Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Minerva, a real head-turner

A few weeks ago we were driving to meet another boat broker. This time we were headed to Brunswick, GA, a town that we liked, to see a catamaran we had high hopes for.

Prout Snowgoose 37

Here's the thing about catamarans. Yes they would be better for Lance's lame foot and balance issues. Yes they often have sliding doors and are easy to get around for the pets. Yes they have lots of top-side sunning area, room for wrangling dive gear, staying out of the sun, etc. Yes they are shallow draft and can therefore skitter into really shallow water places where the monohulls can't get. All of that is true.

They also don't sail as well as a monohull, all that space does not shake out to efficient living space like it should, and the bottom line is...

they are ugly.

There, I said it.
I hate the way they look.

The catamaran vs mono subject will be debated to the dying breath by any sailor who has owned one or the other. If you think I'm exaggerating, ask any sailor you meet. Type catamaran vs monohull into YouTube, pull up a chair and relax. You're going to be there for a while. You might open a beer, better yet... drag over the cooler.

Stern deck of the Endeavor

Anyhoo... we were driving to Brunswick to look at the Endeavor catamaran. I was hoping she would change my mind. From every logical standpoint, an Endeavor would make the perfect liveaboard  for the shallow waters of Florida, the Carribean, and the Great Loop. On the way to see her we crossed a bridge and drove along the high road next to the marina and my head nearly snapped right off my neck.

What was that... down in the marina... there with two masts and two roller furlers... what a beautiful boat! I have never seen one like that before. Focus... we have a date to keep.

Somehow I managed to keep the Mini on the highway and we met the broker as agreed. The catamaran was exactly what I expected. Large. Inefficient. Plenty of dive gear space. No actual living space. Kitchen impossible. Sigh.

The broker sensed us slipping away. He started talking faster and faster, and I suddenly realized he wasn't talking to me at all, he was solely focused on Lance, so I used my new superpower.

Didn't I tell you I have a superpower? I just discovered it recently. Here's how it works... people that talk loudly without pausing for air and don't invite a word in anywhere are really just talking to hear themselves talk. They are not interested in a conversation or an actual exchange of ideas at all, and they can simply be ignored. My presence is not required; I can walk away. People talking like this don't get upset about it, in fact they don't even seem to notice. How did I make it to age 47 without figuring this out before? Now it's my new favorite thing.

So... with the broker speed-talking at Lance who seemed to be enjoying the opportunity to engage, I took a big step backwards, and then another, and when nobody tried to rope me back in I started speed-walking down the docks. I had to see what that boat was. The beauty from the bridge. It's like she was calling me.

She was 10 docks down. She had a sister parked alongside. They were unbelievable.
The name rolls off the tongue.
It felt like wine. And good cheese. And stunning sunsets.

I stood there gawking for a little while when a curious face popped up from down below. Barbara said "are you oogling my boat?" and then started giggling.

She told me all about Amels. How the company was built by a Henri Amel and when he died he bequeathed the company directly to the employees and how they still make boats today. And how they are popular in Europe but rare in the USA, and against the odds somehow there are 6 in Brunswick marina on any given weekend, all of them world cruisers which probably represent the sum total of all the Amels in the USA. She told me how the company brags that their boats will hold 400+ bottles of wine.

I was totally smitten. Then Barbara started spinning yarns about the places her Amel had taken her. I was still standing there on the dock mesmerized, perhaps hours or days or maybe even weeks later, when Lance came to fetch me and reluctantly dragged me home. Barbara's Amel is 53 feet long. It's called a Super Maramu and it's way more boat than we need.

I could hardly bring myself to focus on the catamaran we'd gone there to see that day, or the other boats we had lined up to see afterwards. It's like getting a glimpse at a Rolls Royce then going back to a Ford existence.

A few stops later we were close enough to reach Wilmington, New Bern and Oriental NC. We toured an impressive Gulfstar 44, which was in excellent condition but too short for Lance. He waved his bloody hat at me with a frown. Hard no. I cancelled the other tour scheduled that day - a small catamaran in which I could not muster up any interest at all. I just couldn't imagine seeing it in the marina and being proud to call it mine, it made me sad just to think about it. So we thanked the broker and went home. It was Saturday.

We had lined up some serious contenders on Monday, and found ourselves with nothing to do on Sunday. I was musing over breakfast to Lance about the Amel we'd seen back in Brunswick, and said "too bad they don't make a smaller one". He poked around on the internet for a minute, and guess what... Amel did make a smaller one; an Amel Marimu 46, with standard sails instead of roller-furlers (another neverending debate, hope you dragged that cooler over). And there was one in Oriental being offered for sale by its owner, which is how it had escaped our search efforts before which had been primarily focused on YachtWorld, a brokers' website. We called the owner. He was keen. So we popped down there at Sunday midday.

Minerva on the hard in Oriental NC

From the moment we pulled in and saw her on the hard we were in love. She was just like the one we had seen in Brunswick but a little smaller; but still frighteningly large with her whole hull exposed to the elements and a fresh coat of bottom paint. There was a huge ladder tied to the stanchions on her port side. It seemed to go all the way to heaven. Her name is Minerva.

She was under contract with another buyer at the time we met her. But that contract was contingent on the buyer selling his condo in Florida first. And the economy is scary... coronavirus and all... and we have cash stashed away from the house sale for this very purpose... I buckled in and did my very best negotiating while Lance paced nervously outside.

Our offer was accepted, and we are working through the process of making her our own. It'll take time. We are safe in Oriental with Loretta, Mr. Toad, and Minerva while we get it all worked out.

She is ours. The rest of the world can go totally haywire if it wants to, we found our boat and she is ours.

Enfin. Finally. Our long, long search is at an end.

Internet Speed Comparison
Goose Creek Resort, Newport, NC
Sampled 3/19/20 at 2:50 pm

MB down
MB up
Calyx (Sprint)
Google Fi
Jetpack (Verizon)
Park wifi
Additional $ didn’t test


  1. congratulations on your big find. I know this will serve you well and let you continue your adventures.

    1. Thanks Mom. Can’t wait to take you sailing. Preferably somewhere warm.