/Ouessant Brittany (boat moored in Portsall) since 2013 with some experience of fixing old, tiny and seaworthy boats.

    First boat was a 1969 (good year)19 foot, longkeeler Beneteau (Forban) I sailed mostly engineless using what the sea provided me: the tide, currents and the wind. This year I upgraded to the 25 ft Baroudeur Mk2 (look it up on sailboatdata), along the lines of the Flicka 20, more ”spartan” and alot cheaper though 😉
    I confirm that sailing is preferable to repairing and working, alas there is no easy way for a sailor with modest means. If the boat is simple and practical by design, maintenance and upgrades are cheap (relatively speaking). Always preferable to buy a well found boat for a decent price, if you possess the means. Otherwise get a cheap, simple boat and sail it. Small investment, small risk – good potential to learn and enjoy! One can then step towards a bigger boat, more complex if needed. All I can say is in two years the 19ft Forban taught me more then 30 books, sailing it around one of the most challenging spots made me the sailor I am.

    While I am much less knowledgeable, experienced etc etc etc as some of your friends I think getting a workable boat for almost nothing, sailing the hell out of her for 1-2 seasons may well be worth allot more than peanut money you spend with her. Thus, you will learn what you want, need and can do. Does not have to be the boat you own / Ownes you 😉 for eternity.

    Please let me know if I can help with info.

    Tudor N.

  4. Always trust the guts when it comes to boats. It’s easier to blame an irrational decision rather than a pondered one, and you will certainly blame yourself at a certain moment to have gotten a boat 🙂