Saturday, January 30, 2016

Just Like That, She's Mine!!!

My(!) Westsail 32

So, on the ocean with Alex and the good ship Eleanor, I learned that though my Albin Vega was a proven ocean capable design, I wanted a bigger, heavier boat. Part of that motivation was the seakindliness I experienced aboard Eleanor, but also because I plan to cruise permanently with no home base for a good while. I need more room than I had with the Vega. Bella would compare to a nice camper. A Westsail 32, or something similar, would be like a small apartment that I could retire to and not ever have to worry about outgrowing. The Westsail has at least twice the interior volume as the Vega.

I became obsessed and surfed the web constantly. It was taking over my life, and, as I mentioned, I was in the process of cooling my jets, convinced I was maturing about boats [false alarm]. My plan had evolved to waiting until about June when I might have $15,000 or 20,000 to buy a good boat and not have to make some kind of deal. Then last week, an ad for a Westsail 32 popped up on Facebook, I just knew it was a good deal on the right boat. And I could nearly afford it. However, there were only three exterior pictures in the ad and she was in Florida.

Often the lack of interior shots is an indication that a lot of work is needed inside. Despite that logical conclusion, as soon as I'd seen the ad, I started blowing up the poor guy's phone last Wednesday morning. At first I was getting a message that 'the cellular customer is not available at the moment.' Frustrated, I waited for a half hour or so, and tried again; and again. When the ‘not available’ message disappeared, the phone just rang and rang and rang, I gave up after three or four tries. I figured they were ignoring their phone because they had already sold the boat. I got dressed and went to the gym. Of course, I called once or twice from the parking lot before I went inside. 

I did get some interior shots

As I was driving home, all sweaty, I checked my phone with all the coolness of an expectant father. Nothing. No calls. 

This was looking grim; another near miss. Nevertheless, a bit closer to home, the phone rang and the caller was from an area code I knew was Miami!  The guy apologized that his personal phone was not near him all morning and he had missed me. I apologized for stalking him.  We had a good rapport and talked about boats and other Florida things for a while. The Westsail needs some work. He had gotten frustrated by a boat shop dragging their feet on an engine project. In a moment of weakness and frustration, he had fallen in love with another boat. 

More conversationally than as a formal bid, I told him what money I had that I could send that day. If we couldn't start something with that then I wasn't going to be able make a deal. He countered that if I was just going to buy her right then and not have the chance to change my mind when I saw her, he'd come down to my price ... and we had a deal. 

By then I had gotten all the way home to the driveway, but I backed right out, went straight to my credit union, got a bank check, and went to the post office to overnight the money to Coconut Grove.  The next day he had it, the following day - Friday - with clear funds in his bank, he pulled the ad and asked me how and where to send the title. Suddenly, she was mine. My head still spins.

By now, I have the title and she is already registered in Michigan for now. The next paperwork to do is to officially document her with the U.S. Coast Guard as soon as I get the Michigan Title in the mail. Essentially, it is required to 'document' your boat to easily get in and out of foreign countries, besides the Bahamas. This boat and I have big plans.

Badass. I am smitten.

This Westsail 32 needs a little bit of work. There is no engine, but the good news is there is no old engine in the way of installing the new one. She is in the water but dry. The interior is in the process of recovering from another owner's pukey green paint. With the price I paid, compared to what I would have had to pay to get into a Westsail 32, I have plenty of budget for an engine and getting her refit properly and shipshape. I will replace the bowsprit and the boomkin which are the original wooden parts. She needs a proper galley, especially a stove. There are no interior cushions inside, but there is a home built composting toilet. Actually, I've been looking at composting heads lately, but I'll install a commercial one. Moreover, I’m getting pretty good on my Sailrite sewing machine and just finished upholstering cushions for my current boat. Cushions and a dodger are on the agenda. The sails are supposed to be in decent shape, but I'd like to make a tanbark set of sails someday. There is an anchor windlass on the bow.

My Sailrite machine and first project, a duffel.

She might have been named Muriel at one point. The previous owner had taken off a 'sticker' but hadn’t really named her. I'll keep her in the Dinner Key Marina mooring field temporarily but plan to move her as quickly as possible to the DIY boatyard in Ft. Pierce where Alex and I left Eleanor. Riverside Marina is the best deal on the East Coast of Florida where you can do your own work. I have to move her about 100 miles with no engine and the I probably have 8 to 12 months worth of work. Most of the working capital I'll need will have to be earned while I'm down there. I'm looking into trucking jobs that will allow me some boatwork time, but I'll probably mostly drive for a time and then quit to run through the punch list and get her back in the water. I don't have a name for her yet.

That’s really all I know. I’ll go down to see her in a couple weeks and will have a complete report.  For now, I am out of my mind, excited to own a Westsail!! She is one badass, old school, full keel cutter!

Not mine, but a sister ship; just frikkin' beautiful. 


  1. Nice! I completely understand the feeling you have when you realized the moment of ownership. We have an unfinished Westsail 32 kit boat but even then, she's awesome!

    1. Congrats! I'm quite certain I've seen your youtube. Maybe we'll cross wakes someday.

  2. `nother w32 owner in mid-refit here. Contrats on your purchase. Lots of work ahead, but oh, so rewarding.


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