The Inspiration becomes the Intention
Back in August of 2011, our plan was to buy a Najad or one of the other so-called “Orust boats” (built by yards on the island of Orust on the west coast of Sweden). Hallberg-Rassy, Malö, and Regina af Vindö were all on our short list. I knew these boats after my years as a sailboat owner in Stockholm, and they were known for being robust, classic, high-quality blue-water yachts.
Much to our dismay at the time, Najad went bankrupt just a week after we returned from our trip. What kind of support would there be for a brand that didn’t exist anymore? So we started looking at Hallberg-Rassy, Malö, and the other Orust boats and decided that the 45 to 54 foot size range would be a good choice for a live-aboard boat. We wanted to have enough space for permanent living and for friends and family to visit. We also had two large dogs. We couldn’t imagine having 6 people and two big dogs on a smaller boat than 45 feet.
Here’s our first “basic boat requirements list”:
- Robust, classic, heavy displacement style. We are going to live and voyage on this boat, not just spend weekends and holidays on it!
- Well-protected and deep centre-cockpit style, rather than the light-displacement, aft-cockpit, wide-beamed sun-bathing style boats popular in the Mediterranean.
- Modified (longer) fin keel. And, if possible, shoal draft. My old boat was a long-keeler that drew just 1m60. Why shoal draft? Because in the archipelagos of Sweden and Finland, where we will spend a great deal of time, a boat that draws 2 meters or more will not be able to come into certain anchorages or use certain fairways.
- Easy to handle for a couple of “a certain age”, and capable of being sailed single-handed.
- Cutter rig for more/easier “options” in sail handling
- Good interior layout for safety and comfort (lots of handholds, relatively narrow for boat length). We didn’t want a wide “party boat” where you’d be tossed around with nothing to hold onto during a storm.
- “Homey”. We would need to feel emotionally “at home” on this boat. For us, that meant a wooden interior and a bright, fresh feeling as opposed to the austere interiors found on many modern boats, especially the French and Italian ones.
- Well-equipped galley, with a good oven, microwave, refrigerator and freezer. I’d like as much drawer or basket storage space as possible. I used to always hate getting on my knees to search for things lost in the back of a lower cabinet or stored underneath the cabin sole.
- A reliable engine with a reasonable amount of horsepower (at least 2 for each foot). I know, I know, it’s a sailboat. But not every day is windy. We don’t want to be forced to stay at an anchorage or marina we don’t like simply because there’s no wind. Or be “stuck” if we need to stay out of a bad weather situation.
- Good sized diesel tanks to feed the engine, the generator and the heater. In the northern latitudes, such as the Lofoten coast of Norway, fuel stations may be few and far between.
- Three cabin – two heads design (so that friends or family visit, they are confortable) and a useful/comfortable navagation station.