Dreams move in fits and starts. Ours just lunged forward. After an 8-month search that put several thousand miles of Interstate 95 under the tires of our poor old Kia, and countless conversations about the right boat—boring the kids to tears on several occasions ("Daddy, let's just buy a boat and stop talking about it")—we finally signed a contract on a boat.
Our choice is a used Leopard 40. She was built in 2008 and has spent the first part of her life working as a charter boat in the Moorings fleet in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Although "working in the BVI" sure sounds idyllic to us professional saps living in dreary East Coast cities, a boat like this gets a hell of lot of wear in charter. Many people advise against buying a boat out of charter for just this reason, saying that you'll end up putting as much into the vessel in the form of repairs and equipment as you'd pay for a privately owned, boat. Maybe so. But, we think we escaped this fate.
Lani and I spent five days in the Caribbean, between Tortola and St. Martin, and looked at over 20 boats. At the Moorings, which is the largest charter company in the world with hundreds of boats at its base in Tortola, we looked at 15 in a row. It was a busy, fun day; but, pretty soon every Leopard 40 starts to look the same.
This is the layout of the boat. There are four cabins, two in each hull, along with a bathroom (head, in nautical parlance) in each hull, and a large living area elevated in between called the saloon.
One of our biggest criterion was having a large cockpit so that the kids would have a lot of space for hanging out, doing projects, and so forth. I think we can fit all five of us around this table, especially if we add some chairs.
Powder Days, as the boat is called, has a few more weeks in charter. In a couple of weeks we'll have a survey done, which will generate a lengthy to-do list for the charter company. In the last week of April she'll stop renting out and begin a month-long phase out, in which she gets everything fixed and cleaned up and ready for us.
In June we push off.