Friday, June 10, 2016

Meet the Contenders: Haanli and Windbird

Our first day of boat shopping continued with a two-hour drive from New Bern, NC to Southport, NC, where we met broker John Schwab of Triton Yachts and his wife Beth. I had met John a few weeks previously when I flew into Myrtle Beach to view a Tayana 42 named Windbird, and at that time he suggested we also take a look at a Tatoosh 42 an hour up the coast in Southport. The location and timing worked out for both the Schwabs and Dawn and I, so I set up an appointment to see "Haanli," a 1983 Tatoosh 42. The Tatoosh is a stout Robert Perry design that is recognized as a good offshore cruiser, but it is an aft-cockpit boat, which is why we hadn't considered it originally. But as I've noted, actually being onboard a sailboat is an entirely different experience than viewing photos online, and so we agreed that we should actually get on an aft-cockpit cutter before ruling them out. The Tatoosh is a fairly rare boat but has much in common with similar and more popular Perry designs such as the Valiant 40, Passport 40/42, and Baba 40. If we liked this one, we might've expanded our search to include those boats as well.

As it turned out, our initial instincts were correct; the design simply wasn't what we're looking for. Haanli showed very nice and has obviously been taken care of, and we liked the cockpit, salon, and galley, but the staterooms were both fairly small and not terribly private, similar to what we're used to on charter boats but not what we're looking for in a boat to live on. If it was just the two of us (three including Piper), that'd be one thing, but we're planning to have frequent guests staying aboard with us. That, plus the fact that Haanli wasn't really ideally set up for "off the grid" cruising and would need some upgrading, made us cross her off the list soon after we saw her.

We subsequently continued an hour south to Little River, SC, which is just across the state line and slightly north of Myrtle Beach. This is where John and Beth live, and also where Windbird is currently docked. As mentioned, I had already seen this Tayana 42, and it was in fact the very first boat I saw. Having subsequently seen three boats in Seattle plus three boats already on our roadtrip, I had picked up a few more things that I wanted to look for, and I wanted Dawn to see the boat as it was presently at the top of "the list."

Windbird is a 1982 Tayana 42 Center Cockpit Cutter. She's had three owners; her current owners, Mark & Judy Handley, bought her in 2001. They refitted her, started living aboard in 2003, and in 2005 took off on a 6-year, 39,000-mile circumnavigation which Judy blogged on a nearly nightly basis - her account is one of the better cruising blogs I've read, but it's a long read! After their return, they continued to live aboard and extensively cruised the east coast & Bahamas. So this is a boat that has been very well used, but also very well maintained and upgraded by obviously knowledgeable owners. Sadly, Mark has been battling cancer & the Handleys had to move ashore in Massachusetts for his treatment, which is why the boat is for sale.

Windbird checks many of our boxes. She's a cutter-rigged center cockpit boat, of a notably rugged and seakindly Robert Harris design that has many circumnavigations under its belt. She's very well set up on deck, with a full enclosure, well thought out sail-handling and anchoring systems, upgraded standing rigging, and a big, beefy dinghy davit arch that also supports solar panels and a wind generator. Below she's got a gorgeous teak interior, a very private aft stateroom with a ton of stowage, private aft head with separate shower, a seaworthy galley, decent ventilation with four hatches and six dorade vents, dockside air conditioning, and a watermaker. She's been repowered with a 53hp Yanmar, was barrier coated in 2002, and has a new bottom job. She comes with a nice RIB dinghy and nearly bulletproof 15hp Yamaha 2-stroke outboard.

That said, much of Windbird's upgrading was done before the circumnavigation and has a lot of sea miles on it. So the 2003 upper standing rigging is likely due for replacement (2011 lowers are probably still good), some of the sails may be a bit bagged out, the 2009 cockpit enclosure canvas is definitely at the end of its useful life, and so forth. The chainplates are original and are showing some surface rust that may or may not be a sign of crevice corrosion further below, and should probably be replaced in any case. The Handleys used a laptop-based navigation system with a repeater monitor in the cockpit, and while it worked for them, I would probably upgrade to modern electronics. That 2005 Yanmar now has an incredible 7900 hours on it, which initially put me off. I've since talked to quite a few people who say a marine diesel should easily go 10k+ hours before overhaul with proper maintenance...but the reality is that one way or another, we would have to budget for an overhaul or repower, because the engine will have nearly 10k hours on it when we go to sell the boat.

The other downside to Windbird is that she has a lot of teak - acres, practically. Varnishing teak trim was another constant theme to Judy's blog, and her care shows on the caprail, dorade boxes, etc. The decks have been allowed to silver, which doesn't look quite so good as blonde teak but is far less maintenance-intensive and also longer lasting (no sanding, occasional saltwater bath with detergent). The deck was completely rescrewed and rebedded a few years ago and has been well-maintained since, so it's in pretty good condition with no warped boards, good caulking, and very few popped bungs over the screws. Even so, there's no question that a teak deck will involve much more maintenance than a fiberglass one, and it has the additional downside of being rather hot underfoot at midday in the tropics. On the plus side, teak provides excellent traction when wet (which is why it was used in the first place), and I personally like the look.

I thought Windbird showed better now that I've seen a few boats, and Dawn liked her a lot, almost as much as Oz. The marina she's in is liveaboard-friendly and dockage cost is really reasonable; the slip transfers with the yacht. There are a decent number of marine service providers in the area to help with the refit before we take off. These are all secondary considerations, of course; the primary ones are whether the boat is one that meets our needs, whether we can see ourselves living on her, and whether she represents a good value. Windbird definitely meets the first two criteria. As for the third, it depends. Windbird is currently listed at $95k, significantly below most other boats we've looked at, but my "apples to apples" theoretical refit is estimated at $39k. There were a few boats we'd be looking at in Florida in the next few days that seemed to be better values with less refitting required - on paper, anyways. For the time being, though, as we left Little River, Windbird remained at the top of our list.

1 comment:

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