Cool Change is a Pacific Seacraft 31, hull number 47, built in 1989. We are the 4th owners of Cool Change and our hailing port is Sausalito, California in the Sausalito Yacht Harbor.
Why A 31-foot Pacific Seacraft?
When we tell people our plans for offshore cruising, many ask, “why such a small boat?” Admittedly, the more typically sized boat for offshore cruising is around a 44 feet. However, I’d take our 31-foot Pacific Seacraft over any number of other manufacturers of larger boats. Pacific Seacrafts are built for offshore cruising, regardless of the size. The reasons are countless, but include such features as oversized cockpit drains so the ocean drains out as fast as it comes in, during a storm or following seas; a modified fin keel and skeg-hung rudder to improve tracking and reduce the chances of breaking or loosing the rudder; substantial weight in the keel compared to the weight of the boat, allowing for more stability; a width-to-length and weight ratio that reduces the chances for capsizing; incredibly ingenious use of every space for storage capacity, practicality, and multi-use purposes; traveling backstays to add strength to the mast in storm conditions; 9 inch bulwarks at the bow to increase security when going forward on deck; butterfly inserts that lock together the caprail joints to confirm a really well-built boat; foot pumps for salt and fresh water in the galley to minimize power usage and fresh water usage on long distance jaunts; the list goes on forever.
Rick was having a difficult time getting his mind around taking any boat out on offshore passages. As we inspected potential purchases of boats in our price range, he would ask himself, “Would I trust this boat in the middle of the ocean?” One by one, the answer was always “No” until he stepped onto our Pacific Seacraft 31. That was it. This was the boat.
Okay, so that is why a Pacific Seacraft, but why only 31 feet? Well, Cool Change was at the very top of our price range, if we wanted to put 10% cash down with an interest-only loan. Pacific Seacraft is probably one of the most expensive manufacturers out there, and their value holds through the decades. While we could have purchased a boat half again as large for the same price, it wouldn’t have had near the quality. Also, Cool Change itself has not been beat up like other boats designed for cruising might have been – she has been used almost exclusively for San Francisco Bay day cruising, and occasional short trips along the coast. For the last four years before we bought her, she had hardly been sailed at all, the poor thing.
Had we waited longer, perhaps we could have found a Pacific Seacraft 37 whose price was approachable too; some have come up for sail locally since we bought our boat. But who wanted to wait? There are other manufacturers of ocean-worthy sailboats, to be sure. But many are full-keel boats that may offer several advantages for ocean crossing but would most likely be dull and unmanueverable in the San Francisco Bay. We wanted both!
They say that for every 10 feet of boat length, the maintenance costs double. I believe it. And we aren’t going to be stuck at dock because our washing machine broke! (Needless to say, we have no washing machine.) We have so much less to deal with than a bigger boat: less to go wrong, less complicated systems to understand, smaller diameter and shorter lines and wiring at cheaper prices, lighter and less expensive anchoring systems, etc. And then there are the practical inconveniences of a larger boat: higher slip fees, fewer marinas that can accomodate your boat’s length, width or draft, etc.
Very importantly for two people who are both in our 60’s, Cool Change is easier to handle. The lines are easier to handle because they are not as long and not as heavy, the strength needed to handle the sails is less, the freeboard is less so it is easier to step off her deck onto the dock, etc. We won’t be needing to search out a reliable additional crew member every time we make a crossing, like others with larger boats do.
Some say that a bulkhead between the main salon and the foreward cabin is useful for privacy, but instead, we choose the unique Pacific Seacraft design of an open cabin with only curtains for privacy, so that we could have the airier feel of open spaces (the curtains are always open). I figure that if you need some space from your partner because of a difference of opinion, a physical wall between you is not going to make the difference, nor will 10 feet of boat length!
Some say that more waterline (bigger boats) translates into a smoother sail, but that is not always the case. Cool Change handles the waves beautifully, while some of the bigger boats we have been on do not.
Cool Change is plenty big for two people. The only concern I have is that we may have some challenges in finding room for provisioning for, say, a 30 day passage. We may not be able to carry quite as much food, or spare parts, that a larger boat might. But, we are also carrying food for only two people, and parts for a smaller boat, so those factors should balance themselves out. Most of the time it will only be two of us sailing. Day visitors are welcome but are advised to make other sleeping accommodations!