Sunday, June 12, 2016

Meet the Contenders: Marathi, [Redacted], and Sea Schell

After our long Saturday of boat shopping, Dawn and I drove partway back to Raleigh that night, then made our way to RDU the next morning to catch an 11:30am flight directly to Tampa, Florida. There we rented a car and headed across the bay to Clearwater, where we had an appointment to see a 1983 Brewer 12.8 named Marathi.

I've covered some of the Brewer 12.8 history in a previous post, talking about how a syndicate of 10 Whitby 42 owners approached Ted Brewer to do a redesign on the Whitby to create the ultimate cruising boat. Well, Marathi was actually one of those original, identical syndicate boats; she was hull #6. Since then she'd had several owners, the most recent of which had made significant improvements. On paper, she looked like the best deal on our list at $115,000: repowered with a recent Yanmar, a generator, solar, wind, SSB, decent electronics, dinghy davits with stern arch, hard bimini with full enclosure, recently replaced standing rigging including chainplates, newer sails, a good anchoring package! She was loaded! And in the Yachtworld listing, she looked fairly sharp. The broker did caution me that she was cosmetically challenged but said the owner was catching up on the cosmetic work and her bones were good. She would soon be getting a new bottom job, and a repair to her centerboard that was stuck in the "up" position, he said.

When we saw her in person, my overall impression was of a somewhat dull, dingy boat that hadn't received much love in a couple of years. Yeah, the "gee whiz" stuff was all there, and the engine room was a thing of beauty. The owner was an electrical engineer by trade and it was clear where he had put his natural talents to use, but he was also quite old, hadn't used the boat much in years, and the neglect really showed despite fresh coats of varnish on some surfaces down below. She smelled more like "old boat" than most old boats (a tantalizing mixture of mildew, diesel, and head stink). The portlights were crazed over and had signs of water damage below them, as there was below the original hatches. The overall quality of the interior joinery looked very cheap, the galley in particular was unimpressive, and Dawn noted that the master head lacked a separate shower stall. Back on deck, we found the paint to be old and peeling, without a lick of antiskid remaining.

The coup d'grace was when Dawn discovered several soft spots on the foredeck, indicating areas of probable water intrusion and core rot. The broker professed to not know about that and said the owner would get right to fixing it (along with the new bottom paint and centerboard fix, I guess). Maybe he will...that's a huge, open-ended job. In any case, we were sorely disappointed with Marathi, a boat that held such promise. We initially struck it from our list, but later added it back on and even moved it onto the top five list under some fantasy of a lowball offer that stipulated deck repair and new hull paint, after which we'd put a bunch of money mostly into cosmetics. But we really had little enthusiasm for it. I made the comment that it felt like a boat you'd go camping on rather than a boat you'd live on, and Dawn thoroughly agreed.

There was no disappointment involved with the next boat we looked at, because our expectations were low to begin with. [Rest of comments redacted by request of owner - Tayana 42 that needed a lot of work].

After meeting some local friends for drinks at a rooftop bar in downtown St Pete (overlooking a pretty yacht basin where some really nice cruising sailboats were moored), Dawn and I were deciding where to spend the night when I decided to call on another 1981 Tayana 42CC that had recently been listed. This turned out to be the broker's personal boat - her name, Sea Schell, is a play on his last name. The owner and his wife had purchased the boat for a one-year Caribbean interlude, and ended up staying for 13 years. It was located 100 miles south of St. Pete, down in Port Charlotte...but hey, we had come to look at sailboats, so why not! I set up an appointment for the following morning and we ended up spending the night at a hotel about 10 miles from the boat.

The boat was out of the water and on the hard in a working boatyard for the approach of hurricane season. Naturally, boats never show very well in this setting, but it is nice to be able to see the whole hull. Sea Schell is about due for a bottom job but the hull is otherwise in decent condition with no blistering. Topsides and below, the boat actually showed better than its yachtworld listing, I thought. The teak decks need some attention, though they're not as bad as Archipelago's. The boat isn't quite as well set up for cruising as Windbird - the staysail is a hank-on type, there's no solar power, no dinghy davits; actually, no dinghy or outboard either as they're not included in the sale. Below was yet another iteration of the Tayana interior; we actually didn't care for this one so much as it featured twin captains chairs to port instead of a settee; there's no usable sea berth and it limits seating around the table. The aft cabin featured an athwartships king instead of the offset queens we'd seen on the two other Tayanas. The galley seemed less secure due to the angled sink. Overall, though, Sea Schell showed pretty nice below, especially the 2010 repowered engine and mechanical systems. The owner did a really nice job with planning & installation; everything was easily accessible, neatly wired, and clearly labled.

At $85k list price and minus a dinghy and outboard, Sea Schell wasn't priced much under Windbird and lacked some of Windbird's cruising equipment. Windbird generally showed better, other than the engine room where Sea Schell was exceptional. Sea Schell has a more recent repower with much lower engine hours than Windbird. The main problem is that she's a boat that's really set up to use the engine for power generation: there's no solar, the refrigeration uses an engine-driven cold plate, and the high-capacity watermaker is engine-driven. The owner reported running the engine around three hours a day in the tropics for refrigeration alone. To me, sailing to a peaceful anchorage and then sitting there with the engine clattering completely defeats the purpose of a sailboat. You could change out the refrigeration, add a solar array, and only use the engine for watermaking while topping off the batteries, but this would be a bit expensive. The thing you couldn't easily change is the interior configuration of the salon and galley, which Dawn really disliked. All these factors combined kept Sea Schell off the top 5 list, though I thought the side trip to Port Charlotte was well worthwhile.

 Saloon had two captains chairs.  One swiveled to NavStation.
 Main Cabin for Captains Quarters - King-sized Bed
 Sun Canopies

After viewing Sea Schell we headed back to TPA, where I dropped Dawn off to catch a flight back to Minneapolis as she had to teach the next day. She had seen seven boats over the Memorial Day weekend and had a much better idea of what she liked and didn't. Meanwhile, I was staying another few days to look at several other boats with a sailing buddy who would be flying into Jacksonville the next morning. The road trip continued...

Next up: Kelly Peterson 46 "Havana Goodtime"...Gulfstar 44 "First Light" ...Bristol 41.1 "Compass Rose" ...and Liberty 458 "Susurra."

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