A Cruising Boat for a Knockabout Snob

One of the great things about sailing is the free dreaming. You can always dream about sailing away, where you might go and what boat will take you there. I have had this type of dream for years and I quite enjoy it. Maybe it will happen but likely it won't, but I love the dream anyway.

Several different events conspired to bring this dream back to the front of my imagination recently. The first was an email sent to me with a link to a preview of Lin and Larry Pardey's new documentary "Cruising has no Limits". I have been a fan, like many, of the Pardey's since I started sailing again five or six years ago. They sail in a manner that just makes sense to me and I never seem to tire of hearing them speak about it.

And almost at the same time, I stumbled on a post on Tim's Plastic Classic forum with a link to James Baldwin's new online book "Across Islands and Oceans". I am really enjoying this read and the philosophy James brings to sailing.

Even these two great new resources would probably have just been morning reading except Laura looked over my shoulder while I was watching the Pardey's and casually asked what type of boat would we sail across an ocean. It was a question that I couldn't answer right away even though I have given the idea a great deal of thought over the years.

Before Bolero, I had even seriously inquired about a Pearson Ariel in Florida and a Contessa 26 in Vancouver British Columbia with long range cruising in mind. But something kept me from owning these boats. Certainly it wasn't cost, since for the price of Bolero either of these boats would have been restored and half way around the world if I had wanted. In the end, I think it was my search for extraordinary that prevented me from getting either of these two outstanding sailboats.

When all is said and done, sailing performance and aesthetics are what define sailing for me. I seem to be drawn to as pure a classic sailing machine as I can get. I am stubbornly reluctant to accept the compromises typical of modern boat design. This is the desire that made Bolero possible and makes choosing my ideal cruising boat extremely difficult. Even in my dreams.

But if I had to choose, what would my extraordinary choice look like in a small cruising boat? That was the question of Laura's that I couldn't quite answer. But after reviewing my old info one boat did inspire me a great deal, the Morris Frances 26.

And although I quite like the trunk cabin version,

It is the flush deck version that I find extraordinary.

There is one very nice thing about being stubborn and picky, it is very, very hard to replace your current boat. Bolero is one of kind. I can't even begin to imagine not having her and the idea of owning two boats makes me chuckle. In addition there aren't very many Morris 26's. And just a few of them are flush decks. So this is really the stuff that dreams are made of.

I can live with that.