Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Boat Quest, Part 6

Here is a short piece from "The O List" section of the October, 2001 issue of Outside magazine:

Aerodyne 47 sailboat
The Aerodyne 47 sailing off
Newport, Rhode Island
The Best Boat to Sail Around the World

A plucky Australian named Serge Testa once managed to get around the globe in a 12-footer, but if you prefer to go first class, the AERODYNE 47, a new passage-maker from innovative designer Rodger Martin, aspires to be the perfect ride. The 47-foot sloop thoroughly modernizes the art of cruising—it's strong enough to battle Cape Horn and light enough to reel off 250 miles on a good day. Oh, and it's easily handled by just two people. The secret is smart engineering (like a self-tacking jib) and maximum use of ultralight, ultrastrong composites such as Kevlar (the material of choice for bulletproof vests). And the performance pedigree does not come at the expense of serious cruising comfort. Any number of boats (like the venerable Valiant 40, which made its first circumnavigation in the 1970s) will take you around the world, but few will get you across the oceans as fast as the Aerodyne 47 while the off-watch does laundry, eats microwave popcorn, and freaks out to Dead Calm on the DVD. —Tim Zimmermann $430,000; 508-943-8776;

I found this version in Outside's website archives. The original printed version included additional photos that showed a pilothouse, a washing machine, a flat-screen TV and even a workshop. I read it as a subscriber when it was published in 2001, while I was working for the Aspen School District and moonlighting as an Internet developer. The "Dot Bomb" stock market crash was already history but I believed I could still make it big with a vacation rentals website featuring "virtual walkthroughs." Big enough to throw $3000 a month at a sailboat for 25 years? Probably not. But dreaming about the Aerodyne 47 got me past my infatuation with the MacGregor 26.

After reading the piece many, many times, I finally looked seriously at the parenthetical, "(like the venerable Valiant 40, which made its first circumnavigation in the 1970s)." I had never heard of the Valiant 40, but if it was "venerable" and capable of making circumnavigations, then maybe it was worth checking out. I did a quick Google search, which returned thousands of results. Near the top was Offshore Atlantic Yachts, Inc. (, a yacht brokerage website run by a couple of the original founders of Valiant Yachts, Sylvia and Stanley Dabney. I read every page and then looked at all the associated sales listings. What I learned was that the Valiant was designed by naval architect Robert Perry in 1973 as the first high performance cruising sailboat with a fiberglass hull. It featured a cutter rig, fin keel, skeg-hung keel and tumble-home stern. Well-used Valiants from the late 1970s could be purchased for less than $100K, with some as low as $75K.

I made a habit of checking the listings a few times a week hoping that as our personal fortunes improved, I might find the right Valiant 40 at the right time in the right place. At one point, there was one available in not-too-far-away Mexico that I followed until the listing disappeared. I emailed Stan Dabney to ask what had happened and he responded that he had tried to close a sale, but the difficulty of doing business in Mexico had caused the deal to fall apart so he was no longer representing the boat. That got me thinking that there must be more to buying a brokered boat than I had thought, so I started paying greater attention to the terms of sale as I continued to study the listings.

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