Sailing Journey: Gonna Need a Bigger Boat!

The sailing journey continues with the revelation that Naiad – our home-built sailing boat and home – isn’t big enough. Gonna need a bigger boat!

Taking 9.5 years to build Naiad (a Bruce Roberts 28′ Motor Sailor), launching, setting sail across 2 Australian eastern States, extending Naiad to 34′, more sailing, and living full-time on Naiad, the time has finally come…

Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Whitsunday Islands (Photo credit: Colin Palmer)

Need to apologise in advance for the quality of some of these 35mm film photos from a lifetime ago. Life aboard a boat is not a great environment in which to store film. I’m not great at scanning negatives either.

Another dream

By 2005, Naiad has been our home for around 18 years.

Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Whitsundays’ turquoise paradise

Enjoying coastal cruising up and down Australia’s east coast while picking up work along the way, slowly the realisation creeps in. Perhaps it’s time for a bigger and faster boat – we’ve outgrown Naiad. She’s been very good to us and always got us out of sticky situations.

Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Naiad posing for the photo-shoot

But, the desire to sail further afield beckons and so, a new dream is born. A new era. The search for a bigger boat.

Sunset, Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Dreaming big, aiming high

No, not building a boat this time, going to buy one. A production boat. A plastic boat. My nickname for a boat built from fibreglass. This nickname is after building and living on a steel boat for almost 2 decades.

Sunset, Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Another fabulous coastal vista

Perhaps this never crossed your mind. But, if you hit a reef or run aground in a steel boat it’s a little more forgiving than fibreglass, wood, or Ferro cement.

I’ve had this conversation with other yachties over the years, and everyone has their own view. Although for me, steel is a little more comforting.

Boat anchored, Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Peacefully anchored along the Queensland coast somewhere

After the blood, sweat, and tears that went into building Naiad, this new venture of buying a boat seems both scary and quite daunting. Not to mention also very expensive. Naiad also needs to be sold at some point.

I’m sharing a few extra photos with you of the Australian east coast for your delectation.

Researching a boat

Whitsunday Islands, North Queensland, Australia, Oceania

While sailing in the Whitsunday Islands over 2005/2006, we take the liberty to check out as many different sailing boat designs as possible.

This is a great way to learn the pros and cons of different designs, so approach charter companies as there are loads in the Whitsundays.

Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Calmness at sea

Owners of charter boats are always eager to discuss their fleet and openly discuss what they do and don’t like about each design. Talk to an owner long enough and eventually, you’re welcomed aboard – as long as they’re not busy. It’s a great way to see internal designs without the pressure of purchasing or listening to a salesman.

Deciding on a design

More research. Checking out loads of designs in the flesh. Dragging ourselves to a couple of boat shows. Listening to the painful sales spiel of why a boat is excellent for our needs, not what we want from a boat. And after 18 months, we find The One.

No, I don’t mean the actual boat. Just choose the design to concentrate our efforts on. It’s an American design and built Catalina 400 Mk II, but decide that it can’t be older than 10 years. The Catalina is such a beautiful boat…

Catalina 400 Mk II, USA
Catalina 400 Mk II (Photo credit: Catalina Yachts)

…and a Catalina have a very good reputation as strong-built cruising boat. This roomy lovely-looking boat ticks all the boxes and then some, but there is just one small hitch…

Searching the globe

A Catalina of any size is not an easy boat to find in Australia.

If such an animal exists, typically, the price tag is hideously expensive and much higher than what we can afford. The couple of Catalinas that are available in Australia are ridiculously expensive. So, starts the search for a boat overseas.

You need to remember that at this point, we have some sailing miles under our belt. Albeit coastal and not blue water passages. If you throw in also living on Naiad for such a long time, then we already know exactly what we want in the next boat. What works and what doesn’t for us…

Remember, all boats are compromises and there are always drawbacks. There’s no such thing as the perfect boat.

Whether it’s a steel boat that rusts, a fibreglass boat that gets osmosis, a timber boat that experiences worm, or a Ferro cement boat that rusts from the inside out – all materials have their problems.

Let’s face it when something is constantly submerged in an unfriendly watery environment drenched in salt, this definitely creates loads of issues.

How do you narrow an overseas market?

With the world as our oyster now and thousands of available boats, all of this can be quite overwhelming.

Sailing Journey: Gonna Need a Bigger Boat! Queensland, Australia, Oceania

So, how do you narrow down the search for a boat around the world?

Easy. Pick a design and stick to it. Don’t deviate. Otherwise, you’ll never full-fill your dream. You’ll find yourself 5 years down the track still looking for the perfect boat.

Decide on whether you’re going to sail it back to your home country immediately, ship it back (very expensive), or cruise for several years. And, eventually return to your home country slowly – across the Pacific in our instance.


After an extensive search, we find 8 boats around New York and also another couple in other areas of the US. With numerous emails back and forth to brokers a month before leaving Australia, we are sure we’ll be buying another boat.

Throughout email communication, US-brokers seem very eager to help and also to take our money. Maybe it’s because we’re cash buyers.

I’m hoping that we don’t have any hassles after landing in New York and meeting these thirsty brokers. After all, we’ll be a long way from home and at the mercy of salespeople…

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.

39 responses to “Sailing Journey: Gonna Need a Bigger Boat!”

  1. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    After 18 years, it must have been hard to say goodbye to Naiad, especially because you spent so much time and energy in building her. But at the same time, you learned a lot from that experience to help you move on to the next adventure.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Very hard to say goodbye to Naiad and it was 20 years. 😉
      Definitely learnt a lot whilst building, extending, sailing, and cruising her – many life experiences also, which is always a bonus…

  2. gillmorris Avatar

    OOh, how exciting, can’t wait for the next bit! 🙂 xx

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Gill, I’ve published another 2 posts after this one: Buying a Boat in New York and Boat Fit-out and Maiden Voyage. Hope you like these also! 😉 x

      1. gillmorris Avatar

        Awesome, I read the one when you bought the boat in New York, but I’ll catch up with the other one. Thankyouxx

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, I’ve published around 14 posts on the sailing journey so far and more to follow. Although, I need to break it up as it will become a sailing blog only! 😉
        I’ve written over 25,000 words and only an overview of what happened – haven’t scratched the surface yet…

      3. gillmorris Avatar

        It sounds great. I’ll look forward to reading them all x

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Cool, hope you enjoy the read Gill. x

  3. Dave Ply Avatar

    It must have been a little painful to choose to say goodbye to Naiad after all those years and all that effort.

    For what it’s worth, my little racing dingy was a Coronado 15, part of the Catalina line. It took some serious abuse after being blown off a docking cradle and downriver one stormy night, but I was able to get it shipshape again. Tough boats.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes, it definitely was and I have a scheduled post about that chapter coming out in a couple of weeks. 😉
      They’re excellent boats and I would definitely buy a Catalina again – very liveable boats and Catalina has thought of everything really. Guess it’s not surprise as the company has been building boats since 1970 I believe.
      You were very lucky to salvage your racing dinghy. Do you sail much these days?

      1. Dave Ply Avatar

        Almost never. I sold the boat about 15 years ago as I wasn’t getting out often enough to justify the moorage and club fees. Similar story to flying. I miss them both, though.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        What a shame, maybe you should start again with something on a trailer? 😉
        You either love or hate boating, but if you love it then it gets under your skin and not easily forgotten. I’ve known and heard of many pilots turning to sailing when retired or for a favourite pass time – guess there are similarities between the two…

      3. Dave Ply Avatar

        I actually had the C-15 on a trailer for a while, but didn’t really have a place to park it. Storage fees were almost as bad as moorage fees, and I was only getting it out 4-5 afternoons a year.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ah right, what a pain.
        You can always crew maybe? Can you crew on any Twilight races where you are or are you too far from the water?

  4. LaRena’s Corner Avatar

    Love the information for the novice to the avid sailor.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment and glad you like the write-up!
      You may want to read how we started building Naiad. 🙂

  5. Parchment Planes Avatar

    Love your pictures! What a fun adventure.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for the great feedback Ana!
      Life’s an adventure if you allow it to be… 😉

  6. epemberton94 Avatar

    Your sea eagle photo is amazing! You must have some pretty special memories.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Emma, it’s a little blurry as they’re taken with an old 35mm film camera and I’m not big on post-production.
      Yes, have loads of amazing memories! 🙂

  7. Felipe Adan Lerma Avatar

    Fascinating Nilla! Had no idea there were so many differing kinds of material for this style boat! Makes sense though, and when you’ve had one that “ always got us out of sticky situations” – hey, that’s a lot to let go 😊 Best of luck in NY, hope if anyone, those sales folks’ll be at the mercy of you cash buyers! Way it should be, lol! 😊

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Felipe,

      Thanks for the great feedback and taking the time to leave me a comment! 🙂
      I’ve been writing my sailing journey, which spanned over 21 years as a liveaboard also, but this chapter was set in 2007. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow’s chapter to see what happens next…


      1. Felipe Adan Lerma Avatar

        Will be very interesting, I’m sure, lol! Yes! 😊

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Hope so! 😉

  8. the eternal traveller Avatar

    Yes, I tend to agree with you. If you’re going to hit a reef, steel would be the best alternative.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha, it’s not hole-proof but it’s better than other materials. 😉

  9. Rainey Avatar

    Very cool, does the “400” somehow translate to 40’? The interiors of those look very beautiful from what pics I can find.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you.
      Yes, the “400” does indeed translate to 40′ and is a great size for cruising, don’t you think?
      You need to read the next chapter on Sunday to see how it all went and what we actually ended up with… 😉

      1. Rainey Avatar

        My Flicka is the only boat I’ve ever had. At 20’ she’s all I need but I will admit I often get biggerboatitis from time to time. Looking forward to your next post!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        What’s the beam of your Flicka Rainey? Sounds like it ticks your boxes so for this phase in your life she may be perfect.
        Ha, ha, that comment made me laugh! Just think, the bigger the boat, the more expense – everything’s a compromise with boats. 😉

      3. Rainey Avatar

        8’ beam, plus standing headroom for a short 5’9” guy like me. You’re right about the boat length/expense ratio, I probably should have stuck with the little toy tug boat I used to play with in the bathtub.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        That sounds quite roomy for a 20′ home.
        Ha, ha, funny as but you’d be always wondering what a bigger boat was like… 😉

  10. Poorwa Vishwakarma Avatar

    Your pictures always make me feel bright and they are beautiful.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for such a lovely comment Poorwa! It makes me happy to know that my photos lift your spirits! 🙂

  11. Blogging_with_Bojana Avatar

    Because you are adventurers. I love your home.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your kind comment Bojana.

  12. Mohamad Toutounji Avatar

    I really enjoyed this part Nilla
    Way to go

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Mohamad for your comment. 🙂

      1. Mohamad Toutounji Avatar

        You are most welcome dear

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