If you're lucky enough to live to 100, the years between 50 & 75 are your third quarter. That segment in life could be the waning of your physically agile years, so it's a good idea to stay active. It's also a good time to challenge your brain to keep things limber up there - by mastering something new. We decided to go sailing, and this is a chronicle of our journey.


Searching for a sail boat: Looking close to home

Don Water Skiing on his boat in the early 90's
Belinda on board Tom's Cape Dory 31 Heiress in 1989 in Chesapeake Bay

When Don and I were in the early stages of looking for a boat, a few of the folks we shared our plan with asked if we were going to buy my step Dad Tom's 1984 Cape Dory 31 (HULL #15). He listed it for sale a few months before we concocted this plan. While we have amazing memories of that boat - especially since she was the first sail boat I ever spent time on shortly after Tom purchased her on the East Coast in 1987 - he told us that in retrospect, he thought he should have purchased a CD36, but he was discouraged from that notion by friends who told him it was too difficult to single hand a boat that size. With the benefit of his experiences on Heiress over the past 25 years - along the Intra-Coastal Waterway, the Chesapeake Bay, the Florida Keyes, the Bahamas and then up and down the Pacific Coast for two decades - he doesn't believe this is true.  Don and I took Tom's experiences to heart, and set our sights on a Cape Dory 36.

Tom & Belinda after washing the deck of Heiress in the broker's slip, Channel Islands 2011.
After a few weeks of researching archived reviews of Cape Dory boats, stories about the different vessels Carl Alberg designed, and looking at photos of CD36's on blogs and web sites, we knew that finding one on the West Coast might be a challenge. Cape Dory manufactured the CD36 in Massachusetts between 1978 and 1990, and there were 165 of them built.  Through the Cape Dory owner's registry, we found 11 of them in California.  There's an old saying that "Every boat is for Sale" but I've seen (and felt) the inexplicable bond between a captain & his boat. Boats become part of the family, so I couldn't imagine cold-calling or emailing the owner of a CD36 to ask 'Hey, wanna sell your boat?'.

 Later in the summer, we contacted a broker who had one listed not too far from us.  We met with the broker on a sunny day, and walked (skipped) down to the slip to look at our first prospect. I knew right away that this CD wasn't right for us. I'm not even sure why. It was an intuitive feeling in the heart of my gut - I felt it the moment we stepped aboard. She was pretty, and well cared for, but something about her just didn't feel right. It was like slipping on a splendidly pretty shoe that seemed rockin' in all aspects of design and manufacturing, only to find that it pinched my toes. I might have felt discouraged, but I read a lot of stories online about other people's experiences searching for boats, and I knew it would take time - maybe even a year, especially given the shortage of the CD36 on the west coast. We drove away from the marina and this first available CD36 feeling thoughtful, but resolved, because we always listen to that "little voice", and the introduction confirmed that our plan was real; we were looking for our sailboat.

Sail away with me honey
I put my heart in your hand
Sail away with me honey now, now, now.
Sail Away, by David Gray

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