Home Why We Chose Our Boat

Why We Chose Our Boat

Our boat, our choices and why we made them.

By Nick Fabbri

Many, many moons (2007) ago I decided to buy a boat. I had never been on a boat before, unless the Wolowich Ferry counts. So I decided that I was going to spend £8000 on a boat. No idea why I came up with such a precise figure, however it needed to be an amount that was small enough to not bankrupt me if I sunk it.

So I bought a 1980 Jaguar 25. What can I say? I knew nothing.

However I loved that little boat. It was a wreck, leaked oil like a stuck pig and had a tacking angle of 190 degrees. After a few years, I was still sailing so I upgraded. This time I wanted something that sailed well .

Again the research took place over many months and we settled on a new Hanse 320. Now this boat was awesome to me. Self tacking jib, hot pressurised water, a cooker. Man, it was like the Ritz. In fact , at one point we toyed seriously with not selling her and doing our trip in the little Hanse. However it was probably not the best choice for a couple of years ,so the choice came for the new boat.

By this point, 2011, Terysa and I had decided that we were going to do this thing together. So we both got to research the boats.

We read blog after blog after blog. The forum at YBW.com had question after question asked and we came up with a shortlist.

Now the debate of old boat vs new boat goes on and on. There are distinct advantages to both approaches. However, I wanted to know where my boat had been, who had worked on her and so we went for new.

So the things we wanted in a boat……

It had to be about 40ft. Enough for 2 of us to handle without relying on masses of electrics, yet stable enough to cut through the waves.

It had to have an Island berth. Neither of us wanted to have the coffin berth or sleep in a triangular forecabin. Also Terysa has this weird thing where she can’t sleep properly unless she can get her foot out of the bed.

Finally it had to be well built. Very well built.

After that everything else was a bonus.

So we trotted off to the Southampton boat show in 2011 with a calculator an overnight bag and a booking for a ridiculously priced hotel. The idea was that we would see the boats on our shortlist, sleep on it and go back the next day . Hopefully with a decision.

Three boats made the cut. At the time Hanse had just launched the 385, and the staff at inspiration marine had been so nice when I bought the 320 that we had to consider it. So a Hanse 385 was our first visit.

It was a lovely modern boat, and we were very happy with the look. However the build seemed a little flimsy. Flimsier than my 320 from a few years earlier. I think that “handsome Phil ” ( as Terysa calls him) did a stirling job of selling it to us. However it wasnt right for what we had planned.

The second boat was the Jeanneau 409. Again, lovely to look at but even flimsier than Hanse. We discounted it immediately.

Now bear in mind that at the time the Euro was fetching 1.15 to the pound, rather than the 1.4 we have today. So it was a lot of money for the average build quality.

The third was a Southerly 38. This was a bit of a wild card. We knew that we would have to take a marine mortgage to buy one, however the boat was lovely. Very,very well built. Beautiful inside, and it had the island bed that Terysa wanted.

It was also British built, had not huge delivery costs and had a lift /swing keel. It sealed the deal. We could easily watch it being built, and spec it to our exact requirements.

So we went to a local pub, ordered a pint and sat with a calculator working out if we could afford it. It cost nigh on twice as much as the other boats. After a good nights sleep we went back and signed with Southerly.

The build started in January 2012 and we took delivery in April. It wasnt a smooth process by a long chalk. Those who follow marine news will know that Southerly folded last year. It’s a crying shame as their boats are superb and unique in many ways. However their customer service sucked. Its not (that often) that I want to punch people, but the arrogance of their salesman was such that at one point I asked the manager for my deposit back.

I also talked to my friend who owns the marina where we keep the boat. Now this man is a multi millionaire and went to the boat show some years ago to buy a new Southerly. Again, the salespeople were so rude that he walked away and they lost another sale.

Its not just because it is/was a prestige marque. We recently went to see Oyster Yachts, and they treat us like royalty.

I hope that if Southerly re emerge at some point they work hard on their sales techniques. Just a thought. Sorry for the digression.

We have now owned the boat for three years and have sailed about 5000nm in her. I still love everything about her. Given my time again, I probably would buy the same boat again. However I would probably also look to Ovni for a comparison. There are some small niggles regarding the Southerly . The first is the top loading fridge. I hate it. I would have like to see it moved so that we could gain side access as well. Hanse do soething like this, so we know it’s possible.

Secondly I would happily have sacrificed a foot of forecabin space for a separate shower stall. the heads don’t have separate showers and it can be a pain.


Adelheid Greven March 10, 2016 at 4:23 pm

I love this story about how you bought your boat! Enjoy the sailing!

Terysa April 2, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Thankyou! 🙂

Jade April 9, 2017 at 3:06 am

Enjoyed last episode on youtube. I’m looking at all types of yachts I see people cruise to see what will fit for me eventually when I take the plunge. I noticed that your Southerly is up for sale on Yachtworld, are you looking to go a different direction yacht wise?

Terysa April 9, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Hi Jade,

Thanks for commenting! We love our boat but it’s up for sale because we are considering upscaling to something with more storage space. We’re fully prepared to continue to cruise with her but as we intend to head to more remote areas, more storage would be good.

Any other questions, please ask 😊

Jade April 11, 2017 at 12:24 am

Thank you and good luck!

albane May 10, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Interesting what you say about the sales people. I remember very well visiting Southerly at Southampton boatshow a few years back on my own and they were quite rude and dismissive. Being a woman didn’t help but since I am the one choosing the boat, they should have paid more attention! Anyway! We took our children on a yearly trip with our Ovni and we are very happy with it. The customer relationship is great and we are well looked after every time we need something or have a question.

Terysa May 10, 2017 at 8:59 pm

Well, that’s sad to hear but I’m not surprised. We had already decided on the boat so we were going to buy it no matter how disinterested the sales people were. And yes, I barely got a glance.
Happily, the aftercare at Southerly (different team) is fantastic.

Lawrence June 6, 2017 at 9:36 am

Hello Nick,

I just found your web site- thank you for documenting your experiences. I am about to put a house up for sale and hopefully be boat shopping before end of year, so I have a question for you.

Please define “a little flimsy” & “flimsier.” Based upon these adjectives alone, one gets the impression of serious compromise in deference to safety.

I have been on both the Hanse & the Jeanneau you spoke of and [personally] would feel comfortable doing ocean crossings in either, w/o hesitation. The Beneteau Oceanis 41 is also in the running. Of note, these manufacturers remain in business, while offering outstanding pre-purchase service, as well as post-purchase support. No factory support presents a deal-breaker for me & most sailors I know. For what it’s worth, both Southerlys & Ovnis are beyond my budget and I don’t care for their layouts either, so no love lost.

Granted, my only Pacific crossing thus far [San Diego to Honolulu] took place on a friend’s 24 year old Beneteau 44, which is somewhat similar to the aforementioned flimsies…yet the vessel was rock solid. Several days of ~12-18′ seas & a couple squalls pushing 40+ knot gusts posed no threat to the vessel, although that same weather did subject two of the crew to illness. Reefing the large standard main was a chore, so a furler setup would’ve been nice, and safer [looking back now]. The passage’s only failure: the refrigerator’s compressor clutch stopped engaging a few days prior to arrival, which we jury-rigged by screwing the clutch to the pulley.

Anyway, I commend you for your courage to take on the world. Good on you. I’ve met a good many sailors who’ve spoken of a cruising life & even have bought their boats, yet are reluctant to leave San Diego for Cabo. Go figure.

Fair winds,
PS, top loading fridges & showering by/on the toilet seat do seriously suck.

Terysa June 10, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Hi Lawrence,

Thankyou so much for your thoughts and taking the time to comment. All the very best of luck with your sailing plans!

Nick & Terysa


Leave a Comment